Yesterday, LittleBits debuted a programmable ATmega32u4-powered Arduino at Heart Module – allowing Makers to easily incorporate sketches into their littleBits circuits. The stand-alone Arduino module can be snapped up for $36, although LittleBits is currently offering an $89 starter bundle that includes a total of 8 prototyping modules.
The LittleBits Arduino module launch has been covered by a number of prominent publications, including TechCrunch, Engadget, Ars Technica, PC World, LifeHacker, TheNextWeb and Geeky Gadgets.
“Getting your feet wet with programmable hardware can be tricky; even if you’re comfortable with coding, you may not want to break out the soldering iron just to build a usable device. LittleBits is aware of just how intimidating these make-it-yourself gadgets can be, so it has just launched its first software-programmable module, the Arduino at Heart.
“As the name implies, it’s an Arduino core (the same as the Leonardo) designed to fit into LittleBits’ simple, building block approach to circuit boards. If you want to attach a light, motor or sensor to the Arduino board, you just snap it on — you can spend more of your time coding rather than dealing with wiring and other hardware hassles.”
“There’s a reason why one of Google’s top suggestions for ‘littleBits’ is ‘littleBits Arduino.’ The littleBits idea is great — but once a particularly enthusiastic user hit the limits of what their kit could do, the next step (learning to use a standalone Arduino board, which meant also learning proper circuitry, soldering, etc.) was suddenly a pretty big one.
“[That is why] littleBits is introducing an Arduino module into the mix. It’ll snap right into place — no soldering required — just like the other littleBits modules, with one big difference: it’s programmable. You get the programmability of an Arduino, without having to learn the myriad other prerequisite skills. You jack into it via the onboard microUSB port, upload your programming via the standard Arduino IDE, and all of your littleBits modules fall in line.”
“Modules for sound and light can be plugged or swapped out in Arduino at Heart for interactive digital art. The board can also be used for input when playing Pong or to show numbers on a simple LED display. Beyond basic electronics, Arduino at Heart can also be used to prototype robots. The servo motor can help build a moving robot and LittleBits is making a robot with an animatronic hand that can play the rock, paper, scissors game.
“Another goal of the kit is to teach hardware basics, including the operation of ports, polarity of LEDs, input-output and other concepts, which are important when writing software to control electronics. The Arduino at Heart board is based on an ATMega328 microcontroller.”
“The new LittleBits Arduino At Heart module, available on its own or as part of an Arduino Starter Bundle, is a simplified version of the Arduino Leonardo… Using the same ATmega32u4 microcontroller processor as the Leonardo, it pares down the number of inputs and outputs in exchange for the snap-together connections.
“Once you’ve outgrown the snap-on inputs and outputs and want to connect non-LittleBits sensors or outputs, the Arduino At Heart board also has additional breakout ‘pins’ on the board itself. The board also includes a USB connector for programming and connection to a PC as a Human Interface Device (HID) keyboard or mouse.”
“The Arduino has become the darling of the electronics platforming world, with its easy to use software and hardware. The littleBits magnetically connected electronics modules have made a splash of their own in the world of electronic tinkerers. So it was just a matter of time before these two came together.
“[Yesterday], littleBits introduced the Arduino at Heart module. The new programmable module connects to the entire line of littleBits magnetic modules that include lights, speakers, motors, switches, sensors and more. Like the standalone Arduino, hardware and software developers can write tiny programs for the device with the Arduino programming language. The programs are then loaded onto the module via a USB connection.”
Interested in learning more? You can find additional information about the new LittleBits module here.