Flashing Arduinos With A Zipit


[Giacomo] finds that every once in awhile, he needs to flash a sketch to an Arduino while on the go. While he doesn’t always carry his laptop with him, he almost certainly has his Zipit Z2 on hand. He prefers to use the Zipit because it’s tiny, it uses Debian, has built-in WiFi, and can run for about 5 hours before requiring a recharge. The only shortcoming is that the device lacks a serial port.

Following instructions we featured last year he added a serial port to his device, then built a small converter cable that allows him to connect it to virtually any Arduino. He says it only takes a moment to get avrdude up and running on the Zipit via apt-get, and once that’s done, he is in business. He wrote a short script that saves him from entering the flash command over and over, so the process couldn’t be simpler.

He does mention that since the Zipit does not have a DTR line, Arduino resetting must be done manually. For the convenience of flashing sketches from the palm of our hand, we can deal with that.

Check out the video below for a quick demonstration of his setup.


17 thoughts on “Flashing Arduinos With A Zipit

  1. Well, now that I’ve seen this Zipit i want one for myself – unfortunately I’m not sure where to buy it in germany(at least not to an affordable price)

    But still – I really love this hack ;-)

  2. my netbook also gets about 5-6 hours out of one charge, but still i really want a zipit :D it looks like it is awesome to hack, and less of a pain to lose (accident or a failed mod) than a netbook.

    if i get the chance to pick one up somewhere i will do it. if only for the fun of it. maybe even beef up its battery. 24 hours should be doable :D

  3. I have been thinking about picking up a zipit z2 for each of my brothers and one for myself… is it possible to im each other without having to pay for the service? I guess the bigger question is: do I need to pay for the service in order to use this?

    It looks like a cheap and fun thing to play around with.

  4. @mess_maker I think the charge is only for the SMS feature, after the year is over you can keep using it for IM. I might be wrong but I never activated mine I hacked it as soon as I got it.

  5. @fartface – I elected to leave the resistors external so if I ever need to interface to 3.3v logic, I can just make a straight-through cable.

    @Parker – Thanks! The hardest part is finding a headphone jack that will squeeze into the hinge – the rest is easy :)

    Now time to install avr-gcc on the Z2 so I can also muck with code in the field :)

  6. the SBC inside the z2 is super simple, it’s PoP arm with a wifi chip and some simple controllers. I think wep injection works on the baseband too..

    the vendor uses crypto on their userland..

    portable debugger anyone?

  7. This little device is so interesting, but can’t be purchased in Europe and shipping fees from the US are ridiculously high.
    Some shop in the EU should collect preorders and buy a lot of these things to lower shipping costs. I’m happily going to pay 50 Euros in advance for one.

  8. If he did the USB host hack I’m guessing he could use a USB to serial adapter with DTR and other signal lines. Some of those adapters can be powered by 3.3V which is what the Zipit provides when running on batteries.

  9. I’d love to get a Z2 to play around with, but I have the same problem as qwerty, I can’t seem to get my hands on one in Australia very easily – either the shipping is (at best) as much as the device OR they won’t ship here outright.

    Also a Zipit tag would be good :)

  10. Tell me more about your bike dash using the arduino. I’m working on controlling/monitoring a 1980 cb900 using an android phone and an arduino. any info you have, i.e. sample pde’s, notes, etc would be great. I’m replacing the switches with thumb joysticks, the phone is actually the ‘key’ and I’m using pwm to modulate the turn/brake and headlight and a voltage regulator. I wanted the android to display the mph/rpm, turn indicators, gear position, gps info, volts/amps, etc. still thinking about what else I can do.


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