We're giving a sneak peak at what all this Makerverse hardware has been building up to. We've been working on some comprehensive kits that will help makers get started with interesting hardware by completing some fun projects.


Welcome back to the factory! Since we last saw you, we have been working on some Makerverse kits and have a new PiicoDev prototype to show off.

First up, some release news. The PiicoDev Real-Time Clock has been released. This project is a supercapacitor backed up real-time clock, so you don't have to worry about using batteries. The supercapacitor charges when connected to power and will keep it backed up for about a week at a time.

To make the experience easier, we have created a new style of guide for the PiicoDev RTC. This guide has all three development boards available within it: Raspberry Pi, Raspberry Pi Pico, and Microbit.

When you start the Getting Started guide, you select which dev board you are working on. By default, Raspberry Pi Pico is shown, but you can jump over to the Raspberry Pi or Microbit tabs to see the video content for those development boards.

At any point in the guide, if there is a different action depending on which development board you are using, you can switch between them. For example, a clear case is for the installation of the PiicoDev RTC.

The Raspberry Pi Pico is connected in a different way than the Microbit. To help first-time users, the setup page includes a mini guide. This guide is easy to follow and does not require any linking to other development boards or assumed knowledge. We would love to hear feedback on how to make it even better.

In previous Factor episodes, we have shown prototypes for Makerverse modules such as amplifiers, keyboards, load cells, and ADCs. We wanted to deliver a kidded Makerverse experience, so we have been saving these modules. For beginners, it can be intimidating to scrape together these disparate pieces of hardware to get a result.

To make it easier, we are releasing the Makerverse Audio Kit. This kit provides a much more cohesive experience for people who want to include audio in their projects. With this kit, you can make something from scratch that will work right away.

In this case, this kit provides a keyboard to play some sounds manually, or you can play audio off a SD card. Opening up the kit, it has a lot of the hardware we've been talking about in previous episodes, such as the SD card module, the R2R DAC, an audio amplifier, and the 8-key keyboard. The kit is complete for this and two other projects. We are currently working on the education, so stay tuned for more Makerverse kits and let us know what project you think we should work on in the future.

In the world of PiicoDev prototypes, we are working on a PiicoDev air quality sensor. This one is based off the ENS160 from SioSense. This is a straightforward design and we have templated the process quite well. This story is more about component selection. In the PiicoDev environmental sensing lineup, we already have the BME280, which is a temperature, pressure, and humidity sensor made by Bosch. Bosch also make the BME680, which was originally getting a thorough look in for this project. This device is used for measuring indoor air quality as well.

However, as we get down to the application, we can see that it will rely on smart algorithms inside something called BSEC. Following that trail of breadcrumbs further, we can see that BSEC is a closed source binary, which Bosch distribute for use on embedded systems or microcontrollers. This is their pre-baked binary that will be used for the project.

The ENS160 is a great part for developing an API due to its simple register mapping. It has air quality index, organic volatile compounds, and equivalent CO2 registers that can be read easily. There are also internationally developed standards for interpreting the readings, and the API could even extract the rating as a word rather than a number. This is a much simpler process than working with the BME part, which has a pre-compiled binary that cannot be accessed.

The only requirement for the ENS160 is an extra voltage system on board, but this is easily achievable with a linear voltage regulator. This makes the design process straightforward and efficient.

Smart algorithms are a deal breaker for platforms like PiicoDev. as they are first and foremost open source. This means that there is a new file dependency which could harm the user experience.

This episode is now complete. If you have any questions or would like to see something closer, leave us a comment.

Until next time, catch you later! Open a thread on the Core Electronics forums to get help with your project.



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