22 Dec

Cheap Wifi – The ESP8266

As someone who loves making WiFi enabled projects one of the gotchas is the cost of the WiFi chip! I have used a few different ones, each with their advantages.

  • ElectricImp (~$40) – Closed source, own cloud
  • SparkCore (~$40) – Open source, own cloud.
  • RN-XV WiFly (~$50) – Proprietary, no cloud.

But something else has come on the scene! The ESP8266 is a WiFi module coming in at the low cost of $5! What the! I am sure that at industrial scale $5 or cheaper WiFi chips are standard but from my knowledge this is a bit of a first for the Maker scene. To me this will open up the Internet of Things (IoT) to get past the barrier of cost making devices more pervasive!

ESP8266 WiFi Serial Transceiver Module

The ESP8266 (ESP-01) – Cheap WiFi for Makers

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04 Sep

Facebook Counter Version 2

Version 2 is now out. We have made some big improvements, not to mention the size! The new Facebook Like Counter is 20 cm long and 6 cm tall! With a whopping 8 digits it will satisfy any size business. You asked, we listened. Thank you to everyone for their feedback, it is appreciated. Without you I wouldn’t be able to make these brilliant devices!


  • Now 8 digits
  • 2.5 cm tall numbers
  • 20.5cm long
  • 6cm tall
  • Space for your logo

Counter V2

27 May

Physical Facebook Like Indicator (Real Time!)

Ever wanted to engage your customers in new and unique way? We have built an elegant and simple way to display your stats, be it on your office table or at a store. All it needs is WiFi and power.

Facebook Like Counter

Display your likes in real time real easy

We enjoyed making this product because it blurs the lines between online and the real world. It’s nice to see your Facebook Like actually change something in reality.

For companies and individuals alike

  • Social proof – Show others how popular you already are at a glance
  • Motivation – Notice the change from your last media push

Fancy Burger Adelaide currently has one and we look forward to seeing the number of likes it increased over the last week.

Fancy Burger Like Counter

Fancy Burger Like Counter – Small but visible!

There is a 5 digit version coming soon. Let us know if you are interested and we will let you know when it is out.

It’s available now from our Shop!

19 Nov

Lesson 1: Connecting Arduino to Computer with the Sparkfun Inventors Kit

Lesson 1 – This is a How to video on connecting the Arduino to a PC and installing the software to make it work. We are using the Sparkfun Inventors Kit in this example with the rest of the tutorials going through the circuits and programming!

  • Introduction to the development environment
  • Connecting the Arduino to the computer
  • Setting up the software
  • Uploading a program to blink an LED (light)

Previous: Lesson 0 –  Introduction to the Sparkfun Inventors Kit

Let me know how you go!

19 Nov

Word Clock – 1.1

We have just finished V1.1! Thank you every one for your feedback.Word Clock Black

What’s new in 1.1?

  • 80% blacker, just kidding, but it is black! So much so that you can’t see the words that aren’t lit up.
  • Also reduced the brightness as a couple people noted it was a bit powerful

Love to hear your thoughts.

05 Nov

Word Clock – Build Log Part 1

My friend and I have been building a word clock for some time now. It all was all inspired when he bought this beautiful watch:

Word Clock Watch

This watch has inspired us to make our own

As a wrist watch is somewhat difficult, to say the least, to make we decided to make a wall clock. One of the major problems we faced when thinking about how to make this watch was the sheer number of outputs required! 114 not including inputs to set the time! The standard Arduino micro-controller has 14 digital IO. Not going to cut it. Brainstorming ideas we came up with a few:

  • Getting two Arduino Megas which communicate together – seemed like a bit of overkill
  • Chrlieplexing – a sexy method, on investigation we found that it might dim the LEDs too much as only one is turned on at a time so the light is dimmed by the number of LEDs on.
  • Multiplexing – Looked good in theory but the number of 8 bit multiplexers we would need came to 15! Didn’t look like a cheap alternative to me!

So, in the end, we settled for a more simplistic model instead, say hello to what would become version 1:

Word Clock Simple
Version 1, a more simple approach to a word clock

As you can see, the words are grouped, we lose control of each letter but reduce our IO so now we only need 3 x 8bit shift registers! #WINNING

We have gotten inspiration from the many word clocks out there, namely this one.

I’ll break the next few posts into the following:

  1. Mechanical construction – Oh frame where art thou
  2. Electrical construction – Two weeks is a long time to wait for a prototype
  3. Software compilation – If two bits walk into a bar…

Thanks for reading!

03 Nov

Hello world!

Welcome to Tinker Electric. We are here to ignite your interest in electronics. Here you will find tutorials and kits that guide you through learning electronics. If you know any good resources or think there is a great topic we should cover let us know. Our inbox is always open.