FriedCircuits USB tester and backpack reloaded

This is a test and review of the new version of the FriedCircuits USB tester and backpack. If you read my previous articles on the backpack and its extensions, you already know that I am a big fan of this simple and very useful tool.

Before going further, one quick word in the interest of full disclosure: William kindly sent me the prototype for this backpack, and I actively contributed to influencing (in a good way I hope) the design of this new version.

So what is new ?

This review is actually about two separate items:

  • The FriedCircuits USB tester breakout v2.0
  • The FriedCircuits OLED backpack v2.0

Both have been improved in this new release, both on the firmware and the hardware sides, so let’s dive a bit deeper…

Solar lamp: after a few weeks

The solar lamps have now been working for several weeks with great success: very nice light, and of course they last the whole night long even when the day is not sunny. Of course we are nearly in summer, which means that days are long, but the weather this June in Paris being really bad, on most days there is absolutely no sun, just clouds. Still all the lamps are working well. I use them mostly in “candle light” mode.

On a full 750mAh Eneloop battery, the lamps last from 24 to almost 72 hours depending on the lighting mode.

Solar Light project: the design

Introduction

This first project is kind of a “Hello World” of electronics, since it does not involve much more than lighting a LED. But it is something I had meant to do for a long time: a proper solar-powered lamp which, unlike most of the cheap stuff you can buy in stores, would stay lit for the whole night, have a nice light color, configurable dark detection, protection against deep battery depletion, and several lighting modes, in short be exactly the lamp I wanted. So… here it is!