Parts: 4×4 RGB button pad controller SPI


We covered SparkFun’s new RGB button pad controller a few weeks ago. This is a full-color clone of the monome interface; a 4×4 grid of buttons with tri-color LEDs underneath. Each LED has 24bits of color control, for more than 16million color combinations. Up to 10 panels can be chained together to create huge button grids, like SparkFun’s Tetris table. We previously used a smaller version in our RGB combination lock.

We asked SparkFun to send us the SPI version of the button controller to test. This is a new product developed in-house at SparkFun, with open source hardware and software. Read about our experience interfacing this board below.

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Parts: Precision humidity and temperature sensor (SHT1x/7x)


Sensirion’s SHTxx is a digitally interfaced humidity and temperature sensor. Accurate humidity measurements usually require careful analog design, but the SHTxx moves all that complicated stuff into a single chip. Through-hole (SHT7x) and surface mount (SHT1x) versions are available, we used the surface mount SHT11 with +/-3% accuracy. We’ll show you how to use the SHTxx below.

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Parts: 1-Wire temperature sensor (DS1822)



Dallas/Maxim’s 1-Wire protocol is the most requested addition to the Bus Pirate.  We finally got some 1-Wire parts, and today we’ll demonstrate the DS1822 1-Wire digital thermometer. Grab the datasheet (PDF) and follow along.

This post is accompanied by release v.0d of the Bus Pirate firmware for hardware version 0. This includes the new 1-Wire protocol library, more configuration options, and other improvements.

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Parts: 3.5mm stereo audio jacks

3.5mm stereo connectors for headphones and microphones are almost mandatory for audio projects. X1 (left) is a simple plug with connections for the audio channels (pin 2,3), and ground (pin 1). X2 (right) has pass-through contacts (pin 2,3) that divert audio to an internal speaker when headphones aren’t connected.

Here’s a breakdown of the audio connectors illustrated above. Continue reading “Parts: 3.5mm stereo audio jacks”

Parts: microSD memory card holders

SD cards add cheap persistent memory to your project, but the holder takes a lot of board space. A smaller option is the microSD flash format. MicroSD cards are compatible with regular SD cards, and most come with a free adapter. We looked at four holders for our mini web server. Which should you choose? Read about our experience below. Continue reading “Parts: microSD memory card holders”

Parts: 0.1uF decoupling capacitors

Most ICs need to be decoupled from their power supply, usually with a 0.1uF capacitor between each power pin and ground. Decoupling is usually used to remove noise and to smooth power fluctuations. Every project will need a few decoupling capacitors; our mini web server project has three ICs that require a total of 11. This can be an expensive part to buy in singles, so it’s crucial to stock up online. Read more about our favorite bulk through-hole and surface mount decoupling capacitors after the break. Continue reading “Parts: 0.1uF decoupling capacitors”