Boston, MA â At the Embedded Systems Show (ESC) this
week, ARM and NXP announced the launch of mbed.org
and the mbed microcontroller rapid prototyping tools, which they say will
enable new users to get started in just 60 seconds.
Sixty seconds sounds like typical marketing hype. But product
Manager Simon Ford says the concept behind mbed, the industry's first online
platform for rapid prototyping of 32-bit microcontrollers, will help design
engineers be more innovative and productive. And come up the learning curve more
quickly. In short, they hope to get the tools into the hands of lots of design
engineers who will find all sorts of new applications for the technology.
The $99 mbed microcontroller (currently on special for $60) packages an NXP LPC1768
Cortex-M3 processor-based MCU and support components in a 40-pin 0.1 inch pitch
DIP form factor for easy breadboarding. The mbed Compiler allows users to write
programs in C++ and download them to run on the microcontroller, while the mbed
library gives engineers an API-driven approach to coding.
To illustrate a clever, though silly, use of the mbed
microcontroller, Ford had on display "Twittering Billy Hack," you know, that obnoxious
talking fish that was so popular a few years back. Engineers replaced Billy's
brain with an mbed microcontroller connected some of the PWM pins to Billy's
motors, added an SD card to store audio files, and connected the mbed's
Ethernet interface to the internet.
Here's how it works: The mbed polls a Web page to check for Tweets, then
requests the Web server to translate it to a voice and return it as an audio
file when Billy requests it. It also generates a move file on an SD card. Once
Billy has audio and move comments on the SD cards, he plays them out the mbed
analog output to speakers.
"Just ignore the talking fish," Billy wisecracked as I departed from the
meeting with Ford.
Click here for more information,
to get an mbed, or find out more about Twittering Billy Bass and other projects
using mbed tools.