Battery Shield - moustach, really!

I just got into the documentation for the shields and took a look at the battery shield. Please tell me the moustach looking thing is a joke, right? This is a dongle, not a shield. The shield I pledged for did NOT look like that. How the heck can you build that “thing” into a project? NO, REALLY! So, can you post a picture of the “real” battery shield and stop foolin’ around!

Hi @peekay123 - the battery shield is real, and despite having some fun with the shape, there is actually good technical logic behind the re-design.

The original design was stackable, but it was our only shield that was intended to stack. Because of how small the Spark Core is, stacking very small shields on top of each other is very unwieldy, and quickly makes circuits that are hard to fit in small spaces.

We decided to re-design the battery shield so that it plugged into the USB port; that way we could add battery power without increasing the height. We decided on a Y-shaped design so that we could have USB input (to charge the battery), USB output (to power the Core), and the JST port (for connecting the battery). Once it was Y-shaped, we thought - why not make it shaped like a mustache?

The shape is fun and whimsical but it’s actually a solid design; hope you feel more positively about it when you receive yours.

I thought it was a joke too. I was going to buy some for my projects but luckily I didn’t as I’d have to cancel them now. A big novelty mustache wouldn’t fit in my planned projects (inside a light switch, space is quite tight, hence the reason for the core in the first place).

It’s a pity it was designed like that, the cores two main selling points (in my opinion) are its wifi connectivity and its tiny size. Having a big novelty board like this kind of negates one of the cores main benefits.

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Zach, I appreciate your reply but whimsical is not what I bought. As for stacking, your comments go against the very concept of Arduino shields. You just have to look at DigiSpark and TinyDuino, just to name a few, to see how stacking can be useful.

How many times have I seen a “solid design” that was totally unusable. I can think of 10 different ways you could have better designed this shield. This thing is almost as big as the Core! How the heck does that work on a breadboard. Or better yet, those projects you announced using the Spark Core would benefit from such a huge “shield”.

Sorry to say but your design actually lacks imagination, which you try and cover up with “whim”. The core is such an amazing and elegant product which is why your supporters so eagerly bought into your project. Elegance is something not found in this aberration. You should have consulted your supporters first. Perhaps you can rethink its design and produce something more useful and send it to me instead of this “fun and whimsical” yet “solid design” of an eyesore.

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I’m only having these Arduino/Spark stuff as new fun hobby, so I can’t comment how “bad” this new battery shield could be in real use. But I have followed everything Spark Core related ever since KS and this was the first time I heard about this musctache design. It is quite drastic change from the basic shield that is hidden underneath the Core on KS photo.

I actually kind of like the new desing (as gimmicky way) and it could be nice for a caseless project that is hanging on wall. Still there could be an alternative more ordinary battery shield to choose for more serious projects.

The Battery Shield design has been on GitHub for months, and the only comments we had received on it until this point had been positive. @peekay123 I’m sorry to hear you’re not a fan, but keep in mind that even if we were to re-design the battery shield from scratch and deliver a new form factor, it would take months to get through design and be manufactured. So there’s a couple of options you can take:

There are plenty of ways to power the Core via battery depending on your goals. And if you don’t want the battery shield, we’d be happy to replace it with another one of our shields; just email hello@spark.io and we will take care of you there. That goes for anyone else who’s unhappy with the re-design as well.

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Zach, I never thought of looking at the design on GitHub because I thought it would be as originally proposed. I am just disappointed by the bulky and whimsical form factor. I will keep the one I ordered and follow your suggestions for alternates. To be clear, I think the work your team has done has been fantastic, EXCEPT for this looney battery shield.

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@peekay123 Fair enough; we hear the feedback loud and clear and will absolutely take it into account for future revisions. Looking forward to the day when spinning up a new design and producing it en masse is as easy as a click of a button :slight_smile:

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@peekay123: What’s wrong with moustache? I think it’s a great shield design, light hearted and fun specially for people that take themselves too seriously.

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Hi @zach, can you explain a little more about this recommendation you gave regarding LiPo batteries? “Hook a LiPo battery directly up to the VIN pin (you won’t get battery management this way, but if you’re careful not to drain the battery all the way, it should work fine)”. Sorry if this a very simple question but I don’t want to harm the Spark Core (or burn the battery). You mean that I can connect the battery to the VIN pin and it will be charged while the Core is being powered over USB? I’m asking this because the recommendation on Getting Started: “VIN: Connect an unregulated power source here with a voltage between 3.6V and 6V to power the Core. If you’re powering the Core over USB, this pin should not be used.” Is there a way to avoid draining the battery all the way? Thanks

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Hi @melkore - you should not attempt to charge the LiPo battery without a proper battery charging circuit. The battery shield handles this, as do other accessories from SparkFun, Adafruit, etc.

My recommendation is that if you’re looking for a quick fix to power your Spark Core from a LiPo battery, you can hook it directly to VIN/GND. However you should not charge the battery this way, and the way to avoid draining the battery all the way is to use a battery management circuit :slight_smile:

Thanks for the advice, I think I’d probably go with the “Plug in a micro USB battery” option, I think is easier this way, or there are some advantages of having a LiPo battery with the charge accesory circuit that I’m not seeing?

@melkore Any standard LiPo or Li Ion battery rated at 3.7V can be used to power the Core via the VIN pin. This pin cannot be used to charge the battery and you will have to keep track of the battery voltage yourself or remember to plug out the battery before it completely discharges,

The battery shield performs this functions by killing the power to the Core when it detects the battery volatge to be low. It also has a battery charging/management circuit on it so that you don’t have to worry about this.

@mohit Thanks for the advice, I understand know that if I want to use a LiPo battery a battery shield or a similar accesory is necessary, but do you know what are the advantages of having a LiPo battery + battery shield comparing to just plug in a microusb battery?

Thanks

  1. using a microusb battery is bascially having the lipo battery + battery shield packed in 1 nice piece. Capacity (mAh) is fixed as well as the shape

  2. having a battery shield, you can decide the capacity of the battery to put into your project and play around with the orientation and placement.

I guess flexibility is key advantage for what you are comparing :slight_smile:

Also if you’re planning a product that you want to move to mass production, the circuit on the battery shield could be designed into your product, whereas the battery pack would be more of a challenge… :wink:

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For what it’s worth, I just tried to wow my wife and daughter with the magic of turning LED’s on and off wirelessly from my laptop’s command line.

Me: “Isn’t this cool?!”

Them: “Why is there a mustache connected to your electronics?”

Me: “Don’t worry about that. Look at me turning these lights on and off wirelessly from my laptop!”

Them: “But I don’t understand why there’s a mustache.”

Doh.

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Hi Zach! Thanks for all your great work with the Spark Core! Would it be possible to also have the older stackable battery shield on sale on your website for people whose projects aren’t best served by the moustache shield?

In case you missed it: https://community.spark.io/t/spark-core-power-shield-new-battery-shield-design-stage/2564?u=moors7

A really awesome battery shield is currently in the works, with lots of fancy options, including the ability to charge it with solar cells at up to 2A. Since I reckon the mustache is the only version they have at Spark (in production), you’d be better of waiting for this new, and awesome, battery shield by Tim.
Meanwhile you could use a battery pack with a USB cable as a temporary solution.

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All true :slight_smile: We never manufactured the battery shield featured in the Kickstarter campaign.