$40 : sparkfun.com
It can be tough to know what your Arduino is thinking sometimes. That’s why the folks at Geek Ammo created MicroView, a chip-sized Arduino-compatible module with a built-in 64×48 pixel OLED display on top. It has 12 digital I/O pins, three of which are capable of PWM, six analog inputs, and can be powered with 3.3 to 16 volts. Since the development board is in a DIP package, it can be easily pushed into a breadboard for prototyping.
The display is controlled with their Arduino library, which makes it easy to draw text, sprites, graphs, and gauges on the screen for interactive menus, readouts, or a quick look at what’s going on inside that chip.
Navio Autopilot Shield
$150 : emlid.com
There are a number of sensors, functions, and features that you will find common to many autonomous robotics projects: GPS navigation, accelerometer and gyroscope 3D-position and orientation sensors, motorcontrollers, analog inputs, and a wireless receiver to name a few. The Navio Autopilot Shield from EMLID packs all these features and more into a small Raspberry Pi daughter board. Navio was designed as an experimental hardware platform for the Linux version of the ArduPilot APM Autopilot, an open-source software suite for autonomous robotics.
The Navio can help you build the controller for your plane, car, boat, or drone. And since it works on top of the Raspberry Pi, you can easily use other software libraries to extend the functionality of your autonomous robotic project, such as with Wi-Fi, a webcam, GSM, and more.
Pololu DRV8835 Dual Motor Driver Shield for Arduino
$7 : pololu.com
There are numerous Arduino-compatible motor shields that allow for easy control of motors, servos, and stepper motors, but most are one-size-fits-all designs that are meant to satisfy many different needs. Pololu’s new DRV8835 dual motor driver shield is a simpler, smaller, and very inexpensive shield that can be used to control one or two small brushed DC motors.
The shield can deliver 1.2 A continuously (1.5 A peak) along both channels, or 2.4 A (3 A peak) when both channels are connected together in parallel. It features six screw-down terminals — two are for an external 1.5 V to 11 V power supply, and four for the pair of motor control channels.
EnOcean Sensor Kit and EnOcean Pi
$70 (kit), $26 (add-on board) : element14.com
When you work with wireless sensors, one of the challenges is figuring out how you power each sensor unit. But with the EnOcean Sensor Kit and the EnOcean Pi add-on board, the only thing you’ll need to power directly is the Raspberry Pi. Each wireless sensor module harvests its own electricity, either from ambient light or kinetic energy. The sensor kit from element14 includes a reed switch, a temperature sensor, and a pushbutton switch.
The EnOcean Pi receives the wireless signals from thesensors and passes them to a Raspberry Pi via serial. EnOcean provides a guide to reading the data in FHEM, an open-source server for home automation. For experienced coders, you can have these sensors working with your projects no matter what language they’re written in.
Raspberry Pi Model A+
$20 : raspberrypi.org
Not long after upgrading the Raspberry Pi Model B to the Model B+, the foundation behind the popular single board computer has now brought a lot of the same improvements to their low-end line with the new Model A+. The A+ sports the newly expanded 40 pin breakout, it works with microSD cards, and the new board now has rounded corners with mounting holes. The smaller PCB footprint and slim profile make the A+ a great option for projects where space is tight.
As far as performance goes, the A+ has similar specs as the Model A. It has the same Broadcom BCM2835 system on a chip (SoC) with 256 megabytes of RAM. Priced at just $20, the refreshed Model A+ keeps Raspberry Pi in the lead in terms of affordability in the landscape of Linux-based boards.
Gizmo 2 Single Board Computer
$199 : gizmosphere.org
Packing a lot of power in just 4 inches squared, the Gizmo 2 from Gizmosphere is an open-source single board computer aimed at professional embedded programmers and advanced makers. It has a 1 GHz AMD GX-210HA x86 dual-core processor with a 300 MHz GPU and 1 GB of RAM, which puts the Gizmo 2 on the high end of maker-friendly single board computers.
Not only is it powerful, but the Gizmo 2 also supports many connectivity interfaces. With an HD audio input and output, mSATA, mini PCIe, microSD, gigabit Ethernet, and USB port, there’s not much this small board can’t do. And since the board is open source, the schematics, PCB layout files, and bill-of-materials are available if you’d like to use the design to build your own version.
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