Sunday 7 December 2014

Cheap Breakouts from China (Are They Any Good!) Part 1

This is the first in a series or reviewing cheap imported Chinese breakout boards mostly found on Ebay. I wan't to know are they any good  especially for a maker on a budget. I'll be looking at build quality, functionality, ease of use and value for money.

All the Modules ordered on the 21st November

I'm going to review these as they arrive and first off the mark is:

HMC5883L 3-axis Digital compass

Odered 21st November arrived 1st December a really fast delivery time a week an a half on the whole scheme of things that is fast.

For an imported device it is very well packaged in a bubble jiffy bag and the device was heat sealed into a generic ESD bag (non branded and no ESD makings ) in my experience the non branded bag are sufficient.   

Nice Sharp silk screen with well marked pads even a Data Ready connection that allows you to run the device as fast as possible.  

Hot Tip: when soldering use a bread board to hold the the strip headed in place while soldering it to the breakout board. I you want it to be perfect the prop the other end with a small blob of blue tac.

 Hot Tip: Read the datasheet for the device before hooking it up to any power. I found the datasheet here  first thing to note is the supply voltage 3.6V Max this means the the chip will got POP if you go too far over that rating. This will also be try for any Logic voltage that you are going to attach.
Bearing this in mind its worth looking at the top of the board there  is a SOT23 package (black rectangle)  on the board a look at the where it is connected between VCC pin and the main chip on the VCC pin it quite safe to assume that it is some sort of voltage regulation. And in fact went I looked back at the sellers page it says it can run on a 3-5V supply. Its worth looking for pull-up resistors and whether they are connected to the chip side or pin side  of  the voltage regulator. I this case it is connected to the chip side.     

Connected to an Arduino and found a Library with example to run it. With A big thanks to Adafruit be careful to check that the Arduino's internal Pull-up's are disabled in the I2C lines before connecting to the device. 

It worked straight out of the box. I was getting nice tangible data  

Hooked it with an Adafruit Neopixel Ring that I had knocking around and made a quick e-compass. hope fully tutorial coming at a later date.

I was very impressed with the HMC8553L Breakout seems to work well with an Ardunio Leonardo, it should work very well with a Raspberry Pi as that is 3.3V logic. The build quality is excellent and trying to keep in mind that it only cost £0.99 shipped!

I Award The Cheap Chinese HMC8553L Breakout  5 Sparks Top Marks

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