Tag Archives: SparkFun

The RedStick is a USB board with an ATmega328P at its core


The SparkFun RedStick is a production version of the BadgerStick, a board you’ve probably seen at a recent tradeshow inside the BadgerHack Badge. 


Last year, the SparkFun crew developed the BadgerStick as a fun and interactive way for Makers to learn about soldering and engaging with various boards at trade tradeshows. Now, the team has refined the BadgerStick into something they’re calling the SparkFun RedStick!

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At the heart of the new device is an ATmega328P running at 16MHz. Makers will take comfort in knowing that the RedStick is packed with many cool features, including the Arduino Uno’s Optiboot bootloader, its compact form factor, FTDI and the ability to be plugged directly into a computer’s USB port (no FTDI board or USB cable required).

What’s more, the board can be programmed using the Arduino IDE. Simply insert the board, select “Arduino Uno” from the menu and you’re ready to upload code. The RedStick boasts 14 digital I/O pins with six PWM pins, eight analog inputs, UART, SPI, I2C and external interrupts.

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The SparkFun RedStick can be juiced up over USB or through its power input (which supports a JST connector). Additionally, an onboard boost regulator provides 5V to the ‘328P from an input range of 2 to 6V. While the RedStick does not included a battery charger, it can be powered over a single-cell LiPo or even a pair of AA batteries.

Intrigued? Head over to its official page, where you’ll find an in-depth overview of the board.

Qtechknow’s Qduino Mini is now available


The Qduino Mini is the first tiny Arduino-compatible board with a built-in battery charger and fuel gauge.


Adding to 15-year-old Quin Etnyre’s already rather long list of accomplishments was a successfully funded Kickstarter campaign back in March 2015. The Qduino Mini — which has been on display numerous times inside the Atmel Maker Faire booths — is the first tiny Arduino-compatible board equipped with a built-in battery charger and fuel gauge that can notify its user when a LiPo needs a little extra juice.

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“I always struggled to find a way to charge and monitor a battery, bundle with an Arduino and fit inside of every project.” Inspired by his own frustrations, the young Maker immediately went on to prototype his concept with hopes of one day bringing it to market.

Now available on SparkFun, the Qduino Mini is entirely open source and based on the versatile ATmega32U4 — the very same chip that can be found at the core of the Arduino Leonardo and several other Arduino AtHeart devices. The breadboard-friendly MCU runs at 8MHz at 3.3V and boasts plenty of dedicated digital, analog and PWM pins.

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The pint-sized project is not only packed with a battery charger circuit and fuel gauge, but possesses an uber-mini, ultra-thin form factor as well. This makes the shrunken-down, lightweight ‘duino an ideal choice for DIY quadcopter or high-altitude balloon projects, in addition to a wide range of other gadgets like an NFC Smart Lock and B&W Selfie Printer.

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Since its inception, the Qduino Mini has received a few minor upgrades before arriving at its latest iteration. According to Quin, these included two RGB LEDs (one for status, another that’s user programmable), a USB and power switch on the same face, and a LiPo connector on the opposite side of the board. What’s more, it has become even more “mini,” having been reduced from its original 1″ x 1.5” size to 0.8″ x 1.5”.

Sound like the tiny, Arduino-compatible board you’ve been looking for? Well, look no more as the Qduino Mini is available for $29.95 on SparkFun!

Rewind: 50 boards you’ll want to know about from 2015


Here’s a look at a bunch of boards that caught our attention over the last 12 months. Feel free to share your favorites below! 


“Hardware becomes a piece of culture that anyone can build upon, like a poem or a song.” – Massimo Banzi

Arduino Zero

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A 32-bit Arduino powered by the Atmel | SMART SAM D21.

Arduino Wi-Fi Shield 101

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An IoT shield with CryptoAuthentication that enables you to wirelessly connect your Arduino or Genuino with ease.

Arduino MKR1000

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A powerful board that combines the functionality of the Zero and the connectivity of the Wi-Fi Shield.

Atmel | SMART SAM L21

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A game-changing family of Cortex-M0+ MCUs that deliver power consumption down to 35 µA/MHz in active mode and 200nA in sleep mode.

BTLC1000

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An ultra-low power Bluetooth Smart SoC with an integrated ARM Cortex-M0 MCU and transceiver.

