STM8S-Discovery: Microcontrollers reach a new low

A complete microcontroller development kit for little more than the cost of a bare chip? That’s what STMicroelectronics is promising with their STM8S-Discoveryseven dollars gets you not only a board-mounted 8-bit microcontroller with an decent range of GPIO pins and functions, but the USB programmer/debugger as well.

The STM8S microcontroller is in a similar class as the ATmega328 chip on latest-generation Arduinos: an 8-bit 16 MHz core, 32K flash and 2K RAM, UART, SPI, I2C, 10-bit analog-to-digital inputs, timers and interrupts and all the usual goodness. The Discovery board features a small prototyping area and throws in a touch-sense button for fun as well. The ST-LINK USB programmer/debugger comes attached, but it’s easy to crack one off and use this for future STMicro-compatible projects; clearly a plan of giving away the razor and selling the blades.

The development tools are for Windows only, and novice programmers won’t get the same touchy-feely community of support that surrounds Arduino. But for cost-conscious hackers and for educators needing to equip a whole classroom (or if you’re just looking for a stocking stuffer for your geeky nephew), it’s hard to argue with seven bucks for a full plug-and-play setup.

[thanks Billy]

Drone Lab brings the excitement of Hypnotoad home


[Peter] tipped us off about his new synthesizer kit, Drone Lab. It has the things we look for a synthesizer: knobs, inputs, switches, wacky sounds. You can get your soldering on with the kit version, or buy these pre-built. Peter bills this as an open source kit but we didn’t see board artwork, just a schematic.

What we didn’t expect is its ability to mimic the Hypnotoad. As seen in the video after the break, the glorious sounds of your favorite television show can now be created in your own home. If you’ve never seen an episode of the Hypnotoad (gasp!) we’ve got that covered after the break as well.


Update: PCB artwork has now been posted just below the schematic.

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Adjustable breadboard supply


adafruit industries’ latest product is an adjustable breadboard power supply kit. We’ve seen breadboard supplies before, but like most of adafruit’s kits, this is the best design you’re going to encounter. It uses an MIC2941 voltage regulator instead of the more commonplace LM317. It has a very low dropout which means your output voltage can be much closer to the input voltage. Their example is using 3AAA or a Li-Ion battery for an output of 3.3V. Input can be through a barrel jack or terminal blocks. There is a selection switch for 3.3, 5, and adjustable voltage. Using the adjustment pot you can select an output voltage anywhere from 1.3V to within .5V of the 20V maximum input. The adjusted output voltage will remain the same even if you increase the input voltage. Like all of their kits, you can find schematics, assembly and usage instructions, on their project site.

64 Synchronizing Fireflies


[Alex] of tinkerlog created a set of 64 RGB fireflies that synchronize to blink all at once. We covered the kit earlier, but he has assembled a set of 64. Each firefly is independently controlled by an ATtiny13 that reads a phototransistor and lights up an RGB LED. The fireflies are programmed to blink a certain rate, but blink faster if they detect other blinks. After a few cycles, the fireflies begin to blink in unison. When the fireflies are arranged in different configurations, different patterns emerge. He is selling kits and has instructions for building your own. Videos of the fireflies after the jump.

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Arduino nixie shield


Reader [Bradley] sent in his ArduiNIX project, an Arduino shield designed for driving nixie tubes. The shield allows the Arduino to drive and multiplex nixie tubes without any additional hardware. These antique-looking displays are commonly hacked into clocks. It takes 9 volts from a wall wart and steps it up to over 200V in order to drive the displays. The shield is capable of multiplexing up to 80 individual elements. He has example code for driving a 6-digit display and a clock on his site. He is selling kits and completed shields too.

Related: Victorian nixie tube clock

[thanks Bradley!]

WTPA bendable sampler


Where’s the Party At is an open source bendable 8-bit sampler kit created by [Todd Bailey]. The initial design started about a year ago when he was instructing circuit benders how to transition to circuit design. He designed the kit to show how simply you could build a sampler. It demonstrates both clear analog and digital design. It’s meant to be a unique instrument though and features a lot of glitchy/quirky characteristics while being fairly reliable. You can read more about the device on his site. It has comprehensive parts and assembly manuals available and the kit is $75.

[via Create Digital Music]

Through-hole Bus Pirate kit from Fundamental Logic


Fundamental Logic is selling a Bus Pirate kit and bare PCB based on our universal serial interface tool. They started with our serial port-based v1a hardware, and modified it to use all through-hole parts.  8pin DIP LP2951ACN/-3.3 switchable voltage regulators replace the surface mount TPS79650/33 that we used. The PIC is pre-programmed with our latest firmware, version 0f, which includes a bootloader for easy firmware updates through the serial port. Documentation includes illustrated assembly instructions.

Speaking of Bus Pirate goodness, we’re busy working on hardware V2. As astute readers may have already noticed, the final version of the Bus Pirate incorporates an FTDI USB->serial chip, and draws its power from the USB port. We also tackled the software-controlled pull-up resistor feature, and reduced the overall part count and cost. Best of all, we’re working to make assembled PCBs available with world-wide shipping. The how-to should be ready in a few weeks.