Friday, May 10, 2013

Miscellaneous

1. Some time ago I did some (unpaid and unaccredited) work for a kickstarter project that ultimately failed to raise the required funds. My task was to develop a prototype board that can read data from a sensor and post it over WiFi to a web site (cosm.com-like). The board I designed was based on readiymate, piggybacking on its capability to update the software "over the air" (through WiFi), which at the time seemed to be the only board offering this feature. Although a readiymate-based system is not cheap nor sophisticated enough (design and feature-wise) to become a commercial success (like the Nest thermostat, for instance), it relies on easy-to-find off-the-shelf components, it is open source and Arduino-compatible. So, it is easy to modify, adapt, hack and support.

Here are some photos of my readiymate-derivative board, for the record, and also with the hope that someone may find it interesting enough to pick up the pieces and develop it further.















Please contact me if you have a need for this PCB or you want to buy one.















The board (which was not even given a name), has just 2 major components: the ATmega1280 microcontroller (also found in the first generation Arduino Mega) and the WiFly RN171 module.
The sensor module gets plugged in the pair of 6-pin female headers (compatible with the JeeLab's JeeNode, apparently). The button is normally used for switching to setup mode (allowing user-configuration of the board, so it can get the name of the WiFi network and the password), as described in this post.















At some point we considered replacing the ATmega1280 with the cheaper, but as powerful, ATmega1284 (as used in Wise Clock 4), thus saving about $4 per board. Although the bootloader could be easily adapted, due to time constraints we preferred to go with the tested and proven solution (ATmega1280) instead.

A project that comes close (it is actually way ahead of the one shown here) in terms of requirements (size, cost, power etc.) and functionality ("over the air" software updates etc.) is the SparkCore: Wi-Fi for Everything (Arduino compatible).


2. Posterous.com blog site (which hosted some quite interesting microcontroller projects authored by "rossum", as far as I remember) just closed its doors. Could this happen to blogger.com /blogspot.com? I honestly thought that the internet can only grow, and every piece of contribution is recorded forever. Well, I was obviously wrong, if the internet is ever to become a "living" thing, some parts of it must die off occasionally, like branches of a tree, I imagine.


3. I recently discovered some interesting open source clocks that use the same 3216 display as Wise Clock 4:
Both clocks look like well-designed finished products, with elaborate enclosures and lots of features, including playing audio files from SD card (using the Wave Shield).

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