Category Archives: Boards & Platforms

The RedStick is a USB board with an ATmega328P at its core


The SparkFun RedStick is a production version of the BadgerStick, a board you’ve probably seen at a recent tradeshow inside the BadgerHack Badge. 


Last year, the SparkFun crew developed the BadgerStick as a fun and interactive way for Makers to learn about soldering and engaging with various boards at trade tradeshows. Now, the team has refined the BadgerStick into something they’re calling the SparkFun RedStick!

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At the heart of the new device is an ATmega328P running at 16MHz. Makers will take comfort in knowing that the RedStick is packed with many cool features, including the Arduino Uno’s Optiboot bootloader, its compact form factor, FTDI and the ability to be plugged directly into a computer’s USB port (no FTDI board or USB cable required).

What’s more, the board can be programmed using the Arduino IDE. Simply insert the board, select “Arduino Uno” from the menu and you’re ready to upload code. The RedStick boasts 14 digital I/O pins with six PWM pins, eight analog inputs, UART, SPI, I2C and external interrupts.

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The SparkFun RedStick can be juiced up over USB or through its power input (which supports a JST connector). Additionally, an onboard boost regulator provides 5V to the ‘328P from an input range of 2 to 6V. While the RedStick does not included a battery charger, it can be powered over a single-cell LiPo or even a pair of AA batteries.

Intrigued? Head over to its official page, where you’ll find an in-depth overview of the board.

MobileNode is a circular IoT board


This open source, Arduino-compatible GSM/GPRS and GPS/GLONASS device provides real-time data anywhere, about anything.


The MobileNode is an open source IoT board, which was named a semi-finalist in last year’s Hackaday Prize and is now live on Indiegogo. Measuring just seven centimeters in diameter, the circular device is equipped with an ATmega32U4 MCU at its core, a GPS/GLONASS module for tracking and a GSM/GPRS chip for data transmission.

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Makers can easily attach a variety of sensors to the MobileNode, including air quality (CO, CO2, O2, etc.), temperature, humidity, fire and motion, as well as add lights, servo motors and other electronic circuits. This enables the Arduino-compatible board to monitor air pollution, reduce energy consumption, collect real-time data, and even control food production machinery. What’s more, there are four holes for M1.2 or M1.4 screws, making it possible to house the MobileNode inside a box or case.

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Every MobileNode comes with an attached tag, which contains both a public and private key. As its creators Oscar Rojas and Camilo Rojas reveal, you can push data to the cloud with the private key, while accessing such information via the public key. Meanwhile, GPS coordinates are shown in a Google Map along with the board’s orientation data given by its e-compass.

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Aside from all that, MobileNode features an electret microphone that lets users hear what is happening nearby, a Nano SIM card socket, TVS diodes and Bluetooth. It is also possible to connect an external antenna to the GPS module, since some applications call for the MobileNode to be used indoors.

Intrigued? Head over to its Indiegogo page here, or watch the video below.

Pneuduino is a modular platform for fast prototyping of inflatable structures


This hardware system lets you create soft robots, adaptive furniture, smart clothing, breathing art and inflatable food. 


Pneuduino is a modular hardware system developed by Felix Heibeck and Jifei Ou of MIT Media Lab’s Tangible Media Group. The platform enables the control of air flow and pressure, which opens endless possibilities for Makers, artists, designers and researchers who want to add unique shape-shifting features to their projects.

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“Air is one the most abundant resources on Earth. By adding computation ability to air, we can create new types of materials that enable us to design robots that are soft, furniture that is adaptive, clothing that is intelligent and art pieces that are breathing,” Heibeck and Ou explain. In fact, you can even turn dough into an inflating, shape-shifting interface.

Pneuduino is open source and can be programmed with Arduino IDE. It currently consists of four different modules: a Master Board, a Pneumatic Control Board, an Input Board and a Grove Extension Board.

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The Master is based on an ATmega32U4 and can command multiple connected modules using the Pneuduino library. Up to 11 pneumatic control boards can be linked to it, along with an additional Input Board and Grove Extension Board.

What’s more, the Pneumatic Control Board is the hero of Pneuduino responsible for air flow and reading air pressure. Two solenoid valves enable full control of one, or partial control of two air bladders. The pressure sensor can read values up to 58 PSI, while the four LEDs under the sensor reveal the pressure. With an ATmega328P at its core, it can be managed from the Master Board and the Pneuduino library or, for simple applications, can be used individually by programming and powering it through the FTDI header.

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If you need a simple button to trigger an event or a dial to tweak a parameter, the  Pneuduino Input Board will come in handy. It features a pair of push-buttons, a potentiometer and can be hooked up directly to the master board.

