Tag Archives: Arduino IDE

Introducing the Adafruit Feather M0 Basic Proto


The Feather M0 Basic Proto boasts a bunch of on-board prototyping space.


And just like that, the Adafruit Feather family continues to grow. The latest addition? The Feather M0 Basic Proto board. Unlike some of its siblings, Adafruit has swapped out the ATmega32U4 for an Atmel | SMART SAM D21.

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At the Feather M0’s heart is an ATSAMD21G18 clocked at 48MHz at 3.3V logic — the same one used in the Arduino Zero. This MCU has a whopping 256K of FLASH (8 times more than the ATmega328 or ‘32U4) and 32K of RAM (16 time as much)! What’s more, it comes with native USB support so it has USB-to-Serial programming and debugging capability already built-in with no need for an FTDI-like chip.

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As Adafruit notes, they’ve gone ahed and added a connector for a 3.7V LiPo and a 100mA battery charger. However, the Feather M0 will run just fine via microUSB and will 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,” the team explains.

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The Feather M0 Basic Proto boasts the same form factor as the rest of its family, measuring only 2.0″ x 0.9″ x 0.28” (without headers soldered) and weighing merely 4.6 grams. Beyond that, the Feather M0 has 20 GPIO pins with PWM outputs on each of them, six 12-bit analog inputs, one 10-bit DAC, four mounting holes, a power/enable pin and a reset button.

With a little extra on-board space remaining, Adafruit has provided you with a tiny prototyping area (hence its name). If you just need to attach a button or sensor, you may be able to skip out on a breadboard and wire it directly on there.

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As always, the M0 Basic Proto comes fully assembled and tested, with a USB bootloader that enables you to easily use it with the Arduino IDE. Sound like the super lightweight, $20 board you’ve been looking for? Head over to its page here and let your ideas fly. Also, you can check out the entire Feather lineup here.

Node.IT is like the LEGO for building IoT devices


Node.IT is a super small and extendable Internet of Things system for Makers. 


It’s safe to say that one size does not fit all when it comes to DIY electronics. This has led countless Makers to embrace interchangeable, easy-to-use components like littleBits when beginning to tinker around with an idea. With aspirations of becoming the LEGO for the Internet of Things, Pontus Oldberg has developed a family of modules with different functions that can be stacked to create wide range of smart projects.

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The concept for Node.IT was first conceived following the launch of the highly-popular ESP8266, an inexpensive, self-contained Wi-Fi SoC. Oldberg and his team had explored various ways of interfacing the device to other processors, but not before long discovered that the chip was already powerful enough to perform most tasks. And so, the ESP8266 was chosen to be at the heart of Node.IT’s base controller, which packs 4Mb of Flash, an efficient voltage regulator and can be programmed via microUSB.

“We quickly realized that if we created a base controller with a minimum set of features such as the ESP8266, a USB to Serial transceiver and a simple voltage regulator you end up with a completely autonomous board that can be hooked up to a USB port and programmed directly, without any other circuitry,” Oldberg writes.

This steered its creators toward the ESP210, a 27mm x 17mm module complete with everything needed to configure the device and hook it up to a wireless network. While the MCU itself was very expandable and provided easy access to all the GPIOs of the processor, it was rather cumbersome to build some of the necessary add-ons. Subsequently, Oldberg designed what he calls the +One and WorkStation boards to establish an entire infrastructure around the ESP210.

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Similar to the Microduino mCookie and several others, the +One boards can be stacked on top of one another with LEGO-like ease. There’s currently a handful of +Ones available, including a Li-ion charger, an enviornmental sensor, a GPIO expander, a four-channel 12/16-bit A/D converter, a battery-backed real-time clock, as well as a two-channel DC driver that is in the works.

The final member of the family, the WorkStation, acts as the carrier board for the entire Node.IT stack. Equipped with an Atmel | SMART SAM D10, these microcontrollers expand the ESP210 with up to eight analog (12- or 16-bit) ADC channels, eight normal GPIO lines, and six timer/counter/PWM pins.

“The +One boards works very much like Lego bricks in that they plug on to the headers of the ESP210. The WorkStation boards can be considered the reverse of the +One boards in that the ESP210 plugs in to the WorkStation board. This way we can build add-on boards that can build in every direction.”

