Home > Atmel AVR, Hardware, Linux, Testing, Video > $35 expEYES Junior Transforms the Raspberry Pi, Aakash2 Tablet or any Linux Powered Device into an Electronics Lab

$35 expEYES Junior Transforms the Raspberry Pi, Aakash2 Tablet or any Linux Powered Device into an Electronics Lab

February 27th, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

I remember in high school in France, our class only had 2 oscilloscopes and few other electronics equipment, needless to say I did not actually get to use an oscilloscope until I went to university. It would have been nice to be able to play around with oscilloscopes, frequency generators, etc… earlier, but due to budget constraints, this was not possible. Dr Ajith Kumar, a scientist working with the Inter University Accelerator Centre of India, has spent several years working on an ultra low cost electronics lab composed of an oscilloscope and a signal generator to provide students attending schools that cannot afford regular equipments. This learning & experimentation tool is called expEYES, and a prototype was demonstrated last year with the Raspberry Pi. At the end of last year, the final version called expEYES Junior (aka expEYES 2.0) was announced, and is now available to schools and hobbyists in several shops in India and France.

expEYES Junior (Left) Connected to a Linux Netbook (Right)

expEYES Junior (Left) Connected to a Linux Netbook (Right)

To use the device, simply connect it to a Linux computer / board via USB, install expEYES software (in Ubuntu: apt-get install expeyes), connect some components, and display the waveform on the screen of your computer.

Key features of expEYES Junior include:

  • Built-in Signal Generator and 4-channel digital signal oscilloscope.
  • 50 documented experiments.
  • The kit comes with components used in the experiments.
  • USB Powered.
  • 12bit analog resolution.
  • Sampling frequency – 250 kHZ
  • Weight – 60 g.
  • Dimensions – 8.6×5.8×1.6 cm

Since expEYES is only one piece of the puzzle to bring costs down, and you’ll also need low cost Linux hardware to display the waveform such as Atom netbooks or the Raspberry Pi. However, for this particular application, low cost tablets are most probably the way to go since they include the display. expEYES together with Aakash2 (Education tablet sponsored by the Indian government) can provide an electronics lab for as low as 3,000 Indian rupees (about $55 US). Watch the demo below to see how the pair works together.

expEYES Junior is open hardware & software (C and Python programming language). That means the schematics, PCB layout, and gerber files are freely available, and if you are a manufacturer, you can reproduced the design and sell it. The hardware is pretty simple with 2 main components: AVR ATMega16 MCU @ 8MHz combined with FT232RL USB UART interface IC.

expEYES Junior Software and Hardware Architecture

expEYES Junior Software and Hardware Architecture

If you are interested in this device, Ajith gave a 20-minute presentation at FOSS.IN in December 2012, where you’ll learn more about the device.  You’ll also learn that although the BoM cost is around $10, it currently costs about $30 because of low production volumes, which means it could easily go below $20 with higher volumes. The sampling frequency is now limited to 250 kHz, which might not be a big issue for educational purpose, but may be a problem for hobbyists, and one way to improve this would be to use an FPGA to handle signals.

The device can be bought online for 1,900 Indian Rupees (~$35) + international shipping (~$10) from Fabtolab (India), or for 78.94 Euros from Hackable Devices (France).

You can find further information on expEYES website including hardware and software files, learning materials, and more.

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  1. onebir
    February 27th, 2013 at 20:20 | #1

    Great initiative – very happy to see it getting some well-deserved publicity :)

  2. notzed
    March 1st, 2013 at 06:31 | #2

    You know, whilst from the components list it seems like a great “make it at school by hand and then use it for experiments” hands-on kit, it does seem an odd choice for a pre-made product.

    The amount of processing performance you could get into a $30 product is pretty high, and i’m surprised there isn’t more of this kind of thing around.

  3. March 2nd, 2013 at 07:40 | #3

    Like to add some facts about expEYES. It tries to be tool for making concepts of basics science clear by doing simple experiments on electricity, magnetism sound etc, with good accuracy and resolution. It also functions as an electronics test equipment, as a CRO, waveform generator, frequency counter etc. In the kHz region it gives perform at par with costly equipment
    ( http://www.expeyes.in/sites/default/files/Experiments/Photos/ej-with-agilent.jpg )
    It is NOT a closed product, new experiments can be developed by connecting new sensor elements and writing Python code. There are very few science teachers who can code in assembler to capture a waveform accurately or measure time intervals with microsecond accuracy, with expEYES they can do the same in Python.
    http://expeyes.in/sites/default/files/Documents/eyesj-progman.pdf
    Experiments documented in the manual is only a starting point
    http://expeyes.in/sites/default/files/Documents/eyesj-a4.pdf

    The hardware schematics, firmware & software are open so that anybody can copy or improve it.

  4. March 2nd, 2013 at 17:34 | #4

    This expEYES device with Raspberry Pi is useful to perform various experiments and to measure digital output. It is low priced and further development can be useful to work with FPGAs.

  5. onebir
    March 22nd, 2013 at 04:04 | #5

    I believe seeedstudio will have ExpEYES for sale soon – by end-April, if not earlier.

  6. March 22nd, 2013 at 21:50 | #6

    A project on Kickstarter looks a bit similar – http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/254558907/data-acquisition-system-for-raspberry-pi
    I haven’t really looked into the details though.

  7. March 24th, 2013 at 00:05 | #7

    @onebir
    Congratulations upon your updated expEYES Jr. We only learned about it in early March, after we launched our Kickstarter project. So it appears that we are competitors, with similar goals of making a low-cost resource for
    learning. We welcome your visitors to check our integrated approach –we call ours ‘Portable Experimenter Platform’.
    Thanks and Good Luck!

  1. July 24th, 2013 at 11:20 | #1