Intel Curie tinyTILE – Mini Arduino 101

intel curie tinyTILEPictured above is the new tinyTILE development and production platform featuring the Intel Curie module. This board is a miniature version of the Arduino 101 and measures in at just 35 x 26mm (1.38 x 1.02 inches), and has been designed to fit on prototyping breadboards.

The tinyTILE board can be programmed using either the Arduino IDE or Intel’s own software – the Intel Curie Open Developer Kit (ODK), and the I/O connections are functionally identical to those on the Arduino 101.

With its small size, low-power consumption, array of motion sensors (6-axis sensor with accelerometer and gyroscope), and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), tinyTILE should be ideal for battery powered wearable devices and any other IoT projects involving motion monitoring.

tinyTILE has a 32-bit 32 MHz Intel Quark SoC, 384 kB flash memory, and 80 kB SRAM. It also includes a digital signal processor (DSP) offering quick pattern matching identification of actions and motions.

tinyTile can be USB powered via its micro-USB connector. The board has its own internal 3.3V regulator and 3.3V (but 5V tolerant)  I/0 connections.

tinyTILE is available now from element14.com (US+) and cpc.farnell.com (UK) amongst others.

Hen House Door Controller with Voltage Indication

Pictured below is another of our hen house door controllers – this time using a light detector to automatically detect dawn and dusk (user light level calibration), but with the addition of three battery voltage indicator LEDs.

Hen house door controller with low voltage indicationThis device will open and close a hen house door at dawn and dusk respectively when the measured ambient light level dictates. As this device is to be used with a small 12V battery, there is a chance that the battery will go low on charge preventing reliable operation.

Therefore we have added three LEDs (LED-1, LED-2 and LED-3) connected to flying leads so that they can be located somewhere easily visible while the controller itself is in an enclosure to keep it clean and dry.

When the battery voltage is measured to be greater than 12V, all three LEDs are turned on. When the voltage is between 11.8V and 12V, two are on. When the voltage is between 11.5 and 11.8V, 1 LED is on, and when the voltage is below 11.5V, no LEDs are on.

Each day when the user goes into the hen house to collect eggs, they have a quick visual indication of the state of the battery voltage so that they know when they need to think about recharging it.

If you need a hen house door controller, please email neil@reuk.co.uk with details of any specific requirements you may have.

Introduction to TM1638 Display Module for Arduino

Pictured below is an electronic display module we have been testing out recently.

TM1638 Arduino Display Module

Available at under £2 including delivery (see here: buy TM1638 module), the pictured device offers 8 LEDs, 8 input buttons, and 8 7-segment LED display digits which can be fully controlled with just 3 pins from your Arduino (or other microcontroller unit).

We are looking at these to offer alternatives to the LCDs (liquid crystal displays) we currently use in our solar water heating pump controllers and low voltage disconnects in particular, since the two sets of 4 digits on these modules’ displays can show a voltage to two decimal places plus other information, or two temperature sensors readings also to two decimal places simultaneously. Seven segment displays are much more readable from a distance, and the availability of 8 LEDs and 8 user input buttons opens up many new possibilities.

Initial results of testing have been very positive. If you are interested in getting started with these modules and Arduino, an excellent starting off point is this excellent article: Arduino and TM1638 LED Display Modules from the Australian site tronixstuff.com. All you need is an Arduino board, the Arduino IDE (the software required to programme your Arduino), and the TM1638 library available here.

Programmable Target Shooting Timer Relay Board

Target shooting relay timer controller with display

Pictured above is a target shooting timer relay controller with programmable options for different shooting programmes. With this device the user can set the number of seconds that the target is to remain edge-on to the shooter and how many second that it is to remain face-on to the shooter, and also how many cycles of edge and face the shoot will comprise.

Target shooting timer display

The backlit display with this device shows the user programmed number of seconds that the target will edge (E) then face (F), and the number of cycles (C) for which it will be repeated. It also shows the current status of the target.

