Tag Archives: Wi-Fi

The smart router is ready for IoT play


The evolution of router has reached the IoT’s doorsteps, and it raises some interesting prospects for industrial and smart home markets.


The router used to be largely a dumb device. Not anymore in the Internet of Things arena where node intelligence is imperative to make a play of the sheer amount of data acquired from sensors, machines and other ‘things.’ The IoT router marks a new era of network intelligence — but what makes a router smart?

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For starters, it employs embedded hardware platforms with DIY capabilities while balancing the performance and power consumption requirements. Next, an IoT router provides the operational status on an LCD screen while manipulating the data from different interfaces. In human machine interface (HMI) applications, for example, a smart router offers LCD and touch screen interfaces on expansion I/Os.

Take the case of the DAB-OWRT-53 smart router, which is developed by the Belgian design house DAB-Embedded. The sub-100 euro device — based on Atmel’s SAMA5D36 processor and OpenWRT router hardware platform — is mainly targeted at smart home and industrial IoT applications.

The smart router of DAB-Embedded

The IoT router supports popular wireless interfaces such as Wi-Fi, ZigBee and Z-Wave, as well as a diverse number of wired interfaces including Ethernet, USB, CAN 2.0A/B, KNX and RS-232. And all the data from these interfaces can be stored in either microSD card or NAND flash.

Anatomy of Smart Router

The Atmel | SMART SAMA5D36 is at the heart of the smart router design. First and foremost, it optimizes power consumption in the battery-operated router that features 3.7V lithium polymer battery support with charging capability over a microUSB connector. The router boasts eight hours of battery lifetime while being in full ON mode with Wi-Fi communications.

Second, the ARM Cortex-A5 processor shows a robust performance in the communications domain. For instance, the SAMA5D36 implements routing functionality to transfer data from one Ethernet port to another in a way that router designers don’t require an external hardware hub or switch. Moreover, Atmel’s MPU offers greater flexibility to run a lot of embedded software packages such as OpenZWave and LinuxMCE.

Third, the SAMA5D36-based IoT router offers users the ability to manipulate firewall settings, Disable PING, Telnet, SSH and UPnP features. Furthermore, the hardware security block in SAMA5D3 processor allows the use of CryptoDev Linux drivers to speed up the OpenSSL implementation. The Wi-Fi module — powered by Atmel’s WILC3000 single-chip solution — also supports the IEEE 802.11 WEP, WPA and WPA2 security mechanisms.

The smart router of DAB-Embedded employs Active-Semi’s ACT8945AQJ305-T power management IC, but the real surprise is Altera’s MAX 10 FPGA with an integrated analog-to-digital converter (ADC). That brings the additional flexibility for the main CPU: Atmel’s SAMA5D36.

The FPGA is connected to the 16-bit external bus interface (EBI) so that IoT developers can put any IP core in FPGA for communication with external sensors. All data is converted inside the FPGA to a specific format by using NIOS II’s soft CPU in FPGA. Next, the SAMA5D36 processor reads this data by employing DMA channel over the high-speed mezzanine card (HSMC) bus.

An FPGA has enough cells to start even two soft cores for data preprocessing. Case in point: A weather station with 8-channel external ADC managing light sensors, temperature sensors, pressure sensors and more. It’s connected to the FPGA together with PPS signal from GPS for correct time synchronization of each measurement.

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OpenWRT Framework

The SAMA5D36 embedded processor enables DAB’s smart router design to customize free OpenWRT Linux firmware according to the specific IoT application needs. The OpenWRT framework facilitates an easy way to set up router-like devices equipped with communications interfaces such as dual-port Ethernet and Wi-Fi connection.

What’s more, by using the OpenWRT framework, an IoT developer can add now his or her own application (C/C++) to exchange data with a KNX or Z-Wave transceiver. OpenWRT even supports the Lua embedded interpreter.

Next, while DAB-Embedded has built its smart router using the embedded Linux with OpenWRT framework, Belgium’s design house also offers a board support package (BSP) based on the Windows Embedded Compact 2013 software. That’s for IoT developers who have invested in Windows applications and want to use them on the new hardware: the DAB-OWRT-53 smart router.

Later, the embedded design firm plans to release smart router hardware based on the Windows 10 IoT software and Atmel’s SAMA5D family of embedded processors. The Belgian developer of IoT products has vowed to release the second version of its router board based on Atmel’s SAMA5D4 embedded processor and WILC3000 chipset that comes integrated with power amplifier, LNA, switch and power management. Atmel’s WILC3000 single-chip solution boasts IEEE 802.11 b/g/n RF/baseband/MAC link controller and Bluetooth 4.0 connection.


Majeed Ahmad is the author of books Smartphone: Mobile Revolution at the Crossroads of Communications, Computing and Consumer Electronics and The Next Web of 50 Billion Devices: Mobile Internet’s Past, Present and Future.

This ‘useless IoT device’ prints out Reddit’s Shower Thoughts


With the press of a button, Thinking Man produces a random amusing thought from Reddit’s popular subreddit Shower Thoughts. 


