My Arduino needs…

I’ve started a shopping list of Arduino related things I need and want… as I research and come across things of interest… and here’s some of my thinking and things I’ve found out.

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Starter Kit

I need an Arduino starter kit of my own – and looking around at the various options on offer I think that the Fritzing Starter Kit seems amongst the best choice… and not because it’s brimming with components – quite the opposite in fact – but it does come with a useful plastic project box, a servo motor and hookup wire set which I’ve not seen elsewhere… and at 72.45 € – £60.57 – it seems a good deal and supports the Fritzing project too…

But the Earthshine Electronics Arduino Starter Kit (Compatible) at £41.64 – with an additional 10% Discount voucher from my last purchase – includes all the usual component suspects + a full size (840 tie points) breadboard, an 8×8 mini LED dot matrix display, a DC power supply and a quality 7 compartment Raaco case and seems like a great deal.

UK Suppliers…

While sparkfun.com are competitive and have plenty of choice I decided to look for some UK suppliers where I could buy general electrical components and Arduino kits and clones etc. with a quicker turn around. While there are many… these are amongst the best… and more interesting ones I found:

  • Mouser Electronics have a UK outlet and stock almost anything you can imagine, could possibly need and could ever want… (within electronics obviously)
  • likewise Rapid
  • Proto-Pic – has amongst the best Arduino centric range overall – and are reasonably priced
  • Cool Components – kinda likewise
  • Earthshine Electronics – more limited supplies – though has very cheap Arduino Clone boards – £22.78 for the DFRduino Mega – equivalent to the Arduino Mega (£49.55 at Cool Components)… worth a try me thinks
  • Technobots.co.uk – a bit on the ‘bot tip – but useful for this reason – if a touch more expensive
  • iTead Studio has a very cheap Ultrasonic ranging sensor…
  • Daniel Hirschmann’s Super DMX Shield list all components at uk.farnell.com – and boy do they have a lot of components…
  • And let’s not forget good old Radio Spares
  • although the China based Emartee do look cheap on certain things…

Powering an Arduino

A bit of research shows it’s possible to plug in a standard 9v battery via a battery snap and 2.1mm barrel plug (+ to tip) – but it’s not very efficient and the extra voltage gets dissipated as heat…

ladyada.net’s Minty Boost: Portable USB power $19.95 uses 2 x AA batteries far more efficiently via “a boost regulator (also known as a DC/DC switching/step-up regulator”… but I need to do more research to find out if this kit can be (or needs to be)adapted for a 2.1mm DC Power Plug…

SparkFun have the NCP1400-5V Step-Up Breakout – “a 5V DC-DC converter” for $5.95 and the Bodhilabs 5V DC to DC Step Up – 1xAA“Perfect for all those 5V applications that need to be small, and run on less than 100mA” and 5V DC to DC Step Up – 2xAA“Typical current: 200mA or less” for $10.95.

For more current demanding projects they have the Polymer Lithium Ion Battery – 1000mAh for $11.95, Polymer Lithium Ion Battery – 2000mAh for $16.95 and the heavyweight Polymer Lithium Ion Battery – 6Ah for $39.95 – although these also require a LiPoly Charger – Single Cell 3.7-7V Input for $16.95 – so it starts to get expensive.

More analogue inputs for the Arduino Duemilanove

A few options…

  1. Serial to Parallel Shifting-Out with a 74HC595“At sometime or another you may run out of pins on your Arduino board and need to extend it with shift registers. This example is based on the 74HC595”. The tutorial outlines the principles involved and then three practical examples increasing in complexity.

sparkfun sell the Shift Register 8-Bit – 74HC595 for £0.99 each – and have a tutorial on how to use it with a 7 Segment LED… while Farnell & Mouser Electronics are cheaper still…

Seems the way to go – particularly since Daniel Hirschmann’s Interactive Lighting Workshop 2nd and 3rd sessions look at Shift Registers and PWM Shift Registers – specifically the 74HC595N and the TLC5940 16 Channel PWM Shift Register – and I’m planning to build and use his Super DMX Shield anyway.

In fact I had a quick yet successful attempt at following the tutorial to test my DFRobot MEGA 2010 Arduino Mega clone – though i didn’t get to add ing the second Shift Register. I do need to spend more time working systematically through Daniel’s notes.

  1. Analog/Digital MUX Breakout“a breakout board for the very handy 16-Channel Analog/Digital Mulitplexer/Demultiplexer CD74HC4067. This chip can be used to connect 16 analog sources (like sensors) to 5 pins on a microcontroller. 4 of the pins must be digital pins, 1 pin must be an analog to digital conversion pin.” Unfortunately the comments suggest this isn’t exactly straightforward to programme and mount…
  1. SensorAktor-Shield“extend the Arduinos input and output capabilities by some functional blocks like power switches and amplifiers that allows the direct connection of power consuming devices like DC-Motors, Stepper Motors, Solenoid Magnets, Halogen Lamps etc. or various sensor devices.” The board is essentially twice the size of the Arduino – so this isn’t a compact solution – and it doesn’t add inputs – it reconfigures the existing ones – but could be useful non-the-less.

Wii Nunchuck input

“WiiChuck” Wii Nunchuck Adapter Available“It’s a small PCB that adapts the Wii Nunchuck connector to standard 4-pin header. I call it the “wiichuck adapter”. It plugs directly into the Arduino, no wiring necessary”. Todbot’s blog post has photos, library and example code, links etc… wicked.

Improvements to Arduino Wii Nunchuck connection – Tim Hirzel “looks more closely at the data coming off the wii Nunchuck… to get a nice smooth 360 degrees of roll information” – also featured as the WiiChuckClass on the Arduino: PlayGround.

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