Sunday, June 15, 2008

Arduino field to get a new entry

For some time now my colleagues and I have been using Arduino ( ) style hardware based on the Atmel ATmega168 processor and a very easy to use development environment. The Arduino IDE environment is flexible enough for much rapid prototyping work, but simple enough for non-technical people to use, in fact it was originally designed for teaching design students how to build interactive projects.

The more we used the system, the more we liked it. But the more we used it the more we found we were missing some things we take for granted on our more sophisticated development platforms.So why not add some interfaces to the Arduino to make it more usable in a variety of applications?

So we sat down and figured out what we use most commonly. Thus is born the LEDuino.

  • Buffered I2C bus for longer cable runs and higher bus current operation. So we added an IES5501 bidirectional driver.

  • We play a lot with designs for model railway layouts. Already we use a lot of DCC, so we figured that a standard DCC decoder input, complete with basic acknowledge facility. So we added that with full galvanic isolation both ways for convenience.

  • In a number of situations we use CAN Bus. Several developing or proposed model railway layout control busses use CAN, so we figured we could be compatible and give ourselves a simple development platform for that too. CAN is also used in a variety of other fields where we have some professional involvement.

So why the name LEDuino?

Well, one of our engineers develops a lot of LED based technology for architectural, visual effects and signage, he often wants to talk to serial interface devices like the TLC5940 from TI. So we added an entirely custom connector on the bottom edge of the photo, it has a serial interface that is designed to mate with some of our other products. As time goes on some of these products will be added to this range of products.

So this is it, the beginnings of a new range of Arduino inspired technology which is in fact already well proven, well used, and well liked.