WIFI boards with processors, and WIFI shields - recommendations.

1) Is there an Arduino design with one processor and a WIFI device on a single board?

2) Does someone have recent experience with a WIFI shield - one that they can recommend and why?

3) Comments on other WIFI shields - pros and cons in your experience; what definitely not to get?

Goal: A robot with a small Arduino for sensors and device control. Funtional instructions (forward, reverse, etc)would be sent from a laptop (WIFI). Sensor and status data would be sent to the laptop via WIFI as well. At some point I'd like to program the robot's Arduino from the laptop.

1) Is there an Arduino design with one processor and a WIFI device on a single board?

No.

2) Does someone have recent experience with a WIFI shield - one that they can recommend and why?

No, but there are not that many choices any more. The market just isn't big enough.

3) Comments on other WIFI shields - pros and cons in your experience; what definitely not to get?

Do not get any crap from ebay. Buy from the manufacturer, even if you have to pay more (for support, and you'll want it).

Interesting comments…Thank you.

  1. Does someone have recent experience with a WIFI shield - one that they can recommend and why?
    No, but there are not that many choices any more. The market just isn’t big enough.

I found the following:
WiFly - Sparkfun
WiShield V2.0 - CuteDigi (for Diecimila/Duemilanove)
WiFi Shield V2.1 For Arduino (802.11 b/g/n) - DFRobot
Anaconda WiFi Shield - Linksprite - RobotShop
CuHead WiFi - LinkSprite
RedBack Arduino Compatible WiFi Microcontroller -LinkSprite
RedFly - for Uno
WiShield 2.0 External Antenna - Async_labs
WiFi Arduino Shield (WIZ610)- compatible with platforms Duemilanove , Mega and One.

Are you saying that many are the same product by different manufacturers? I guess you wouldn’t recommend some of them.

  1. Comments on other WIFI shields - pros and cons in your experience; what definitely not to get?

Do not get any crap from ebay. Buy from the manufacturer, even if you have to pay more (for support, and you’ll want it).
[/quote] That’s quite a statement. There are many shields made in China, and many are 1/2 price of the NA shops. So you would caution at least on the support side, and perhaps om the quality side?

Are you saying that many are the same product by different manufacturers?

No, I'm not saying that. Look at that list, though. How many of those are from companies (manufacturers, not retailers) that are still in business?

As you investigated those, what libraries do they use? What support does the manufacturer provide? The retailer?

So you would caution at least on the support side, and perhaps om the quality side?

Buying from the manufacturer is the best way to get support. But, before you buy anything, check out the support that the seller advertises. Are they really offering support, of simply pointing you to someone else for support? Most Chinese sellers are making clones, not new designs, and they will send you to the designer of the board that they ripped off for support.

Perhaps ripped off is a bit strong, seeing as how most designs are released as open source. But, the Chinese sellers are doing nothing but taking your money for what may, or may not, be a good product.

They don't support what they sell.

If you are planning to buy a 100 boards, get one from a reputable designer/manufacturer/supporter. Then, suit yourself where you buy the other 99. Don't get one from e-bay, though, and expect it to be supported.

In my opinion, of course.

I have to agree with Paul, it is all about the support. It sucks to spend your $$ and your time and not get the thing to work. Sparkfun's website allows user comments on the product page. There are many comments for this product, for which I'd rate their support a B.

Do any of the other sites listed provide any support? Do they sell lots of boards? And why is wifi not so popular?

And why is wifi not so popular?

Cost, difficulty of use, and limited range would be the biggest reasons, in my opinion.

I have this one and the software library is too much complicated: http://www.futurashop.it/allegato/8190-WIFI_SHIELD.asp?L2=SHIELD%20E%20ACCESSORI%20ARDUINO&L1=SOFTWARE%20E%20SISTEMI%20DI%20SVILUPPO&L3=&cd=8190-WIFI_SHIELD&nVt=&d=56,00

Check out this wifi shield tutorial.

http://www.dfrobot.com/wiki/index.php?title=WiFi_Shield_V2.1_For_Arduino_(SKU:TEL0047)

1) Is there an Arduino design with one processor and a WIFI device on a single board?