Atmel | SMART SAMA5D2

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An ARM Cortex-A5-based MPU that offers great features integrated into lower pin count packages, making it ideal for applications where security, power consumption and space constraints are key considerations.

Atmel | SMART SAM S70/E70

SAM

An ARM Cortex-M7-based MCU with a floating point unit (FPU) that’s ideal for connectivity and general purpose industrial applications.

ATmegaS128

ATme

A space-ready version of the popular ATmega128.

Adafruit Feather

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A new line of development boards that, like it’s namesake, are thin, light and let your ideas fly. Expect Feather to become a new standard for portable MCU cores.

Adafruit METRO 328

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An ATmega328-driven processor packed with plenty of GPIO, analog inputs, UART, SPI and I2C, timers, and PWM galore – just enough for most simple projects.

Arduino GEMMA

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A miniature wearable board based on the ATtiny85.

Adafruit Bluefruit LE Micro

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A board that rolls the versatility of the ATmega32U4 and the wireless connectivity of the SPI Bluefruit LE Friend all into one.

SparkFun Stepoko

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An Arduino-compatible, 3-axis control solution that runs grbl software.

SparkFun SAM D21 Breakout

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An Arduino-sized breakout for the ATSAMD21G18.

Bosch Sensortec BMF055

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A compact 9-axis motion sensor, which incorporates an accelerometer, a gyroscope and a magnetometer along with an Atmel | SMART SAM D20 ARM Cortex M0+ core.

BNO055 Xplained Pro

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A new extension board, which features a BNO055 intelligent 9-axis absolute orientation sensor, that connects directly to Atmel’s Xplained board making it ideal for prototyping projects for IoT apps.

SmartEverything

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A prototyping platform that combines SIGFOX, BLE, NFC, GPS and a suite of sensors. Essentially, it’s the Swiss Army knife for the IoT.

Qduino Mini

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A tiny, Arduino-compatible board with a built-in battery connector and charger built-in, as well as a fuel gauge.

Tessel 2

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A dev board with a SAM D21 coprocessor, reliable Wi-Fi, an Ethernet jack, two USB ports and a system that runs real Node.js/io.js.

LattePanda

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A Windows 10 single-board computer equipped with an Intel Atom x5-Z8300 Cherry Trail processor, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage and an ATmega32U4 coprocessor.

LightBlue Bean+

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An Arduino-compatible board that is programmed wirelessly using Bluetooth Low Energy.

Makey Makey GO

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A thumbdrive-shaped device that can transform ordinary objects into touch pads.

Hak8or

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An uber mini, DIY board based on an Atmel | SMART AT91SAM9N12 that runs Linux via a USB drive.

Modulo

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A set of tiny modular circuit boards that takes the hassle out of building electronics.

Microduino mCookie

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A collection of small, magnetically stackable modules that can bring your LEGO projects to life.

The AirBoard

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A compact, open source, wireless and power efficient dev board designed to learn, sketch and deploy prototypes out in the field.

Autonomo

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A matchbox-sized, Arduino-compatible MCU powered by a small solar panel.

Helium

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An integrated platform that brings the power of the cloud to the edge of the network, enabling you to observe, learn and capture actionable insights from existing physical ‘things’ in your environment.

Sense HAT

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An add-on for the Raspberry Pi equipped with a gyroscope, an accelerometer, a magnetometer, a temperature sensor, a barometric pressure sensor and a humidity sensor, as well as a five-button joystick and an 8×8 RGB LED matrix — all powered by an LED driver chip and an ATtiny88 running custom firmware.

Ardhat

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A HAT with an Arduino-compatible processor that responds quickly to real-time events, while letting the Raspberry Pi do all of the heavy lifting.

Wino

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A cost-effective, Arduino-compatible board with built-in Wi-Fi.

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A little board designed for wearable devices that features a BNO055, an ATmega328P and a CR2032 coin-cell battery.

 XeThru X2M200 and X2M300

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A pair of adaptive smart sensor modules that can monitor human presence, respiration and other vital information.

LinkIt Smart 7688 Duo

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An Arduino Yún-friendly platform powered by an ATmega32U4 and MediaTek MT7688 SoC.

Piccolino

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A small, inexpensive controller with an embedded OLED display and Wi-Fi connectivity that you can program using existing tools like the Arduino IDE.

