View Full Version : Spark Core (kickstarter project): Wifi for everything

05-02-2013, 08:33 PM
Looks interesting:


05-03-2013, 12:26 AM
I dunno, given how much my Android phone (Samsung S-2) sucks power when I have wifi enabled, I'm not sure I would use this for battery operated operations (at least for operations that are meant to last an entire day). Also, for a lot of things I might want to do in an inter-networked environment, it still has minimal memory, and something like a Rasberry Pi/pcDuino/BeagleBone black with a USB wifi card would be much more useful since they have 256M - 1G ram. But I can understand how it would be nice for some things.

05-03-2013, 01:20 AM
I thought kickstarter was going to stop doing these type of hardware projects.

05-03-2013, 05:16 AM
Yes, I agree. Bluetooth low energy probably make much more sense for micro controller form factor devices.

05-03-2013, 04:16 PM
I thought kickstarter was going to stop doing these type of hardware projects.
Yep, particularly since the rewards structure with multiple 'products' was what the whole furor over kickstarter is not a store was all about. However, I imagine this forum is not really the place to talk about potential competitors to the Teensy, other than in a comparison sense.

And I'm sure many of us are waiting with baited breath for Teensy 3.0++ to be announced.

05-03-2013, 04:45 PM
It's fine to discuss other competitive boards, especially in comparison to Teensy. Who knows, maybe I'll make a Wifi Teensy? But I think Bluetooth LE or similar lightweight and low power protocols make much more sense.

Regarding kickstarter projects, there's a gray region where this becomes spam. A big factor is probably how many other "hey, check out my kickstarter project" posts we've had recently. If too many people start clicking that little black triangle (aka "Report Post") button, you can expect Robin to bring down the ban hammer hard....

In terms of other boards, I'm most excited about the Beaglebone Black. I have one on my desk right now, talking to a few Teensy3s. It'll be at Maker Faire, and I'll post a blog about the project when I have time.

On T3++, I wish I could drop some hints, but the NDA with Freescale is an issue. They say it'll be a couple months. They've often been late before.

05-04-2013, 12:42 AM
But I think Bluetooth LE or similar lightweight and low power protocols make much more sense

http://www.rfduino.com/ :cool:

05-04-2013, 10:57 PM
Who knows, maybe I'll make a Wifi Teensy? B

Not sure what cost implications WIFI would have, but I would take some @ $30 for projects around the the house.

05-06-2013, 11:44 AM
Carambola2 runs at 0.5W, so does the TL-WR703N... both are around $20 price price point. If size is not a consideration, these are great and give you more flexibility. I use the Teensy3 with the TL-WR703N a lot now, and looking to move to the Carambola2's with the Teensy3 :)

05-06-2013, 01:07 PM
The beauty of some of the newer WiFi enabled devices is that you can upload new code remotely and wirelessly. My LED lighting system is mounted relatively high above my computer on my living room wall http://trippylighting.com/2012/10/09/colorful-led-lighting-systems/

In the image the USB cable for programming is still visible (currently running on a Teensy++2 connected per I2C to 5 of these http://ledshield.wordpress.com/ remote controlled via WiFi and TouchOSC)

Keeping the USB cable plugged in may be an option for me - albeit a rather unattractive one - but if I ever start building these for other people that's obviously not an option. However, the crux it seems with some of these WiFi enabled board on Kickstarter is really ( for me ) the development environment, which seems to be a Web Interface.
I have started maintaining the Teensy++2 code in Eclipse using the Arduino Eclipse Plugin and it is a thing of beauty! I am hoping to be using it with the Teensy3 by the end of the week.
Using a web front for programming would be more than one step backwards.

However, what I could imagine is compiling the hex file locally and then pushing it to the Teensy wirelessly through the Internet using one of these WiFi enabled boards. Not sure this is technically feasible but it sure is a nice idea to contemplate. That way you can easily provide upgrades and bug-fixes to customers devices. At $30 for one of these WiFi enabled boards that is less expensive a than a WIZ820io + Tp-link mini router that I use right now only to be able to remote control my lighting system. Obviously I cannot upload code wirelessly with that configuration.

