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The 168's a $3.45 chip, add shipping and it's closer to $5. The Arduino is more powerful that it's given credit for (especially at any of the AVR forums) it's an enabling technology that has yet to realize it's full potential.

Not that it's the point, but the ATMEGA168 is $2.58 at Digikey when you buy 25.   The most comparable PIC I've used is the 18F252 which is $5.30 when you buy 25.  The 16F648A I have a lot of experience with is $1.90 each for 25, and much less capable.  IMO, the PIC is not a cheaper option, just different.

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I've contributed to several open source CMS's over the years so I know those ropes very well, and you might be comfortable giving away your hardware designs for another to profit, but others wouldn't / aren't - even the Arduino people are here to make money, and they deserve to, there's more "commercial" happening here than is immediately transparent smiley-wink

For what the Arduino boards cost at retail, and given that they've sold something over 10,000 "genuine" boards, I would doubt very much that they've made minimum wage for their time.  I'm sure they'd love to profit from it, but so far, they're more interested in growing the brand smiley
@Oracle, it is obvious you are not the chosen one  smiley-wink... you need to see the forest, not the tree :o.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2008, 03:10:47 pm by nkcelectronics » Logged

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@Oracle, going back to your original post, as you are proposing a co-development of projects AROUND Arduino, then I think it makes a lot of sense.  Let's find a way and let's do it.  I love Arduino as well and I want to see it's potential grow to the infinitum... I am also interested in funding open source hardware projects around Arduino.

I was thinking a lot about expandable micro-shields based on i2c bus (the easiest way to connect multiple devices without having to arbitrate I/O pin usage, etc)... and newer sensors are coming digital (i2c, SPI) and in packages that are not hobbyist friendly that needs some sort of cooperative group developing boards for the tiny devices and manufacturing them at reasonable costs.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2008, 03:13:21 pm by nkcelectronics » Logged

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The main difference from a software open source project and hardware open source project is that in a certain point in time, investment money is needed.  Software can be developed end-to-end with just brain power and some PCs and laptops, and free software tools, but with hardware it is more difficult.  Even sharing eagle files is not as easy as sharing and version controlling a source code.

This is really something that puzzles me about how people think.  You say "just brain power" but will happily put in hundreds of man-hours of work.  Yet there's this block about spending a couple of hundred dollars ordering some PCBs and parts for a small run.  Even to the point of spending extra tens of hours to save tens of dollars.  For something I've spent 100 hours designing, putting in $200 to see it to fruition just doesn't seem like a problem.  

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@Oracle: you are wrong about Freeduino being just a clone of Arduino.  In the project, we experimented with sharing tools, email, forums, discussed how to version control hardware design files, how to fund prototype runs, and a lot more.  Maybe the result was a replicated Arduino, but it took 1 month of heavy interaction within the team.

But why couldn't you put all that effort into a result that wasn't just a replicated Arduino?   You could have built something around a larger chip that's code compatible with the original but also gives you 8 more IO for example (so the code wouldn't be backwards compatible but you could run any classic arduino code).

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You will soon realize that money is what is driving all this parallel chaotic development of shields and derivative boards, nothing else.  And I think it is ok, because money is needed in open source hardware projects.  If you think ladyada's motor shield board has limitations, the open source project you propose of a motor driver using different components will satisfy some users, but other users will find limitations as well... it is a never ending story.

The finances just don't add up.  If you build something that costs you $20 in parts and you sell it for $30 (say a moderate arduino shield), a sucess might be to sell 500.  That's $5,000 in profit for all the time you spend collating kits, ordering parts from a few suppliers, having PCBs made, shipping off all those packages to customers, etc.   There's much easier ways to make $5,000 (get an evening job flipping burgers at mcdonalds).  And that's only *if* you're sucessful.  You might invest in a small initial run and nobody is interested.  There's an investmet/risk factor.

I used to be involved in the indie board games scene, the finances for a small run game aren't all that different from a small run open-source hardware project.

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Linux works because the kernel, the main component of the linux infrastructure, is still controlled by Linus.  If not for Linus controlling the kernel, I am pretty sure that we could have 1,000 versions of linux (and not distros, I mean 1,000 kernels) hanging around.

And the core arduino software and official hardware is controlled by the team here.  We don't have 1,000 different 99.9% compatible versions.  Arduino can work that way and having most of the developers writing the apps, libraries and expansion hardware.

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For me, the MAIN VALUE of Arduino is in the software.  It is what makes Arduino what it is today.  The hardware, is just a bunch of standard components and a de-facto header layout standard... that's it.   The day we can make Arduino IDE work with ANY microcontroller, then we will see derivative boards growing exponentially... going to a faster or fatter AVR, it doesn't change much... finding a way to eliminate the USB chip, you are just cutting a couple of dollars on the cost of the board... the POWER is in the SOFTWARE

It's a given that the main value is the software.  Otherwise it's a cheap mid-range MCU on a basic dev board.  It's the software that makes it everything it is.  But doesn't the Freeduino use the original software and bootloader?  Your posts seem to contridict each other.  You talk about all the effort to build freeduino and then say it's just a bunch of standard components to a header layout that was also provided to you?

