Qube, not an Arduino clone

What allows the everyday user to tinker with microcontrollers, IO, interrupts, serial communication, and even analog readings? How about individual modules that add the ability to communicate over bluetooth or add LCD support? If you were thinking Arduino, you would be wrong. It’s actually [Nilok's] Qube, which at first seems like another Arduino clone however the Qube is based on PIC – not AVR. Another difference is the sweet black anodized case the Qube is planned to be put in.

While all this seems amazing at first, there is of course a catch – it looks like the first models are pre-order only for staunching price of $70! Sorry, but Arduino wins at half the cost.

Regardless, [Nilok] has documented the entire process and it’s amazing to read through; he even includes some guides on solder paste and bootloading USB. And who knows, maybe he’ll release open source. His site seems a little slow, we recommend the Google Cache.

Comments

  1. therian says:

    I dont see how they manage to make it for more than 20$

  2. nilokproductions says:

    The cases themselves are over $20 a piece. And firmware takes months to write, along with the modules to connect to.
    They are also going to be for sale without a case for under $50.

  3. Nilok’s site overloaded?

  4. Also noticed, first time HaD using interesting alt-text

  5. mars says:

    Heh.

  6. therian says:

    so the case is hand made carving from elephant bone

  7. JJRH says:

    won’t most people end up pulling it out of the case to fit into one that suits their project anyways?

  8. Dan says:

    I think the Bus Pirate would have everything needed to be a development platform if you guys were to add headers to access more of the pins. I guess that is what the Bit Whacker is.

  9. Spork says:

    @JJRH,
    If you were using this or the arduino for it’s intended purpose, no you would not. They are meant as development platforms so that you can design and test, then replace it with the PIC or AVR that best suits the project.

  10. nilokproductions says:

    We’ve put up a mirror of the site at http://24.108.204.205/blog/
    Should be quite a bit quicker than the links posted above!

  11. Rizla++ says:

    Still, i will embrace it and support it, as a microchip fan :P

  12. nave.notnilc says:

    hmmm, not the most flattering choice of image :P

  13. tim says:

    Come on guys, if you are not able to make yourself a PCB to hold your 2$ microcontroller, Stop playing with those over-priced gadgets,
    buy a PC motherboard.
    You can have an Intel Atom mobo from $70.00, with USB ethernet VGA and everything !

  14. St.Jimmy says:

    @Spork: Sadly, (s)he’s right. It should be like you say, but most people are gonna breadboard something out, tape over it, and buy another one of those things. Hopefully that’ll drag down the cost and make it easier to buy.

    I’m really liking the extra documentation on the making process. Especially with the bootloader. Hoping this one gets used like it should, instead of like the arduino.

  15. Daniel says:

    Where would I find one of these Atom motherboards that cheap? I have a project that would benefit..

  16. Drone says:

    $70… Meh

    AVR+Breadboard=$6. Bonus, one instruction per clock cycle with AVR, not four like the PIC.

  17. therian says:

    @Drone
    – couple instructions needed to do one thing, so truly it more like 1:2 not 1:4.
    And leave old granny 16Fxx alone already there is no point in comparison to them, why not to compare to 18F 24F 30 33 … Not fair now ? same as it not fair to refer to 16Fxx always when comparing to AVR

  18. Wwhat says:

    In my area when all is set and done I’d be paying $100 for a damn arduino, that’s why | don’t use them.

  19. Well the point of this is that you don’t need to know how to program, like the Arduino. Everything is point and click, look at the test application. You CAN program into it, but you can also just use it to get simple communication or PWM or analog into your computer.

    The $70 is with the custom black anodized aluminum case, which costs $20 a piece just to make, plus shipping. The boards themselves, since there are only 20 in development, aren’t all that cheap either. They have a PIC18F4455 and 2 ULN driver chips for 500mA outputs.

    The theory is that the case should never have to be opened, this is not intended to make it into your final product like the Arduinos have a tendency of doing, this is a development platform to make USB, analog, bluetooth, LCD, PWM, etc SIMPLE. $70 with a slick case is a good price to pay for that IMO.

  20. justinsm says:

    Appears to be based around a PIC18F4455 (at least, that’s what it says in an ancient blog entry).

    Given how long it took me to find this basic fact, I’m not filled with enthusiasm for the project.

    Also Qube is not particularly good name. Qube was a Cobalt server appliance from the 90s.

  21. Michiel says:

    Nice, but I have just bought a few Olimex PCB’s for half the price. :P

  22. anthony says:

    It’s nice to have more choices to draw from when mucking about with microcontrollers. One doesn’t suit you? Big deal. Grab another. There isn’t anything? Make your own, or pound at one until it does.

