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New Product Announcement: Mini7Plus Infrared Spotlight kit

This is Not New!

Yes, Astute Reader, you have caught me in, shall we say, an “inconsistency”. This product is not “new”, but it is “new to the store”. I have been designing and selling infrared (IR) spotlight kits for decades now. In the past, I was mostly producing these for wholesale customers like BG Micro. Since I have several different models in stock now, I thought I would start making them available in the web store here:

What is it?

Mini7Plus IR Spotlight
Mini7Plus IR Spotlight as viewed in infrared

The Mini7Plus IR Spotlight is a compact, low-power infrared (IR) LED array that runs on 12VDC. The round printed circuit board (PCB) is a tiny 0.75 inches (19.05 mm) in diameter; it’s the same size as a US penny. The Mini7Plus kit contains a quality PCB, seven (7) high-power infrared LEDs, a current limiting resistor and two leads for power.

Product Variations

We offer this product with three (3) different wavelengths and two (2) different beam angles. Wavelength, usually expressed in nanometers or nm, determines the “color” of the infrared light. You need to know which wavelength your camera can detect. The beam angle refers to the spread of light as you get farther away from the LEDs. A 20° beam angle is a fairly tight “spotlight” effect, whereas a 50º angle is more of a “floodlight”.

Why do it?

Do you need a compact and reliable source of infrared illumination that runs on 12V? Use it for covert and semi-covert surveillance of small spaces, such as inside your car or under your house. The Mini7Plus IR Spotlight is a reliable and robust source of infrared light for your project.

Value & benefits:

Low-cost kit is easy to assemble and provides thousands of hours of continuous operation. Illuminate small spaces discreetly, such as small animal habitat without generating distracting visible light or excessive heat.

Who benefits?

Photographers and videographers can use the Mini7Plus IR Spotlight to illuminate otherwise invisible worlds. Property owners can use certain surveillance cameras that can pick up the light that is mostly invisible to the human eye. Scientists can use infrared light in experiments to observe nocturnal behaviors.

What’s included in the kit?

  • Resealable plastic bag 2″x3″
  • Printed circuit board
  • 7x IR LEDs
  • 100 ohm 1/2 watt 5% resistor
  • red power lead 4″
  • black power lead 4″
  • Kit label

Buy Some Today!

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New Product: 12 LED circle


Today I’m happy to announce a new addition to my blinky LED kit line-up, the aptly-named “12 LED circle“, or 12LEDcircle for short. It’s a small, round PCB with 12 bright blue LEDs around the edge. It comes with a pre-programmed microcontroller that lights up the LEDs in various mesmerizing patterns. You can see a demo of the various blinky modes on my YouTube channel.

The assembly instructions, schematic and source code are all available as well.

Kits are in stock and ready to ship today for $12.95.  Check them out in our store!

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I Wrote Another Book – Building Your Own Electronics Lab

Building Your Own Electronics Lab
Building Your Own Electronics Lab

I wrote another book.  This time it’s about building your own electronics lab, titled Building Your Own Electronics Lab.  It gives the reader a gentle introduction to electricity and electronics and how to safely learn and play with them.  Basic tools and components are discussed and some simple starter projects are presented.  The main idea that I tried to put forward is that the electronics hobby is fun.  It’s also fun to share with others.

The softcover edition is available in my store! You can also find paperback and e-book versions on, or find it at your favorite bookseller using the ISBN 978-1430243861.

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Lux Spectralis 2 Now Available

I’ve updated the popular Lux Spectralis kit! The new Lux Spectrlais 2 kit uses three separate LEDs for the red, green and blue color channels. The circuit still does exactly the same thing (blinks multi-colored LEDs).  This will make it much easier to modify for custom color combinations.  Check out the Lux Spectralis 2 Kit in the store!

The new PCB is a little bit smaller than the previous version.  It uses electroless nickel immersion gold (ENIG) plating on all the electrical contacts, which has its own advantages, electrically, but I did it because it’s more beautiful and contrasts well with the black solder mask.

