Toys from Farnell

I came to the hackspace tonight with the intention of exploring the toys that Farnell have sent us to investigate and taking photos of same. Where better to do it than outside?


So, what have they sent us:

  • A Raspberry Pi Model B, complete with 8GB SD card and 1A power supply.
  • A Gertdunio (an Ardunio-like board which sits on top of a Raspberry Pi and can operate connected or independently.


  • An AVR XMEGA-A3BU Xplained Evaluation Kit
  • An ATAVRSBPR1 ‘Pressure One’ ‘Sensors Explained’ evaluation kit (seems to fit on the XMega board)


  • An Freescale Xtrinsic Sensors evaluation kit


  • 2 x solderless breadboards

All in all a good hoard. While I’ve got some ideas of what to do with them I don’t want all the fun, so would love to hear what others members might like to play with.


Time to go read up on the documentation! After it got chilly and I went inside, I managed to get some of the kit lighting up relatively easily:

The Freescale Xtrinsic Sensors evaluation kit seemed to be ready-loaded with USB serial port temperature and altitude (?) reporting code. Well certainly temperature, it went up when I stuck my fat finger on the sensor:

IMG_6599s IMG_6600s

The AVR XMEGA-A3BU Xplained Evaluation Kit has quite a cute display by default when you power it up. Took me a while to realise that the Back ‘button’ was actually a capacitive touch sensor and not just missing:

IMG_6611s IMG_6612s IMG_6613s

Northackton IS the biggest hackspace in the UK!

Various hackspces have laid claim to the title, with London claiming the most members, Nottinghack claiming the most floor space. But here, for the record, is proof the Northackton IS the biggest hackspace in the UK, by far.

At our regular fortnightly meeting on 12th May 2014, I had intended to take photos of some of kit that Farnell have sent us but while it was light I decided to take a tour of the site. Pictures below. I’m even sat here outside typing up this blog post.

We are blessed with the facilities we have at Northackton, run and maintained by our parent organisation NSME. From the clubhouse, to the carriage shed and other outbuildings to the mahoosive train track loops including tunnel and smaller garden railways. Even having been coming here for a number of years I’d forgotten how large the site is.


Set within the 500 odd acres grounds of Delapre Abbey the enclosed site of the hackspace is huge itself, with an immediately adjacent public field and a little further afield an even more massive field for model aircraft, UAVs and rocketry. There’s also a lake within walking distance for aqua-makers. I’d love to see some model submariners.


Dismantling LiPos

Against my better judgement I took apart some old LiPo batteries so that I could use the single cells for some mesh networking.

After a bit of careful solder-suckering I’ve now got three individual 3.7V cells with tabs poking out.

Tonight at Northackton – Monday 3 March 2014


Steve sent himself a text, fiddled with some AT commands and then received it on his ublox C027  Internet of Things gadget.

Mark praying

While Mark prayed for it to work, Jim made Steve’s lightbulb come on by phoning the embedded board – which duly flashed it’s little LED (not shown in the picture due to poor camera shutter timing).

ublox c027 board

Mat cut out some wood…

Laser cutting plot clock Plot clock parts

But was then puzzled it didn’t quite fit together, until Steve pointed out he’d put a key piece on upside down.

Plot clock parts put badly together

Jim turned some more things on – like his Lego-encased Raspberry Pi

Lego Raspberry Pi

Mat learnt that flashing a light on the end of a pole and waggling it about doesn’t work very well.

And most importantly Steve won a Twix!


Then we all went home.

Next meeting: Monday 17 March 2014, 7pm.