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More e-block sensors


#1

I would really like to see more e-block sensors. I’m switching from Phidgets and they had a large selection.

Voltmeter
Ammeter
Humidity
Sound
Force
Solid-state relays
etc

Also, why no e-block case on the relay? Seems like that one would need it more than any other one since it supports high current/voltage.


#2

E-blocks are cool, but I recommend to look at Gadgeteer and FEZ Spider in particular. There will be much more modules for Gadgeteer.


#3

The relay should absolutely get a case.

I do not agree, architect.
The mentioned extensions are rather easy to build and would be great to have them with FEZ too, not only for gadgeteer.


#4

With what? ;D

That e-blocks are cool or that there will be more Gadgeteer modules?


#5

Gadgeteer is a very expensive replacement. Getting started with Gadgeteer is about 4 times as expensive as a Panda II ($152 for main board, SD, USB/power versus $40). FEZ and Gadgeteer are not interchangeable, they are both good products, but for different purposes and significantly different budgets. I find the entire letter coding thing non-intuitive and the interface is much more difficult to work with for making your own connections than the FEZ model is.

In addition, Gadgeteer has the e-block adapter, so e-blocks work on both FEZ and Gadgeteer making them a superior choice.


#6

Robert Jacobs, I’m glad you think the mentioned extensions are easy to build but I have no clue what components would be needed how to go about building a clean one even if I had a part list and a diagram. Sadly even my 5v regulator circuits look like crap.


#7

Printsize, you said the Gadgeteer “letters” are hard to understand. Actually, they’re no harder to understand than any other connection pattern - well perhaps not as simple as what you’re used to with Arduino, but it’s not too much different.

Each socket has 3v3, 5v, and GND. So that’s similar to e-block except you get both voltages, bonus for those devices that need 5v to operate.

Then you get a set of IO pins, either for specific purposes or general purpose IOs. This is better than e-blocks because you have a larger number of IOs for devices that need more than just a single data pin, for instance an SPI device - on e-block you’d need multiple 3-pin wires to run those, but you have them all in a Gadgeteer S socket (plus some to spare!).

Page 5 in the module builders guide has the master list of the layouts. If you want a set of general IOs, then you want an X or Y socket; if you want Analog In, thats an A socket; I2C is an I; UART is U or K (K has handshaking); PWM is P; etc.

The great thing is you pick up a module, and you know what possible sockets you can plug it into because it’s labelled. There’s no question whether you have something that’s connected the same way or not. Unlike the situation where today if someone decides to use a 3-pin connector and decides to put GND and 3V3 on opposite sides to what GHI decided, and if you don’t check and plug it in your sensor or Fez becomes toast.


#8

–>The mentioned extensions are rather easy to build and would be great to have them with FEZ too, not only for gadgeteer.<–

FEZ will not be dropped, so those modules should be made available for fez too.

[quote]Robert Jacobs, I’m glad you think the mentioned extensions are easy to build but I have no clue what components would be needed how to go about building a clean one even if I had a part list and a diagram. Sadly even my 5v regulator circuits look like crap.
[/quote]

Then you will have to follow online courses/tutorials to improve your electronics skills.
Do not start with making your own pcb. Start with making circuitry on a breadboard. ;D


#9

I have some problems with fine motor control, so soldering becomes a problem and breadboards are great for prototyping but at some point you want a bit more permanence in your circuit. I can strip and crimp with the best though.

As for the Spider, I’m sure it is quite natural once you get into it, but there is still the vast difference in entry cost.


#10

I kinda understand the need for more e-blocks… I’m using the FEZminiRobot kit, and it would be nice to have a gyro eblock, accelorometer eblock, DC - Stepper - and Servo motor eblocks with enough juice to handle and protect the FEZ/ Spider in question (external power eblocks, undertandable :slight_smile: )… to name a few… that makes plug and play easier, and i dont have to go looking around for parts when they are here ready to go.

