Rather unexpectedly, it's been a busy few weeks on the electronics front. The result has been two new projects show up, and actual real honest progress on two other projects!

The two new designs are shields for an Arduino-based project that the great people at Nicegear are working on. One is a isolated driver and input shield, that allows switching higher voltages than the little Arduino can normally drive at much higher currents; the other is a compact switch-mode supply shield to allow you to run an Arduino off higher voltages without generating large amounts of heat.

The driver shield has been already built and tested by Nicegear, and works mostly as expected. There has been a revision to it already to include more voltage input options for the Arduino on the same shield as the drivers and input isolation. The original revision was limited to 12V for powering the Arduino.

The switch-mode supply shield hasn't been built or tested just yet, but I've breadboarded the design so I am reasonably certain it's going to work okay.

On the existing projects front, both the XMEGA-based Arduino clone and my long term NTP Server project have new boards ordered and on the way. The XMEGA board turned out pretty well I think, I'm hopeful with upcoming multiarch support in the Arduino IDE to see better support for such boards. On aspect about this board is rather than overloading the shield header with a bunch of useful but in-the-way peripherals, all additional hardware is conflict-free and allows full use of all the shield pins.

For example, the board includes pads for an 8-pin SOIC SPI flash or SRAM chip. While the SPI interface is wired to the usual Arduino pins for this (10-13), the CS line for the chip is on a discrete pin not shared with any of the shield pins. The same is true of extra LEDs, 32.768kHz watch crystal for the RTC, etc.

The NTP server had a minor polish up from the last post on it, but otherwise it's down to just getting the board made and see if I've nailed down the last remaining issues. The software side of this is looking almost complete enough to start field testing!