Other improvements:

I simplified the whole thing and reduced the component count.  This will make it easier to assemble.  You can download your own copy of the assembly instructions.

The kits still comes with a 3xAAA battery holder with a built-in power switch.  The lighting modes are identical to the previous version.  The price remains the same.

Lux Spectralis 2

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I Wrote a Book – Arduino Internals

Over the summer, I wrote a book about Arduino internals, called Arduino Internals. It is being published November 16, 2011 by Apress. It has a lot of detailed information about Arduinos as well as Atmel AVRs. There are several projects in the book that illustrate some of the topics. It’s a paperback book that runs to just over 350 pages. There’s also an “ebook” available in several popular formats.

You can buy your very own copy from our store! It’s also available from Amazon. You can also go to your favorite book seller and buy a copy. Just use the ISBN number 978-1430238829. To buy the ebook, go to the book’s page on the Apress web site,
This was a very exciting project for me. It’s my first book. I hope you enjoy it.

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Build a Wee Blinky Using Incandescent Bulbs

You can build the Wee Blinky kit using incandescent bulbs instead of the supplied LEDs.  Just omit D1, D2 (the LEDs) and R1 and R4 (the current-limiting resistors for the LEDs).  Connect one lead of an incandescent bulb to the bottom lead of where the LED was supposed to go, then the other lead to the bottom lead of where the resistor was supposed to go.  Repeat for the other side.

Here is a YouTube video using 12V incandescent bulbs:

It gives a very warm, retro look to the Wee Blinky!  Let me know what you think.

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Dale Wheat’s USB to TTL Adapter

Photo of Dale Wheat's USB to TTL adapter
Dale Wheat’s USB to TTL adapter

This is a minimalist USB-to-TTL adapter for use on a solderless breadboard. I designed this to use with my Breadboard Arduino class. It’s based on the FTDI USB UART chip, which is the same, identical chip used on “real” Arduinos, so it uses the same, identical drivers and works on most PCs. The only differences are that it is tiny, it plugs into a breadboard and lines up with the RESET, TXD and RXD pins of an ATmega328 chip (the Arduino main-brain) and it says “Dale Wheat’s USB to TTL” when you plug it in the first time. I make these here in the lab, by hand.

Here is the schematic (PDF, EAGLE) and the PCB layout (EAGLE). I program each chip with a unique serial number to prevent COM port build-up. I use the MPROG 3.5 utility from FTDI with these settings.

Originally I was only selling these USB-TTL adapters with the Breadboard Arduino kit, but due to popular demand, I am now selling it separately in my online store. You’re more than welcome, however, to make your own using the files provided above. The entire design is placed by me in the Public Domain. Go nuts.

There have been some USB-TTL failures in the field from the very first batch of 100. These are being investigated to try to improve their reliability. Every disappointing and frustrating failure is an opportunity for improvement. If you are having problems with your USB-TTL adapter, please feel free to contact me to see what might be the matter with it. I expect machines and tools to perform their function without a lot of fuss. I’d also like people to use these little gizmos to build interesting and fascinating things and not have to spend lots of time trouble-shooting the components.

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Welcome MAKE Readers!

MAKE vol 25 features a little article I wrote about building a “Breadboard Arduino”.  You can buy a kit that contains all the parts for $40.  Click on the giant “Buy Now” button to order one today!

The kit includes everything you need:  a solderless breadboard, jumper wires, a pre-programmed ATmega328P with pin label, USB adapter and basic components to perform the basic “software experiments” in the article.  You need:  a computer with a spare USB port that can run the free Arduino IDE software and a USB A to mini-B cable.

The first 99 buyers also get the “Li’l Larson LED Scanner Expansion Pack”, for free!  OK, it’s just 5 red LEDs and some more jumper wires but you do get a really nice, custom laser-cut LED bezel for maximum Cylon (or K.I.T.T.) action!

Breadboard Arduino Kit
Breadboard Arduino Kit contains all the parts you need to build a Duemilanove-compatible microcomputer with your bare hands - no tools required!