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Beyond that, those wishing to add an extra sensor, LED or other peripheral to their pneumatic system can employ the Pneuduino’s Grove extension board, which can connect any 5V-compatible I2C device.

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Pneuduino is currently being used in workshops with high school or college students. While each workshop has a different focus, they all introduce concepts of air as an actuator and sensor, as well as various fabrication methods to create transforming artifacts. Interested? Head over to the toolkit’s page here.

Adafruit Feather M0 WiFi combines a SAM D21 and ATWINC1500


Oh my, an Adafruit Feather with Wi-Fi! 


Makers, meet the Adafruit Feather M0 WiFiAs its name would suggest, the all-new board is Adafruit’s latest take on an Arduino-compatible, ‘all-in-one’ platform with high-speed Wi-Fi connectivity, USB support and a built-in battery charger.

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Equipped with an Atmel | SMART SAM D21 and ATWINC1500 SoC at its core, Makers will find it super simple to connect their Feathers to the Internet. The 802.11bgn-capable Wi-Fi module is the ideal add-on to existing MCU solutions bringing wireless and network capabilities through UART or SPI-to-Wi-Fi interface.

“This module works with 802.11b, g, or n networks and supports WEP, WPA and WPA2 encryption,” Adafruit writes. “The datasheet says it can do Soft-AP mode but we don’t have any code to actually use that. You can clock it as fast as 12MHz for speedy, reliable packet streaming. And scanning/connecting to networks is very fast, a few seconds.”

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The ATSAMD21G18 Cortex-M0+ processor at its heart — which is the same chip used in the new Arduino Zero — is clocked at 48MHz and at 3.3V logic. It boasts a whopping 256K of Flash (eight times more than the Atmega328 or 32u4) and 32K of RAM (16 times as much). The MCU comes with native USB, as well as a USB bootloader and serial port debugging.

With portability in mind, Adafruit has included a connector for any 3.7V LiPo battery along with an integrated charger. Even without a battery, it will run just fine via microUSB. The Feather will even automatically switch over to USB power when it’s available.

“We also tied the battery through a divider to an analog pin, so you can measure and monitor the battery voltage to detect when you need a recharge,” Adafruit writes.

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The ‘M0 WiFi features a similar form factor as many of its other Feathers, measuring 2.1″ x 0.9″ x 0.3” in size and weighing 6.1 grams. (Note, however, that it is 0.1″ longer than its siblings.) Beyond that, the board has 20 GPIO pins with eight PWM pins, 10 analog inputs, a single analog output, a power/enable pin, four mounting holes and a reset button. Plus, there are a couple of LEDs and is compatible with a wide range of FeatherWings, including OLED, NeoPixels, servos, relays, seven-segment displays, etc.

Have any more questions? Watch below as Lady Ada herself unveils the Feather M0 WiFi, or stay tuned on its page here.

 

Adafruit’s new breakout board will connect your Arduino to the Internet


This 802.11bgn-capable module is the best new thing for networking your devices, with SSL support and rock solid performance.


Makers wishing to connect their Arduino Zero (or Uno) to the Internet can now do so with Adafruit’s new ATWINC1500 Wi-Fi Breakout Board.

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The ATWINC1500 found at its core is the ideal add-on to existing MCU solutions bringing wireless and network capabilities through UART or SPI-to-Wi-Fi interface. The Wi-Fi module features a fully-integrated power amplifier, LNA, switch and power management, as well as internal Flash memory.

“This 802.11bgn-capable WiFi module is the best new thing for networking your devices, with SSL support and rock solid performance — running our Adafruit.io MQTT demo for a full weekend straight with no hiccups (it would have run longer but we had to go to work, so we unplugged it),” Adafruit explains. “We like these so much, they’ve completely replaced the CC3000 module on all our projects.”

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The Adafruit ATWINC1500 Wi-Fi Breakout uses SPI to communicate, and supports a range of security protocols including WEP, WPA and WPA2, TLS and SSL encryption.

“Right now the Atmel-supplied library works great with Arduino Zero, and seems to work OK on Uno but may not work on other Arduinos. You can clock it as fast as 12MHz for speedy, reliable packet streaming. And scanning/connecting to networks is very fast, a few seconds,” Adafruit adds.

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Since this is the Adafruit crew’s new favorite SPI-protocol Wi-Fi module, and rightfully so, they’ve gone ahead and created a little breakout for it. This 1.3″ x 1.1″ x 0.16” board comes with level shifting on all the input pins so you can use it with 3V or 5V logic, a 3.3V voltage regulator, and a trio of LEDs that can be controlled either over the SPI interface (part of the library code) or by the Arduino library. They’ll light up when hooked up to an SSID, or transmitting data.

