WIFI Extension News

In a blog post on May 25th we announced, that we had to stop selling the Chibi Extension and that we want to offer a WIFI Extension as an alternative. Unfortunately, it took us a while to find a suitable WIFI Module.

We tested many demo boards and designed some prototypes. Typically these WIFI modules are intended to be used in industrial applications, so we had different problems to find a suitable module. Problems where low data throughputs and high latencies (problematic with getters), lead time, availability of the modules and connection problems with consumer WIFI routers. Another challenge was that we wanted to use an SPI Interface, most modules offer this interface but it seems that it is rarely used. Therefore it is never well documented.

At first we wanted to use the Wifly module. The implementation was already pretty much done when we found out that it doesn’t work well with consumer WIFI routers. After a lot of back and fourth we now decided to use the GS1011MEES from GainSpan.

This module is on the expensive side, but it has some nice features, e.g.:

  • 802.11b/g/n

  • WPA/WPA2 Personal and Enterprise

  • long range capability (18dBm output power)

A prototype circuit board for this module was ordered at the beginning of this week. The prototype is equipped with an U.FL to SMA pigtail cable, so it is possible to use an SMA Antenna directly and it is possible to use the U.FL connector to connect to a socket in a housing!

Next week we will hopefully get the prototype circuit board, so we can test the product as it will be sold later on. If it passes the tests we will immediately order everything that is needed to start the production.

This means that we unfortunately can’t hold the originally planned release date. But the light at the end of the tunnel is definitely within sight now!

Delphi bindings ready

The Delphi bindings are now ready to use!

If you find bugs, please report them in the generator git:

Lots of small new stuff

In the last few days we added some of the most wanted new APIs for the existing Bricks and Bricklets, including:

  • get_chip_temperature (temperature of microcontroller, available on all Bricks).

  • reset (Software reset of microcontroller and stack, available on all Bricks).

  • monoflop (Dual Relay Bricklet).

  • USB Hotplug (It is now possible to plug in a USB connector in a stack that is already powered by a Step-Down Power Supply, the stack will restart and register on the PC).

  • Minimum period of 1us on Servo Brick (was 2000us before).

  • configurable time base for Stepper Brick (you can now do something like one step each 2.5 seconds).

  • get_all_data/ all data callback (To get all important Stepper Brick messages together).

  • new_state callback (This will notify you if a new state is reached, e.g. if the full velocity of the Stepper Motor is reached).

  • And lots of small fixes in the Brick Viewer.

You can find all of the changes and links to the new versions on our announcements thread on tinkerunity.

RS485 Extension

The RS485 Extension is now available.

After a lot of back and forth (we changed the protocol two times) the RS485 Extension now uses Modbus RTU as the protocol on the RS485 interface. This isn’t the most efficient protocol for our data packages, but Modbus is widely used in home automation and industry. There are e.g. gateways that can transform between Modbus and TCP/IP. Thus it is now possible to use the RS485 Extension in an existing Modbus network. It is also possible to communicate directly with RS485 stack via Modbus, similar as it is already possible with TCP/IP (documentation for this is still work in progress). For this we added the option to configure the baud rate, parity and stop bits.

The default configuration has a baud rate of 2Mbit. This is faster than the USB 1.1 connection, therefore the RS485 bus won’t be a bottleneck in your system! If you have a big RS485 bus and you get timeouts and the CRC error counter is rising rapidly, you should try to decrease the baud rate.

To make the installation of many small RS485 stacks as easy as possible, we added a USB Power Supply to our shop.

This power supply can’t be used to operate motors (DC, Stepper, Servo), but it is perfectly suitable for small RS485 slave stacks!

New Brick Viewer version (1.1.0)

We released a new Brick Viewer version. With the new version it is possible to not only flash Bricklets, but also Bricks. This is now done automatically from our server, there is no need to download a suitable firmware by hand.

This means that SAM-BA as a third-party tool is not required anymore. It seemed that the Atmel tool made lots of trouble and there was no Mac OS X version. Furthermore we reimplemented some stuff to reduce dependencies. The Brick Viewer now doesn’t depend on pylab, scipy and matplotlib anymore, this should make the installation on embedded devices and small Linux distributions quite a bit easier.

Documentation can be found here and here