Intel and Arduino Introduce Curie-Based Educational Board

This week, Intel and Arduino are releasing their first product pushed directly on the education market, the Arduino/Genuino 101 board powered by the Intel Curie module.

The Intel Curie Module

genuino101The Arduino/Genuino 101 is the first development platform for the Intel Curie modules which are a recent development from Intel’s Maker and Innovator group. The button-sized Curie is a single package encapsulating microcontroller, Bluetooth, a 6-DOF IMU, and battery charging circuitry; the requisite hardware for anything marketed as a ‘wearable’. The Curie’s brain is a 32-bit Intel Quark microcontroller with 384kB of Flash 80kB SRAM, giving it about the same storage and RAM as a low-end ARM Cortex microcontroller.

Called a module, it needs a carrier board to interface with this hardware. This is where the Arduino/Genuino 101 comes in. This board – the third such collaboration between Intel and Arduino – provides the same form factor and pinout found in the most popular Arduino offering. While the Curie-based Arduino/Genuino 101 is not replacing the extraordinarily popular Arduino Uno and Leonardo, it is going after the same market – educators and makers – at a similar price, $30 USD or €27. For the same price as an Arduino Uno, the Arduino/Genuino 101 offers Bluetooth, an IMU, and strangely the same USB standard-B receptacle.

Intel has further plans in store for the Curie module; In 2016, Intel, [Mark Burnett] of reality television fame, and United Artists Media group will produce America’s Greatest Makers, a reality show featuring makers developing wearable electronics on TV. No, it’s not Junkyard Wars, but until the MacGyver reboot airs, it’s the closest we’re going to get to people building stuff on TV.

Intel’s Prior Arduino Offerings

In 2013, Intel and Arduino introduced the Galileo board, a dev board packed with I/Os, Ethernet, PCIe, and an Intel instruction set. This was a massive move away from all ARM, AVR, or PIC dev boards made in recent years, and marked Intel’s first foray into the world of education, making, and an Internet of Things. In 2014, Intel and Arduino released the Edison, a tiny, tiny board designed for the embedded market and entrepreneurs.

Intel CurieThe Arduino 101 and Genuino 101 – different names for the same thing and the first great expression of’s troubles with trademarks and the Arduino vs Arduino war – are targeted specifically at the ‘maker’ market, however ephemeral and hard to define that is. The form of the Arduino 101 follows directly in the footsteps of the Arduino Uno and Leonardo; The 101 has the same footprint, the same pinout, a single USB port as the Leonardo.

Being the ‘maker market Arduino’, this board is designed to bring technology to the classroom. In a conference earlier this week, [Massimo] framed the Arduino 101 as the educational intersection between technology, coding, art, and design. Students who would not otherwise learn microcontroller development will learn to program an Arduino for art and design projects. The Arduino/Genuino 101 is the board that puts the STEAM in STEM education.

Where the Curie is Going

Intel has big plans for the Curie module, with a few products in the works already. The Intel Edison has made its way into consumer electronics and wearables, including an electronic ski coach that will tell you when to pizza and when to french fry. The Curie will be available independently of the Arduino/Genuino 101, with both products being released in early 2016.

Spit Out VGA with Non-Programmable Logic Chips

It’s not uncommon to bitbang a protocol with a microcontroller in a pinch. I2C is frequently crunched from scratch, same with simple serial protocols, occasionally complex systems like Ethernet, and a whole host of other communication standards. But VGA gets pretty tricky because of the timing requirements, so it’s less common to bitbang. [Sven] completely threw caution to the wind. He didn’t just bitbang VGA on an Arduino, but he went one step further and configured an array of 7400 logic chips to output a VGA signal.

[Sven]’s project is in two parts. In part one, he discusses choosing a resolution and setting up the timing signal. He proceeds to output a simple(-ish) VGA signal that can be displayed on a monitor using a single gate. At that point only a red image was displayed, but getting signal lock from the monitor is a great proof of concept and [Sven] moved on to more intricate display tricks.

With the next iteration of the project [Sven] talks about adding in more circuitry to handle things like frame counting, geometry, and color. The graphics that are displayed were planned out in a simulator first, then used to design the 7400 chip configuration for that particular graphic display. It made us chuckle that [Sven] reports his monitor managed to survive this latest project!

We don’t remember seeing non-programmable integrated circuits used for VGA generation before. But bitbanging the signal on an Arduino or from an SD card slot is a great test of your ability to calculate and implement precise timings with an embedded system. Give it a try!

Continue reading “Spit Out VGA with Non-Programmable Logic Chips”

Hackaday Links: October 11, 2015

[Kratz] just turned into a rock hound and has a bunch of rocks from Montana that need tumbling. This requires a rock tumbler, and why build a rock tumbler when you can just rip apart an old inkjet printer? It’s one of those builds that document themselves, with the only other necessary parts being a Pizza Hut thermos from the 80s and a bunch of grit.