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Makers can code their devices using a custom Ecosphere program, which was built around the Arduino IDE. Oldberg shares, “Any software libraries that are required for +One or WorkStation boards or features required for the ESP210 to do its job will be developed for the Arduino SDK. By using the Arduino IDE and its vast library of functionality you as a developer have endless possibilities when it comes to develop functionality for your systems.”

Sound like an IoT system you’d like to try? Head over to its Kickstarter page here. You can also find all of the drivers and related software for the Node.IT project on its GitHub page.

These friendship bracelets will introduce more female programmers to the world


Jewelbots is reinventing the classic charm bracelet as a Bluetooth-enabled wearable that will teach girls how to code.


Developers Sara Chipps, Brooke Moreland and Maria Paula Saba have noticed that there is an extreme lack of women in the STEM-related fields. And although research has shown that 75% of girls were interested in such disciplines, a vast majority are choosing not to pursue computer science. In order to help combat this downward trend, the team has designed a new product that they hope will introduce the future generation of female engineers to coding. Unlike other wearable gadgetry on the market today, which track steps, count calories and monitor heart rates, Jewelbots are programmable bracelets that enable its young users to personalize and build their own custom features.

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Originally inspired by the popularity of Minecraft for the predominantly adolescent male crowd, the entrepreneurs wanted to establish a similar environment for girls that would also allow them to explore their creativity and write their own mods.

Makers begin with a simple IFTTT-like statements on an accompanying mobile app. Once they are ready to advance, girls can plug their device into a PC, and using the open source Arduino IDE, customize their bracelets to their liking with sample libraries on the startup’s website. For instance, they can program their jewelry to illuminate with every new Instagram follower, when they receive a text from mom, their favorite TV show is about to start, or even if there is a change in the weather forecast. However, the possibilities are only limited to the imagination of its wearer.

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Beyond that, the bands help keep girls stay in touch with their friends. Connected through Bluetooth Low Energy, the bracelets create a mesh network that lets users communicate with other Jewelbots wearers nearby, even without a paired phone or Wi-Fi. The Jewelbots can blink, vibrate and light up to communicate in Morse code. In terms of hardware, each unit is packed with a BLE SoC, a vibration motor, four LEDs, a button and a battery which can be recharged via USB.

“The numbers of women in computer science have actually shrunk since the mid 80s. At the same time, engineering and tech jobs are growing like crazy,” Moreland explains. “We want to inspire a deep curiosity and lasting love for computers and programming. A love that these girls can take with them throughout their careers and lives.”

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As a way to test their theory, the team launched “Take Your Daughter To Hack.” During these daylong, bi-coastal events, parents and daughters (sons, too) were given the chance to devise wearables using the highly-popular Arduino GEMMA (ATtiny85) as well as a HTML/CSS workshop using Tumblr to make fun and engaging projects together. Safe to say, they were a success!

While its prototypes are currently being finalized, the end product will make its debut at the tail-end of summer, with widespread delivery expected to get underway in March 2016. At that time, the bracelets will come in a variety of colors — including pink, green, lavender, red, garnet, blue, teal, gray and back — and will be just as fashionable as they are fun! Interested? Head over to Jewelbot’s official Kickstarter page, where the New York City-based startup is seeking $30,000.

The Metro Mini is a tiny dev board powered by an ATmega328


The brainchild of Adafruit, Metro Mini is an easy-to-use, breadboard-friendy chip with USB-to-Serial built in.


Inspired by the countless years of tinkering around with AVR MCUs, Adafruit has unveiled a brand-spanking new, tiny development board for Makers. Dubbed Metro Mini, the breadboard-friendly, easy-to-use chip can be programmed with the Arduino IDE.

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Based on the versatile ATmega328, the Metro Mini packs 32KB of Flash, 2KB of RAM, a clock speed of 16Mhz and comes pre-loaded with the Optiboot bootloader. The slick black and gold unit includes 20 GPIO pins — six of which are analog as well and two reserved for the USB-Serial converter. What’s more, there is also total of six PWMs available on three timers.

“We sure love the ATmega328 here at Adafruit, and we use them a lot for our own projects. The processor has plenty of GPIO, analog inputs, hardware UART SPI and I2C, timers and PWM galore – just enough for most simple projects,” the Adafruit crew writes. “When we need to go small, we use a Pro Trinket 3V or 5V, but if you want to have USB-to-Serial built in, we reach for an Adafruit Metro Mini.”

