Rapid Prototyping in the Era of Arduino, mikroBUS, and Processing (.PDF Download)

Nov. 9, 2018
Rapid Prototyping in the Era of Arduino, mikroBUS, and Processing (.PDF Download)

Conferences and tradeshows are a staple of Silicon Valley, with no shortage of billboards along the Highway 101 corridor between San Francisco and San Jose announcing the next date and location. As waves of cargo pants, suit jackets, and earbuds trudge around the exhibit halls between sessions, it’s becoming increasingly hard to attract their attention.

Designing and implementing demos for these events has always been a large part of my electrical engineering career, and I very much enjoy the challenge. Advances in embedded system technology—and more specifically, new sensor technology—is a fairly mundane subject, and coming up with compelling demos that generate interest isn’t an easy task.

Recently, I set my sights on creating an interactive demo that brought a complete sensor-based system together. The demo needed to use at least two of the three pillars of good demo design: sight, sound, and motion. Previous experience taught me to scale down the remaining pair of pillars, which are explosions and lasers mounted on sharks.

Luckily, we now live in the world of rapid prototyping thanks to companies like Arduino, MikroElektronika, and Adafruit. I use products from these companies all the time to build up the systems that I use for teaching sessions and the evaluation of new products. Fortunately for me, when I started this demo, Microchip had just launched a promotional campaign with MikroElektronika around their click boards, so I had a few of them laying around. I had a 10DOF Click that has two really nice Bosch sensors on it. Specifically, it has the BNO055 9-axis inertial measurement unit (IMU) and BMP180 digital pressure sensor.

We’re close to sea level here in San Jose, and the floor of the convention center is pretty flat, so the pressure-sensor data stream was going to be rather boring. Having a complete 9-axis motion sensor was a whole different story. I also had a few Arduino UNO click shields in my office that I used for this demo. The UNO click shield, as per its name, allows a MikroElektronika Click board to plug into the Arduino shield standard.


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