1284p/nRF24L01+/proto dev board - Skinny Bob! :-)

Makes me wonder if the 25 kits of Bobuino boards I ordered recently are going to go unused.

CrossRoads: Makes me wonder if the 25 kits of Bobuino boards I ordered recently are going to go unused.

I sincerely doubt that. The reviews are unambiguous. The "Bobuino" is a classic, and classics never go out of style. :-)

pico:

CrossRoads: Makes me wonder if the 25 kits of Bobuino boards I ordered recently are going to go unused.

I sincerely doubt that. The reviews are unambiguous. The "Bobuino" is a classic, and classics never go out of style. :-)

+1

Worst case you just have to mark them down enough so I can't resist having a 3rd one. :D

While I've been waiting for my RFX 1284p/nRF24L01+/proto boards (aka "Big Bob" :-) to arrive from the fab this week, this has been my "goto" guy for 1284p test and development.

I call him "Bambuino Bob", and he's been a trouper, and I've actually grown quite fond of him :-)

Stripped down into his basic configuration (first pic), he can be used to hold a 1284p or similar chip for ICSP programming (which is what I imagine he'll mostly be doing eventually).

However, with the mini CP2102 board attached (second pic), he can also be programmed via bootloader (DTR reset is enabled), and can be powered by USB to run test sketches with a serial monitor connection. (Note, these neat little CP2102 modules can also be plugged straight into the USB/TTL header on "Big Bob" as well.)

And with a RFX nRF24L01+ shield attached he can be used for testing nRF24L01+ wireless apps (third pic, showing "Bambuino Bob" doing his stuff serving web pages via nRf24L01+ module and RFXduino gateway system -- note shield is connected to protoboard via the second set of "breadboard compatible" headers in this case.)

So while not quite as capable as his bigger brother, he's been hitting well above his weight, and is definitely one of a kind (at least I'm not going to be wiring up another any time soon. I love ya Bambuino Bob, but once was enough! :-)

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Boards have arrived! :slight_smile:

I’ve just put one together with enough components to get it up and running.

Pic 1 shows it in a minimalist config, just one voltage regulator (for the 3v3 rail), and USB/TTL header so it can be powered via USB (USB also provides the power to the 5V rail). The two jumpers configure the power so that the 5V rail is tied to Vin (so the 3v3 regulator gets power), and ties Vcc for the 1284p to the 5V rail (could optionally tie to 3v3 rail, or even Vin if required.)

Pic2 shows it with the CP2102 USB/TTL board plugged into the header, and also a nRF24L01+ radio attached. Serving up web pages nicely via my TCP over nRF24L01+ RFXduino gateway – more testing to be done, but it’s so far so good! :slight_smile:

Pic 3 shows him posing beside his little 328p sibling. (I hope you can spot the family resemblance.)

Pic 4 shows him posing beside a Due for size comparison. (Actually, he doesn’t really look that big. Maybe I’ll end up calling him “Bare Bones Bob”, or something. Anyway, he’s certainly looking skinny here. :wink:

I’ll put up some more pics when he’s more “dressed”.

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First, the big news...

Big Skinny Bob has had his name changed, because, in reality, he isn't really that big compared to some of the other 1284p offerings out there. In fact, he comes in definitely on the lean side -- maybe not truly "bare bones", but definitely not a "kitchen sink" board, either. So "Skinny" it is -- one step up from "Bare Bones" :-)

OK, now that I've given you the skinny on that, on to new photos and testing results.

Pic 1 shows Skinny Bob a bit more "dressed" than in the previous posts.

Testing has gone very well so far. I'm particularly pleased with the clean performance of the high power nRF24L01+ modules, which are the canary in the coal mine for any electrical noise or RF interference. Obviously important for my purposes as they are intended for use as RFX boards!

Everything else I've looked at checks out -- shield pins are all properly functioning according to pins_arduino.h assignment using the new 1284p core files. (See related threads in "Microcontrollers".) One test has been to run Henning Karlsen's TFT driver library for an Itead TFT shield. Pic 2 shows it running off USB power, pic 3 using an external power supply. The UTFT demo is a good practical test because, when in 16-bit mode, it uses just about the all the shield I/O pins: Ports B & D for data transfer, port A for control.

To test the ten extra "extended" pins, (port C, mapped as D24-31, and the two extra analog pins A6 and A7), I mounted the board on a breadboard setup. (See pic 4 for my high tech testing rig.)

In the next post, I'll say (and show) a little bit more about the specifics of the breadboard setup I'm using here, using the second set of grid-aligned headers..

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Ok, I was going to say a bit about how I've got this board set up for breadboarding.

Referring back to my original post in the this thread, on the PCB rendering you can see the provision for the secondary grid-aligned headers, just inside the standard layout Arduino shield headers.

What I've done here is mount the grid-aligned female pin headers underneath the board, rather than on top of the board, as is the "normal" way with Arduino shield headers.

So I've got two sets of headers, standard "shield" headers going up, grid-aligned header going down. They are connected in parallel, so D0 on one header is connected to D0 on the other, for example.

Pic 1 shows the second set of headers more clearly.

Now, to be usable for breadboarding, we need them to be male, not female, obviously. So, I use "long" male-male pin header as gender changers. (Pics 2 and 3).

When you got the header pins aligned on the breadboard, just press in as normal. When disconnecting the dev board from the breadboard, you may find it convenient to leave the male "gender changer" pins in the breadboard(s), to simplify plugging and unplugging the dev board. (pic 4)

The reason I prefer this set-up to the more obvious method of simply mounting male pins directly on the dev board (which you could certainly do if you prefer) , is because when the dev board is unmounted, the female headers offer less chance of accidental shorts, etc. than exposed male headers. Also, I think the female headers make pretty good "feet" for the dev board, giving some clearance for anything sensitive mounted on the underside of the board. That's true both when it's on or off the breadboard.