Interested? Head over to Adafruit’s official page to get your $24.95 board today!

ChameleonMini can emulate and clone NFC cards


This open source, programmable device can emulate and clone contactless cards, read RFID tags and sniff RF data.


Over the last several years, researchers David Oswald and Timo Kasper have been hard at work developing a family of NFC security projects. Their efforts, which began with a tag-emulating coffee cup, have led to the newly-unveiled ChameleonMini — an NFC analysis device capable of cloning contactless cards, as well as reading RFID tags and sniffing RF data.

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The completely portable, extremely versatile tool can virtualize up to eight contactless cards operating at 13.56MHz. The board itself consists of a PCB antenna along with an ATXMega128A4U that handles the RF encoding and USB interface, and a rechargeable Li-ion battery that provides hour-long standalone use. The microcontroller’s AES and DES hardware engines enable speedy computation of cryptographic algorithms. In other words, if your contactless card has encryption and you have the cryptographic key, the ChameleonMini can replicate it.

The freely-programmable platform can create perfect clones of existing commercial smart cards, including cryptographic functions and the Unique Identifier (UID). Aside from emulating NFC devices, the ChameleonMini can even appear passive in a sniff mode, log the RFID communication, and serve as a basic RFID reader.

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A convenient, human-readable command set allows to configure its behavior and update the settings and content of up to eight internally stored, virtualized contactless cards. During battery-powered standalone operation, the integrated buttons and LEDs offer user interaction and feedback.

The ChameleonMini can be easily equipped with new firmware via a USB bootloader. It can be interfaced with a standard terminal software, via the command line or controlled through user-written scripts and applications. What’s more, the modular firmware structure gives expandability to other not yet supported cards and standards.

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There are several variants of the ChameleonMini, which range from a barebones PCB version to a budget-friendly, emulator-only version to the latest iteration (Rev.G) with all the bells and whistles. Intrigued? Head over to its Kickstarter campaign, where Oswald and Kasper have blown right by their $24,258 goal. Delivery is slated for August 2016.

Qtechknow’s Qduino Mini is now available


The Qduino Mini is the first tiny Arduino-compatible board with a built-in battery charger and fuel gauge.


Adding to 15-year-old Quin Etnyre’s already rather long list of accomplishments was a successfully funded Kickstarter campaign back in March 2015. The Qduino Mini — which has been on display numerous times inside the Atmel Maker Faire booths — is the first tiny Arduino-compatible board equipped with a built-in battery charger and fuel gauge that can notify its user when a LiPo needs a little extra juice.

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“I always struggled to find a way to charge and monitor a battery, bundle with an Arduino and fit inside of every project.” Inspired by his own frustrations, the young Maker immediately went on to prototype his concept with hopes of one day bringing it to market.

Now available on SparkFun, the Qduino Mini is entirely open source and based on the versatile ATmega32U4 — the very same chip that can be found at the core of the Arduino Leonardo and several other Arduino AtHeart devices. The breadboard-friendly MCU runs at 8MHz at 3.3V and boasts plenty of dedicated digital, analog and PWM pins.

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The pint-sized project is not only packed with a battery charger circuit and fuel gauge, but possesses an uber-mini, ultra-thin form factor as well. This makes the shrunken-down, lightweight ‘duino an ideal choice for DIY quadcopter or high-altitude balloon projects, in addition to a wide range of other gadgets like an NFC Smart Lock and B&W Selfie Printer.

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Since its inception, the Qduino Mini has received a few minor upgrades before arriving at its latest iteration. According to Quin, these included two RGB LEDs (one for status, another that’s user programmable), a USB and power switch on the same face, and a LiPo connector on the opposite side of the board. What’s more, it has become even more “mini,” having been reduced from its original 1″ x 1.5” size to 0.8″ x 1.5”.

Sound like the tiny, Arduino-compatible board you’ve been looking for? Well, look no more as the Qduino Mini is available for $29.95 on SparkFun!

Tinylab is a tablet-sized, fully-integrated prototyping kit


Tinylab provides Makers with a fully-integrated environment for the same price as an Arduino shield.


Safe to say, there’s no shortage when it comes to open source prototyping boards like Arduino. In fact, recent studies suggest that the number of installed hardware dev kits will nearly double from 11 million units in 2014 to 21 million in 2020. But shouldn’t there be a more effective way to bring an idea to life? Between the breadboard, wires, cables and soldering, traditional processes can take a bit longer and become more complicated than desired for Makers. Not to mention, when employing Arduino shields, you generally can’t stack more than a few due to pin overlaps. This was something that Bosphorus Mechatronics looked to solve.

