I’m back with a new post, after a long hiatus. These days I’ve been diving into the world of hardware electronics; more specifically Arduino and Seeeduino. Long ago I started in this industry by selling electronic and computer components (e.g. resistors, rectifiers, ICs, cable, etc.). After that it was building, upgrading and repairing computers and all that entails, which lead me into building networks and the repair and upgrading of them. After moving into a corporate environment from retail, I ran a help desk for a while before I moved into managing their mid-sized network (~1500 workstations, 120 servers at 12 US facilities). After a period of time I got the opportunity to move into software development, which is how I’m paying the bills these days.
All that to say that I’ve done the peices, the parts, the computers, the networks, the software and web applications. Now I want to move into building hardware/software projects at the hardware level. I’m not sure that I want to do it for a living, so if you’re my employer reading this, don’t worry I’m happy where I am. :o) Anyway, so to facilitate this I ordered up some hardware. My order consisted of the following.
|1 ea.||Seeeduino ADK Main Board||$79.90|
|1 ea.||Gameduino – a game adapter for microcontrollers||$49.90|
|1 ea.||Relay shield||$20.00|
|1 ea.||1 pin dual-female jumper wire 100mm 50pcs pack||$4.99|
|2 ea.||5V/3.3V Breadboard Power Supply||$17.00|
|1 ea.||SD card shield||$13.90|
|1 ea.||Romeo-All in one Controller||$36.00|
|1 ea.||20 in 1!Basic components mixed pack||$4.90|
|1 ea.||Grove – Starter Kit||$39.00|
|1 ea.||2.8” TFT Touch Shield||$49.50|
|1 ea.||Netduino Plus||$57.95|
|1 ea.||Grove – Line Finder||$3.99|
|1 ea.||Grove – Light Sensor||$2.90|
|1 ea.||Grove – Infrared Emitter||$4.35|
|1 ea.||Grove – Infrared Receiver||$3.95|
|1 ea.||Grove – Universal 4 Pin 20cm Cable (5 PCs Pack)||$4.90|
|1 ea.||Harness for Arduino Mega/Arduino/Seeeduino Kit||$8.70|
|1 ea.||Grove – 3-axis Accelerometer||$12.90|
So, let me explain some of the parts. First we have the main components to all of this. That’s the Seeeduino in my case, which is an Arduino knock-off. Since Arduino hardware and software is open source, anyone is allowed to build on it and even sell their version. Now in this article I’m going to use the word Seeeduino since that’s what I purchased, but it’s pretty much interchangable with Arduino. All of these boards are “Arduino Compatible”; think of it as IBM compatible back in the day. So, I couldn’t decide on whether to get the Seeeduino, which has software built on a C based software platform (although it has it’s own language on top of that) or whether to get the Netduino, which uses the .NET Micro Framework for it’s software platform. I have a lot of experience with .NET, as I’m a .NET developer by profession, but I also welcomed the learning experience associated with something new. I couldn’t make up my mind so I just got both.
Next there are a bunch of “shields” that connect to the Arduino/Seeeduino and provide additional capabilities like SD card reader, TFT Touch Screen, Wireless, etc. Out of the shields available for the Seeeduino, I got the 2.8″ TFT Touch Shield (a display screen), Gameduino shield (gaming add-on), SD Card shield (SD card reader for storage) and a Relay shield (turns on/off devices needing more power).
After that you have to consider what sensors you want. Now there are a ton of sensors by different folks out there. I found the Grove line of products to be the best. You simply by a Grove base shield and then these little square sensors called “Twigs”. Each twig provides some sort of sensor input or some kind of output. For instance, I got a button (input), piezo speaker (output), temperature (input), 3-Axis Accelerometer (input), light sensor (input) and other similar twigs. I also purchased an LCD display (16 characters by 2 lines).
It was quick to get these up and running and I would highly recommend purchasing from SeeedStudios.com. For every item they sell (or nearly every item), they have a link to a Wiki page where it explains all about the item, what libraries are needed, code samples, etc. This was absolutely invaluable to get me up and running. I had the main board and a handful of sensors up and running within a couple of hours. I even had the LCD screen working quickly, which I thought was going to be the most difficult peice.
If you wind up getting the 2.8″ TFT Touch Shield and a Mega 2560 Arduino or Seeeduino board, see my article about the backlight and white background only problem. It’s not so much a problem as something that’s not readily apparent that needs to be changed in the TFT library. Well, thanks for reading my post and leave comments if you want.
Note: I also readily welcome Arduino/Seeeduino hardware that you don’t use anymore. Just leave me a comment and I’ll hook you up with my shipping address. I want to provide more articles, but have a limited budget to work with. I also provide reviews on various hardware, software, electronics, etc. for those who need an experienced opinion. I’m a veteran in this industry with over 12 years of experience in just about all aspects of technology (some of which is explained earlier in the article). For those reviews or anything else, just leave a comment and I’ll give you my contact information.