Review 2013 / Outlook 2014

The year 2013 nears its end and we want to thank you for the phantastic year 2013!

In 2013 we were able to add many new products to our product range. These include the starter kits, the Ethernet Master Extension and the 14 new Bricklets that were introduced in the end of November. We released new programming language Bindings and lots of small improvements. It was exciting to see how our modules are used and the kind of projects that are realized. We are also thankful for all of the constructive criticism. As hard- and software designers it is not always easy to see the viewpoint of the end user, thus we are always thankful for feedback. Often small improvements can make a big difference. Of course we can’t always implement requests for changes immediately, but we hope to also get lots of feedback in 2014.

For the spontaneous amoung yourselves: There is still a discount of 10% until the 1st of January 2014 :).

What will there be in 2014?

We can’t reveal everything, but you can definately look forward to new Bindings. The new Perl Bindings for example are already released as a first beta version, they will be officially released soon. More Bindings are in preparation. In addition there will be new starter kits. The first kit of the new year will be the Starter Kit: Blinkenlights, that was already intruduced on December 13th. All of the necessary materials are already ordered and the planned release date is still mid to end January 2014. A starter kit in the home automation area is also planned already. Of course we will also release new Bricks/Bricklets in 2014, stay tuned!

We wish you and your family a Happy New Year!

Your Tinkerforge Team

New Dual Relay Bricklet

A few minutes ago we officially released our new Dual Relay Bricklet (hardware version 1.2). If your order is currently not yet shipped, you will already receive this new version!

In the forum we had users that could sporadically trigger undesired side effects (such as resetting a Brick) by switching a Relay of the old Dual Relay Bricklet. Often it was quite hard for us to provide suitable help. The usage of snubbers, varistors or similar did not always solve the problems. Since the problems mostly were not reproducible it was also hard to verify the implementet measures. The hardware design of the old version was based on a typical relay circuitry, that is used in most products.

To circumvent the problems we decided to design a new hardware version. The new hardware version has an additional comprehensive protective circuitry. We hope that the odd unsolvable side effects are now a thing of the past!

Last minute Christmas discount, new accessories, new kit

Christmas discount

Due to lots of requests we decided to offer a last minute Christmas discount. Starting from tomorrow (14th December 2013) to the 1st of January 2014 all of our products will have a 10% discount (with exception of the already discounted kits). We wish you a calm Christmas time with lots of spare time for your own projects ;-).

New accessories in the shop

A 5V 8A AC/DC Power Adapter is now available in the shop. It is intended to power the RGB LED Strips and the RGB LED Pixel.

News for the Starter Kit: Blinkenlights

The Starter Kit: Blinkenlights is currently still in development. We won’t be able to adhere to the previously intended release date before Christmas. The release will be early to mid January 2014. We are still missing lots of documentation and we have to wait for lasered parts that will not be delivered until January because of the Christmas time.

14 new Bricklets in one fell swoop (Part 4/4)

In the last part of the series we will introduce different sensor Bricklets.

Distance US Bricklet

The Distance US Bricklet offers a low priced option to measure distances. The Bricklet is equipped with an ultrasonic sensor which emits short ultrasonic bursts. These are reflected when hitting objects. The time between the emitting of the burst and the received reflection is used to calculate the distance.

The measurement angle is ±15° (manufacturere information). The maximum distance is 4m. Since the measured distance depends on the operating voltage the API returns a unitless value.

Motion Detector Bricklet

The Motion Detector Bricklet can detect movement and presence of people or animals. For that purpose a passive infrared sensor is plugged on to the Bricklet. It detects emitted infrared radiation. The sensor itself can be configured with two potentiometers. The configuration of the sensor and the operation of the Bricklet is described in detail in the documentation.

Moisture Bricklet

With the Moisture Bricklet it is possible to measure the moisture of soil from a flower pot. The electrical circuitry consists of two gold plated electrodes that are put in the soil and form a moisture dependet resistor. The resistor controls the gate of a MOSFET. This way a moisture controlled voltage source is generated and measured by the connected Brick.

The gold plated electrodes can be extended by soldered wires to enable other applications. For example a moisture measurement for air streams is imaginable.

Hall Effect Bricklet

With the Hall Effect Bricklet the appearance of magnetic fields can be counted. If a magnet is moved in the proximity of the Bricklet the counter of the Bricklet will be increased by one. If it is moved away and moved in the proximity again, the counter is incremented a second time.

