Code Gadgets Geekery

Xtrinsic sensor evaluation board giveaway!

Thanks to the lovely people at Farnell UK I have 4 Xtrinsic sensor evaluation boards to give away. These boards include a stack of sensors (altitude, pressure, magnetometer and accelerometer) attached to a Freescale Freedom Development Platform board which has a multicolour LED and a touch pad.

Out of the box the boards show up as a USB drive when attached to a PC, and it’s possible to load apps to the board – the Farnell kit comes with a script that displays the information from the various sensors via a USB/Serial interface.

At the moment the board instructions are for PC, although there is a Linux driver available.

xtrinsic sensor board
Droids building droids?

There’s potential for lots of really interesting projects with these boards, so here’s how to win one*:

Just come up with an idea for a project using the board – can be anything you like, from the complicated to the simple – and add it as a comment below.

If you want to include a bit of information (or write a blog about your idea) link to it from your comment.

I’ll pick the 4 I like the best and send out the boards. The closing date is the 7th of December 2013 so you have a week to get your thinking caps on.

I’ll feature the ideas – and follow up on how the projects went on in a later blog post.

 *droids not included. I live in the UK but will post anywhere but it might take a while to arrive. Decisions are all final. Boards supplied by Farnell UK who send me nice stuff from time to time.


The competition has now closed, thank you to everyone who entered, I’ll be sorting through the ideas and contacting you if you’re a winner.

This rather good competition is still open – if you’re looking for something else to enter.

39 replies on “Xtrinsic sensor evaluation board giveaway!”

This board would be perfect for my college robotics society. We could use the sensors in an autonomous rover or part of a can sat project

Have been getting interested in high powered amateur rocketry and live rocket telemetry. Would like to stick this payload into the rocket and start experimenting with data logging and live data collection during flight.

I already have a Robotic Car, but it can only detect the obstacles and its just a dumb obstacle finding car, it can’t find its way to say a Place (like my Kids room ), so i will use my Robotic Car, use the Magnetometer to find Direction and accelerometer to get the coordinate’s and Car will navigate directly to my kids room with a big Alarm clock on its top… And if my kids pick up the car, the altitude changes and the alarm goes bonkers. So kind of a project to navigate car to kids room and activate a gentle alarm and if he picks it up then alarm go bonkers.

I think it would be cool to use this in a project I plan to build. It will be first be a remote control car/tank. Afterwards I plan to make a way for it to turn into a quadcopter of sorts. If I am able to do that, and make it water proof, I would then see if I can turn it into an amphibian vehicle that can also turn into a quadcopter.

Intruder alert or motion sensing alarm clock. Snooze it via moving it (accelerometer) and turning it off via the touch pad in a LED dictated pattern (changes every morning).

Possibly a temperature system to tell you when to open and close your windows maybe integrate the pressure sensor for weather forecasting (might have to check sensitivity level).

Mechatronic Engineering Student

I’d like to build an artsy lamp/chandelier thing to hang in our design studio that reconfigures itself (I’m thinking servos+RGB LEDs) based on ambient conditions and weather. This could make a lovely sensor module if properly shielded and mounted outside a window. Alternatively, it could be placed in the studio – our heat/AC is highly variable, and the touch pad could be a really cool input for reconfiguring the light.

I’d like to build a artsy lamp/chandelier thing that reconfigures itself (I’m thinking servos and RGB LEDs, but it would be cool to get into inflating structures…) based on ambient conditions and hangs from the roof of our design studio. I think it would be super cool to pull form inspiration from deep sea life too. The ambient heat/humidity in the building is crazy variable depending on the outside weather, and I think the touch pad could also be a neat input for reconfiguration.

I’d like to use it for prototyping prosthetic exoskeleton parts. I’m also starting a series of intro to electronics videos in Arabic designed for school aged kids, and having it would allow me to expand my curriculum.

I’ve tested a combination of these sensors on an arduino w/ their respective shields (so it was huge) for a project I’ve been working on. Basically its a device that can record different movements (through accelerometer, etc) and take in other types of data too from different sensors while a person is surfing (or even sailing). This data is saved and can either be accessed live (in case something goes wrong) and/or later to see if there are any relationships between health risks and surfing (different surfing areas produce different waves, heights, forces, etc.). Having this board would really minimize the project and allow me to get some real-life results!

