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Meet the New SolderBridges

PCBs for Six new prototype SolderBridges arrived on Friday, thanks to our friends at Quartz TSL for the quick turnaround. Robs soldering skills have been put to the test soldering tiny Gyro’s and Barometers on to our IMU SolderBridge. This week we start testing and setting to work each board.


The first SolderBridge, DMX512, is working and on button press sends out DMX512 data. USB CDC is functioning sending and receiving serial data to the PC. As is the built in boot loader on all the SolderBridges we’ve powered up. Almost all the new SolderBridge have their own small ARM cortex M0 and can be used standalone, with other SolderBridges or on top of SplashBase for network connectivity/control.

Here are the six new SolderBridges :

More updates to follow. Interested in any of them, want more info? Drop us a comment to a tweet!

For more photos click “continue reading”

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24 Channel Servo Controller

In the Lab this week Rob and I have worked on the upcoming range of SolderBridge Add-ons for the SplashBase board. The first one ready for prototyping is a 24 channel Servo controller. It utilises the stacking connector allowing the SplashBase to control all the Servo’s over the network. It has a selectable chip select line, meaning you can have up to 5 of these attached to a single SplashBase. Creating a tower which is able to control 120 servo’s ( if you do this please show us what you are making! )

At its core is a LPC11U24 a low power cortex M0 with built-in USB. The LPC11 will handle the SPI communication to the SplashBase ( Or your own board ) and the pulse timing for the 24 servo outputs. A separate terminal block is provided to allow connection of an external 5v supply, as under load servo power consumption can be high. The USB port allows drag and drop re-programming of the SolderBridge and will also allow control via USB. This means you could use this board with out and SplashBase and control it directly from your PC. It can also double up as a general M0 USB development board and you could use the 24 pins that are broken out for any thing. NXP provide a Free IDE called LpcXpresso, it has a code size limit but that it’s limit is higher than the size of the M0’s flash.

What do you think? Like the idea? is there anything to add, let us know in the comments!

Update : PCBs Ordered and a New Product page setup here

SplashBase Kickstarter Now Live

Our SplashBase Development Kit is now live on Kickstarter! Help us make our dream a reality and provide you with a useful tool.
SolderSplash Labs - SplashBase - KickStarter Staff Favourite
Kickstarter is a website that enables a crowd of people to fund a project and get a reward once the project hits its funding goal. Our project reward is the SplashBase it’s self. As well as a few smaller rewards like an ARM cortex jtag we have made called SplashTag. Please help us get there! If you have any questions, please do add a comment here or tweet us!

Its going to be an exciting month.

KickStarter Link

SplashBase Development Kit

We kicked off SolderSplash Labs as a hobby at the start of the year with a blog to talk about it, the last few months we decided to get a bit more serious. We’ve incorporated and become a limited company, have a bank account sorted, invested in component stock for a small batch and purchased a large reflow oven.

But most importantly we’ve taken the feedback from the enquiries we had about the SplashLight and created an expandable development board by splitting it in two. The SplashBase is now an expandable network connected platform which we can build upon with various add-ons, called SolderBridges. The four relays now become our first SolderBridge to plug-in to the SolderBase.

SplashBase Development Board with SolderBridge

SplashBase Development Board with SolderBridge

Our First prototype SplashBase and Relay SolderBridge works well and we are ready to start building them. Our plan was initially to open an eCommerce site and start selling them one by one. But then Kickstarter finally announced their UK launch and we decided to go for it! Getting on to Kickstarter, we believe, will give us the required boost to start this business. Producing a batch of PCBs and not a few at a time is a lot more cost efficient, it will give us the needed cash flow for large volume component purchasing and help us spread out the cost of tooling for production.

Our project page and video is in the KickStarter queue and we are constantly checking our email for the go ahead. As soon as that comes in I hope you will all be there to support us!

SplashBase Project Page

Edit : Our Kickstarter is now live, click here

SplashTag Arm & DSP Jtag Prototype Works

A very busy few weeks at SolderSplash Labs!