To achieve this the Bricklet is equipped with a sensor which detects the presence of magnetic fields (-35/35 Gauss). If the magnetic field falls below -25/25 Gauss the sensor can detect the next approach.

Typical applications for this Bricklet are magnetic switches or the speed measurement of an axis that is equipped with an magnet. Additionally many modern electricity meter are equipped with an electricity meter disc with an attached magnet. This allows to measure the power consumption.

ENDE, END, FIN, коне́ц

This was the last part of this series. We are eager to read about your projects! More Bricks and Bricklets to extend the system of building blocks will follow in the future. Stay tuned!

14 new Bricklets in one fell swoop (Part 3/4)

Today we introduce the next group of Bricklets. They are meant for human input application in the broader sense:

Dual Button Bricklet

The Dual Button Bricklet is equipped with two push buttons, each one includes a blue LED. The buttons are mounted with a distance of 25mm and the Bricklet is designed in a way, that allows to create a 25mm matrix of buttons from multiple Dual Button Bricklets. The API allows to react on button presses and controls each LED individually. There is also an “Auto Toggle” mode, that enables or disables the LED on each press of a button.

The possible applications of the Dual Button Bricklets are very diverse. It can be used in all cases where you need to react on the press of a button (for example in games, home automation and robotics). The blue LEDs give the buttons a great look, especially in the dark.

Rotary Encoder Bricklet

The Rotary Encoder Bricklet is equipped with a rotary encoder as you might know it from the volume control of a stereo system. The knob has no stop, it can be rotated any number of times. Each complete rotation has 24 ticks (15° resolution) that are counted by the Bricklet. Additionally the encoder has a button that can be pressed by a user.

With the API of the Rotary Encoder Bricklet it is possible read out the counter of the Bricklet. The counter can be positive or negative depending on the rotational direction. Callbacks can be used to detect a button press.

Multi Touch Bricklet

With the Multi Touch Bricklet it is possible to measure twelve touch sensors in parallel. The sensors are based on the priciple of capacitive sensing and can be shaped by the user. In the simplest case a piece of aluminum foil can be used as the electrode for the touch sensor. The capacitive touch technologie makes it possible to detect a switching operation without actually touching the electrode.

It is possible to create one’s own controls. You could easily replicate the bridge controls of the enterprise ;)!

In our shop we have self-adhesive aluminum tape, it can be used to create custom electrodes in seconds. If you buy your aluminum tape from somewhere else, make sure that you get one that is conductive. Often they are not. You can also use ready-made pads that are available in our shop. These can be directly connected to the Bricklet. Available are a Button Pad, a Slider Pad, a Key Pad 3x4 and a Cursor Pad.

The API of the Multi Touch Bricklet has Callbacks that react on user inputs. A proximity bit can be used to detect a hand or similar even further away.

Remote Switch Bricklet

The Remote Switch Bricklet is equipped with a powerful 433MHz transceiver. It can be used to control remote mains switches and dimmer. Switches that use the PT2262 or HX2262 IC are currently supported. These are mostly used in the cheaper remote mains switches, they can be found in hardware stores and similar. You can find a list of supported devices in the documentation.

To control a remote mains switch or dimmer you have to configure the house code and receiver code. The API allows to set the codes and to switch or dim outlets with them.

The utilized transceiver supports multiple types of modulation, thus it is possible to implement the protocol of additional 433MHz devices. Possible candidates are remote temperature sensors (as known from weather stations) or devices that are used in home automation. This is the reason we called the hardware of the Bricklet only “Remote Bricklet”. The name “Remote Switch Bricklet” is used for the firmware of the Remote Bricklet. This allows us to release different firmwares in the future that support other 433MHz devices. If you can program C on a microcontroller and you want to help us develop support for more devices please do so! We would love to integrate support for more devices.

Tilt Bricklet

The Tilt Bricklet is a simple inclinometer. It basically consists of two metal balls that can move inside of a tube.

As shown in the illustration above, the states open, closed and vibrating (if a fast switching between open and closed happens) can be detected. These states can be requested with the API and Callbacks can be used to directly react on changes of the state.

How it continues tomorrow…

In the last part, that will be published tomorrow, we will introdice multiple sensor Bricklets!