I’m building an Unmanned Submersible Vehicle from scratch, to expand my knowledge on robotics and AI. It would be awesome to use this board as part of the robot’s “senses”. Thanks for being so kind to offer them to your readers and please keep up the good (blog-)work 🙂

I have two projects I am trying to finish off but need the required sensors (is this ok?!?)

1. A timelapse photography rig that allows the camera to move during the shot without being limited to laying down tracks (like current commercial solutions). This requires putting the camera on wheels, controlling the movement and syncing with the shutter while allowing shutter drag for increasing longer exposures. A levelling system is also required to ensure the correct angle of shots when on an incline.

2. Dance controlled visualisations for music by attendees at the gig. Arm and body movements are tracked and projected visualisations change depending on the type of movement. The touch pad could be used to add multiple effects and change the type of visualisations.

I haven’t spent any time working with sensors attached to a board like this, though I have worked with Lego NXT Sensors before and feel confident enough to generalize a little about the boards capabilities and a possible implementation thereof ~ though I might be way out in left field with this one. I’m thinking something along the lines of using the four sensors included in a cyborg-esque modification, implementing them within myself or another willing transhumanist so that a sensation is produced within a continuous spectrum of intensity by an additional device, which would modify the intensity of the sensation depending on what the four sensors detect. Maybe this is a silly idea, possibly geared on by me spending too much time in /r/Futurology and /r/Transhumanism, but it’s not absolutely preposterous. I’ve read once about a man who implanted a magnet into the tip of his finger and based on how much and in which direction the magnet tended towards he was eventually able to detect magnetic fields in a manner not too dissimilar from the lower-level sensory processes he’d been carrying out his entire life. So maybe it would be possible to implement this project in a way where the subject would be able to “detect” pressure, altitude, magnetic field intensity, and relative(?) speed.

With the right waterproof casing, one could build an autonomous submarine that changes altitude based on the pressure of the surroundings. The submarine could have a camera module on the RPi that would map out an underwater area!

Make a HUD for my car using the sensor to output information like direction, altitude, and approximate speed.

Put it inside a resistant rubber ball with some batteries and throw it into a tornado, maybe with an air cannon or something similar to stay safe. You could measure the pressure and electric field at different altitudes and maybe the changes in wind velocity with the accelerometer. To find it later just hook it up to a radio emitter or GPS module. Maybe you can also put a camera module to take some photos or videos of the event. And it could be used also to measure some other phenomena like water whirlpools and streams. If it survives to the tornado, of course…

I’m a student just finishing up my M.A.Sc in and I work with a semi-/autonomous rover that I just converted to move around with a set of RPis. Having a suite of environmental sensors to complement/replace the expensive on-board IMU would be great!

The environmental data can help to get a better estimate of the ‘foreign’ planet we use for testing, including weather conditions and magnetic field strength, and improve the science that can be gathered. Additionally the accel data can be fused with the IMU data to get a better estimate of the gravity vector and thus improve the vehicle pose estimate


I’m going to be building a model rocket with my son. The goal is to teach him some scientific method and some physics. So, we’re going to model how the rocket should behave: thrust, acceleration, velocity,etc. Think of really basic high school/first year physics.

We will have an onboard sensor package for the rocket: accelerometers, etc. then calibrate our paper calcs with the real data.

I’m hoping to show him how we can model real objects, make an assumption, then test it out and see where we are wrong. Maybe a ball tilt sensor isn’t good and we need to buy a real 3D accelerometer. What does that give us? Did we model the rocket right on paper? Maybe we do need to include drag co-efficients,etc.

So, hopefully I can get my son interested in science 🙂

I have a campaign that is going up on Kickstarter in a few days. It’s an RC airplane my team and I have been working on for a year. It’s goal is to do a transcontinental flight across the USA. Its innovation comes in through the use of windbelts. The journey should take around 6 days and cover 2600 miles.

Some details about the plane:
-Prototype was hand made-took 2 months to complete
-Wingspan of over 7ft
-Solar Panel and Windbelts will be recharging the batteries constantly
-Arduino powered autopilot

Inside the airplane, there will be and Arduino autopilot and a GPS. That’s where I’m not too happy. With your evaluation board, not only will it save about $300 by not buying an expensive GPS unit, but I could hook it up to a Raspberry Pi. Having a RPi on the plane would be amazing. My team could set up a website, hosted on the Pi, then with the evaluation board we can show (in real-time) the position of the plane on our site.

