WeMOS D1 ESP8266 vs Arduino Uno, Arduino Due and Teensy 3.2. Which one is the fastest board?

In this video educ8s.tv is going to compare the computational speed of the WeMOS D1 ESP8266 based Arduino compatible board with the computational speed of the most popular Arduino boards and the Teensy 3.2.

A few weeks ago, in a similar video we compared the performance of the Teensy with the most popular Arduino boards. Today, we are going to add another board to the comparison, the WeMOS D1 ESP8266 Arduino compatible board. I have prepared a detailed tutorial on that board so you can check it out before we start.

WeMOS D1 ESP8266 vs Arduino Uno, Arduino Due and Teensy 3.2. Which one is the fastest board? – [Link]

Puck.js – The Ground-Breaking Bluetooth Low Energy Beacon

Puck.js is a low energy smart device which can be programmed and debugged wirelessly with JavaScript. It is both multi-functional and easy to use.  This beacon uses a custom circuit board with the latest Nordic chip, Bluetooth LE, Infrared transmitter, NFC, magnetometer, temperature sensor, RGB LEDs, and much more. Unlike other beacons, Puck.js comes with the open source JavaScript interpreter Espruino pre-installed, which makes it incredibly easy to use. Anyone without any prior programming experience can get started in seconds.

Puck.js Has a Very Small Form Factor
Puck.js Has a Very Small Form Factor

Specifications:

  • Espruino JavaScript interpreter pre-installed
  • nRF52832 SoC – Cortex M4, 64kB RAM, 512kB Flash
  • 8 × 0.1″ GPIO (capable of PWM, SPI, I2C, UART, Analog Input)
  • 9 × SMD GPIO (capable of PWM, SPI, I2C, UART)
  • Compatible with Bluetooth 5.0 – giving Quadruple the range, and double the speed of Bluetooth 4.2
  • Built-in Near Field Communications (NFC)
  • 12 bit ADC, timers, SPI, I2C, and Serial
  • MAG3110 Magnetometer
  • IR Transmitter
  • Red, Green and Blue LEDs
  • Pin capable of capacitive sensing
  • Built-in temperature sensor, light sensor, and battery level sensor
  • ABS plastic rear case and silicone cover with tactile button
  • CR2032 210mAh battery

Features:

Puck.js has various sensors for different purposes and various kinds of output components. It can measure light, temperature, magnetic fields, and capacitance. This beacon also can control Infrared remote devices, produce any color light using RGB LED, and has a tactile switch that turns the Puck into one big button.

The Magnetometer on Puck.js is a digital compass. You can measure its orientation about the earth’s magnetic field in 3 dimensions. It can also detect a magnet nearby and measures the magnetic field.

Detailed View of Puck.js Bluetooth Beacon
Detailed View of Puck.js Bluetooth Beacon

Puck also has the Web Bluetooth feature that enables controlling it from a web page wirelessly. The website simply sends the JavaScript code directly to the Puck, and it’ll be executed. Another excellent feature of Puck.js is internet accessibility. Espruino contains TCP/IP and HTTP client and servers (including WebSockets). With a suitable Bluetooth LE to the Internet Gateway, you’ll be able to put your Puck on the web!

The story doesn’t end here. Compared to other smart beacons, Puck.js has much more features that make it unbeatable. Open Source hardware and software is one of them. Go here to get a complete list of all features.

Conclusion:

Puck is an outstanding product. It has tons of booming features in a small package, yet easy to program. Anyone can get started with this amazing device within seconds. You can get it at £28 from this Kickstarter link. Also watch this video from Kickstarter campaign or the below video by Adafruit.com for a better understanding.

facetVISION: Compound Eyes for Industry and Smartphone

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF have developed a process that makes the production of a two-millimeter flat camera possible. Similar to the eyes of insects, its lens is partitioned into 135 tiny facets. The researchers have named their mini-camera concept facetVISION, following nature’s model. This mini-camera has a thickness of only two millimeters at a resolution of 1 megapixel.

facetVISION compound eye: First prototype
facetVISION compound eye: First prototype

All 135 small, uniform lenses are positioned close together, similar to the pieces of a mosaic. Each lens receives only a small section of its surroundings. The newly developed facetVISION technology aggregates the many individual images of the lenses to a whole picture. Finally, this technology should obtain a resolution of 4 megapixels. This is certainly a higher resolution compared to latest cameras in industrial applications like robot technology or automobile production.

The compound eye technology is also suitable for integration into smartphones. The lens of a modern smartphone must be at least 5 millimeters thick in order to capture a sharp image. The manufacturers of ultrathin smartphones are facing this challenge since the camera lens is thicker than the housing of the phone. But, this new technology can reduce the thickness to around 3 millimeters without compromising picture quality. Andreas Brückner, the project manager at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF in Jena, says:

It will be possible to place several smaller lenses next to each other in the smartphone camera. The combination of facet effect and proven injection molded lenses will enable resolutions of more than 10 megapixels in a camera requiring just a thickness of around three and a half millimeters.

