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NerdKits Newsletter Archives » NerdKits Newsletter #7 - new LED Array Kit, ATmega328Ps, and Gift Bonus!

November 03, 2009
by mrobbins
(NerdKits Staff)

mrobbins's Avatar

This newsletter was released on November 3rd, 2009.

Hi! This is the seventh edition of the NerdKits Newsletter which we publish ~monthly to keep you and the world up to date with everything going on at NerdKits.

This may be the most action-packed newsletter yet, with lots of big announcements and surprises inside... read on!

In this issue:

  1. NerdKits LED Array Kit now available
  2. Give NerdKits as a holiday gift this month, and get a bonus from us!
  3. ATmega328P's now available -- more memory for your projects
  4. Community notes -- forum and IRC channel updates
  5. New video tutorial -- Halloween capacitive sensor
  6. Vote for us in a Halloween video contest!


So far, we've had one product for sale (the USB NerdKit) plus some extra parts for it. And through 19 video tutorials so far, we've demonstrated the incredible versatility of a kit like this.

But are you ready for the next big leap in your electronics journey?

We've had such an amazing amount of interest in our LED Array video tutorial that we decided that it deserved a kit of its own.

Today, we are launching our first add-on kit, which teaches you how to build a big 5x24 pixel LED sign that you can use to scroll text from your computer or from its own memory.

It includes its own 55-page color PDF guide which talks about concepts like interrupt handlers, structuring large software projects, row-column addressing of LEDs, and much more. It assumes that you've already been through the original NerdKits Guide, and builds on all that knowledge to take you even farther.

And the resulting LED Marquee that you build is also stunning itself as a product, and I'm sure you can imagine uses for a big scrolling text display in your home or business: news, weather, RSS feeds, stock quotes, server uptimes, or whatever else you can throw at it!

We've put together a quick two-minute video about it and a webpage with more details. If you're ready for a new challenge and an awesome project, please take a look and buy yours today!


Do you know a friend or family member who might really like to get started in electronics and programming? Remember how much you've learned and enjoyed working with NerdKits?

Buy a USB NerdKit as a gift this month (November) and we'll give you a gift for yourself!

If you're logged-in to your NerdKits account while you check out from our store, we'll give you a store credit of $10.00 for every USB NerdKit you buy this month. You can later use this credit to buy extra parts for yourself, such as our LED Array Kit or the new chip mentioned later in this newsletter.

For full details, see:


The ATmega168 series microcontroller we've been including in our USB NerdKits is a great learning platform and we've been able to push it to tackle a tremendous variety of projects.

But if you've been running out of memory space in your projects, we're here to help! We now have the ATmega328P available, which doubles the flash and RAM spaces available for your program.

In our store, you can now find the ATmega328P with bootloader, and can also find it as a "Build Your Own Project Package" with a breadboard, crystal, and capacitor.

We've written a brief but detailed 9-page guide about why you might need a bigger chip, and how to upgrade for customers with a USB NerdKit. Go to:

and take a look at the "ATmega328P Upgrade Nano-Guide". Then, when you're ready, you'll find the parts in our store:


We've enhanced the NerdKits Forums recently with a feature that lets you follow a thread via e-mail. On any given discussion, you can click one button and then receive an e-mail whenever a reply is posted, which can help you stay on top of a conversation.

This is particularly helpful for support questions, so you'll get an e-mail instantly when someone has replied to you.

We also wanted to remind you of our NerdKits IRC channel, which is a chatroom that typically has several customers in it, and occasionally the NerdKits staff will drop in too. If you're interested in chatting with other customers, getting quick answers to your questions, or sharing your experience, please follow the link from the members page:

The IRC channel is a fun place to hang out!


MacGyver would be proud...

We took two paperclips, some aluminum foil, and a plastic Jack-O-Lantern and added a USB NerdKit to power our latest electronics video tutorial.

If you're curious about how touch screens or proximity sensors work, take a look at our "Capacitive Proximity Sensor" video, where we show how the microcontroller detects a nearby trick-or-treater's hand and makes the Jack-O-Lantern appear to be haunted, glowing as they reach in. Definitely a simple, spooky surprise!

Now that Halloween is over, you can definitely take the same concepts and even the same source code and extend it to other projects where a proximity sensor would be useful!


We've entered the above video into Make Magazine's 2009 Halloween Project Contest. If you have a YouTube/Google account and would like to help us out, please take a minute and go to:

Then click "Join Group", and next click on the "Capacitive Touch Sensor..." project by NerdKits, and finally click the "I love it" button below the video. Thanks!


Thank you for taking the time to read this, and for being such great customers. Make sure you tell your friends and neighbors about NerdKits so we can keep the world's DIY spirit alive (now with NerdKits in 42 countries)!

Best wishes,

Humberto & Mike
NerdKits, L.L.C.

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