    @Daniel: If you look on NewEgg there’s an atom mobo for just under $60, which includes the processor and (I believe) onboard graphics. Doesn’t sip power like an Arduino or Qube would, but massively more powerful.

  23. Michiel says:

    But I have to say that the whole problem for me with the Ardruino is that it is just to easy.
    It sounds stupid, but the First step with microcontrollers is making you own PCB and thereby understand the basics, after this you can start programming the things.

    The same thing with computers. You First start understand\building the things before you start programming………

    Not that I’m the microcontroller wizard, but I can build and program my own PIC based projects.

  24. TheNthDegree says:

    “but the First step with microcontrollers is making you own PCB and thereby understand the basics, after this you can start programming…”

    I’d argue that you have it backwards. It seems like using a development board/environment that allows you to learn the capabilities of the microcontroller platform (and how to program for it) is the *first* step in learning a microcontroller.

    Designing and populating PCBs doesn’t really teach you anything specifically about microcontrollers, just hardware in general…

  25. Michiel says:

    Ok, I have to agree with you on some level.
    But you have to agree with me that using a Adruino or other board takes away the magic of building your own project.

    But the whole point that I’m trying to make is that I cant understand the Ardruino boys.
    I have a feeling that most of the Ardruino users are like the “script kiddies” in electronics.
    The projects that they are making are generally way out of there leagues and they fill the gap with a easy to use, simple to program prefab board.

    Then again, I have just ordered some Olimex proto boards for my project.. The difference is that I’m just lazy LOL

  26. therian says:

    this is so well said, “script kiddies” in electronics.

  27. Agent420 says:

    @Michiel
    “I have a feeling that most of the Ardruino users are like the “script kiddies” in electronics.”

    In some sense yes, in another no.

    Do you fully understand the low level row-column drivers included on lcd boards, or do you simply pass the commands? I’m pretty sure you’ve not dealt with refresh rates or such or driving every pixel to produce text.

    But does it matter? Just because a project was contsructed of ‘easy to attach components’ does not mean that solving every task is trivial – often it is the high level logic of data manipulation or such that is the real magic.

  28. Michiel says:

    “Do you fully understand the low level row-column drivers included on lcd boards, or do you simply pass the commands?”

    No I do not, but who does.. I don’t need to understand stuff like that for my project.
    But I get your point. To Arduino or not to Arduino, that question can be answered by the goals you have for your project.
    If you want “quick” results and don’t really want to know what is happening on your PCB \ in your project then Arduino is for you I guess.

    I think the problem is with me, I always want to know how stuff works, let alone my own project.

    Furthermore I get my kick out of building stuff myself. I can walk with a big smile on my face for a few days if something homemade works out.
    It does not even matter how small or simple it is, I did it and its mine.

  29. Agent420 says:

    ^ No disrespect, but it still doesn’t matter. I mean, at what point do you say you have full control over what is running?

    If you’re using C, you don’t control every low level opcode.

    Even with assembler, there may be compiler optimizations that result in code you did not explicitly write.

    Do you write every io library you need to communicate yourself? lcd, serial, spi all done by hand? You’ve coded every math, string and array function you use?

    I’ve never used an Arduino, and I too tend to prefer doing things at a lower level, but I’m happy that things like the Arduino keep the electronics hobby alive in this high tech world. There was a period in the 80’s when Heathkit died and surface mount was becoming prevelant when I wondered if it would become difficult to continue it as a hobby.

  30. Michiel says:

    “No disrespect, but it still doesn’t matter. I mean, at what point do you say you have full control over what is running?”

    Haha, that is a hard one. I think it al depends on your perception\ definition of “full control”….., doesn’t it?
    But I have to agree with you, the most important is that its fun and it keeps this hacking hobby alive!

  31. therian says:

    @Agent420
    “Do you write every io library you need to communicate yourself? lcd, serial, spi all done by hand? You’ve coded every math, string and array function you use?”

    And what it have to do with script kiddies ? Programmers do use libraries, it seems you dont get who concept of who is script kiddies, its not about what you do its about how you understand it. for example if something goes wrong the difference between script kiddies using library and educated person is how they will troubleshoot, first cant second will look into assembly, think of hardware and det whats going on

  32. pedant says:

    “Even with assembler, there may be compiler optimizations that result in code you did not explicitly write.”

    Assembler isn’t compiled.

  33. Rollyn01 says:

    @pedant

    Last i checked, it was. The entire assembly coded program gets compiled into machine code for execution as opposed to being translated and executed one command at a time.

  34. anyone says:

    ok yes, i guess “adruino” wins the race for retards. whats the point? you still have something that is uselessly big and a skill that nobody will pay you for.

    congrats, you’re a winner by using adruino as opposed to this adruino like thing. still, your both retards.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 94,069 other followers