smARtDUINO Open System Provides a Low Cost Modular Arduino Platform
smARtDUINO is a new platform design by the former ARDUINO’s manufacturer (Update: This claim appears to be incorrect and a lie) composed of several compact modules and is a fully funded project on Kickstarter (Less than 3 days remain to become a sponsor). The platform is not based on a single processor, architecture or language but, makes use of an universal platform that can be used to connect components originally developed from different companies, technologies and form factors. For example, it is possible to integrate modules, accessories or shields from Arduino, Netduino, ChipKit and even interact with smartphone using an ADK module, without having to use a breadboard and/or soldering.
Interoperability is made possible thanks to what they call “smARtBUS Open I/O“, which is a standard for connectors designed after looking at existing (Arduino) platforms on the market. The company opted for 2 solutions composed of 2 connectors:
- smARtBUS BASIC
- smARtBUS A
- Power signals including +5V, +3.3V, +VIN and GND
- 2 SPI bus, one including the slave selection pin (SS)
- 2 separated reset signals (main and auxiliary)
- USB signals D+ and D-
- Analog and Digital reference voltages (IOREF and AREF)
- I2C serial bus
- TXLED and RXLED signals (can also be used for TTL serial communication)
- smARtBUS B
- 27 general purpose I/Os signals (B01 to B27)
- smARtBUS A
- smARtBUS FULL, based on smaARtBUS BASIC plus:
- smARtBUS C
- 27 general purpose I/Os signals (C01 to C27)
- smARtBUS D
- 27 general purpose I/Os signals (D01 to D27)
- smARtBUS C
The standard is open and full technical details are available on smARtBUS Open I/O page.
smARtDUINO platform is comprised of 4 basic elements:
- smARtCORE – 25,4×25,4 mm boards with the MCU and USB support. Each system must have at least one of those, but it’s possible to connect them together to form a multi-core system (e.g. they demoed a quad core system on the kickstarter page). There are several smartcore boards currently available:
- smARtCORE U ($14.90)- 100% compatible with Arduino UNO R1 and R2.
- smARtCORE L ($9.90) – 100% compatible with Arduino Leonardo.
- smARtCORE M (No price yet) – 100% compatible with ARDUINO MEGA.
- smARtCORE Z ($7.90) – 100% compatible with ARDUINO UNO CPU only.
- smARtCORE C – 100% compatible with ChipKit (under development)
- smARtHOST – Those are (optional) baseboardsfor smARtCORE boards that provide power and access to expansions. There are currently 13 smARtHOST boards:
- smARtHOST ARDUINO – Replicates the size and the connections of an Arduino board. Plug a smARtCORE on this smARtHOST and you actually get a fully 100% Arduino compatible board.
- smARtHOST POWER – Provides the system with an external power source with minimal space used, independent from the USB as source of energy.
- smARtHOST POWER PLUS – 15% larger than smARtHOST POWER, but it provides both 5V and 3.3V.
- smARtHOST HIGH POWER – If you need more power, it can provide up to 2A for the 5V, and 1A on the 3.3V, for a total of 3A and up to 15W of power.
- smARtHOST BREAKOUT – Every signal present on the board, including power, interfaces, communications and every I/O are accessible on the sides of this board via through holes.
- smARtHOST BREADBOARD
- smARtHOST WIRES – This baseboard offers access to all the signals, available through standard ribbon cables.
- smARtHOST MEMORY – Allows to use a microSD card as storage.
- smARtHOST USB/ADK – As you must have guessed it’s for Android accessories development.
- smARtHOST ETHERNET – Adds 10/100 Mbps Ethernet via WizNet W5100 chip.
- smARtHOST LCD 16×2
- smARtHOST LCD MOD – Another LCD board (not exactly sure with the difference, except the mechanical design)
- smARtHOST LCD PRO – Mainly targeted at the creation of finished product.
- smARtBUS – As explained above there are 2 main configuration BASIC and FULL, but the company also provides other board with more connectors such as smARtBUS DOUBLE (bus extension), smARtBUS MIRROR (Same as DOUBLE for one of the connector pair is mirrored). smARtBUS QUAD (2x smARtBUS DOUBLE), smARtBUS FOR ARDUINO and more.
- smARtMOD - The smARtMODs are modules created to offer basic Input and Outputs devices ready to be plugged on a smARtBUS. However, like smARtCOREs, smARtMODs don’t carry over the signals with a set of headers and receptacles for the smARtBUS. There are just 3 available for now, but other are in development:
- smARtMOD LCD 16×2 – LCD Module that can be plugged on any smARtBUS header
- smARtMOD BUTTON – 5 buttons board available in different configurations
- smARtMOD LED 5TO5D – Offers 5 red LEDs connected on 5 digital outputs
Right, that’s a lot of options, but it looks fun. As I said in the introduction, the project is posted on Kickstarter and 480% oversubscribed. If you are interested in becoming a backer, the 3 most popular pledges are:
- smARtDUINO MAKER KIT ($99 or more) comprised of 26 pieces including smARtCORE L, smARtCORE U and smARtCORE Z
- smARtDUINO PROFESSIONAL KIT ($149 or more) comprised of 35 pieces including smARtCORE L, smARtCORE M and smARtCORE C
- smARtDUINO ALL IN ONE KIT ($199 or more) comprised of 40 pieces, which including smARtCORE L, smARtCORE U, smARtCORE M, smARtCORE Z and smARtCORE C.
The cheapest pledge that will get you some hardware is the $23 smARtDUINO STARTER KIT which comes with smARtCORE L, smARtHOST POWER, smARtHOST BREAKOUT, smARtHOST ARDUINO, a USB cable and a power cable.
Prices include international shipping, and at about an average of $5 per piece for the All in one kit, that seems to be incredible value.
This is only – dare I say – a short summary of the project, and you can find more information on the Kickstarter page or smartduino.com.