There are two buttons on the controller. The MANUAL button is used to enter the programming mode to set the timings for the programme and also to toggle the target manually between facing and edging. The AUTO button is used to start the programme. The programme starts by edging the target, and finishes also with the target edged.

target shooting timer relay display in action

While the shooting programme is running, the display continues to show the user set programme values and the status of the target. It also shows a running countdown of the time remaining during this part of the cycle, and also which cycle the shooter is currently on.

If you need any kind of automated user-programmable timer for target shooting, please email neil@reuk.co.uk with details of your requirements.

24V Low Voltage Disconnect with SD Card Datalogger

Pictured below is a low voltage disconnect device we recently made for use with a 24V battery system. In addition to the user-programmable low voltage disconnect functionality and LCD display of our standard Programmable 12V LVD with Display, this modified 24V device also includes a full datalogger, storing measured battery voltages at regular intervals to a micro-SD card for later analysis.

24V Low Voltage Disconnect with SD Card DataloggerThis particular unit is destined to be used by a company specialising in the maintenance of the UK’s transport infrastructure; with the low voltage disconnect used to protect batteries from being overly depleted, and the datalogger used to track the rise and fall of battery voltage over time.

If you need any kind of low voltage disconnect and/or datalogging solution, please email neil@reuk.co.uk with details of your requirements.

Solderless Power Supply Module for Breadboard

We recently came across this handy little power supply module designed and built for use with prototyping breadboard (MB102 size) by YwRobot in China.

breadboard power supply moduleThis is a very useful device for anyone getting started with electronics thanks to its low cost (approximately £1 delivered) and ease of set up and use.

The module simply plugs into a breadboard and gives two pairs of rails which can be configured to give you 2x5V rails, one each of 5V and 3.3V, and you can also set one or both pairs of rails to 0V.

mb102 breadboard power supply modulePictured above we have used the small yellow jumpers to set one pair of rails to 3.3V/0V, and the second pair of rails to 5V/0V. The board is then ready to supply a few hundred mA at 3.3V and 5V to any project you may want to prototype/build on the breadboard.

The module is powered via USB. Virtually everone now has a micro-USB charger at home for mobile phone and table charging etc, so it is surprising that they chose to use a full size USB-A connector. It would have been much better to go for a micro-USB connector.

The module has two low drop linear voltage regulators to supply the 3.3V and 5V outputs. When we tested this with a USB power supply outputting 5.46V, we measured 5.123V on the 5V rail, and 3.286V on the 3.3V rail.

If your USB power supply provides less than 5V (or more likely, you have less than 5V after losses in a long/cheap cable) the 5V rail will always be a few tenths of a Volt lower than the incoming voltage – therefore you cannot guarantee a reliable 5.0V output from this module when powered via USB. Similarly, it is best not to use this connected to a USB port on a PC as the voltage of PC USB ports can jump around a lot depending on what the PC is doing at any particular instant.

There is however a standard DC barrel jack for DC input power. Using a standard 6V DC power supply should give you a full stable 5V output from the module.

There is an on/off switch on the module, with a green LED to show the current status. This is useful not just because it saves you from having to unplug or switch off your USB power supply at the power point, but also because the capacitors in a power supply retain charge after you unplug the power supply and this charge will feed through the module into your electronics project until those capacitors have discharged. That could have unforeseen consequences as the voltage input to your circuit drops.

The quality of the components used and the build quality are as you would expect from a product offered at such a low price, but these modules are still an excellent first purchase for anyone interested in circuit prototyping.

These modules are available on their own, or together with a suitable breadboard and jumper links as a complete starter package. Click here for more information or to make a puchase of one of these power supply modules.

Dawn Dusk Hen House Door Controller with Timer Override

Pictured below is a hen house door controller we recently made for a customer which is a modified version of our standard Dawn Dusk Hen House Door Controller.

hen house door controller with light detector and timer overrideThis controller will automatically open a hen house door at dawn and close it again at dusk. Dawn and dusk are detected via a light detector, and the user can calibrate the light level at which they consider it to be the transition between day and dusk and between night and dawn to meet their needs.

The modified version pictured above has the additional benefit of a programmable digital timer. We make hen house door controllers with light detectors which automatically detect dawn and dusk, and we also make them with programmable digital timers so that the user can instead set the exact time that the door is to open and close. This particular controller is our first which has both a light detector AND a programmable digital timer for maximum flexibility.

