3D Robotics

The effects of the recession on Asian electronics suppliers are being felt across the electronics industry, from cell phones to smaller firms like us and Sparkfun. This article explains what the root causes are, but the effect is that you're seeing more and more products going temporarily out of stock from many suppliers as we wait for components. In the case of ArduPilot Mega, which is currently out of stock, Sparkfun is waiting for a shipment of Atmega1280s to come in (ETA not currently known, but probably a matter of a couple weeks. UPDATE: Sparkfun says next week).

Our magnetometer board is also waiting for a shipment of new sensors, which will be arriving at the end of November (the good news is that we got a good deal on them by buying in massive quantities, so the price of the board will be going down).

Most other major products, such as the original ArduPilot board, the ArduPilot Mega IMU shield, ArduIMU and both the MediaTek and uBlox GPS modules are still in stock, albeit with limited inventories (act now!).

One of the components that we're having a lot of trouble sourcing is the 16MB dataflash chip that is used for on-board datalogging on the APM IMU shield. We've managed to find another 300, but at a very high price (around $15 each), so we may have to temporarily increase the price of the board by $10. Around the end of the year, we have been promised access to a larger supply, but at an even higher price!

We really don't want to pass these costs on to you and are looking for a cheaper source. Can anyone here help? The part number is AT45DB161D-SU. Does anyone know where we can get hundreds or more of them at a cost below $8 each? (We've considered other options, such as switching to micro-SD cards, but the production complexity and cost of that is no better. We are, however, willing to consider DIP chips and a socket rather than the current SMD chips)

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  • There are still a few APM's aroundt the world if you're in a hurry. I sourced mine from SK Pang electronics in the UK but it took some searching through all of SparkFun's distributor base. It's only half as exciting when you only have half of the components to make an APM...!
  • Try these guys on the AT45DB161D-SU. They list 300,000+ so they will probably deal.
    Also, they list 1000's of the AT MEga 1280s.

  • Just a quick aside for anyone who is impatient for those apm's: Gravitech had them in stock as of wed and I can vouch for their extraordinarily quick shipping
  • Developer
    One problem with SD cards is also that they don't support buffered writing what we are using to write data on memory. And well memory write is not allowed to delay other processes on CPU.
  • I use either a 8gb or 16gb micro sd card to boot my OS for my overo and have yet to have any issues with it in flight. Also I have tried many different versions cheap and name brand with no difference in them other than price. Maybe thats because I have everything linux based, though there is a FAT32 boot partition for uboot. And supposedly the gumstix have passed some form of military vibration testing or something along those lines so dont see the sd card option being that bad in those areas if you chose to go that route so I dont think some of your issues are as bad as you think for a sd card option. Just my .02
  • What package is it? SOIC-8?
    I managed to find stock of quite a few thousand through the usual channels. Send me a PM if you want more info Chris :-)
  • Consumer prices have to go up. It's called quantitative easing. Alternatively you can have houses selling for the price of chips.
  • I currently have been qualifying a lot of alternate parts for my company due to shortages. I'll keep an eye out for a drop-in equivalent too. It won't be any different than what I am already doing.
  • I like the microSD idea but could see the over head Chris mentioned. What about the DOSonChip? http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/product_info.php?products_id=8226 and http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/product_info.php?products_id=8215. If both logging and mission reading / writing could be done serially, it could be piped to DOSonChip to do the heavy lifting.

    Alternatively for logging only. If the logging routine could be modified to log serially, you could probably use Open Log, http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/product_info.php?products_id=9530, as an add-on.
  • Developer
    And day by day it is getting even more worse... Which is even bigger problem for small companies. Just like my partner who manufactures GPS tracking units. Earlier his lead times to get GPS chips were only 3 months max now it jumped to 6-8 months, which also means that all your money is stuck on products that you don't have. Big players are not affected this so much due they have rather big resources on capital and they can buy products from market, even buy whole market "empty" if they wish.. And this is murder for smaller manufacturers.

    Ok even big players can get hurt on this.. Here's an shocking article about this issue from well known news station http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKLNE64N01X20100524
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