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.
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.
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.”
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.”