The purchaser of this controller expressed a wish to be able to have the hen house door close at dusk automatically, but also to be able (sometimes) to open the door later (or even earlier) than dawn. Therefore, in the summer when dawn could be at 4am, the timer can be used to keep the door closed until 6am or later to keep the noise down and avoid disturbing neighbours. The programmable digital timer we used can be set with different timings for weekdays and weekends, so for example, the door can be kept closed until much later in the morning on the weekend to keep the noise down.

If you need any kind of poultry door controller, email neil@reuk.co.uk with details of your exact requirements.

New Raspberry Pi 2 Model B – Six Times More Power

The new Raspberry Pi 2 Model B has just been released, and promises to be six times more powerful than the previous Raspberry Pi models.

Raspberry Pi 2 Model BThe original Raspberry Pi was released around 3 years ago, and since then technology has moved on and competitors have joined the marketplace. The single core 700MHz processor and 512MB of RAM of the recently released Raspberry Pi A+ and B+ make them feel quite sluggish and out-dated, and there are many applications which cannot be used as they run so slowly.

The new Raspberry Pi 2 Model B though has a quad-core 900MHz processor (ARM Cortex-A7) with a full 1GB or RAM,  effectively turned the Raspberry Pi into a low spec PC capable of running the new Windows 10 (which will be offered free of charge for Raspberry Pi to makers!) and the full range of ARM Linux distributions.

The new model is fully backwards compatible with previous models, it will just run everything much faster. You just need the new ARMv7 kernel version of Raspian, and all existing projects will work.

Amazingly, despite the huge lift in specs, the new Raspberry Pi 2 Model B will still be sold for just $35 (around £25-30 in the UK).

Get yours now (in the UK) at cpc.farnell.com.

Programmable Low Voltage Automatic Battery Charger

Our Mini Programmable 12V Low Voltage Disconnect (LVD) is designed to disconnect loads from batteries when the battery voltage falls below  a user set value, and then reconnect the loads when the battery voltage gets back above a second (higher) user set value.

low voltage connect from REUK low voltage disconnectWith a few modifications to the code on the microcontroller of this device it can also be reconfigured as a low voltage connect – a device which will (typically) be used to connect a charger to the battery when its voltage gets low, and then disconnect it when the battery voltage gets higher after charging.

Today we made such a low voltage connect for a customer with a semi off grid garden office, a PV solar charged battery bank, and a selection of lights, 5V chargers, and other low voltage DC loads to be powered. He has a mains powered 5A bench power supply which he wanted to automatically connect to the battery bank via a solid state relay (SSR) when the battery bank voltage fell due to a period of poor solar generation (English weather) or from using a lot of battery power.

With our low voltage connect controlling the SSR, the battery bank will never be able to get overly-depleted and battery power will always be available to power the garden office.

If you need any kind of low voltage disconnect, low voltage connect, or high voltage disconnect etc, please email neil@reuk.co.uk with details of your requirements.

Poultry House Door Controller with Digital Timer

One of our most popular products is this Dawn Dusk Automatic Hen House Door Controller. This device automatically detects dawn and dusk using a light detector calibrated by the user and runs a motor one way in the morning to open a hen house door, and the other way in the evening to close the door. Roller limit switches act to ensure that the door fully opens and closes without over or under running.

Pictured below is a alternative but similar device which uses a programmable digital timer to set the times of day that the door is to open and close.

Automatic hen house door controller with programmable digital timer and roller limit switchesWhen the timer turns on, the motor runs to open the door until the upper roller switch closes. Then when the timer turns off, the motor runs to close the door until the lower roller switch closes.

The advantage of using a timer is that the door can be set to open later on weekends for example to reduce noise from the birds, and the exact times the door is to be opened and closed can be set independently of the level of daylight (and therefore of the weather). The disadvantage is that the timings have to be changed every few weeks as the seasons change and the days get longer and shorter.

If you need any type of automatic poultry house door controller, please email neil@reuk.co.uk with details of your exact requirements.