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Another nice feature is that, measuring just 0.7″ x 1.7″ x 0.2″ in size, the Metro Mini is small enough to be implemented in a wide range of projects. In addition, the device boasts 5V on-board regulator with 150mA out and 3.3V 50mA available via its FTDI chip. Rounding out the beautifully-designed piece are a series of four indicator LEDs for easy debugging and hardware SPI, I2C and UART-to-USB ports.

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“The Metro Mini comes as a fully assembled and tested board, with bootloader burned in and also a stick of 0.1″ header,” Adafruit notes. “Some light soldering is required if you’d like to plug it into a breadboard, or you can solder wires or header directly to the breakout pads.”

Sound like a dev board for your next project? Head over to its official page here to get started. Looking for something just a little bit bigger? You can always try its larger sibling, the Metro.

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Neutrino is an open-source Arduino Zero variant


This 32-bit board crams the functionality of the Arduino Zero into a smaller package.


During last year’s Maker Faire Bay Area, Arduino revealed its latest development board, the Zero. Based on the Atmel | SMART SAM D21, the 32-bit MCU packs 256KB of Flash, 32KB SRAM in a TQFP package and is compatible with 3.3V shields that conform to the Arduino R3 layout. Inspired by this design, Maker Sean Swift and the Rabid Prototypes team took it upon themselves to develop an inexpensive, open-source variant that takes the functionality of the Zero and crams it into a much smaller form factor. As expected, the Neutrino is also based on an ATSAMD21G18, runs at 48MHz and boasts 32KB of RAM.

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“Neutrino is far more capable than your typical Arduino,” its creators note. “And because it has the same processor and pinout, all libraries written for the Zero will work on the Neutrino without any modification.”

Like most Arduinos, Neutrino was built with ease-of-use and the DIY community in mind. That being said, the board can be programmed using either the Arduino IDE or a JTAG programmer, like the Atmel-ICE. Makers simply plug it directly into their PC using a Micro-USB cable, select the unit that they wish to program, and hit the upload button within the IDE when ready.

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The Rabid Prototypes crew says that the SAM D21 based device ships pre-installed with the Zero bootloader, and will auto reset when the USB serial port is opened by the IDE. In the event that this fails, “You can always hit the reset button on the board to force it to enter bootloader mode after your program finishes compiling,” Swift adds.

The Neutrino comes with a convenient power multiplexing circuit, allowing Makers to recharge via USB, battery or a 3.3V regulated supply when necessary. What’s more, the board can power up USB devices when acting as a USB host, but as Swift notes, this will require a 5V supply to the VIN pin. A 500mA resettable polyfuse protects the Neutrino and PC if too much current is being drawn.

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Beyond that, Neutrino boasts a number of other notable features as well. For instance, Makers can employ its built-in LED as a status and power indicator, transform the board into a virtuoso by connecting an amplifier, or link to a USB LiPo charging backpack when on the go.

Other notable specs:

  • Clock speed: 48MHz
  • Operating voltage: 3.3V
  • I/O pin limits: 3.3V, 7 mA
  • Digital I/O pins: 14 (with 12 PWM)
  • Analog input pins: 6 12-bit ADC channels
  • Analog output pins: 1 10-bit DAC
  • Flash memory: 256KB
  • SRAM: 32KB
  • Voltage regulator: 3.7V – 6V input / 3.3V, 500mA output
  • Dimensions: 1.5″ x 0.7″ (38mm x 18mm)

Sound like a board you’d love to tinker with? Head over to its official Kickstarter page, where the Rabid Prototypes team is currently seeking $5,000. Shipment is expected to begin in June 2015.

A Pro Trinket-based movement alarm for your bag


A portable, battery-powered device that sounds an alarm when your bag is moved. 


Your pocketbook. Your backpack. Your gym bag. Each of which hold a number of expensive, personal belongings. And, as you know from walking around the mall, through campus, into the gym, or throughout an event like Maker Faire, lugging around a hefty bag can be a burden. Wouldn’t it be much easier to set it down, give your shoulders a rest and have a peace of mind that no one will take it? Well, a Maker by the name of “MakerSelf” has devised a solution that will allow us to do so: a motion sensing bag alarm.

