I was looking to build a small Arduino project and wanted to make it easily portable. While there are some different options with battery packs and barrel connectors I wanted to try using the new SparkFun RedBoard Turbo (1568-DEV-14812-ND) where I am able to attach a 3.7 V Lithium Battery through the onboard JST connector and take my project from the desk out to the world without any cords attached.
Charging for the battery is also easy with a built in adjustable charging circuit. The circuit comes by default with a 250 mA charge rate, however you can adjust this from 15 mA to 500 mA by adding the appropriate resistor in parallel with the CHG SET resistor, or the CHG SET resistor can be removed with a soldering iron.
A couple warnings to take note of before you start working with the board are that the barrel jack on the Turbo can only take up to 6 V which is lower than the typical Arduino. The second is that this board will not work with Windows 7/8 due to the lack of support drivers for those operating systems.
The RedBoard Turbo hook up guide (https://learn.sparkfun.com/tutorials/redboard-turbo-hookup-guide/all) easily walks you through the setup for the new board. If you don’t already have them installed, you will need to install the Arduino SAMD Board Add-ons and install the SparkFun Board Add-On. Once installed you will be able to find the SparkFun RedBoard Turbo on your list of available boards.
Once you are set-up, you can use the Arduino IDE to program your board. There are a couple example codes listed on the Hookup guide. As with many starter boards, the first project is blinking an LED, because once you blink an LED you can control anything, Right??
The blink code on the RedBoard Turbo will also introduce you to one nice feature which is the three user controllable LEDs. These LEDs are the indicator LEDs for RX (Pin 25), TX (Pin 26) and a Blue LED on Pin 13.
One other nice feature is a built in addressable RGB LED. You will need to download the Neopixel library if you don’t have that, however once downloaded there is also an example code right in the hookup guide for the Neopixel as well.
To start my project, I have elected to use a 3.7 V, 1 Amp-Hour battery for SparkFun (1568-1492-ND) as it offered a decent capacity and it fit between the posts of my Mod Block MMB003 (https://forum.digikey.com/t/maker-mod-block-arduino-uno-mmb003/2869) that I printed to mount the RedBoard Turbo on.
SparkFun Lithium Battery (Digi-Key part number 1568-1492-ND) with tape on back to help secure it to the Mod Block MMB003
I used a small piece of tape on the back side of the battery to help keep it in place on the block. I then secured the RedBoard to the block using four (HM1177-ND) screws.
Battery mounted to Mod Block MMB003
Plugging the battery into the RedBoard Turbo you will instantly see the red power LED come on to indicate there is power to the board. I connected the board to my computer via the onboard USB connector. Once connected you will see the orange LED light up that states the battery is charging via the onboard charge circuit. If you don’t have a battery connected this will not be on. Now you are ready to upload your code. For this post I have simply downloaded the Blink example from the hookup guide. https://media.digikey.com/pdf/Data%20Sheets/Sparkfun%20PDFs/RebBoard_Turbo_HookupGuide_Web.pdf.
SparkFun RedBoard mounted to Mod Block MMB003 over the battery. The orange LED indicates the battery is charging from the USB connection.
Once you have this running on your board, it is easy to take this mobile. Simple unplug your USB cable and the code will continue to run off the battery. This is an easy way to take your maker project from the desk to a portable project you can show off. If you have any questions on your RedBoard, make sure to stop by our TechForum (https://forum.digikey.com/) and our team of techs and engineers will be happy to help. If you have a project you have made, make sure to post it up on Maker.io and let us know all the details. I hope to have some fun projects on the go real soon.
Portable project with the red LED indicating that there is power to the RedBoard