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!

14 new Bricklets in one fell swoop (Part 2/4)

Yesterday we introduced the new Bricklets, today we will characterize a selection of them in detail. Segment Display 4x7, LED Strip, Piezo Speaker and Sound Intensity Bricklet are Bricklets for audio-visual applications.

Segment Display 4x7 Bricklet

The Segment Display 4x7 Bricklet is equipped with four 7 segment displays. These displays are housed together in one large 40x13mm case with an additional colon. Each segment can light up red with an API configurable intensity. Besides the possibility to control each segment (and the colon), the API offers a counter with configurable start/end value as well as configurable increment and speed.

Possible applications are retro numerical displays.

LED Strip Bricklet

The LED Strip Bricklet offers the possibility to control RGB LED strips or LED pixel which have a 4-signal interface (power, ground, data, clock). The module is equipped with driver circuitry for that purpose, such that data and clock are driven by the applied power. Typical LED strips and pixels with 4-signal interface are driven with 5V. The module will drive the interface with 5V and converts the 3.3V microcontroller signals to 5V LED signals.

There are multiple different controller available for the mentioned strips and pixels. They use protocols that are incompatible to each other. One standard controller IC is the WS2801. At the moment the firmware of the LED Strip Bricklet only supports this type. However the support of other controllers is planned for the future.

The API can update connected RGB LED strips or pixel up to 100 times per second. 320 RGB LEDs (that are 960 single LEDs) can be controlled. With the FrameRendered Callback it is easy to show complex scenes. The callback is triggered when a scene is rendered and the next scene can be set. Information on how the WS2801 works, the connection of LED strips and pixel as well as the reason for the 320 RGB LED limitation can be found in the LED Strip Bricklet documentation.

The applications for the LED Strip Bricklet are vast. It can be used for indirect lightening of the living room, where color and intensity are controlled. Other applications are large screens build up of RGB LED pixels. There will also be a 5V power supply for the strips and pixels in the shop in the future. At the moment the power supplies are in production an we are waiting for their delivery.

Piezo Speaker Bricklet

The Piezo Speaker Bricklet is the successor of the Piezo Buzzer Bricklet. It allows to play beeps with a configurable pitch (585Hz to 7100Hz). The API offers a “beep” function which can set a beep with configurable pitch and duration. Additionally the API offers the functions to play Morse code. Callbacks can be used to implement tone or Morse code sequences.

Sound Intensity Bricklet

The next “audio” Bricklet is the Sound Intensity Bricklet. It can measure sound intensity as a unitless value. A sensitive amplifier amplifies the incoming signal from the electret microphone and sends them to the connected Brick. It will measure the sound intensity with 12bit resolution.

Applications for the Sound Intensity Bricklet can be everything starting from clapper switches to housebreaking or movement detection.

How it continues tomorrow…

Tomorrow we will introduce the Bricklets that are intended for human input applications.

14 new Bricklets in one fell swoop (Part 1/4)

We have reported that we will make fourteen new Bricklets along with accessories available at once in a blog post on November 19th. After lots of speculations, we are happy to disclose the new Bricklets today!

The new Bricklets are all available in the shop as of now. Until 2nd advent (8th December 2013) we are offering them with introductory prices. The following new Bricklets are now available:

In the next three days we will introduce each Bricklet shortly in this blog. Tomorrow we are beginning with the Segment Display 4x7 Bricklet, LED Strip Bricklet, Piezo Speaker Bricklet and Sound Intensity Bricklet. Stay tuned!

Ethernet Extension without PoE available

Almost a half year ago and after a long development time we have published the Ethernet Extension (see blog entry). It is one of the most popular Extensions and for example used in the successful Starter Kit: Server Room Monitoring. With it you can control Tinkerforge components from everywhere in the world.

The possibility to power components by Power over Ethernet (PoE) is used by many customers. The used power supply circuitry is complex and takes much of the available space on the board, of course this affects the price. For this reason we are now offering a version without PoE. The PoE circuitry is not assembled for this version.

The Ethernet Extension (without PoE) is available in the shop for 39.99€.