Tag Archives: development platform

Tessel 2 is a $35 development platform for the IoT

Tessel 2 is an affordable, accessible and robust dev platform that lets Makers build connected hardware devices.

Technical Machine recently announced their latest Wi-Fi dev platform for the burgeoning Internet of Things (IoT). The Tessel 2 packs a number of new features as its predecessor, including extremely reliable Wi-Fi, an Ethernet jack, a pair of USB ports, and a system that runs real Node.js/io.js. Beyond that, the team has added support to enable Makers to scale and streamline production.


“The Tessel platform was created to abstract away the initial hurdles of hardware development. Tessel opens up connected device development to people who want to build embedded devices, but don’t have the time to start with Ohm’s law and work their way up. Tessel 2 takes the promise of Tessel 1, adds features and a path to production, and cuts the cost in half,” the crew writes.

The original Tessel was designed to be an extremely expedited way to devise prototypes through high-level languages, plug-and-play extensibility and the use of a great package manager for installation. However, no matter how quickly you got started, it was a bit difficult to ever go beyond just a single mockup. Subsequently, its creators sought out the most reliable Wi-Fi chips on the market, before finally finding a solution in wireless router systems-on-chips.

The new dev platform employs a processor/coprocessor architecture, combining an Atmel | SMART SAM D21 Cortex M0+ MCU to control I/O and a Mediatek MT7260n Wi-Fi router SoC to run user code, host USB devices and handle the network connections. The two chips are connected by a SPI bridge that includes the on-board Flash. Other notable features entail 64 MB of DDR2 RAM, 32 MB of Flash storage, two high-speed USB 2.0 ports, a microUSB port, an Ethernet port, two module ports, a button, a bunch of LEDs, and of course, it is still programmable with JavaScript.


The SAM D21 acts as a coprocessor and handles real-time, low-level I/O through the module ports, USB communications, as well as programming the device altogether. Meanwhile, the entire system is powered by the single microUSB device port.

Tessel 2 is equipped with router-grade 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, 16 GPIO broken out as a pair of multi-purpose module ports, individual control over and protection for all outward-facing power buses (USB and module ports), and a form factor designed for abstraction and flexibility in the hardware, software, and mechanical worlds as you scale from prototype to production. Beyond that, Tesel 2 runs 20 times faster than its older sibling, offers full Node and io.js, and supports Rust and Python along with other languages in the near future.

“The board’s bill of materials and physical characteristics are only part of the picture. We spent a long time thinking about how we wanted to architect Tessel to push it beyond ‘another dev board’ and clear into ‘this platform is exactly what I needed’ territory,” Eric Kolker explains.

Still, the latest iteration of the board includes an expansive plug-and-play ecosystem, ranging from an accelerometer and infrared to BLE and distance modules.

“Tessel 2 supports USB modules, so a USB webcam, USB speakers, and a few other modules will move into this sphere. This will allow us to reduce the cost of these modules and get you a higher-quality experience. USB compatibility also lets us easily support new third-party plug-and-play hardware capabilities in a similar capacity to current Tessel modules,” Kelsey Breseman adds.

Tessel 2 is currently available for pre-order with an estimated delivery set for November 2015. Want to delve deeper? You can head over to its official page here.

NOTE: Since publishing this blog post, Tessel has gone open source. Ownership and direction of the project now belongs to a steering committee which exists independently of Technical Machine. This group exists as part of the Dojo Foundation.

Atmel’s ATtiny85 MCU powers ButtonDuino dev board

ButtonDuino – which recently made its Indiegogo debut – is an uber-mini (0.73in x 0.718in), USB programmable development platform powered by Atmel’s popular ATtiny85 microcontroller (MCU).

The open source ButtonDuino is breadboard compatible, so it plugs, with no pin conflict, directly into any standard pitch (2.54mm) breadboard as well as vero-boards. In addition, the platform can also be easily stacked with any ButtonDuino compatible ButtonShields and is expandable via I2C or SPI.

Upcoming ButtonShields include:

  • Real time clock (RTC)  – I2C
  • EEPROM – I2C
  • Temperature sensor  – I2C
  • Pressure resistive sensor
  • Coin battery pack
  • 3-axis digital compass

“[Users can] create amazing Graphical User Interfaces (GUI) with LabVIEW by National Instruments. All you need is the same micro-USB cable that you already have to program and power ButtonDuino,” the ButtonDuino crew explained.

“The best feature? ButtonDuino’s schematics, code and bootloaders are all free and open source. All the details will be released once the product is finalized.”

Aside from Atmel’s popular ATtiny85 microcontroller (MCU), key ButtonDuino components include:

  • USB Regulated power up to 800mA via external power supply or 500mA from PC/laptop
  • Programmable via USB or AVR mkII
  • Arduino IDE 1.0+ (Windows/OSX/Linux)
  • 6 x available I/O Pins and I2C and SPI expandable
  • 8k flash memory without bootloader (6k after USB bootloader)
  • 3 x 8 bit hardware PWM pins
  • 4 x 10 bit ADC pins
  • Power LED
  • Test LED (Pin 1)
  • Soon to be available in deep red (PCB silkscreen)

Interested in learning more?

You can check out ButtonDuino’s official Indiegogo page here.

Engineering TV Talks Atmel Studio 6

Engineering TV’s Paul Whytock talks about Atmel Studio 6 with John Fogelin, Atmel’s principal technologist for software platforms MCU. From the company’s booth at the recent Electronica show, the two talked about how increasing software complexity has created the need for integrated development environments to evolve into platforms. The Atmel Studio 6 integrated development platform, for example, includes the Atmel Gallery apps store for third-party extensions and plug-ins. These additional tools have transformed Atmel Studio into a more comprehensive environment for efficient design of AVR and ARM core-based applications. Watch interview.

Have you tried Atmel Studio 6? What do you think about the platform?