ZeroPi

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A next-generation, Arduino and Raspberry Pi-compatible dev kit for robotic motion structure systems and 3D printers that boasts an Atmel | SMART SAM D21 at its core.

CryptoShield

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A dedicated security peripheral for the Arduino and was made in collaboration with SparkFun’s previous hacker-in-residence, Josh Datko. This shield adds specialized ICs that perform various cryptographic operations which will allow you to add a hardware security layer to your Arduino project.

ZYMKEY

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An add-on board that makes it easy to secure your Raspberry Pi and Linux applications.

Flip & Click

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A two-sided, Arduino-like board with an AT91SAM3X8E for its heart.

ChipWhisperer-Lite

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An open source toolchain for embedded hardware security research including side-channel power analysis and glitching. The board uses a Spartan 6 LX9, along with a 105 MS/s ADC, low-noise amplifier, an Atmel | SMART SAM3U chip for high-speed USB communication, MOSFETs for glitch generation and an XMEGA128 as a target device.

KeyDuino

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An Arduino Leonardo-like board with built-in NFC that lets you replace your keys with any smartphone, NFC ring or proximity card.

Neutrino

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An inexpensive, open source and shrunken-down version of the Arduino Zero that boasts a 32-bit ATSAMD21G18 running at 48MHz and packing 32K of RAM.

WIOT

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An open source, Arduino-compatible board with an ATmega32U4, ESP8266 Wi-Fi module and lithium-ion battery support.

Obscura

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An ATmega32U4-powered, 8-bit synthesizer that enables you to create NES, C64 and Amiga-style chiptune music by simply connecting a MIDI device.

Zodiac FX

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An OpenFlow switch that is powerful enough to develop world-changing SDN apps yet small enough to sit on your desk. Based on an Atmel | SMART SAM4E, the unit includes four 10/100 Fast Ethernet ports with integrated magnetics and indicator LEDs along with a command line interface accessible via USB virtual serial port.

Goldilocks Analogue

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A board that brings sophisticated analog and audio input, output and storage capabilities to the Arduino environment.

NodeIT

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A super small and expandable IoT system for Makers.

Pixel

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A smart display that features an Atmel | SMART SAM D21 MCU operating at 48MHz and packing 32K of RAM, along with a 1.5” 128×128 pixel OLED screen and a microSD slot.

SDuino

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An Arduino crammed inside an SD card.

… and how could we not mention this?

The WTFDuino!

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Do you feel like today’s MCUs are too simple and sensible? Well, one Maker decided to take a different approach by “undesigning” the Arduino into a banana-shaped processor whose form factor is impossible to breadboard and whose pins are incorrectly labelled.

 

Who’s winning the Arduino popularity contest?


You think Arduino is popular? Wait until you see some of the numbers our friends at codebender have compiled.


If you’ve ever wondered which Arduino boards are the most popular, which are the most used processors, which are the most common Libraries (and Example) and how are they being used, you’ll appreciate this post from codebender founder Vasilis Georgitzikis. For those of you who may not be familiar with the site, codebender is an online Arduino IDE that enables you to program your ‘duino on the cloud.

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“At codebender we have a unique insight on this, since we have more than 40,000 people using codebender to write Arduino code, and more than 100,000 sketches. This gives us the ability to gather anonymous data on board usage, popular boards, etc. And since we host more than 500 built-in libraries, we also get a great view on the preferred Libraries as well,” Georgitzikis explains.

The Most Popular Kid on the Block

First, codebender took a look into the popularity of each Arduino board. The easiest way to count this is to take a look at which board people use most often. They counted how many times people programmed/”flashed” a particular board (say, an Arduino Uno) versus the total number of times someone programmed a board on codebender during September (which was 123,967 times).

Before diving into the data, a few things should first be noted:

  • When you look at this, keep in mind that codebender only supports AVR-based boards right now, so boards like the Due, Zero and Galileo/Edison are not counted here.
  • This research is based on usage on codebender, not across all Arduino users. But there’s no reason to think that this would be any different, so it’s fair to say that what is seen here applies to the Arduino community at large.
  • There is a caveat to the above — codebender has some partnerships with hardware manufacturers who suggest codebender for their boards, so naturally there will be slightly inflated numbers for these.