Yes, there is one, although not in the common form factor:

http://www.seeedstudio.com/wiki/Wifi_Bee

It's an ATmega328p with the Arduino bootloader and a wireless module like the one on the WiShield together on a small PCB compatible with the common XBee sockets. Depending on the planned usage this might be enough by itself or (as is my usage) share the work between the main Arduino (controlling the IO) and the Arduino on the Bee (handling all the network stuff). It's your choice if they communicate over the serial interface (UART) or the I2C bus.

pylon:

1) Is there an Arduino design with one processor and a WIFI device on a single board?

Yes, there is one, although not in the common form factor:

http://www.seeedstudio.com/wiki/Wifi_Bee

It's an ATmega328p with the Arduino bootloader and a wireless module like the one on the WiShield together on a small PCB compatible with the common XBee sockets. Depending on the planned usage this might be enough by itself or (as is my usage) share the work between the main Arduino (controlling the IO) and the Arduino on the Bee (handling all the network stuff). It's your choice if they communicate over the serial interface (UART) or the I2C bus.

Ya, I saw that. I don't know less about the XBEE series than I do about the Arduinos, and I don't really want to start with a compatible device this early in the game. But thanks anyway.

I don't know less about the XBEE series than I do about the Arduinos

So, you know more about XBees than Arduinos?

and I don't really want to start with a compatible device this early in the game.

So, you'd rather work with an incompatible device? Just so I have the picture clear. 8)

PaulS:

I don't know less about the XBEE series than I do about the Arduinos

So, you know more about XBees than Arduinos?

and I don't really want to start with a compatible device this early in the game.

So, you'd rather work with an incompatible device? Just so I have the picture clear. 8)

I know nothing about the XBee series. I am just starting on the Arduino, and would not like to mix in items that aren't really Arduino in design.

I am just starting on the Arduino, and would not like to mix in items that aren't really Arduino in design

That's very unfortunate because from Arduino there is NO WiFi hardware at all, so you have to forget about WLAN and Arduino if you're stuck with the original Arduino only.

The WiFi Bee is just another form factor, it's not a ZigBee as you might have thought from it's name. Arduinos (also the original ones) come in a lot of form factors, from the Mini and Nano over the UNO to the Mega2560 you have a lot of sizes and shapes. Regarding the size: a Lilypad is neither really bigger than the Bee nor better to connect.

pylon:

I am just starting on the Arduino, and would not like to mix in items that aren't really Arduino in design

That's very unfortunate because from Arduino there is NO WiFi hardware at all, so you have to forget about WLAN and Arduino if you're stuck with the original Arduino only.

The WiFi Bee is just another form factor, it's not a ZigBee as you might have thought from it's name. Arduinos (also the original ones) come in a lot of form factors, from the Mini and Nano over the UNO to the Mega2560 you have a lot of sizes and shapes. Regarding the size: a Lilypad is neither really bigger than the Bee nor better to connect.

I saw several WIFI shields that fit the Uno: WiFly - Sparkfun WiShield V2.0 - CuteDigi (for Diecimila/Duemilanove) WiFi Shield V2.1 For Arduino (802.11 b/g/n) - DFRobot Anaconda WiFi Shield - Linksprite - RobotShop CuHead WiFi - LinkSprite RedBack Arduino Compatible WiFi Microcontroller - LinkSprite RedFly - for Uno Littlebird Electronics - Does not carry their own brand. Async_labs: WiShield 2.0 External Antenna - Asynclabs closed their doors 26 March 2011 See: http://asynclabs.com/ WiFi Arduino Shield (WIZ610)- compatible with platforms Duemilanove , Mega and Uno.

I guess you are telling me that these are all NOT Arduino designs. Is that correct?

And, yes, I thought the XBee is for the Zigbee designs. But will it do WIFI so I can talk to it via my laptop or router. And, if so, can I run the IDE to communicate via WIFI - that's the bigger question? The other real concern is in case of trouble when one manufacturuer points to the other's product as having the problem (although that may well happen anyway, I guess).

