Tag Archives: prototyping platform

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.


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.


“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.


“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.

Cosino prototyping platform

 has Atmel’s SAM9 under the hood

Powered by Atmel’s ARM-based AT91SAM9G35, the Cosino Project is an embedded prototyping system that combines the functionality of a mini-computer with those of a professional automation system.

According to company rep Rodolfo Giometti, Cosino includes a comprehensive lineup of CPU boards, carrier boards and multiple peripherals that support industrial applications, as well as DIY projects by Makers.

Aside from Atmel’s AT91SAM9G35, key platform specs include 128MB RAM and 256MB NAND.

In terms of extension boards, Cosino has developed the Mega 2560, which Giometti describes as a fully Arduino Mega 2560 compatible board (based on Atmel’s ATmega2560 MCU) connected to a GNU/Linux system running Debian/ARM Wheezy.

“The Cosino CPU module – inserted into a Mega 2560 extension – [becomes the] Cosino Mega 2560 KIT [which] can be used to extend Arduino Mega 2560 based projects – without modifying the code and by using all Arduino’s shields as is,” Giometti explained.

More specifically, the Cosino Mega 2560 offers devs and Makers:

  • 1x Ethernet 10/100
  • 1x USB Host 2.0
  • 1x USB Host 1.1
  • 1x USB Host/Device 2.0
  • 1x microSD
  • 1x RS232
  • 1x RS485
  • 1x realtime clock
  • 1x I2C
  • 2x SPI
  • 1x Wifi (optional)
1x LCD (optional)

Giometti also noted that a number of additional extension boards and peripherals are either currently available or will be in the near future, including an RFID reader, smartcard reader and several MODBUS clients.

Interested in learning more? You can check out Cosino’s official page here.

Dispelling Arduino myths with James Lewis

James Lewis has spent the past 6 years writing code for Atmel-based Arduino boards. Recently, the engineer noticed a “trend of myths” about the boards and decided to author a detailed blog post to set the record straight.

The first myth? Arduino uses its own language. Not so, writes Lewis.

“While it is true that the structure of an Arduino sketch looks unique, it is really just C++ with a tiny bit of preprocessing,” he explains. “Users writing ‘Arduino Code’ are actually writing C++ with, what I call, the Arduino Library.  Functions like digitalWrite() are just that, C++ functions.”

The next myth? Pin 13 has a resistor. According to Lewis, countless beginners have been lulled into this trap, even though only the very first Arduino board was fitted with an LED and series resistor on Pin 13.

“That’s the only board which did,” he emphasizes. “So you should never never never connect a LED to Pin 13, without a resistor!”

Myth number three revolves around the mistaken notion that commercial products don’t use Arduino. As Lewis notes, Arduino is a prototyping platform.

“You aren’t going to ship an Uno with every product. You might, however, develop a product with an Arduino and embed Atmel’s ATmega328 inside of it,” he says.“Or, more likely, you’ll prototype the idea, run it through a crowd funding effort and then redesign. There are plenty of products out there that started with an Arduino in the early stages. Ever hear of 3D printers?”

Myth number four – analogWrite() is analog!? Remember, with the exception of the Due, Arduino boards do not output “analog” signals. PWM signals are actually digital signals – where one changes the length of time between the “on” and “off” states.

Last, but certainly not least, is the topic of header spacing.

“Spacing between pins 7 and 8 isn’t 0.1,″  [although] at one point the Arduino web site had this in the FAQ as an ‘eleventh hour’ mistake,” Lewis writes. “Then there was the explanation that it prevented shields being plugged in backwards. Now, I’m not sure if it was intentional, but it is true that a benefit of the spacing is that you can’t plug in a shield backwards.”

According to Lewis, one perceived downside to this decision is that it makes the board difficult to plug into a breadboard, or a shield into a breadboard.  
However, he concludes, magic jumper wires do exist which solve this “problem.”