So, without further ado, here are the results (showing only boards with more than 1% usage):

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Wow! Everyone knows Arduino Uno is the most popular board, but did you know that in more than half of the instances an Arduino is programmed, it’s an Arduino Uno?

“I also personally didn’t expect the Arduino Nano to be so popular, let alone #2! I’m more of a Pro Mini/Pro Micro guy myself, since I’m a bit of a SparkFun nerd. A reason for this spike could be the recent surge of ridiculously affordable Arduino Nano-compatible boards from China, using the very inexpensive CH340G chip for the USB-to-Serial instead of the more common FTDI chip,” Georgitzikis adds.

Another thing worth mentioning is the number of Duemilanove boards still in existence (remember, they are six years old), which are still almost as popular as the Leonardo.

“The Leonardo, by the way, is much lower than I expected. It goes to show that issues with the way the Leonardo’s programming was implemented – the less-than-stellar robustness when programming and all the inconsistencies it brings with existing code and Libraries – outweigh the extra features and lower price,” Georgitzikis shares. “Long live the Uno!”

(By the way, notice that 4 out of the 13 most popular boards are manufactured by SparkFun. Not bad, huh?)

Official Boards Only

Okay, as mentioned above, some boards are bound to be a bit inflated because their manufacturer suggests codebender as the tool of choice for Arduino coding. Let’s look at the same numbers, this time using only the official Arduino boards.

According to codebender, here are the results (showing only boards with more than 1% usage):

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Old But Gold

For its last chart, the codebender crew thought it would be interesting to see the most popular microprocessor chip in Arduino land.

On the left chart, they measured the number of boards that use a certain chip. Out of the 80 boards that codebender supports, how many boards use each chip? The right chart reveals the number of times an Arduino is programmed, so you can see how many times people programed a board with a certain processor (i.e. ATmega328), compared to the total number of times people programmed a board.

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And the winner is, of course, the ATmega328 by a landslide.

“First, we see that a good third of the boards supported in codebender are using the ATmega328. ATtiny in second place seems weird at first, but given that there are around 20 different boards for the various ATtiny chips and configurations, it makes sense,” Georgitzikis writes. “And then, you have the ATmega32U4 devices. There are a lot of independent manufacturers making boards based on this chip, but as we saw on the previous chart (and as you can see on the Processor Usage chart above), they end up not being used too frequently.”

As you can see on the Processor Usage chart, more than four out of five times someone programs an Arduino, it’s using an ATmega328. Isn’t that simply amazing? (We sure think so!)

Editor’s note: These insights are based on anonymous usage data gathered by codebender. 

[h/t SparkFun]

The Stepoko is an ATmega328P powered CNC board


The SparkFun Stepoko is an Arduino-compatible, three-axis control board that runs grbl.


SparkFun has just unveiled an entire lineup of CNC products, including a brand new board that can be found at the heart a sleek and bright red desktop router.

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The SparkFun Stepoko is an Arduino-compatible, three-axis controller that runs grbl software and is capable of connecting to your computer to accept stepper motor commands. The board’s design and firmware are completely open source and works with Java-based cross platform G-Code sending application to translate commands.

“By just looking at the pictures, this board may look daunting but the simplest installation of the Stepoko consists of just plugging the stepper motors in, connecting it to power and to your computer! To top it off, we’ve designed the SparkFun Stepoko to fit and be secured inside of our Big Red Box as an effective enclosure option after a bit of milling to support the boards connectors and heatsink,” the team writes.

The board itself is broken down into two “hemispheres.” Stepoko’s right side is tasked with supplying power and system control, courtesy of the ATmega328P at its core. SparkFun has broken out all of the pins that are associated with the MCU and power supplies, and has included chart in silkscreen on the back of the board that matches the grbl pin functions to the Arduino pin naming convention. According to its creators, applying 12-30VDC to either the barrel jack or screw terminals (not both) and the Stepoko can supply up to 2.0A. Additionally, there’s a rail of screw terminals that function as limit, probe and e-stop connections.