The researchers also explained how this camera can be used in medical engineering as optical sensors to examine blood. The facetVISION has many other applications like checking image quality in a printing machine, parking camera in cars or in industrial robots to prevent collisions between human and machine.

Mass production of facetVISION is possible
Mass production of facetVISION is possible

Under the leadership of Andreas Brückner, the researchers have already demonstrated that facetVISION is suitable for mass production. So, keep waiting and maybe you will purchase a new smartphone equipped with a facetVISION compound eye in not so distant future.

EEZ H24005, Two-Channel Programmable Power Supply

Envox Experimental Zone (EEZ) is an open hardware and open source development website, that creates and shares various open source hardware and software projects using as much as possible open-source tools and technologies.

One of their projects is the programmable bench power supply ‘EEZ H24005’. The goal is to make a reliable, modular, open and programmable power supply, that can be used for various tasks starting with powering breadboard, charge batteries of various types, or to be used as an educational tool and science experiments.

The EEZ H24005 is a DIY power supply unit consists of four PCBs and SMT electronics components except some power resistor, AC/DC adapter, and power regulators. Only two ICs need hot air soldering station to mount, while the remaining parts can be simply mounted with soldering iron.

Top Faces Of The Four PCBs
Bottom Faces Of The Four PCBs

To build this PSU you will need these tools:

In addition to modularity, programmability, openness, and DIY, reliability was one of the key features and design guidelines of the designing process. Because as a sourcing device, the PSU has to be designed in the way that no dangerous oscillation in voltage or current is present over the long period of deployment. That includes border case of turning the PSU on and off, applying or disconnecting load, etc.

Here is some of the main features of H24005:

  • Modular design that allows combining modules with various performance and capability and creation of multiple output solution
  • Voltage regulation (CV), 10 mV resolution
  • Current regulation (CC), 10 mA initial resolution
  • Various current single range operation (0-5 A default, 0-3 A or 0-4 A per channel)
  • 15-bit data acquisition resolution
  • Real-time clock (RTC) with supercap/battery backup
  • SD-card as an additional storage
  • Ethernet support for remote control
  • Simple DC output protection (reverse voltage, over-voltage)
H24005 PSU Block Diagram

Since it is an open source project, all files, designs, source codes are available at the Github repository. Also a detailed building guide is available at the official website. But if you want to get H24005 but not interested in making it, you can order yours through OSHPark. There is also a CrowdSupply campagin on going.

CTC By Arduino, Creative Technologies in the Classroom

Arduino and Genuino Education is a worldwide-leading school initiative bringing technology into the hands of teachers and students to create a more inventive learning experience. It offers multiple platforms, including research-based projects and in-class programs such as Creative Technologies in the Classroom(CTC) and other initiatives like: Mastering Arduino: Foundations, Arduino Education on YouTube, #EduMondays on Arduino Blog, and other on-ground events. These initiatives are not launched yet and are coming soon, and one event, BETT 2017, was held in London earlier on January. CTC is the running initiative right now.

CTC is Arduino’s one-of-a-kind STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) program for upper secondary education. Students are introduced to the foundations of programming, electronics, and mechanics through a series of playful, well-documented projects and easy-to-assemble experiments.

Arduino’s one-of-a-kind STEM program has been implemented in nearly 500 schools throughout the globe, resulting in an overwhelming satisfaction rate among both students and teachers alike. 95% of instructors continue to use the curriculum in their classrooms year after year, while more than 13,000 students have already participated.

Source: Intel IQ

CTC 101 — running on Arduino 101 — is divided into 4 modules or blocks covering various topics. The CTC program is a toolbox comprised of more than 20 hands-on and easily assembled electronic projects, an online source for course materials, documentation tools, content specific reference sections, and professional support services.These four distinct stages are:

  1. Teacher training (one week)
  2. Themed modules (five modules, 10 weeks)
  3. Student projects (nine weeks)
  4. Technology fair (one day)

Each program comes with a CTC 101 Toolbox consisting of:

  • Sets of electronics components and pre-cut mechanical parts
  • 25+ hands-on projects
  • Live training for teachers
  • Free online documentation and course materials
  • Support forums for teachers and students

“CTC is one of our best educational activities and makes us especially proud on account of its potential for teacher training, student motivation, and transformation of the society in which we live.” – Javier Hidalgo, Head of Exhibitions and Programmes, la Caixa Foundation

Participating schools should have student access to computers and the ability to access the internet – A dedicated room that can function as a workshop, or at least a room with tables to work on – Different exercises may involve common school appliances such as pens, scissors, sticky tape, etc. In order to register your school in the CTC program just apply here.

Arduino Education is committed to empowering educators with the necessary hardware and software tools to create a more hands-on, innovative learning experience. More details about these initiatives are available at Arduino Education and this blog.

ATtiny Dev Board / Tinyduino

This is an ATtiny Dev Board. Designed for the ATtiny line of microcontollers from atmel. Its made to be small, simple to build and easy to use.

