Tuesday, March 1, 2011

panStamp Arduino

Arduino has been proven to be a very popular platform with thousands of adopters around the world. There is a huge amount of libraries, tutorials and sketches developed for the very diverse Arduino boards. The IDE is simple and popular; it runs under Windows, Linux and Mac and its installation is done in a breeze. This popularity has encouraged lots of independent developers to create new arduino boards for very different applications. Arduino will definitely be a good solution for the panStamp project, the perfect compromise between my needs in terms of low-level development and the interests of the final user/developers.

Arduino uses basically C++ as programming language. It re-uses avr-gcc's libraries and provides new ones, offering high-level interfaces for most common applications. It's indeed a real success, the Arduino community has gained a major popularity among the embedded world and seem to have taken an important advantage with regards to other similar solutions, maybe because it's free and open source.

Once Arduino has been retained as programming platform, we'll obviously need to mount an Atmega on our board; not an issue, atmegas are great flexible-robust 8-bit microcontrollers with sufficient RAM memory and flash space, more than enough for most wireless applications.

What about the RF side? Which RF front-end should we use? There is no definitive response to this question in my opinion. Each solution will provide special good performances in different areas, for specific solutions. Mesh, no mesh? 802.15.4 or not? Zigbee, 6LowPAN, no stack at all? Many questions that will find an answer in the next post.

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