If you’ve never seen it, the subreddit /r/Showerthoughts is full of brilliant, concise and often hilarious insights that come to mind while, you guessed it, showering. Amidst all of that lathering and rinsing, our brains wander. The question is, what do you think about during your most vulnerable moments?

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Cognizant of this, the crew at MAKE: Magazine have developed a “totally useless and ridiculous desk toy” that prints out snippets from Reddit’s infamous feed. With one press of a button, the aptly named Thinking Man generates a random amusing thought from its onboard thermal printer, which is downloaded from the social network via Wi-Fi. The result is an objet d’art (or “work of art”) that can surprise you with its cleverness.

Aside from its thermal printer, this Internet of Useless Things project combines an Arduino Mega (ATmega2560), an ESP8266 module and a plastic mannequin head. (You can see how to program the ‘duino, wire the boards, work with code and power up the device referring to its in-depth writeup here.)

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“Because the entire response from Reddit is too large for the Arduino to store in memory, the microcontroller has to pick out the relevant data as it is received. The included source code does just that, and can be adapted to read data from anywhere on the Internet or your home network,” MAKE: explains.

With a little tweaking, you can configure your own Thinking Man to produce jokes, or even more useful tidbits such as to-do lists, headlines, weather reports and class schedules. The possibilities are endless. Intrigued? Then head over to MAKE:’s entire write up here, or watch the team’s weekend project video below!

This electric go-kart will make you wish you were still a kid


The Arrow Smart Kart is like a Tesla for five to nine year olds.


Kids of yesterday, prepare to be envious. If you thought your Power Wheels were awesome, wait until you see this smart, electric go-kart from Silicon Valley-based startup Actev Motors.

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The Arrow Smart Kart may look like an ordinary Formula1-inspired toy vehicle, but it’s anything but. This set of wheels is both GPS and Wi-Fi-enabled allowing for direct pairing with an accompanying smartphone app, with which parents can set a maximum speed and define a safe driving area. As a chid’s skills increase, so can the top speed (up to 12 mph).

The Arrow Smart Kart not only puts supervision at a parent’s fingertips, but features an emergency stop button as well as front and rear collision avoidance. What’s more, an adjustable inactivity timer helps keep tabs on the well-being of children that are out of sight, and the kart can be remotely disabled in the event of an emergency.

The Arrow Smart Kart is geared towards kids ages five to nine, although don’t be surprised to find some adults under the 200-pound weight limit trying to squeeze into its seat. Children can even personalize their driving experience by downloading synthesized engine sounds from an online library. The Arrow app lets kids monitor stats such as total driving time, total distance and maximum speed.

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On a full charge, the car will run for anywhere from 30 minutes to a full hour, depending on where and how fast the kart is being driven. The Arrow Smart Kart is equipped with a pair of 250W motors powered by a 2,000 mAh lithium-ion battery pack. A double-capacity 4,000 mAh battery is also optional, which charges in as few as three hours with the quick charger.

In the coming months, a growing list of accessories will become available for the Arrow Smart Kart, including custom body kits, drifting wheel rings, a F1-like steering wheel, distance-sensing ‘smart cones,’ laser tag sensors and gaming apps, to name just a few.

Ready to make the neighborhood kids jealous? The Arrow Smart Kart is now available for pre-order and is priced at $599.95. Delivery is slated for Summer 2016.

Seeeduino Cloud is an Arduino Yún-compatible Wi-Fi board


This new MCU is built around the Dragino HE IoT module and the ATmega32U4.


Adafruit has announced the arrival of the Seeeduino Cloud, an Arduino Yún-compatible MCU based on the ATmega32U4 and Dragino HE IoT module.

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The board features both built-in Ethernet and 2.4GHz Wi-Fi support, as well as USB-A port that makes it perfect for prototype designs requiring network connection and mass storage. The HE — which means “core” in Chinese — is a minimal system installed with OpenWrt.

The 802.11 b/g/n-capable MCU boasts a rich interface with Ethernet, USB, UART and plenty of GPIO pins, which offers compatibility with Grove shields. Makers can even use the Seeeduino Cloud as an IoT gateway.

Similar to the Arduino Yún, the Seeeduino Cloud eases the interface between Arduino firmware and complex web services. Makers can use the Yún Bridge library which delegates all network connections and processing of HTTP transactions to the Linux machine.

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“Historically, interfacing Arduino with complex web services has been quite a challenge due to the limited memory available. Web services tend to use verbose text based formats like XML that require quite a lot of RAM to parse,” Adafruit explains.

What’s more, the Seeeduino Cloud can be programmed with Arduino IDE via a USB cable or over the Wi-Fi connection without the need to physically access the board. Interested? Head over to Adafruit to get your hands on one today, or delve deeper into the Cloud’s specs on Seeed Studio’s Wiki page.

Adafruit’s new breakout board will connect your Arduino to the Internet


This 802.11bgn-capable module is the best new thing for networking your devices, with SSL support and rock solid performance.


Makers wishing to connect their Arduino Zero (or Uno) to the Internet can now do so with Adafruit’s new ATWINC1500 Wi-Fi Breakout Board.