I'm kind of confused about what you're trying to say.
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@Oracle, going back to your original post, as you are proposing a co-development of projects AROUND Arduino, then I think it makes a lot of sense.  Let's find a way and let's do it.  I love Arduino as well and I want to see it's potential grow to the infinitum... I am also interested in funding open source hardware projects around Arduino.

Exactly, I want to see its potential grow.  

Funding shouldn't be much of an issue, it's putting the cart before the horse to say "I've got $1,000 to build a shield, what should I build".  To me, it's more logical to say "I've got this great shield, now how do I pay to have it produced".  And you prove my point, you've made it clear that if someone comes to you with a good shield design, you'd fund it.  

Why would you stifle creativity by only making a design once you have the funding to produce it?  That's just illogical to me.

At the worst case a team can pre-sell the boards.  If 50 people each give me $20 now to pay for a newly designed shield, I can have a batch made and ship them a few weeks later.  And since it's open source you can see exactly what you'll be getting before you pay the $20, even though the item isn't made yet, so you won't be inhibited by being unsure if it's what you want.  That's another technique used in indie board games, pre-selling the initial run.



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For me, the MAIN VALUE of Arduino is in the software.  It is what makes Arduino what it is today.  The hardware, is just a bunch of standard components and a de-facto header layout standard... that's it.   The day we can make Arduino IDE work with ANY microcontroller, then we will see derivative boards growing exponentially... going to a faster or fatter AVR, it doesn't change much... finding a way to eliminate the USB chip, you are just cutting a couple of dollars on the cost of the board... the POWER is in the SOFTWARE

It's a given that the main value is the software.  Otherwise it's a cheap mid-range MCU on a basic dev board.  It's the software that makes it everything it is.  But doesn't the Freeduino use the original software and bootloader?  Your posts seem to contridict each other.  You talk about all the effort to build freeduino and then say it's just a bunch of standard components to a header layout that was also provided to you?

I'm kind of confused about what you're trying to say.
It is exactly as you say, the Freeduino project was all about learning how to collaborate and materialize an open source hardware project... the Arduino board schematics was "replicated" in just one day or within minutes.  The rest of the time was spent on interesting discussions about sharing the project files, opinions, ideas, how to materialize them, who makes the changes, and the most interesting part... having fun doing it.  BTW, remember that when Freeduino started, there were no Diecimila schematics and board layout published... Maybe the result of the project seems so little for you, but it was pretty interesting for the team members.  And I am sure the Arduino team has their own experiences that are incomprehensible for the outsiders.
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@Oracle, going back to your original post, as you are proposing a co-development of projects AROUND Arduino, then I think it makes a lot of sense.  Let's find a way and let's do it.  I love Arduino as well and I want to see it's potential grow to the infinitum... I am also interested in funding open source hardware projects around Arduino.

Exactly, I want to see its potential grow.  

Funding shouldn't be much of an issue, it's putting the cart before the horse to say "I've got $1,000 to build a shield, what should I build".  To me, it's more logical to say "I've got this great shield, now how do I pay to have it produced".  And you prove my point, you've made it clear that if someone comes to you with a good shield design, you'd fund it.  

Why would you stifle creativity by only making a design once you have the funding to produce it?  That's just illogical to me.

At the worst case a team can pre-sell the boards.  If 50 people each give me $20 now to pay for a newly designed shield, I can have a batch made and ship them a few weeks later.  And since it's open source you can see exactly what you'll be getting before you pay the $20, even though the item isn't made yet, so you won't be inhibited by being unsure if it's what you want.  That's another technique used in indie board games, pre-selling the initial run.



I participated in other true open hardware projects like MMC2IEC and SD2IEC, but I don't know what happens with hardware, but the original creators gets very critized by other "engineers" because there is always a better way of doing things... in one case, the MMC2IEC, one of the critics in the forum used "MMC2IEC sucks" as the forum icon and the motto for creating a better "derivative" version called SD2IEC.  I didn't see such behavior in the software world.  I guess that is why there are different versions of Ethernet shield... maybe it is because EE ego is higher than SE ego  smiley-wink ?
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@Oracle, going back to your original post, as you are proposing a co-development of projects AROUND Arduino, then I think it makes a lot of sense.  Let's find a way and let's do it.  I love Arduino as well and I want to see it's potential grow to the infinitum... I am also interested in funding open source hardware projects around Arduino.

Exactly, I want to see its potential grow.  

Funding shouldn't be much of an issue, it's putting the cart before the horse to say "I've got $1,000 to build a shield, what should I build".  To me, it's more logical to say "I've got this great shield, now how do I pay to have it produced".  And you prove my point, you've made it clear that if someone comes to you with a good shield design, you'd fund it.  

Why would you stifle creativity by only making a design once you have the funding to produce it?  That's just illogical to me.

At the worst case a team can pre-sell the boards.  If 50 people each give me $20 now to pay for a newly designed shield, I can have a batch made and ship them a few weeks later.  And since it's open source you can see exactly what you'll be getting before you pay the $20, even though the item isn't made yet, so you won't be inhibited by being unsure if it's what you want.  That's another technique used in indie board games, pre-selling the initial run.



