Exploring IoT Concepts with a cloudBit

There are variety of WiFi-based chipsets that embedded developers and product designers use in their IoT designs.

There are variety of WiFi-based chipsets that embedded developers and product designers use in their IoT designs. An alternative reference design that allows these developers and designers to explore IoT (Internet of Things) concepts is the cloudBit manufactured by littleBits electronics. The littleBits are colorful electronic modules that provide specific electrical functions for consumer devices and gadgets. By connecting the modules in unique creative ways, interesting, innovative electronic devices and gadgets can be built. The ease in which electronic devices and gadgets can be built allows a rapid approach to developing new IoT design concepts. I’ll present an alternative design approach to building IoT product concepts using the littleBits cloudBit. To illustrate this design method a WiFi-based appliance controller prototype will be built with additional littleBits modules. Before discussing the design details of the IoT appliance controller prototype, I’ll present the system architecture of the cloudBit using block and circuit schematic diagrams.

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The cloudBit, an alternative reference design for IoT concept development. (Source: littleBits Electronics)

The cloudBit System Architecture

The cloudBit module allows a variety of electronic devices and gadgets to easily connect to a home WiFi network. The IC (integrated circuit) technologies used on the tiny electronic module’s PCB (Printed Circuit Board) allow wireless connectivity to control and monitor other littleBits modules. Also, a hardware development kit (HDK) provides electrical circuit interfacing to non littleBits modules, as well. The cloudBit module’s System Architecture consists of eight basic subcircuits using a variety of SOIC (Small Outline Integrated Circuit), LQFP (Low Profile Quad Flat Pack), and SMD (Surface Mount Device) components. The littleBits System Architecture consists of the following eight basic subcircuits:

  • Power Supply
  • Setup (pushbutton switch)
  • WiFi Dongle (USB Host adapter)
  • Analog In
  • Analog Out
  • μSD (micro SD)
  • RGB LED (status)
  • 512 MB (Megabytes) DDR-SDRAM (Double Duty Rate Synchronous Dynamic Random Access Memory)
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The cloudBit System Architecture consists of eight basic subcircuits. (Source: Don Wilcher)

 

The cloudBit’s WiFi radio is packaged inside of a USB adapter. Dynamode manufacturers the radio (Part Number WL-700N-XS) which is a compliant 802.11n/g WiFi device. It’s operating frequency range is 2.4- 2.4835 GHZ, which puts the USB adapter within the ISM (Industrial, Scientific, Medical) category of wireless devices. The Dynamode USB WiFi adapter conveniently operates from a single 5V DC source only consuming 0.6W of power.

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The cloudBit WiFi chipset is conveniently packaged into a USB adapter. (Source: Dynamode)

The linux software that provides the WiFi setup resides inside of the μSD (micro SD card) located on the bottom side of the cloudBit. The RGB LED provides operational and setup status of the cloudBit. The setup button allows the cloudBit to detect and connect to the home network by pressing a tiny momentary switch. The NXP iMX23 processor provides I/O processing of

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