MIT SEG – An Affordable Robot Designed to Inspire Students and Hobbyists

April 9, 2014 by Dragos George Calin | 0 comments

In a world full of technology where a smartphone can cost few tens of dollars and a good laptop is very closer to a few hundred dollars, a robot is still a very expensive gadget regardless of the field of use. Any student, hobbyists or researcher dreaming to the day when a robot can be bought at an affordable price and is able to do a wide range of tasks.

To cut the manufacturing cost of a robot, the trend is to build the robot with cheap components, or in the case of DIY projects we can build at home the desire robot using a 3D printer and a single board computer such as Arduino or Raspberry Pi. Nevertheless, the challenge of cutting prices in robotics is not a completed process since so many expensive products on the market are on the ‘cure’ of cutting prices.

The latest project that can result in an ultra-affordable robot for education or for hobbyists is the MIT printable robot called MIT SEG. With a total cost under $50, the MIT origami-inspired Segway robot is perhaps the cheapest robot for education engineered as an open-source platform able to be built using simple tools and affordable components.

MIT Printable Robot

MIT Printable Robot

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Megunolink: The best Arduino Monitoring Software

March 9, 2014 by Dragos George Calin | 0 comments

Megunolink is a powerful tool for hobbyists and engineers designed for monitoring, serial data plotting, and logging for embedded projects. These kinds of tools are very useful since the Arduino community is growing as well as the number of DIY and commercial applications.

The MegunoLink tool is designed to talk with a series of microcontrollers and especially with Arduino boards. Used together with Arduino IDE, both tools allows you to develop and monitor a large area of serial data as well as simulating serial protocols for devices that are not embedded in the physical system.

In this article, I explore almost all-important features of the MegunoLink software and I give you some reasons to use this software when you need a powerful monitoring tool in your microcontroller projects.


Megunolink Monitor Panel

Megunolink Monitor Panel

The tool offers sufficient features to help you with creative microcontroller applications and let you to monitor at any level the embedded project. MegunoLink was designed with a customizable interface where you can create a control center to visualize in real-time any serial streams from embedded systems, Bluetooth, and network based (UDP) devices.
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Arduino – Tools and Resources That You Need To Know

December 10, 2013 by Dragos George Calin | 1 Comment

Behind the Arduino project is an experienced team of people with brains that after shakes the hands and rolled up the sleeves, they start to design and build one of the most helpful and easy-to-work device used on a large scale by hobbyists, students, designers, … used by everyone who’s trying to build something intelligent.

Because all of the Arduino minicomputers were built by passionate engineers, peoples with love for technology and how things work, all of these little devices has gone so far that are supported by a community of people who build a wide range of tools and write thousands of code lines to make the work with any of the Arduino devices easier.

This is the charm behind the Arduino boards. These are built by a large community and not by a corporation that thinks just in money.

What is inside and outside of these minicomputers is free to be used by anyone in almost any project, and trust me, a lot of users with electronics and programming skills use this.

Arduino family - photo source

Arduino family – photo source

My aim with this article is to bring all possible Arduino resources in one single list where you can find additional tools for development, resources for simulation, or if you are a beginner to start using an Arduino kit, drivers, libraries and a few other tools. All of these because when you need something related to Arduino and start to search on the Internet, you have the feeling that you’re in a supermarket with a ton of products that waiting for you and you don’t know from where to start and what to buy.
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Arduino Tre vs BeagleBone Black

December 4, 2013 by Dragos George Calin | 6 Comments

The Tre is the Arduino latest flagship board, which offers various features updates or additions as an alternative to Raspberry Pi. There is no secret that the Arduino collaborate with the BeagleBoard foundation to design and build the Tre. This detail is evident in the minicomputer specifications, which are pretty close to the BeagleBone Black.

The Tre was not released yet, it is planned to appear on the market in 2014.

