Hexabitz Modular Prototyping Platform Enables Wire-Free 3D Electronics Designs (Crowdfunding)

Orange Pi Development Boards

A few years ago, I made a Raspberry Pi case made of perfboard and created some sort of DIY modular 3D electronics design by using the top and sides of the case to also hold electronics components and associated circuitry like a relay, and LEDs.

The just launched Hexabitz hexagonal / pentagonal modules are designed to make prototyping easier, and also provide flexibility to create all sort of wire-free (3D) electronics designs with minimal soldering.

A little over a dozen of modules are currently on offer, most with an STM32F0 Arm Cortex M0 micro-controller:

  • Modules with built-in MCU
    • 01R00, P01R00 – RGB LED (hexagon / pentagon) with Cree Tri-color (RGB) SMD LED, 4-Pin PLCC
    • H02R10 – Bluetooth/BLE V4 based on Laird BT900-SA + chip antenna, +8 dBm max
    • H04R00 – Audio amplifier, speaker, and headphone jack based on ST TS4990IST 1.2W audio power amplifier, 0.7W, 8 Ohm speaker
    • H05R00 – SPI based micro SDHC memory card (up to 32GB) with Fatfs, push-push connector
    • H09R00 – 600 VAC max / 1.2A solid state relay based on Panasonic AQH3213A
    • H11R10, H11R20, H11R30 USB to UART converters
      • FTDI FT230XQ-R USB-UART converter, jumper-enabled TI LM3940IMP
      • 3.3/NOPB 5V (USB VBUS) to 3.3V / 1A LDO.
      • USB Connectors
        • Through-hole USB-B right-angle receptacle (H11R10)
        • SMD Mini USB-B, right-angle receptacle (H11R20)
        • SMD Micro USB-B, right-angle receptacle (H11R30)
    • H12R00 – Sensor hub with Broadcom APDS-9950 ambient light and RGB color sensor, TI HDC1080DMBT digital humidity and temperature sensor, Panasonic EKMC1601111 PIR motion detector, Knowles SPM1423HM4H-B MEMS microphone
    • H23R00 – Time-of-flight (1D lidar) IR sensor based on STMicro VL53L0CXV0DH/1 IR time-of-flight ranging/gesture sensor, up to 2m
  • Power-only modules
    • H03R00 – 3.3V / 1A DC-DC buck power supply based on TI LM2575SX-3.3/NOPB step-down simple switcher, 1A / 3.3V out, 5-40V in
    • H13R00, H13R10 – 2 x CR2032 coin cell lithium battery holders
      •  in parallel, 3V out (H13R00)
      • in series, 3.3V out (H13R10)

Apart from the power-only modules, Hexabitz modules can work standalone, run BOS real-time operating system based on FreeRTOS. and communicate over UART or I2C using the Hexabitz messaging protocol.

Most resources are open source, and for example you’ll find BOS RTOS source code on Bitbucket, and hardware design files for each module on CircuitMaker. They also keep a log of the project on Hackaday.io.

Some of potential applications for Hexabitz platform include decorations and art installations, projects where you need many copies of the same module, and any project where you need design flexibility.

The project has just launched on Crowdsupply with a $10,000 fund raising goal. Rewards starts at $35 with the “Intro Kit” including an RGB LED module, a Micro SD memory card module, an IR lidar ToF module, a dual CR2032 coin-cell battery module (batteries not included), but you’ll also find many various combination up to the $235 “Mix-n-Match!”with 12 modules and some gifts. Shipping is free to the US, and $10 to $35 to the rest of the world depending on selected perk. Delivery is scheduled for mid-August or beginning of September.

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