Our blank PCBs for the SplashTag have arrived and Rob got the chance to test out our new toaster reflow oven. For small batches and prototypes it’s ideal and gives a more professional finish versus hand soldering. To control the oven Rob threw together a simple set point controller using the DAC output of a ST32F100 M0, a AD8495ARMZ and a thermocouple. To program the STM32 we used CooCox, it’s the first time we have had a chance to use it properly and we are quite impressed!

To verify the oven was being controlled as intended we used an independent temperature logger.  As you can see from the graph above actual temperature is tracking our demand, matching what is needed to re-flow our PCBs.

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SplashTag – Jtag Debugger for ARM and DSP

We have just sent off another batch of gerber files this time it’s for a new product, SplashTag. With our up coming product range we thought it would be helpful of us to offer a Jtag for those of you wanting to write your own code for the board and not use our ethernet bootloader. SplashTag is a programmer & debugging device that will work with Coocox, TI’s Code Composer, Rowley CrossWorks and more. It’s based on the XDS100v2 so should also mean it’s compatible with TI’s free Code Composer license I blogged about previously. We deviated slightly from the standard XDS100v2 and broke out the spare Uart on the FT2232HL giving you a USB serial port, which always comes in handy when debugging.

The SplashTag uses a standard 20pin ARM jtag connector. To make it as flexible as possible we will also sell a couple of adapters allowing the SplashTag to connect to TI’s DSPs via their 14pin jtag connection or to an ARM based microprocessor using a 10way JTag header.

Code Composer Studio – Surprisingly Free

Part of making a product is selecting the right Microcontroller to do the job. There is a lot to consider, price, availability, features and the cost of the toolchain. Some compilers, IDEs & Jtags can cost thousands.

We have chosen the LM3S6100 (Didn’t have enough RAM) LM3S6432 for the SplashLight. TI (Texas Instruments) offer Code Composer Studio an eclipse based IDE which supports their entire range of microcontrollers. A quick look at the product page shows you can get a 30 day evaluation version but otherwise you will need to spend $495 per seat. Well that is unless you have a XDS100 based jtag which almost all TI’s LM3S dev kits come with! You simply activate the “Free Limited License” it’s only limit is that it will only work with XDS100 jtags, so no code or time limit. I guess they don’t like to shout about it so bigger businesses will just pay the per seat fee’s. But for Makers, Enthusiasts or people with no money it’s great! TI’s wiki page for the XDS100 lists all the suppliers for standalone XDS100 jtags, circuits to make your own or just pick up the cheapest TI LM3S dev kit you can find.

Continue Reading →

SplashLight RGB Control Video

A quick demo video of the SplashLight development board controlling some RGB Ikea Dioders over the network. The PC application is written in C#, the SplashLight Controller is automatically located on the network and control messages are sent using UDP.

It’s my first YouTube video! I’m not a fan of my own voice so almost didn’t post it, Please be kind! :) In the next video I’ll show the relays being controlled with the android app.

SplashPixel – The Boards Are Here!

Our SplashPixel boards arrived on Thursday from our good friends at Seeed, and look exactly like our Sketchup model! Being Alpha PCBs they have one or 2 small issues to work out. Currently I am working on a frame buffer for the SplashLight to control a chain of SplashPixels. Expect a post about that soon!

SplashPixel – 16x RGB LED Tile

While I’m working on the SplashLight, Robs been cracking on with our next product. This time we have a name decided up front, were calling it the SplashPixel. The SplashPixel has 16 RGB LEDs, each is capable of 30mA and is driven using a  TI TLC5947 on a SPI bus. Unlike other matrix LED panel designs all 16 LEDs are independently controllable and can be on at the same time, giving you a higher possible brightness.

We have designed the SplashPixel with easy expansion in mind. Our goals are to make it quick to set-up multiple SplashPixels and reduce the wiring needed to do it. Using edge connectors you can attach a number of them together to form a larger surface. Each board has its own switch mode power supply, this means we can supply a network of SplashPixels with a higher voltage and lower current.

The boards are on order from our friends in China, it’s going to be a fun Christmas!

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