While the Tre is expected to be revealed next year, the BeagleBone Black is a board already available for engineers, designers, students, or hobbyists. The Black is an ultra-powered embedded computer with a full version of Ubuntu Linux installed and with a wide range of accessories that allows users to use the minicomputer for almost any applications where the board can be useful.

The most important difference between Tre and BeagleBone Black are:

  • Tre support a maximum resolution of 1920×1080 pixels, while the Black support a maximum resolution of1280x1024 pixels;
  • Black has 2x PRU 32-bit microcontrollers, while the Tre has a total of three microcontrollers (two of the microcontrollers are on-chip – 200 MHz 32-bit Programmable Real-time Unit (PRU));
  • Black has integrated a PMIC regulator;
Arduino Tre vs BeagleBone Black

Arduino Tre vs BeagleBone Black

Specifications Arduino Tre BeagleBone Black
Processor 1 GHz ARM Cortex-A8 1 GHz ARM Cortex-A8
Microcontroller 3x PRU 32-bit microcontrollers 2x PRU 32-bit microcontrollers
Memory 512MB DDR3L 512MB DDR3L
Networking Ethernet 10/100 Ethernet 10/100
USB ports 1 USB 2.0 device port, 4 USB 2.0 host ports USB 2.0 type A host port. Dedicated single mini-USB 2.0 client port (no additional 2-port hub)
Video Output HDMI (1920×1080) HDMI (1280×1024)
Audio Output HDMI HDMI
MicroSD card Yes Yes
Software Linux Linux Ubuntu
Software Compatibility ? Android, Angstrom Linux, Fedora, Ubuntu, Gentoo, Arch Linux ARM, FreeBSD
Programming languages C, C++ C, C++, Python, Perl, Ruby, Java, or shell script
Power 5V 5V
Dimensions ? 86.40 × 53.3 mm (3.402 × 2.10 in)

In the following, we make a comparison between the Tre and Black minicomputers, a comparison based on measures, graphics, audio, power, hardware, software, storage, networking, USB and Wireless.
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Arduino Tre vs. Raspberry Pi Model B – 5 major differences

November 21, 2013 by Dragos George Calin | 2 Comments

Comparing the Arduino Tre with the Raspberry Pi is the subject of this article, and we have to specify that the comparison is based on the preliminary specifications of the Arduino Tre. In the following, you can discover up to five major differences between the Tre and Pi.

The most important difference between Tre and Pi are:

  • Arduino Tre has three microcontrollers dedicated for real-time applications;
  • one USB 2.0 device port and 4 USB 2.0 host ports are available for Tre board, while the Pi has two USB 2.0 host ports;
  • Tre has an on-board LCD expansion interface, while the Pi requires an expansion shield for LCD screens;
  • the processor of the Tre has a clock speed of 1 GHz, while the Pi processor has a clock speed of 700 MHz;
  • both electronic boards support different programming languages;
Arduino Tre vs. Raspberry Pi Model B

Arduino Tre vs. Raspberry Pi Model B

Specifications Arduino Tre Raspberry Pi Model B
Processor 1 GHz – Texas Instrument Sitara AM3359AZCZ100 (ARM Cortex-A8) 700 MHz – ARM1176JZ-F Applications Processor
Microcontroller 3x PRU 32-bit microcontrollers
Memory 512MB DDR3L 512MB SDRAM
Digital I/O Pins 14(5V logic) + 12 (3.3V logic) 26-pin from which 8 GPIO (3.3V logic)
Networking Ethernet 10/100 Ethernet 10/100
USB ports 1 USB 2.0 device port, 4 USB 2.0 host ports 2 USB 2.0 host ports
Video Output HDMI (1920×1080) HDMI (1920×1200)
Audio Output HDMI HDMI
MicroSD card Yes Yes
Software Linux Linux
Programming languages C, C++ Python, Java
Android support ? Yes
Power 5V 5V
Dimensions ? 85.60mm x 56mm x 21mm

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