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Meanwhile, the board’s left side features three of the stepper motor drivers for the Stepoko. Each of the three-axis drivers are managed by a DRV8811 IC, which communicates with the ATmega328P via digital control signals that are able to set direction, enable the motor and enact a step. Internally, it has a state machine that matches the states of each motor necessary to get it to perform. Modifying the microstepping control switches on each driver provide you to finely tune each array to your specified likeness. All the work that each stepper motor driver provides is contributed by the grbl software that comes pre-installed with each Stepoko.

“Whether you are using the SparkFun Shapeoko on your own rig or on one our Shapeoko CNC Machine platforms you should be able to utilize this board to its full functionality without breaking a sweat,” the crew adds.

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But that’s not all. The Stepoko can be found at the heart of the Shapeoko 3 — a heavy duty desktop CNC machine capable of routing designs in a variety of materials like MDF, wood and even thin aluminum. This device was brought to life in collaboration with Carbide 3D. Intrigued? Head over to SparkFun’s page to get your hands on the Arduino-compatible board and a mill our own.

Step up your Arduino game with the SparkFun SAM D21 Dev Breakout


The SparkFun SAM D21 Dev Breakout is an Arduino-sized breakout board for the Atmel ATSAMD21G18.


If you’re ready to step your Arduino game up from 8-bit MCUs, the newly-unveiled SparkFun SAM D21 Dev Breakout is a great way to start. The Arduino-sized breakout for the Atmel | SMART ATSAMD21G18 — a 32-bit ARM Cortex-M0+ processor with 256KB of Flash, 32KB SRAM and an operating speed of up to 48MHz — provides you with an Arduino hardware option that solves the problems of low storage limits and dynamic memory stack overflows that have plagued the previous iterations of the Arduino family. Even better, the SparkFun SAM D21 Dev Breakout is fully supported in the Arduino IDE and libraries for the Arduino Zero.

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The SparkFun SAM D21 Dev Breakout has been equipped with a USB interface for programming and power, surrounded with an RTC crystal, and a 600mA 3.3V regulator. By utilizing the Pro R3’s extra PCB real-estate, SparkFun has been able to leave room for a few extra GPIO pins and an integrated LiPo charger. To power this board, simply plug it into a USB port on your computer via its micro-B port.

Not near a USB port? Don’t fret, the SparkFun SAM D21 Dev Breakout is also equipped with a LiPo Battery connector and unpopluated supply input to solder on your own PTH Barrel Jack. If you’ve used any Arduino before, this pinout shouldn’t surprise you – the layout meets the Arduino 1.0 footprint standard, including a separate SPI header and additional I2C header.

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One of the most unique features of the SAM D21 is SERCOM — a set of six configurable serial interfaces that can be turned into either a UART, I2C master, I2C slave, SPI master, or SPI slave. Each SERCOM provides for a lot of flexibility: the ports can be multiplexed, giving you a choice of which task each pin is assigned.

SparkFun has made a SAM D21 Mini/Dev Breakout Hookup Guide available online, which includes step by step instructions of how to connect your board as well as a few circuit examples to test out. Intrigued? Head over to its official page here to get yours!

Maker builds an automatic feeder for his cats


If you’re a Maker and you have three cats with various dietary needs, what do you do? Build an automated feeder, of course!


Jamie Navarro faced a dilemma. His three cats needed to be fed at the same time every day, but sometimes he wasn’t able to accommodate them. Add in the fact that Navarro’s cats had different dietary requirements, and it became a problem that was just begging to be automated. He looked for an off-the-shelf product, but they were either too expensive, not flexible enough, or insecure against cat-raids.

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Since Navarro claims to be a “nerd” as well as a “control freak,” the only option was to build it himself. His setup, as seen in the video below, uses an Arduino to control two motors, each attached to a paddle. These paddles, at the bottom of their respective tubes of food, turn a certain amount to allow the right amount of food to drop. A system of cardboard tubes distributes the correct type of “kibble” to each feline’s bowl promptly at 5:15am and 5:15pm.

The machine is laid out using a piece of plywood, allowing easy access to the electronics as well as the mechanical components. Although certainly his own project, Navarro gives credit to the creator of the Internet-Enabled Cat Feeder for figuring out much of the dispensing mechanism.

If you want to attempt this build, Navarro has links to the Arduino code as well as the circuit used and a bill of materials in various formats. The entire project price came out to nearly $200, but that’s definitely worth it for the extra few hours of sleep in my opinion!

[h/t Hackaday]