Introducing the ARD-DCCSHIELD v2.0!
The Arduino DCC interface shield (ARD-DCCSHIELD) was one of our oldest products still in production. The original design was from 2015, when we were still fairly new at this and trying to figure out how to make a product. While the design itself was solid, all the fiddly jumpers and such made it a pain to manufacture and test. As we’ve gained more experience as a company, we’ve learned how to optimize designs for better manufacturing.
It’s not just a benefit for us. As everyone knows, the cost of nearly everything is going up. One key way that we can hold the lid on prices (at least for a while) is to reduce our manufacturing costs, allowing us to eat some of the parts cost increases and still hold our margins rather than just passing the cost along to you.
Plus, the world has changed in the 7 years since it was designed. Our original attempt at a standard I2C peripheral connector – the RJ11 – has been long surpassed by the open Qwiic (Sparkfun) / STEMMA (Adafruit) 4-pin I2C connection standard. By including this connector on the shield, we allow you easily to integrate hundreds of different I2C peripherals made by dozens of different companies (including us).
The new board keeps all the great features of the old one while adding a few new ones, like easy DIP-switch configuration rather than moving jumpers around, and the Qwiic-compatible expansion connector. They should be in the store within a couple weeks.
Simple SoundBytes Switching
We’ve gotten the question a number of times about how to turn the SoundBytes modules on and off with a switch. It’s actually really easy, but since the question gets asked, I figured I’d do a very quick write-up on it.
First of all, the module requires a clean DC power supply of between 5 and 24 volts. (Note: PLEASE do not use old toy train power packs for this. They do not provide clean DC power, and it’s often far, far over the ratings of the module. Please read this for more details.) The positive side connects to the red wire, and negative / ground connects to the black wire.
To activate the sound player, the white wire needs to be electrically connected to the negative side of the power supply (the black wire). You can do this in any number of ways: a single-pole switch between the white wire and the black wire (SPST or SPDT, either will work), or a push button between black and white wires, or if you want it to play continuously, just connect the black and white wires together permanently. To stop the sound, the white wire should remain disconnected (meaning the switch is off or open).
Here’s a simple diagram showing how to wire it to a toggle switch:
Taking a Core Sample
I needed a way to drill a 3/8″ to 1/2″ diameter hole in 2″ thick rigid foam. Traditional drill bits wander too much and leave a terribly ragged hole. So do spade bits. A hole saw works great, but the smallest I could find was 3/4″. So… I tried a Grain Belt Models 36″ HO-scale culvert. I think the results speak for themselves!