I have been toying with the idea of diving into the Do It Yourself (DIY) and Maker communities, well maybe more like getting my toe in the water, for a while now, but I just couldn’t find the right project to get started. Then just a few weeks ago I saw the Arduino 101 (Genuino 101 outside the U.S.) and was intrigued by this ‘upgrade’ of the familiar Arduino platform using the low-power Intel Curie™ module. The platform is shown in the figure below.
Figure 1: The Arduino 101 Development Board Features the Intel Curie™ Module using the familiar Arduino Form Factor (Illustration Courtesy Intel)
The Curie Module has a low-power 32-bit Quark™ MCU, 384kB of flash memory, and 80kB of SRAM to hold even the most complex applications I’m planning on. The features that really caught my eye however were the computing, motion sensing, Bluetooth Low Energy communications, battery charging, and pattern matching capabilities. These features combine to deliver optimized analysis of sensor data -- enabling quick and easy identification of actions and motions.
The designs I have been looking to use all seem to have these common characteristics- battery operation, and a variety of sensors with built-in pre-processing and analysis functions to create local intelligence. Communication using BlueTooth Low Energy to a central controller is also a key requirement for the designs I’m most interested in. So it seems like this will be a good platform for my initial experiments. I placed an order on the Mouser site and in just a few days I had my very own Arduino 101.
The hardware is a good fit, but how about the software? Do I need to install some massive MCU IDE (Integrated Development Environment) and struggle with licensing, libraries, compilers and programming fixtures? Luckily, the Arduino 101 uses the free, open source and easily available Arduino IDE- and it even runs on my Mac! In fact, in just a few minutes I downloaded the IDE, loaded the Intel Curie module using the Arduino Board Manager and was ready to try out a design.
The first design you want to try for a new board and IDE is the ever present
“Blink” example that blinks an LED. Sure enough a Blink example is available in File/Examples/ Basic/Blink. Running this examples helps you make sure you have the right Board and Serial port selected (for programming and communications). If you select Arduino/Genuino 101 for the board and /dev/cu.usbmodem1421 (Arduino/Genuino 101) and then Upload the Blink design you get the Arduino standard LED to Blink at you.
Once Blink is working, you can try a more advanced design. I selected the board Orientation Visualizer that uses the 6-axis accelerometer/gyro to display the position of the board on your computer screen. The figure below illustrates the results of running this example and shows three dfferent orientations of the board during the demonstration.
Three Different Board Positions During the Arduino/Genuino 101 Orientation Visualizer Demonstration (Screen capture from running the example Processing program, courtesy of the Processing Foundation)
All in all it took about 30 minutes to go from a board in a box to successfully running the visualizer program. This indiacates to me that I’m on the right path to creating a successful DIY project on the Arduino 101 that can sample, process, analyze and control the range of sensors I’m targeting. Look for future blogs and a detailed project example that describes my DIY adventures and shares the results so you can follow along and perhaps blaze your own DIY trail into unknow territory.
Useful Arduino 101 Web Links:
Arduino 101 Kit
Outside of North America: Order Your
Genuino 101 Kit
Arduino 101 Getting Started Guide:
Download the Orientation Viewer Example
Warren Miller is a contributing author at Mouser Electronics with over 30 years of experience in the electronics industry. He has had roles in product planning, applications, marketing and management for large established companies as well as startups. Currently he is President of Wavefront Marketing, a consultancy serving semiconductor, tools and intellectual property companies.
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