Boot a Raspberry Pi from a USB stick. You can’t actually do that. On every Raspberry Pi, there needs to be a boot partition on the SD card. However, there’s no limitation on where the OS resides,  and [Jonathan] has all the steps to replicate this build spelled out.

Some guys in Norway built a 3D printer controller based on the BeagleBone. The Replicape is now in its second hardware revision, and they’re doing some interesting things this time around. The stepper drivers are the ‘quiet’ Trinamic chips, and there’s support for inductive sensors, more fans, and servo control.

Looking for one of those ‘router chipsets on a single board’? Here you go. It’s the NixCoreX1, and it’s pretty much a small WiFi router on a single board.

[Mowry] designed a synthesizer. This synth has four-voice polyphony, 12 waveforms, ADSR envelopes, a rudimentary sequencer, and fits inside an Altoids tin. The software is based on The Synth, but [Mowry] did come up with a pretty cool project here.

Serial Data from the Web to an Arduino

In the old days, a serial port often connected to an acoustic coupler that gripped a phone handset and allowed a remote connection to a far away serial port (via another phone and acoustic coupler) at a blistering 300 baud or less. The acoustic coupler would do the job of converting serial data to audio and reconstituting it after its trip through the phone lines. Modems advanced, but have mostly given way to DSL, Cable, Fiber, and other high speed networking options.

In a decidedly retro move, [James Halliday] and [jerky] put a modern spin on that old idea. They used the webaudio API to send serial data to a remote Arduino. The hack uses a FET, a capacitor, and a few resistors. They didn’t quite build a real modem with the audio. Instead, they basically spoof the audio port into sending serial data and recover it with the external circuitry. They also only implement serial sending (so the Arduino receives) so far, although they mention the next step would be to build the other side of the connection.

Continue reading “Serial Data from the Web to an Arduino”

Controlling Guitar Amps With Servos

[fichl] plays electric guitar, and with that hobby comes an incredible amount of knob twisting and dial turning. This comes at a cost; he can’t change the settings on his small amp without taking his hands off the guitar. While larger, more expensive amps have multiple channels and footswitches, this tiny amp does not. Instead of upgrading, [fichl] came up with a device that turns his single channel amp into a completely programmable one, with just an Arduino and a handful of servos.

The amp in question – an Orange Dark Terror head – has just three knobs on the front of the chassis, volume, shape, and gain. [fichl] had the idea of controlling these knobs electronically, and the simplest solution he came up with is cheap hobby servos. These servos are mounted in an aluminum box, and mount to the knobs with a few shaft couplings.

The footswitch is the brains of the setup, with three buttons, four LEDs, and a DIN-5 output jack that delivers power, ground, and three PWM signals to the servo box. With the help of an Arduino Nano, [fichl] can change any of the knobs independently, or switch between twelve programmed settings. It’s an interesting setup, and something that could serve as a prototype for a much larger system on a much larger amp.

Bootstrapping Motion Input with Cheap Components

Motion control is a Holy Grail of input technology. Who doesn’t want an interface that they can control with simple and natural movements? But making this feel intuitive to the user, and making it work robustly are huge hills to climb. Leap Motion has done an excellent job creating just such a sensor, but what about bootstrapping your own? It’s a fun hack, and it will give you much greater appreciation for the currently available hardware.

Let’s get one thing straight: This device isn’t going to perform like a Leap controller. Sure the idea is the same. Wave your hands and control your PC. However, the Leap is a pretty sophisticated device and we are going to use a SONAR (or is it really SODAR?) device that costs a couple of bucks. On the plus side, it is very customizable, requires absolutely no software on the computer side, and is a good example of using SONAR and sending keyboard commands from an Arduino Leonardo to a PC. Along the way, I had to deal with the low quality of the sensor data and figure out how to extend the Arduino to send keys it doesn’t know about by default.

The Plan

The plan is to take an inexpensive SONAR module (the HC-SR04) and an Arduino Leonardo and use it to perform some simple tasks by mimicking keyboard input from the user. The Leonardo is a key element because it is one of the Arduinos that can impersonate a USB keyboard (or mouse) easily. The Due, Zero, and Micro can also do the trick using the Arduino library.

I wanted to determine how many gestures I could really determine from the HC-SR04 and then do different things depending on the gesture. My first attempt was just to have the Arduino detect a few fingers or a hand over the sensor and adjust the volume based on moving your hand up or down. What I didn’t know is that the default Arduino library doesn’t send multimedia keys! More on that later.

Continue reading “Bootstrapping Motion Input with Cheap Components”

The Arduino Birthday Cake is No Lie

Making someone a birthday cake is very thoughtful, but not if they are watching their weight. [MrFox] found a way around that: an Arduino-powered birthday cake. Even if you don’t mind the calories, an Arduino cake is a novelty and sure to be a hit with a hacker who’s another year older.

The cake uses a UTFT LCD shield which eats up a lot of pins and memory, so the project uses an Arduino Mega. A speaker plays the happy birthday song (which may even be legal now) while a microphone detects the birthday boy or girl blowing out the virtual candles.

Continue reading “The Arduino Birthday Cake is No Lie”