I guess you are telling me that these are all NOT Arduino designs. Is that correct?

None of them are designed by the Arduino team. None of them are sold by the Arduino team.

And, yes, I thought the XBee is for the Zigbee designs. But will it do WIFI so I can talk to it via my laptop or router. And, if so, can I run the IDE to communicate via WIFI - that's the bigger question?

There are number of XBee modules. Only one of them is a WiFi device. I don't think that you can program the Arduino via the XBee Wifi device.

The other real concern is in case of trouble when one manufacturuer points to the other's product as having the problem (although that may well happen anyway, I guess).

Yep. That's a problem, and likely to happen. Fortunately, the WiFi hardware has been relatively extensively tested, so it is known to work with the Arduino. Working with your sketch and your router is a whole different story.

PaulS:

I guess you are telling me that these are all NOT Arduino designs. Is that correct?

None of them are designed by the Arduino team. None of them are sold by the Arduino team.

And, yes, I thought the XBee is for the Zigbee designs. But will it do WIFI so I can talk to it via my laptop or router. And, if so, can I run the IDE to communicate via WIFI - that's the bigger question?

There are number of XBee modules. Only one of them is a WiFi device. I don't think that you can program the Arduino via the XBee Wifi device.

The other real concern is in case of trouble when one manufacturuer points to the other's product as having the problem (although that may well happen anyway, I guess).

Yep. That's a problem, and likely to happen. Fortunately, the WiFi hardware has been relatively extensively tested, so it is known to work with the Arduino. Working with your sketch and your router is a whole different story.

Interesting comments. I'm getting the bigger picture of the Arduino world - not everything is "Arduino". Its not necessarily highgrade "professional" stuff, but then there are many shields and they aren't very expensive. The professional stuff may be nice to work with, but beyond the starter kits, the cost is much greater.

And, yes, I thought the XBee is for the Zigbee designs. But will it do WIFI so I can talk to it via my laptop or router. And, if so, can I run the IDE to communicate via WIFI - that's the bigger question?

There are number of XBee modules. Only one of them is a WiFi device. I don't think that you can program the Arduino via the XBee Wifi device.

There is only one WiFi module from Digi Inc., the company that is also making the ZigBee modules but there are many Wifi modules in XBee factor. One is the WiFi Bee from Seeed Studio (http://www.seeedstudio.com/wiki/Wifi_Bee), another one is the RN-XV from Roving Networks (http://www.rovingnetworks.com/products/RN_XV).

And, if so, can I run the IDE to communicate via WIFI - that's the bigger question?

If that means that you wanna upload compiled sketches through it, so I guess you might get that done with a RN-XV and a few wrapper scripts, at least on unixoid operating systems, I guess it's much harder to achieve the same with the Windows variants. If you wanna have the same convenience as with the USB cable (auto-reset when connecting) you'll have to add additional hardware at least but it might be possible although I never tried.

pylon: If that means that you wanna upload compiled sketches through it, so I guess you might get that done with a RN-XV and a few wrapper scripts, at least on unixoid operating systems, I guess it's much harder to achieve the same with the Windows variants. If you wanna have the same convenience as with the USB cable (auto-reset when connecting) you'll have to add additional hardware at least but it might be possible although I never tried.

What additional hardware do you think is needed?

You have to connect one of the GPIO of the RN-XV to the RESET pin of the Arduino, you have to ensure that this reset line is not connected to the RESET line of the RN-XV (else it gets reset when it should transfer data). You must have a connection GPIO9 to be able to set the device into Ad-Hoc mode (only in this mode you're able to control the device remotely). So your sketch must include a way to activate that connection or you have to change the bootloader to do so. On the PC side you must have a way to activate that Ad-Hoc mode, reconnect to the device in Ad-Hoc mode reset the Arduino and then start to transfer the sketch.

You see it's not easy to hack such a possibility. When you have the hardware ready (I guess you'd have to make the Bee adapter yourself for that), you have a lot of software to do. If you really wanna update your sketches over WLAN, go for another module, although I know none that supports that out of the box.