ATtiny Dev Board / Tinyduino – [Link]

OpenScope, An Open Source Multi-function Board

In order to make learning and using electronics accessible to all, Digilent Inc., an electrical engineering products company, had created a new powerful and affordable tool for  beginners and enthusiasts. ‘OpenScope’ is an instrumentation device that empowers makers, hobbyists, engineers, and new learners to design and debug their most innovative products.

OpenScope is a portable multi-function programmable instrumentation module, that connects with computer through WiFi or USB to allow acquiring, analysing, visualising, and controlling signals from circuits, sensors, and other electronic devices. It can also be programmed to work as a standalone development board, like Arduino and Raspberry Pi, with high-speed precision analog and digital I/O.

WaveForms Live is a free, open-source, JavaScript-based software that runs in a browser. It comes with OpenScope and is used for configuring it to work as an oscilloscope, a function generator, a logic analyzer, a power supply, or a data logger.

OpenScope can be used to make real time monitoring and troubleshooting projects, to build long-term capturing and calculating IoT devices, and also to gain a deeper understanding of electronics through visualizing what’s happening inside of the circuit.

The core of OpenScope is the Microchip PIC32MZ Processor, a 32-bit MCU based on the MIPS processor, clocked at 200MHz with 2 MB flash memory and up to 512KB high-speed SRAM. It is placed on OpenScope’s top face with a WiFi module, MicroUSB port for power and programming, programming headers, 30 pins, two input channels, gain select multiplexers, with led and buttons.

 

OpenScope Features:

  • 2 12-bit scope channels at 2 MHz bandwidth and 6.25 MS/sec sampling rate.
  • 1 MHz function generator output with 10 MS/sec update rate.
  • 10 programmable digital I/O pins .
  • Up to 50 mA ±4 volts programmable power supply.
  • On-Board WiFi
  • Reprogrammable through Arduino IDE and Microchip MPLabX

$14,000 has been reached since launching the Kickstarter campaign yesterday. You can reserve your own OpenScope for $80 and also an optional 3D printed case is available for $25. According to the project timeline, early shipping will begins in April 2017.

Mini Digital Barometric Altimeter

I found on Ebay very nice, small 12v 23A battery holders for PCB mounting style and decided to fit the SMALL DIGITAL BAROMETRIC ALTIMETER just on the back of the holder.

So basically this is the same schematic as the SMALL DIGITAL BAROMETRIC ALTIMETER, however I moved some of the connections to different MCU pins because of PCB space limitations.

Mini Digital Barometric Altimeter – [Link]

Basics of most common communication protocols

circuitbasics.com has published a series of tutorials on the most popular communication protocols, like UART, I2C, SPI etc. Check them on the links below.

STEMTera, Arduino Compatible Built-In Breadboard

Sydney backyard inventor, JP Liew, who invented MicroView that had successfully raised USD 573,000 in 30 days on Kickstarter two years ago has just launched STEMTera Breadboard on Kickstarter, an open source invention that solves many electronic prototyping problems and aids in teaching STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). The initial funding goal of USD 35,000 was reached in less than 64 hours!

STEMTera is the first breadboard with an Arduino compatible built-in that works with thousands of shields. With ATmega16U2/32U2 exposed, and native USB projects can be easily developed using the LUFA framework. It is specifically designed to solve common issues using Arduino with a breadboard especially in the lab or classroom. It came to reduce the headache of managing students’ messy wires flying around microcontroller board and breadboard during class, to enhance the current design (Arduino UNO) for native USB development without changing or adding extra components, and to Improve adaptability, mountability and protection, enabling more projects to be built in the lab or classroom. STEMTera is 111.8 x 79.8 x 16.1 mm sized and weighs 132 grams.

Thanks to exposing ATmega16U2/32U2, users can now develop native USB projects with an extra 21 IO pins. These extra IO pins can work directly with the LUFA framework without having a middleman to translate messages like the original Arduino UNO.

“STEMTera Breadboard was designed to help Australian schools teach STEM education and help students make and invent things. My demonstration video showed how easy students can build Hydroponics Systems, game controllers and musical instruments using the STEMTera Breadboard.” – JP Liew, founder of STEMTera.

STEMTera Features

  • Dual Microcontroller – ATmega328P & ATmega16U2: With a total of 41 IO pins of which 9 provide PWM. Pin-to-pin compatible with Arduino UNO R3 shield .
  • LEGO® Compatible Bottom Cover
  • USB Native Development – thanks to the exposed ATmega32U2
  • 4 LEDs (Power, TX, RX and L)
  • Strong ABS Enclosure
  • IDE Support
    • Atmel® Studio
    • Arduino IDE
    • AVR-GCC
    • AVR-GCC with LUFA
    • Scratch

Check this review by Sparkfun:

The STEMTera is available for pre-order and it will be shipped soon. You can pre-order it now for $45 on Sparkfun, on of the project’s distributors, and choose the color you prefer out of white, black or pink! More colors will be produced later.

More details about STEMTera can be found on the official website and the campaign page. Also check out JP Liew homepage to know more about his previous projects.