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Based on a Pro Trinket (ATmega328), the Movement Alarm is a portable, battery-powered device that sounds an alarm when your bag is moved. Once armed, it can only be turned off by your secret code.

For those who may not know, the Pro Trinket is a sort of break out board for the fan-favorite ATmega328 MCU. A “big” sister to the original, uber-mini Trinket (ATtiny85), the board offers the familiarity of an Arduino Pro Mini with more pins and a USB thrown in the mix. With the Pro, Makers have the choice of either programming with the Arduino IDE, using AVRdude with the “-c usbtiny” programmer flag, or flashing the chip directly with an AVR programmer like the AVR Dragon.

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In this case, MakerSelf hooked the Trinket to a GY-521 accelerometer to enable the detection of movement. Therefore, when the Trinket senses that the device has been set into motion, such as picked up or removed from its resting place, it emits a high-pitched alarm from its built-in piezo speaker.

“It is 9V battery operated, but without an on/off switch, otherwise the potential thief could just hit the off button. As a result, I have an ‘arm’ button, and then you have 20 second to but the bag + device stationary,” MakerSelf adds.

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Once armed, if the bag/device is moved for more than 5 seconds and above a certain threshold level, it sounds an annoyingly loud alarm until the correct code is entered. The secret code uses a four-button interface, but the code itself can be any length and easily modified in the Trinket software. After the passcode is entered, the status LED will turn solid indicating to the user that the device must be placed stationary. The status LED will turn off after the designated time period, advising that the alarm is now armed and listening to the accelerometer.

If the bag is moved for more than five seconds at a time, the alarm will sound. Just in case that someone needs a piece of gum, phone or some other item from their bag, entering the secret code after or during the settling time, the status LED will blink once long, followed by three short, and then the device will turn itself off without turning the alarm on.

Intrigued? Head over to the alarm device’s official Hackaday.io project page here.

Arduino IDE 1.6.1 has been released


The newly-launched Arduino IDE comes with a number of improved features. 


For years, the open-source Arduino IDE has enabled millions of Makers to easily write code and upload it onto the highly-popular, Atmel based boards. The program — which is written in Java and based on Processing among other open-source software — runs on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. And today, the team has announced the availability of the Arduino IDE 1.6.1 — an improved version of last month’s update.

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“Since the day we started developing the first 1.5 version we have received a lot of feedback, suggestions and contributions from our vibrant community and we would like to thank you all for your passion and goodwill,” Arduino shared in its recent blog post.

1.6.1 is packed with a number of new features, including:

  • Support for multiple platforms
  • Boards are detected and listed on “ports list” menu together with the serial port
  • Drivers and IDE are now signed for Windows and MacOSX
  • Improved speed of build process
  • Autosave when compiling/uploading sketch
  • A lot of improvements of the serial monitor (faster, backed by modern JSSC serial library instead of old RXTX)
  • Find/replace over multiple tabs
  • Improved lots of Arduino API libraries (String, Serial, Print, etc.)
  • Tools & toolchains upgrades (avr-gcc, arm-gcc, avrdude, bossac, etc.)
  • Command line interface
  • IDE reports both sketch size and static RAM usage
  • Editor shows line numbers
  • Scrollable menus when many entries are listed
  • Upload via network (Yún)
  • HardwareSerial has been improved
  • USB has got some stability and performance improvements
  • SPI library now supports “transactions” for better interoperability when using multiple SPI devices at the same time
  • Better support to 3rd party hardware vendors with configuration files (platform.txt and boards.txt)
  • Submenus with board configuration can now be defined
  • Fix for upload problems on Leonardo, Micro and Yún.
  • Libraries bundled with Arduino have been improved and bugfixed, in particular: Bridge, TFT, Ethernet, Robot_Control, SoftwareSerial, GSM
  • A lot of minor bugs of the user interface have been fixed

Upon releasing version 1.6.0, the team notes that it received quite a bit of feedback on Github, via email and across online forums. As a result, the following issues have already been resolved:

  • Improved Yún discovery mechanism
  • Better SoftwareSerial library
  • Native dialogs on MacOSX on the Java 7+ experimental version
  • Improved library name matching, so IRemote library won’t conflict with RobotIRremote library
  • Fixed bug on Windows when attempting to open a sketch by double clicking it

According to Arduino, they are currently working on 1.6.2, which will entail some very useful elements and user experience enhancements.