Go GHI :slight_smile:


#11

Particularly useful would be a prototyping eblock - one or two eblock connectors on a small PCB with a little matrix of through-holes. Then we could easily make our own.

Problem we have here in Europe is the suppliers will not stock even the full current range and direct purchase from GHI except for large orders carries prohibitive delivery cost. Bizarrely, my own usual supplier stocks the IR receiver but not the transmitter!

Maybe GHI are deprecating these is favour of the (sadly more expensive) Spider system - I notice that the “Internet of things” kit has mysteriously disappeared from the shop!


#12

We are pushing distributors to stock everything.

We never removed the ultimate kit from our catalog! http://www.ghielectronics.com/catalog/category/38/


#13

I have a memory of 2 kits that seem to not be listed on that page. One I believe was the Educational Kit, it had a FEZ Mini, the base board, and some e-blocks. Then there was the internet of things kit that I believe had a bunch of e-blocks, the FEZ Connect, maybe the FEZ Touch, but did not include the Panda II. Or maybe that one did have a Panda II and just got renamed to the Ultimate Kit.


#14

I was looking at this:

http://www.coolcomponents.co.uk/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=23_81&products_id=735

Seems to be the same as the Ultimate Kit, but minus the Panda II and the Touch Screen. It is not clear if it includes the FEZ Connect (it is in the picture, but not in the parts list) and it is pretty poor value if it does not. You will notice that not all the eblocks in this kit are available in the Cool Components shop for individual purchase. I do not want to single out Cool Components though, they do have a better stock range than any of the other European suppliers I can find.


#15

XBee, I am not sure if this would be considered a sensor. I know Sparkfun sells an Arduino shield that can hold an XBee, but this would not work very well with the Panda, if you wanted to use an XBee with an antenna. So, it seems that some sort of eblock configuration would be a better fit. Same thing would apply to a BlueTooth class 1 module with an antenna. Since I have used XBee, that would be my preference.


#16

[quote]I was looking at this:

http://www.coolcomponents.co.uk/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=23_81&products_id=735
[/quote]

I requested the change from this distributor about 2 months ago. I will contact them again :slight_smile:


#17

With the problems I had with supply of eBlocks and also with discovering exactly what is on them (for example, what chip does the USB-Serial eBlock use?) I decided to make my own. Here is the recipy:

  1. Buy some eBlock connector cables and cut them in half. The wires are colour coded as you’d expect: black is ground, red is 5v DC power and white connects to the FEZ IO pin. There is really no need for a connector at the eBlock end and this way you get two cables for the price of one and also save the cost and supply hastle of the PCB socket.

  2. If you do not wish to solder, use a 3-segment “chocolate block” type screw connector. Better, solder the wires and components to a small rectangle of matrix board. You can also solder the wires to the little “breakout boards” supplied by the likes of http://www.sparkfun.com/. For surface-mount components, these can be used: http://www.schmartboard.com/.

  3. If you use matrix board or breakout boards, you can form an insulating and protecting back on the solder side using this product: http://www.sugru.com/. If you use black sugru on a 40x20mm board, the result is virtually identical to an eBlock!

I’ve just made a tri-colour LED (using one eBlock connector and the two servo motor pins on the FEZ Connect), a push button, a radio remote receiver, a radio remote transmitter and an USB-Serial converter using the FT232R breakout from Sparkfun (two eBlock connectors). All work well :slight_smile:


#18

Very cool! Use the wires to build your own eblocks :slight_smile:


#19

What components did you use for the radio receiver and transmitter?


#20

The modules are from a UK company: http://www.rfsolutions.co.uk/. the receiver is AM-HRR30 and the transmitter AM-RT5. I’m using them to control devices from http://www.byebyestandby.com/ and http://www.homeeasy.eu/.

The software driver was an interesting challenge because the receiver sees random noise when nothing is transmitting so it is hard to decide when to start the pincapture. But that is another story!