We need to find a way of streamlining this process.
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I have an idea for the first project we can start testing how it works collaboratively: i2c micro-shields and new i2c libraries to make its use "end user" friendly.

As the starting point, we can use the pin layout used by blinkM: GND, VCC, SDA, SCL.

There are a lot of interesting devices out there that use the i2c interface (the new Wiznet 5300 chip, new accelerometers, RTC, memory and a lot more) and it is worth the effort to make it a "standard" within Arduino, both hardware (pinout, voltage, etc etc) and software (new i2c library). And i2c is a true bus, not like SPI that needs a separate digital pin for each device in the "bus".

Like?  Dislike?
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I have an idea for the first project we can start testing how it works collaboratively: i2c micro-shields and new i2c libraries to make its use "end user" friendly.

As the starting point, we can use the pin layout used by blinkM: GND, VCC, SDA, SCL.

There are a lot of interesting devices out there that use the i2c interface (the new Wiznet 5300 chip, new accelerometers, RTC, memory and a lot more) and it is worth the effort to make it a "standard" within Arduino, both hardware (pinout, voltage, etc etc) and software (new i2c library). And i2c is a true bus, not like SPI that needs a separate digital pin for each device in the "bus".

Like?  Dislike?

I like the idea a lot. I've been playing around with the same idea myself; making a full-sized Arduino Shield for I2C interfacing. In my rough sketches, I used the GND, VCC, SDA, SCL layout, but I split each line and gave each half a selectable 3.3V or 5V level. That way, you could have all 5V devices, all 3.3V devices, or a mix of each. There would be an on-board 3.3V regulator as well. I just received a few protoshields and all the parts to roughly build this idea, but haven't had a chance to solder it all yet.
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I have an idea for the first project we can start testing how it works collaboratively: i2c micro-shields and new i2c libraries to make its use "end user" friendly.

...

Like?  Dislike?

Like.  What do you mean by "micro-shields"?  I've used them for Blinkm and the Nunchuck (there's a guy that makes Nunchuck "shields")  I'd like to see them have long pins or long female pins.

Not sure if this is relevant, but I'd like it if standard "shields" passed through all their pins, used or not (or maybe null the used pins?), so you could stack shields.
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I have an idea for the first project we can start testing how it works collaboratively: i2c micro-shields and new i2c libraries to make its use "end user" friendly.

...

Like?  Dislike?

Like.  What do you mean by "micro-shields"?  I've used them for Blinkm and the Nunchuck (there's a guy that makes Nunchuck "shields")  I'd like to see them have long pins or long female pins.

Not sure if this is relevant, but I'd like it if standard "shields" passed through all their pins, used or not (or maybe null the used pins?), so you could stack shields.
micro-shields (uShield) because you only need 4 pins (2 power, 1 data, 1 clock) for i2c, so you can have a lot of boards like the blinkM (I can think of a board with the new accelerometer from ST that uses i2c, as an example).  The devices are so tiny, that on the size of a blinkM you can have some interesting functions and as they are very small, they can be stacked using just long pin headers (like the ones ladyada sells) one on top of the other, and as i2c is a real bus, you can just stack them, no need to look for conflicting pins.  Another idea is to have uShields that expand or stack sideways.  You need 90deg headers and not necessarily long pinned.

i.e. nunchuck and blinkm both uses i2c, but probably the pinout is not "standard" so you cannot stack them easily.  With a standard pinout (it is not difficult, we only need to define the order for 4 pins!), you can just stack them using long legged headers.
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Great points, Oracle.

As Massimo mentioned, there are a lot of people building on Arduino: making new board designs, shields, libraries, etc.  But, as you say, it's not so easy for those people to collaborate.

What do you think would help that process?  

I've been toying with the idea of an Arduino playground subversion repository that would be publicly accessible.  Would that help coordinate development?  Anyone's welcome to use the playground for documentation or gathering ideas, as, for example, Hans + co. have been doing with Firmata: http://www.arduino.cc/playground/Interfacing/Firmata.  I'm also happy to create mailing lists if there's a specific need, or you can just email the developers list.  What else would be useful?

Have any particular projects in mind?
Playground has some sort of wiki, right?  I think it should work for sharing ideas, definitions, standards, documentation.  And we need to find some tool to share schematics and board designs with version control.
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We need to find a way of streamlining this process.

Exactly the reason I created this thread  smiley-wink
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I have an idea for the first project we can start testing how it works collaboratively: i2c micro-shields and new i2c libraries to make its use "end user" friendly.

As the starting point, we can use the pin layout used by blinkM: GND, VCC, SDA, SCL.

There are a lot of interesting devices out there that use the i2c interface (the new Wiznet 5300 chip, new accelerometers, RTC, memory and a lot more) and it is worth the effort to make it a "standard" within Arduino, both hardware (pinout, voltage, etc etc) and software (new i2c library). And i2c is a true bus, not like SPI that needs a separate digital pin for each device in the "bus".

Like?  Dislike?

I like it, that's a great direction that could add some significant functionality to the arduino platform   And it should be fairly simply technically which makes it a good start for working out the kinks in a collaporate design process.
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