Arduino compatible littlebits clone board queries

Hello Everyone,

I am total newbie to the subject of microelectronics, related programming and tools and techniques. The arduino and the world of possibilities it brings has sparked my interest, so trying to learn the very basic ropes.

Trying to start my exploration with a rather more basic version of electronics kits using http://www.littlebits.cc so gradually advance to controlling and integrating arduino in the equation. Just planning to buy and procure the building blocks, although littlebits has released its own arduino at heart module littleBits: Electronic Building Kits for Kids | Sphero, but it somehow seems a bit limited as being unable to provide pin headers for connecting more arduino sheilds.

So the idea of buying a basic electronics kit with snap-on arduino board led me to search a possibly low cost and compatible electronic blocks by Chinese manufacturers called "PinyNiq" https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dzjm.cc%2Fabout.aspx%3Ftype%3D11003&edit-text=or "Funmetas" http://www.funmetas.com.

They provide lego compatible bricks with same philosophy as littlebits ( and I assume they maybe the OEM manufacturers for littlebits as well) , although their product range for input , connection and output bricks are limited , but enough for a beginner to start.

Their kits are available at http://pypdzjm.taobao.com/ which seem comparable in price with littlebits kits, some of em also have toy car lego blocks to be assembled together with littlebits module to make a working toy.

I might try mixing and matching some original littlebits modules with these clone kits , apparently they seem compatible, to gain added functionality, dont know though as of yet whether will it work or not.

The interesting thing for me is their own version of arduino board which can be seem here (purchased separately from the kits)

  1. Small version http://item.taobao.com/item.htm?spm=a230r.1.14.220.TkLIYT&id=40581030024&ns=1&abbucket=20#detail
  2. Big version http://item.taobao.com/item.htm?spm=a230r.1.14.1.TkLIYT&id=40581254519&ns=1&abbucket=20#detail

They are apparently based on the following architecture (as translated via google)
Board (Board) -> arduino Nano
Processor (processor) -> ATmega328

The difference in these clone littlebits arduino boards and original littlebits arduino board is clearly (as seen in the picture) is the availability of pin headers, which means they can be expanded and made more fun by adding shields. They seem to have analog and digital inputs as well.

So after looking at them and before buying the kits and the any of the above arduino board, my question are follows :

  1. I am not sure about any standard pin configuration (shape, vertical/horizontal arrangement) on a variety of shields available. So after looking at the above clone bricks, do you think they would be able to plug in a variety of standard arduino sheilds and those could be accessed using the IDE environment. I believe shields can be piggy backed, so it means it should work with more than one.

  2. Any list or guidance about only the compatible shields on sparkfun with this kind of pin header arrangement would be great, so I can foresee as to what would be the types and maximum expansion which can be done to this arduino brick.

  3. Is the above mentioned "arduino nano" with "ATmega328" , a sufficiently able beginners platform , or is it limited by ability or NAND, Flash or Memory in any way for not being able to be programmed for advanced arduino projects. Although this might be a long shot which would come later in the journey.

  4. I think the ArduBlock graphical programming is the most easiest way for any non-programmer ordinary joe to start tinkering with arduinos. So although not mentioned anywhere I believe the ardublock would work with this brick based arduino module.

Thanks for reading the long post and understanding the purpose behind.

Would really appreciate all the guidance and replies.

I absolutely love the pingo idea with offering a few blocks that can be added to a lego set.

it appears that the littlebits have the magnets expsoed and the pingo does not. not sure if the pingo has magnets.

anyway, very neat.

To answer your main question, no these are not compatible with shields, and neither is the nano, in the sense that the shield can't be plugged in on top which is how they are meant to be used.

The Nano is basically a small Uno, (not R3) and has the same chip which has the same RAM and flash.

I think that what you have pointed out is that there are no standardization
each device is different than the others.

as chillitronix noted, the arduno R3 form and the Nano, may share all the same parts, they are not pin compatible with the shields.

the 'small version' you linked has what looks like a way to make and add shields. the pins appear to be standard DIP header pins and are much lower in the form factor than the square pins the arduino uses. of course the machined pins are 10 times the cost.

and going to a graphical language to program sounds great and will help the newbie get started. the ArduBlock seems to be a neat type if you can toggle to see the code AND adjust it. that way, a person can start to put together code, and learn the underlying code so they are not locked out of many functions.

I would like to see just how easy it would be to make something with the blocks and ardublock.
of course it is not professional, will not help anyone who will one-day want to make a device or work as a programmer.

I suppose after you buy the chinese products and can't read chinese you'll be back here asking us how to make it work ? :wink:

the littlebits IS (are?) the Chinese units and cost the same.
unless you already know how to use them, buying parts that have no manual and cost the same as ones you can buy with a manual is, well, silly.

raschemmel:
I suppose after you buy the chinese products and can't read chinese you'll be back here asking us how to make it work ? :wink:

my friend, you assume too much.
I do not think there is a word in Chinese for 'manual'

Yeah Well,

In fact you dont need manual at all , even when (or if) buying the chinese PinyNiq (or Funmetas) kit. I assume the bricks are clearly marked in english on themselves, and their form already identifies what purpose they are used for. The color coding is the same as little bits (orange for connection, pink for input, green for output).

So just with a little effort you can use the original littlebits manuals (available i PDF from the site i guess) and maybe can make the original little bits projects as well, since there are visuals available with the project sites.

I have not really done an apple to apple comparison, but I can assume that the pinyniq kits provide more bricks in the similar prices kits from littlebits, plus they are lego compatible by design.

But of course this is too good to be true to assume that they will be pin compatible and would fit it just naturally with original littlebits modules, so to make up for any missing functionality bricks, little cloud connectivity.

Keeping my fingers crossed, and planning to take a leap of faith in buying PinyNiq, by that time pretty much what I presumed, the pin header form factor in this littlebits clone arduino board is not at all any near to the standard 8/6 and 10/6 form factor used on almost all arduino shields R3 and above.

But on a close up I can see that the pins are clearly marked (RST, GND, A0-A6) and so on. So is it possible to connect the shield in any other alternative way. Maybe by means of individual wires or using a breadboard. Is there anything available like separate single pin wires for connecting any non-standard form factors for shields.

Thanks for your reply.

MindVentures:
But on a close up I can see that the pins are clearly marked (RST, GND, A0-A6) and so on. So is it possible to connect the shield in any other alternative way. Maybe by means of individual wires or using a breadboard. Is there anything available like separate single pin wires for connecting any non-standard form factors for shields.

Thanks for your reply.

You mean something like these:

from Schmartboard?