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The ATWINC1500 found at its core is the ideal add-on to existing MCU solutions bringing wireless and network capabilities through UART or SPI-to-Wi-Fi interface. The Wi-Fi module features a fully-integrated power amplifier, LNA, switch and power management, as well as internal Flash memory.

“This 802.11bgn-capable WiFi module is the best new thing for networking your devices, with SSL support and rock solid performance — running our Adafruit.io MQTT demo for a full weekend straight with no hiccups (it would have run longer but we had to go to work, so we unplugged it),” Adafruit explains. “We like these so much, they’ve completely replaced the CC3000 module on all our projects.”

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The Adafruit ATWINC1500 Wi-Fi Breakout uses SPI to communicate, and supports a range of security protocols including WEP, WPA and WPA2, TLS and SSL encryption.

“Right now the Atmel-supplied library works great with Arduino Zero, and seems to work OK on Uno but may not work on other Arduinos. You can clock it as fast as 12MHz for speedy, reliable packet streaming. And scanning/connecting to networks is very fast, a few seconds,” Adafruit adds.

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Since this is the Adafruit crew’s new favorite SPI-protocol Wi-Fi module, and rightfully so, they’ve gone ahead and created a little breakout for it. This 1.3″ x 1.1″ x 0.16” board comes with level shifting on all the input pins so you can use it with 3V or 5V logic, a 3.3V voltage regulator, and a trio of LEDs that can be controlled either over the SPI interface (part of the library code) or by the Arduino library. They’ll light up when hooked up to an SSID, or transmitting data.

Interested? Head over to Adafruit’s official page to get your $24.95 board today!

Nuvap N1 detects health hazards in your home


A safer home and a healthier you. 


Being the bearer of bad news is difficult, especially when it brings vexation, but did you know that in the comfort of your own home, you are exposed to the leading environmental risk factor for death and disability in the world? What’s more startling is that it’s an invisible threat: household air pollution. The good news is that Italian company Nuvap has taken on the feat in creating a clean home energy solution to monitor air pollutants and further protect your health.

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Nuvap N1 is the first device with international patented technology, specific for monitoring the main sources of indoor pollution. With N1, Nuvap hopes to achieve its goal in providing people with an open and user-friendly gadget that can detect risks in one’s environment and recommend the solutions.

N1 can monitor up to 24 different environmental parameters such as electromagnetic pollution, radon gas, radioactivity (ionizing radiations), carbon monoxide, methane, noise and water pollution (through outside filters), temperature, humidity, air quality, fine dust, fire and smoke presence and more. The unit works by transmitting this data over Wi-Fi to the Nuvap platform, which provides real-time alerts on your home’s air quality.

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Using its accompanying mobile app, N1 remotely informs you of simple precautions to improve home living. Some useful features are: detecting fires or gas leaks, or helping you choose the best position for your beds to avoid exposure to dangerous electromagnetic sources while sleeping.

What’s more, N1 will even notify you locally through a series of LED lights that constantly reveal the quality of your surroundings: green is ideal, yellow brings attention to one or more pollutants, and red signifies danger. Whenever you feel like it, simply touch the device’s top button and it will provide an audible message about its findings over the last 24 hours.

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In terms of hardware, N1 boasts a 100 MHz 32-bit CPU at its core with 2 MB of Flash, 4 MB of SDRAM and 1GB of storage, along with an ATWINC1500 Wi-Fi module for connectivity. It runs off a 5V power supply and a 2200mAh battery.

Ready to “know your home and protect your health?” N1 is now available for purchase, starting at $499.

Linklt Smart 7688 Duo is an open IoT dev board that runs OpenWrt


The LinkIt Smart 7688 Duo is an Arduino Yún-friendly board powered by an ATmega32U4 and MediaTek MT7688.


The collaboration of MediaTek Labs and Seeed Studio recently unveiled the LinkIt Smart 7688 dev board targeted at IoT applications. The platform gives users a choice between the new LinkIt Smart 7688 or Smart 7688 Duo, both of which run OpenWrt Linux on the 580MHz MediaTek MT7688AN CPU, with the latter equipped with an ATmega32u4 for Arduino compatibility.

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The LinkIt Smart 7688 is designed to enable the prototyping of feature-rich applications for the connected home or office, such as Wi-Fi IP cameras, surveillance devices, smart appliances and wireless gateways. Not only does the platform boast 128MB RAM and 32MB Flash, it allows developers to create apps using Python, Node.js and C languages. As noted, the Duo can even be programmed with the Arduino IDE for real-time control of peripherals and users can take advantage of the MediaTek Cloud Sandbox for IoT data collection, visualization and analytics.

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The boards each include with a microSD slot, a microUSB host and a microUSB port for 5V power input. On the Duo, the second microUSB socket can also handle data signals. Measuring only 61mm x 26mm in size, the Linkit Smart 7688 Duo offers pin-outs for GPIO, I2C, SPI, UART, PWM and fast Ethernet, as well as ADC and SPIS.

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There are three breakout boards available for the standard LinkIt Smart 7688, and Seeed provides another three options for the Duo: an Arduino breakout, a Grove accessory breakout and a Grove Starter Kit with a variety of sensors and I/O modules.

The platform ships with open specs and can be found on Seeed Studio’s page here.