BoArduinoBT v01, or, How i ♥ Lady Ada & Open-source

BoArduinoBT v01, or, How i ♥ Lady Ada & Open-source

One of my favorite aspects of the Arduino project as a whole is the obligation and complete devotion of developers to open-sourcing their work. This includes documenting their work and process, posting their code, and as part of the new open-source hardware definition, releasing usable schematic and board files. It’s truly incredible how much work this community has amassed even over just the past three years.

Limor Fried (aka Lady Ada) is one hardware and software developer who has been working with Arduino, and has been a personal inspiration of mine for the last couple years. She has been prolific in terms of her development, documentation, and business savvy, particularly . Adafruit Industries (her + Phil Torrone) was pretty much unheard of 2 years ago, and is now in the forefront of DIY open-source hardware kits and projects. They share everything, and for someone working in this field has been an invaluable resource, from their forums to their weekly webcast, ask an engineer.

When I first discovered Adafruit’s BoArduino (an Arduino-compatible kit, designed to fit directly into a breadboard), I was instantly inspired. She tore the Arduino board down to it’s most basic parts, made them all through hole components, and cheap as hell (well, 40% than buying a blue board!). I of course prefer the DC BoArduino, as it is cheaper, smaller, and requires the cred-securing FTDI -> USB cable to program.

Being an open-source business, mean all files are available for hackery. As my project follows suit in this way (not everything is posted, but it will be!), I saw a really great potential to modify her design to fit a couple specifications I need.

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  1. The smallest possible footprint for the microntroller — this allows the user to have the most freedom in terms of embedding or enclosing their Sensor.
  2. Bluetooth modem support ON BOARD. Meaning, I don’t want them to have to jerry-rig a solution to attach a BlueSMiRF or any BT modem to their unit.
  3. Cost. There is no reason for the average Citizen Sensor user to reprogram their kit. It will come programmed, and configuration as to what sensors are attached to what pins can be done in the Android app. The DC BoArduino design saves money and space by eliminating the FTDI chip altogether. People who want to reprogram are probably ones who already own the FTDI -> USB cable already. Win-Win.
  4. The ability to move forward with the design. Version 02 of the BoArduinoBT will cost about half the price – the surface mount bluetooth modem (RN-41, for example) costs about $25, as opposed to the breakout board(aka BlueSMiRF) which Sparkfun has marked up to a whopping $65 (a bit unreasonable, IMHO). I will be researching ways to attach this surface mount piece myself, and sell the board with that already installed. The SMT pieces on the BlueSMiRF are all available through-hole, and this will be were the majority of the design work will be needed – making this DIY.

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I’m really excited to have been able to use Lady Ada’s design, and hopefully I will make it much more mine than just simply adding the BlueSMiRF footprint on the board.

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OPEN-SOURCE FTW.  Go ahead and download yourself the BoarduinoBT v01 EAGLE schematic and board files to keep this beautiful cycle going.  Hopefully BoarduinoBT v02 (w/ SMT BT modem onboard) will happen before November.