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15 June 2012, 09:46

ARM board for Arduino shields

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The great success of the Arduino microcontroller platform is, among other things, based on its wealth of shields for different purposes – an advantage that is not available on many other platforms. The Rascal Micro promises to be very compatible with existing shields but offers much greater performance due to its ARM processor (AT91SAM9G20). The board also comes with a LAN interface and a web server, allowing the data that is collected with a shield to be sent through a network or displayed on the web with ease. Controls can also be integrated and operated this way.

The Rascal Micro offers on-board programming in Python via a built-in, web-based editor. The Pytronics Python library serves for implementing the actual sensor queries and for communicating with the shields. Data is visualised on the web interface via jQuery and jQplot.

The board uses a Linux operating system that includes the OpenEmbedded tool collection and the software is installed on and run from an SD card. First boards cost $180 – but they are currently out of stock; according to Engadget, boards in a batch that is planned for late June will cost between $100 and $150. Rascal Micro's mailing list will inform subscribers when new boards become available. Other boards that are compatible with Arduino shields are also available from manufacturer Microchip; the ChipKit contains an 80MHz MIPS-based PIC32 processor.

The Rascal is billed as "100% open source" with the board design available under a Creative Commons licence. Other resources including bootloaders, mechanical drawings, and the Linux kernel used, are available along with other source code on the company's GitHub repository.


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