The other thing you can do is to connect the dev board to standard proto board, by soldering ordinary male pin headers to the proto board that line up with the female headers. So potentially you can simultaneously grow the Arduino shield stack up and a proto board stack underneath, giving lots of expansion options.

When I start to sell these as kits, I will be offering the second header set with the male-male pins as an option.

So that's the how and why of my breadboarding setup for Skinny Bob! :-)

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Pretty creative and cool.

So, I use "long" male-male pin header as gender changers. (Pics 2 and 3).

I didn't have any "long" male pin strips when I too needed a gender changer. What I found that if I took a standard .1" male pin strip header was to hold then in a vise and gently apply heat from a soldering iron till the pin would sink down so that they were equal length on both sides of the plastic holder. That seems to be long enough to make contact with breadboard and female strip headers. I should look for ones with extra long pins. If you have a link maybe I will stock up.

Lefty

Other length male headers http://www.king-cart.com/phoenixent/product=HEADERS+BREAKAWAY+.1SP+STR+SPECIAL+POST+LENGTHS/exact_match=exact

Nice stuff Robert!

I should look for ones with extra long pins. If you have a link maybe I will stock up.

The pins HERE: are really useful. Some examples on the ArduinoInfo.Info WIKI HERE:

I really like those rainbow cables; you can strip off a 5 (or whatever) section for a custom cable.

DISCLAIMER: Mentioned stuff from my own shop...

retrolefty:
Pretty creative and cool.

+1

I like the prototyping area and the easy extension to additional protoboard via the “under headers”.

@pico: Do you have a timeframe for when these will be available? Pricing?

bluesmoke328:

retrolefty: Pretty creative and cool.

+1

Thanks guys. :-)

bluesmoke328: I like the prototyping area and the easy extension to additional protoboard via the "under headers".

Of course, you can extend the grid-aligned headers "up", if you wanted to, if you prefer the more traditional approach to stacking shields, and you were making your own "shields" out of proto board, or similar.

So strictly speaking, they don't have to be "under headers" (as you put it), it's just that it's easier to extend down if you want to keep the option of mixing both types of shields (grid-aligned and traditional Arduino layout). Also, of course, it gives you the breadboarding option, as described above, if that is useful to you. Just to clarify.

So the second set of headers are fairly flexible in configuration options.

bluesmoke328: @pico: Do you have a timeframe for when these will be available? Pricing?

I'm just waiting on a few bits and pieces still to trickle in from China. No later than next week I would hope (but can't promise until they're in hand -- and they are already later than I expected.)

Pricing will be ~$25 for the basic kit unassembled, ~$30 assembled, including shipping.

The basic kit is everything you see above, sans the mini USB/TTL adapter (although I've got a few of those on hand and will offer those as an an add-on, while I've still got some.)

The assembly will include everything except soldering on the grid-aligned headers (leave it as your choice to extend up or down, or not mount them at all), the 10-pin extension header for D24-31, A6, A7 (same reason), and the 6-pin USB/TTL header (leave it to you whether you prefer a male or female header, etc.) I'll solder on the regular Arduino shield headers unless asked not to.

pico: I'm just waiting on a few bits and pieces still to trickle in from China. No later than next week I would hope (but can't promise until they're in hand -- and they are already later than I expected.)

Pricing will be ~$25 for the basic kit unassembled, ~$30 assembled, including shipping.

That's great, if it's only going to be like another week, that's cool. Please put me down for on, maybe two, of the unassembled kits.

How should I send you my details?

bluesmoke328: That's great, if it's only going to be like another week, that's cool.

I hope it's only going to be another week. That wasn't a promise!

bluesmoke328: Please put me down for on, maybe two, of the unassembled kits.

How should I send you my details?

Send me your details (contact form on my website is best, see my signature), and I'll put a board (or two) aside for you.

Are you in a rush? What is your application, if you don't mind me asking?

pico: What is your application, if you don't mind me asking?

Robot(s). Need. Ram.

With 16K and lots of prototyping/expansion options this looks "da bomb". Not just in my usual way of blowing things up I hope. Although I expect that too. A socketed chip is nice to have there.

"Skinny Bob" now available:

http://embeddedcoolness.com/shop/rfx-1284p-devdep-board-w-prototyping-area-nrf24l01-headers-kit/

(Also created new thread in "Products and Services" section.)

Skinny Bob looks cool. Are you going to post a schematic?

Roger

OldMicroGuy: Skinny Bob looks cool. Are you going to post a schematic?

Yes, when I put together a "pretty" one, rather than the actual one used in Eagle development! Drawing proper connections and laying the components out nicely rather than connecting everything up by "name". You know, "nice". ;-)

If there's anything particular in the meantime you are curious about, let me know.

I'd rather see by name - so much easier to follow than little green lines all over the place.

CrossRoads: I'd rather see by name - so much easier to follow than little green lines all over the place.

Yes, I agree, much better during development. Unfortunately, what you end up with isn't what most people are thinking of when they ask "can I see the schematic?"

What would be sweet is if Eagle had a function to produce a "prettified" schematic automatically. laying out the components and drawing in all the nets as wires -- I was thinking about this, and realised that it's actually basically an auto-routing problem with a different output format.

But given the results I typically get from the standard Eagle auto-router, maybe this isn't such a good idea!