I think this would be an amazing opportunity to have Arduino and Raspberry Pi work together in an effort to accomplish an amazing feat.

I’ll be totally willing to answer any questions on behalf of my team and I.

Smart Toy applications are my first thought. Embed in a doll/stuffed animal for my 2/yo and let it log motion so they can see the movement output as an image or incorporate it into some active games. For the mag with some some audio playback to talk about things like which way it is facing, maybe talking about this is where the sun comes up, or other things like that. The accelerometers so it could say ‘weeeee’ when swinging or something. Maybe make it sort of location aware in the house to say ‘this is the kitchen’ or ‘we are upstairs now’ and environment aware like ‘it sure is dark in here’ or responding to getting cooler.

Are we talking atmospheric pressure or just regular applied pressure? If it’s applied pressure to the sensor itself, you could set it up to turn on a lamp when you lay down in bed to do some before-bed reading. Or attach it to a rug by the bed to turn on a light to see where you’re going for mid-night bathroom/snack breaks

It would be great to do a project for firefighter safety. With these sensors can get pressure in that spot, with the accelerometer and the sensor altitude controlled from outside the firefighter keeps moving and so ensure that is is safe. You can also have a temperature sensor and know the temperature rise to that faced with such gauge can know the status of oxygen and oxygen tube noted in LEDs and many other things … It would be a way to control the safety of firefighters and rescue! best regards!

I would attempt to make an quadcopter, but I would mainly use it to learn and better understand mechatronic interfaces.

I’d fit it to my RC plane and data log any flights. When I’m bored of that I’ll probably use my Raspberry Pi to control servos so the plane will climb to a certain altitude, level off using the accelerometer and maintain altitude and position using the sensors.

I would love to create a Google glass inspired HUD that would give you gps direction while hiking the trails.

Thanks to the number of sensors is, it would be interesting to realize a robot with academic purposes. I am a student of electronic engineering and kits that are in college do not have many sensors, they could also incorporate temperature sensors, DC motors, PWM and more, all with didactic purposes as:

In this way students could develop projects that they can think of having a plate with many features! and would be an interesting final project!

I would use it to bolster my in-car computer system. It would be very cool to not only have a secondary black box system added on, but also to be able to clearly display current statistics in terms of acceleration and velocity (because I’m a nerd, apparently). Yes, I know it wouldn’t tell me how fast I was going, but have you ever wondered how much force is being exerted on you during acceleration? How about during that 0-60 challenge? Ohh, the possibilities!!

I’m a hard sleeper and always wanted to make some extreme alarm clock. It would include water pumps, wibration, motors and sound. That should do the job. I promise to put video of waking up my roommate with this stuff.

The Magnetometer would be great for use in creating something that could re-aim a satellite dish or television antenna to capture the strongest signal. The advantage would be that once the correct position for each satellite or antenna is determined, the antenna can be retuned to that same position any time it is necessary, such as on a fixed time schedule. or when an infrared remote selects a specific channel or transponder.

Television antenna rotators are notorious for drifting away from true position, because they have no way to sense the actual position of the antenna. Moveable satellite dishes tend to be more accurate because at least they use pulse-count sensors, but if the positioner electronics receives a false pulse, or if a pulse gets dropped, then those dishes can get out of alignment also. With a Magnetometer you could accurately determine the position of the antenna or dish, and as a bonus, the accelerometer could measure and report on any unusual movement when the dish or antenna is supposed to be at rest, such as flexing in high winds.

Just bought a quadcopter online – I would love to see the data regarding the (inevitable) early crashes and heights achieved!

I volunteer with the United States Air Force Auxiliary and am in charge of the rocketry program for our state (although am also in charge of joint-state activities). The altimeter would be pretty helpful and could really be used to teach the cadets a lot of lessons. Even if I don’t win this, I’ll have to look into these sensors…

Would love to use this on a snowboard project. Would be able to log decent speed much easier with one component!


I would love to make it into an input device for future projects. The accelerometer would be perfect for this. For example, making my own Labyrinth would be a thrill. This could be made into a dedicated controller rather than a phone. I reach goal would be to modify Neverball to allow for this kind of input. (Take that Super Monkey Ball)

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