Adafruit Gemma Wearable Starter Pack review

Adafruit Gemma Wearable Starter Pack review

With wearable computing proving to be a burgeoning business, it’s no surprise to find companies helping makers to get started in the field. The majority of the resulting kits are based around conductive thread which can be sewn into fabric to link components electrically. It’s easy, then, to see the LEDs and conductive thread bobbin included in Adafruit’s Gemma Starter Pack and dismiss it as just another me-too product. Doing so, though, ignores the titular star of the show: the Gemma itself. The full review can be found in The MagPi 38 Designed and built in collaboration with the Arduino company, the Gemma is a smart break-out board for the ultra-compact ATtiny85 microcontroller from Atmel. A cut-down version of the ATmega chips which power the full-size Arduino boards, ATtiny microcontrollers are a great choice when low power draw and a small footprint are more important than the number of pins you can access. This makes them an obvious choice for wearable projects. The kit comes with a lot of different parts to use The two biggest hurdles to using an ATtiny with conductive thread – the need for special programming equipment and its package type – are solved by the Gemma. The chip is placed on a tiny 28mm diameter disc which features connectors for three programmable I/O pins, a 3.3V supply and ground, and a voltage input. A JST connector allows batteries to be easily connected, while a USB connector coupled with a specially written bootloader means the Gemma can be programmed from any PC using the standard Arduino IDE and the bundled cable. The Gemma is the star, but there are plenty of other parts to the starter kit. A bundle of colourful crocodile leads makes it easy to prototype your design before sewing it down with the conductive thread, needles for which are also provided. There are four of Adafruit’s famous programmable RGB NeoPixel LEDs, in wearable-friendly Flora guise, and a battery holder for the bundled CR2032 batteries with integrated power switch. The thread itself is of great quality with a generous 23-metre length provided. A thin, two-ply formulation made from stainless steel, it’s easier to work with than the thicker thread used in the rival Kitronik Electro Fashion range, but comes with a warning that it is ill-suited for projects in which your components will draw more than around 50mA. A three-ply alternative is available separately,…
Source: Adafruit Gemma Wearable Starter Pack review

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