I’ve mentioned mbed, the rapid microcontroller prototyping product, in a previous column. There are lots of microcontroller development boards out there, but the thing that makes mbed different is that it geared towards rapid prototyping — getting new projects and ideas up and running quickly. The key mbed features are:
- Development environment hosted online (no software, no dongles, projects available from any computer or your phone)
- Microcontroller peripherals abstracted into C++ classes using real world units (ie seconds instead of ticks, volts instead of ADC counts, etc.)
- Drag/drop flashing of firmware (no programming hardware or jtag cables)
- fits nicely in a solderless breadboard
mbed has a growing community of users who have done some interesting things so I thought I’d write about a few.
There is a digital dice project. We all probably made one of these in a sophomore digital logic class, but this one incorporates an accelerometer. Try doing that in TTL logic! (be sure to watch the video…)
The Sumovore is a robotic platform from Solarbotics. It comes with either a PIC or Atmel powered brain board, which might be all right for novice gadgeteers, but master gadgeteers need more power than that! If you’re interested in the Sumovore, then be sure to look at the mbed Pimp my Sumovore.
There’s a rocket telemetry project which incorporates an accelerometer, SDcard for logging, and GPRS radio.
Maybe you’d like your embedded project to incorporate an HTTP server or client. Maybe you’d even like it to be twitterable. mbed has a TCP/IP stack (via lwIP) and examples of all of these. If any readers saw the twittering Billy Bass demo at ESC Boston or ESC UK, it was implemented using these libraries. Just a day or two of development time enabled Billy to check his twitter account for new messages, send the text message off to an internet server that would convert the text to speech and return a wave file, retrieve the wave file and play it along with some made up mouth and body movements.
RFID, XBee, wave file players, LCD panels, and lots more interesting things are on the cookbook page over at mbed.org. Take a look and think about how mbed can enable your next gadget!
Happy New Year