05-06-2013, 06:18 PM
However, the crux it seems with some of these WiFi enabled board on Kickstarter is really ( for me ) the development environment

Has any Kickstart-launched dev board succeeded in making a dramatically new development environment?

05-06-2013, 08:53 PM
I suspect most use variants of the Arduino IDE just like Teensy does.

There was the Galago, which appears to be shipping to backers now. It had an integrated debugger, and it looks like they are in the process of releasing a new IDE. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/kuy/galago-make-things-better?ref=live

Radioblock uses lpcxpresso to do its programming.

Mbed is off in its own little universe where they think people want to use online tools to program embedded tools (presumably complete with ads to fund things). Since I don't fall into the category, I haven't looked closely at what they are doing.

I don't know what type of development environment smarthost.com uses (during kickstarter they were smARTuDIONO, but they needed to change the name).

05-07-2013, 12:00 AM
What would you consider to be a dramatically new development environment ?
Simply something dramatically different than the Arduino IDE ?

I don't own any of the other products but admit that I find the possibilities of the hardware intriguing. Being able to update code wirelessly and/or through the internet is something that is of interest to me, so the Electric IMP (Web interface for development) or the SparkDuino (also a web based development environment) are interesting from that standpoint. The rfduino also is placed pretty well. I consider none of these as replacements for a Teensy3 or Teensy++2 but rather as complements that extend their functionalities.

With these devices getting ever more powerful in terms of processing power and on-board memory, having a decent Development Environment like Eclipse or xCode wiht all the functionalities supporting larger, more complex products/projects is key. Programming the Teesny++2 using the Arduino Eclipse Plugin functions very smoothly and installation was very simple and will be even simpler if when Teensyduino will support Arduino 1.5x.
I'll see tonight if I can follow Jantjes instructions on how to make that work with the Teenyy3.

I believe that amidst these nice and spirited new Kickstarter projects and their promises there are considerations that are often forgotten in all the enthusiastic excitement. Most of these have yet to deliver!
I backed the Digispark project way before yours was on Kickstarter and received it several months later. Galago, also being started time near to your project is still in process of delivering and the last update indicates that they are in process of overhauling the development environment. On the other hand, your project was executed with precision and blistering speed, which is only explainable through years of experience and this also shows in the support posts and the work on libraries etc. You had a well established product before Teensy3 and have added to the stable.

In terms of development environments Teensy users have several viable alternatives. Form hardcore VIM programmers and Makefiles to embedXCode and soon (hopefully) a non beta release of the Arduino Eclipse Plugin for Teensy++2. And there is always the plain Arduino IDE and the multiple libraries that the teensy's ship with out of the box that one has to often collect elsewhere and adapt for other products.

MAN. You're not looking for a marketing person are you ? He He, just kidding ;-)

05-07-2013, 12:23 AM
Of course having the ability to update your embedded processor's software wirelessly assumes that you trust everything that is generating wifi signals in the local area. My neighbors live far enough way that I can't see anybody's wifi router but my own, so If I bought this, I would be safe. However, I assume in an urban area, you might not want to enable re-programming by wifi.

If you really wanted to do it, it might make more sense to go with more of an operating system, that can at least run SSH (rasberry pi, beagle bone black, pcdunio, etc.), and things like firewalls, tunnels, etc. I routinely program on machines either a few miles away or across country, and sometimes these machines are wireless, so for me, it isn't a must have feature. But I can see how other people might find it useful.

05-07-2013, 12:40 AM
I am not sure what concept the SparkCore follows but the ElectricIMP runs an embedded OS on its Arm M3 processor and the user code runs in a Virtual Machine. Generally an appealing concept. But I agree, you have to trust it.
That is yet another reason I would not want to use it to replace a Teensy3. A customer might object to have a device in something as "simple" as an LED lighting system in case of my creations ;-)