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And so the Istanbul-based startup launched Tinylab — a tablet-sized, open source platform that contains everything you’d possibly need when developing a project. There’s an Arduino at the heart, along with over 20 I/O and all the necessary modules, circuits and components to streamline the prototyping phase.

To get started, simply open up its cap, plug in a USB cable and upload your Arduino sketch. Tinylab is built around the mighty ATmega32U4 — the same MCU found at core of the Arduino Leonardo — and features sockets for XBee, Bluetooth, ESP8266 and nRF24xx modules, in addition to an LCD screen, a microSD reader, a seven-segment display, a real-time clock, a relay, a potentiometer, external EEPROM, a piezo buzzer, a rotary encoder, a DC motor driver, a temperature sensor, a photoresistor, a few buttons, and LEDs.

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“Combine all these things and make your own recipe easily. All of the things are onboard excluding wireless features. There are attachable modules. There are sockets for them on board. If there’s a need to communicate something, just attach and code it,” the team explains. “For all the other things that the board doesn’t include, there is a tiny breadboard”

As if that wasn’t enough, Tinylab is platform agnostic and can be programed in Windows, Linux and Mac OS. It’s also compatible with today’s most popular environments, including Arduino IDE, Atmel Studio 7, Visual Studio, Scratch, Codebender and Eclipse. Designed with portability in mind, Tinylab can be thrown in your bag, taken wherever you need to go and is ready for use right out of the box.

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“Arduino is our hero, we mostly design around it and we realized that we use some common components with it generally. Every time, we need to make same circuits to display, send or sense something,” founder Ahmet Sait Borlak tells TechCrunch. “Using a breadboard turns a torture and using stackable shields doesn’t serve the purpose generally. So we think the Tinylab can be the painkiller. So we designed it, used it and love it… Also, it’s perfect for education. Because it’s compatible with MIT’s Scratch we think it can take place in school laboratories.”

Intrigued? Tinylab is entirely open source, and its schematics and layouts can be found on GitHub. Bosphorus Mechatronics has launched the kit on Indiegogo, where the crew is currently seeking $25,000. The first batch of units is expected to ship early this summer.

Atmel launches ultra-low-power platform for IoT and wearable devices


This platform integrates the ultra-low-power SAM L21 with a BTLC1000 SoC and a software ecosystem into a small, flexible form factor.


Just in time for CES 2016, Atmel unveiled a complete, ultra-low-power connected platform for cost-optimized IoT and wearable applications. This new platform features the world’s lowest power ARM Cortex-M0+, the Atmel | SMART SAM L21, and award-winning BTLC1000 Bluetooth Smart SoC, making it the perfect solution for battery-operated devices requiring activity and environment monitoring.

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Key components for the low-power connected platform — the Atmel | SMART SAM L21 MCU and the BTLC1000 — achieve industry-leading standards. The SAM L21 boasts a staggering ULPBench score of 185, the highest recorded score for any Cortex-M0+ while running the EEMBC ULPBench, the industry marker for low power, with a power consumption down to 35µA/MHz in active mode and 200nA in sleep mode. Atmel’s Bluetooth Smart solution is 25% smaller than the closest competing solution packaged in a 2.2mm x 2.1mm Wafer Level Chipscale Package, enabling designers to build ultra-small industrial designs for next-generation connected IoT and wearable applications.

Atmel’s low-power platform is a design-ready unit showcasing the company’s broad portfolio of ultra-low-power smart, secure and connected products, and partner technologies. Embodied in a 30mm x 40mm form factor, the platform integrates the Atmel | SMART ultra-low power MCU, Bluetooth Smart low-energy connectivity, capacitive touch interface, security solution, complete software platform, real-time operating system (RTOS), a BHI160 6-axis SmartHub motion sensor and a BME280 environmental sensor from Bosch Sensortec. The platform can be powered by a simple coin cell utilizing extremely low power consumption, and manufacturers can also leverage Atmel’s extensive list of sensor partners.

To simplify the design process, the platform is compatible with Atmel’s flagship Studio 7 IDE, along with Atmel START, the world’s first intuitive web-based tool for software configuration and code generation.

“As a leading provider of ultra-low power IoT solutions, we know that out-of-the-box, easy to implement reference platforms are a necessity to help accelerate the adoption of wearable applications, and enable a rapid time-to-market for new product ideas,” says Andreas Eieland, Atmel Director of Product Marketing for the Microcontroller Business Unit. “Atmel’s new reference platform allows our customers to develop differentiated solutions for cost-optimized, yet competitive, markets including healthcare, fitness, wellness and much more. We continue to help drive the IoT and wearable market with simple, ultra-low power platforms with complete hardware and software solutions.”