Tag Archives: OS

Open source IoT with Contiki

Contiki – an open source OS for the IoT – is developed by a world-wide team of devs with contributions from a number of prominent companies such as Atmel, Cisco, ETH, Redwire LLC, SAP and Thingsquare.

Image Credit: Wikipedia

Essentially, Contiki provides powerful low-power Internet communication, supporting fully standard IPv6 and IPv4, along with recent low-power wireless standards: 6lowpan, RPL and CoAP.

With Contiki’s ContikiMAC and sleepy routers, even wireless routers can be battery-operated. 

Contiki facilities intuitive, rapid development, as apps are written in standard C. Using the Cooja simulator, Contiki networks can be emulated before being burned into hardware, while Instant Contiki provides an entire development environment in a single download.

Recently, the open source Contiki was featured by Wired’s Klint Finley, who describes the versatile OS as the go-to operating system for hackers, academics and companies building network-connected devices like sensors, trackers and web-based automation systems.

“Developers love it because it’s lightweight it’s free, and it’s mature. It provides a foundation for developers and entrepreneurs eager to bring us all the internet-connected gadgets the internet of things promises, without having to develop the underlying operating system those gadgets will need,” he writes.

Image Credit: Wikipedia

“Perhaps the biggest thing Contiki has going for it is that it’s small. Really small. While Linux requires one megabyte of RAM, Contiki needs just a few kilobytes to run. Its inventor, Adam Dunkels, has managed to fit an entire operating system, including a graphical user interface, networking software, and a web browser into less than 30 kilobytes of space.”

Unsurprisingly, consumer technology companies are beginning to embrace Contiki as well. To help support the burgeoning commercial usage of Contiki, OS founder Adam Dunkels ultimately left his job at the Swedish Institute of Computer Science and founded Thingsquare, a startup focused on providing a cloud-based back-end for Contiki devices.

“The idea is to make it easy for developers to connect their hardware devices with smartphones and the web,” added Finley.

Image Credit: Wikipedia

“Thingsquare manages the servers, and provides all the software necessary to manage a device over the web.”

It should be noted that Thingsquare recently showcased various Internet of Things (IoT) applications at Embedded World 2014 in Nuremberg, Germany.

Indeed, a number of Thingsquare’s demonstrations were powered by Atmel’s recently launched SAM R21 Xplained PRO evaluation board – illustrating the seamless integration of Thingsquare’s software stack with Atmel’s new SAM R21 ultra-low power wireless microcontroller (MCU).

Interested in learning more? You can check out Contiki’s official page here and read about Thingsquare’s use of Atmel tech here.

Adrian Bowyer talks RepRap, open source printing

Back in December, RepRapPro debuted a new Atmel-powered (SAM3X8E ARM Cortex-M3) RepRap 3D printer kit that can be assembled in just two hours. Aptly dubbed “Ormerod,” the versatile printer kit was named after the famous entomologist Eleanor Ormerod.

The Ormerod 3D printer features a heated bed, lightweight high-powered hot-end with an integrated cooling fan (ducted to cool the top of prints), a simple elegant drive for 1.75mm diameter filament, a pre-assembled wiring loom and an industry-standard ATX power supply.

 The Duet (Ormerod board) is equipped with both USB and Ethernet ports, allowing Makers to drive the platform with a conventional RepRap app like Pronterface or control the platform via a standard web browser.

The new RepRap’s firmware also features bed-plane correction and orthogonal axis compensation.

 Recently, RepRap creator Adrian Bowyer sat down with Simone Cicero of OpenElectronics to discuss the future of open source desktop 3D printing and RepRap. 

Regarding the Ormerod, Boyer emphasized that the new model was designed to be quickly and easily assembled.

“Plus it has [Atmel-based] 32-bit ARM electronics and ethernet, so you can drive the machine from a web browser,” he said.

In terms of upcoming 3D printing trends, Boyer said one of the most important is likely to be multi-material machines, or platforms capable of putting down mixtures and separating materials with diverse physical characteristics.

“This requirement is much easier to meet with fused filament fabrication (FFF) and inkjet machines than it is with stereolithography or SLS. Having said that I think that SLS will have a growing role at the low end, once one can get reasonable-cost solid-state lasers that will do tens of watts,” he explained. 

”We have subtractive technologies already of course. I personally think that combining subtractive with additive is a bit of a dead end. It reintroduces all the problems that we invented additive manufacturing to get away from.”

Bowyer also noted that most of the innovation in fused filament fabrication originated from the OS community.

“A lot of that is now being commercialized, [yet] a lot of that commercialization is staying OS,” he confirmed.

In addition, Bowyer commented on the rapidly growing RepRap community.

“I rather think that it has all the robustness and the agenda of a colony of microorganisms.  Which is to say that it is pretty robust because it has no agenda. This is not to say that the people involved are not like-minded – they are,” he continued. 

”But their distinguishing characteristic is their desire to solve technical problems and to tell people about the answers. I suppose that that is some sort of agenda, but it is not really an agenda as a synonym for plan.”

Last, but certainly not least, Bowyer offered his perspective on what other major fields could benefit from a RepRap-like approach.

“The biggest has got to be genetic engineering and synthetic biology. Both those are ideal candidates for the RepRap approach – they are easy for individuals to do; they require no very fancy or expensive equipment, and the results can be profound. I’m actually rather surprised that there isn’t a bigger community of biohackers than there is,” he added.