Author Topic: SAM: The Ultimate Internet Connected Electronics Kit (yet another one)  (Read 6057 times)

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Offline stelios

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Hello guys,

I've been reading the forum and watching Dave's videos for years but I've never registered an account. Well, now is a good time to do so. I just got my engineering degree and I really enjoy designing hardware so the forum will be of good use in the near future.

Back on topic. For the past few months I've been working on this BLE project and we've launched on kickstarter just yesterday. SAM stands for Sensor Actor Modules (terrible name maybe?) and the concept is, obviously not new. However we do believe that we managed to simplify things a bit. Have a look in the kickstarter link below for more info.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1842650056/sam-the-ultimate-internet-connected-electronics-ki

We would love to hear what you guys think and, ofcourse, since I designed the hardware I am more interested in hearing hardware related (negative?)feedback and perhaps recommendations and things to be aware of. Along with our trusted assembler in Bulgaria, we are currently in the process of designing programming-testing and assembly fixtures, your input in this will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks a lot for your support!  :)     

P.S. I am happy to share more detailed hardware photos/designs if needed
 

Offline jmag999

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Re: SAM: The Ultimate Internet Connected Electronics Kit (yet another one)
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2014, 06:35:24 pm »
Where can we find a link to the hardware design?  BTW, I visited your booth at Maker Fair and the demo was impressive.
 

Offline stelios

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Re: SAM: The Ultimate Internet Connected Electronics Kit (yet another one)
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2014, 09:11:13 pm »
Thank you for your comment jmag999. NY MakerFaire was awesome, people really loved the kit, we actually got 3 editor's choice blue ribbon awards!

The design files for all modules will be released as soon as the kickstarter campaign ends. You can sign up on our newsletter to get a notification when that happens.
 

Offline sunnyhighway

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Re: SAM: The Ultimate Internet Connected Electronics Kit (yet another one)
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2014, 10:04:07 pm »
What seems to be missing is a battery-pack module for longer independent operating time of  the modules.

Also a usb power distribution module and/or cable set would be nice for more permanent designs or bulk charging.
This would resolve the mess of wall wart usb chargers and cables.
 

Offline Corporate666

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Re: SAM: The Ultimate Internet Connected Electronics Kit (yet another one)
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2014, 10:20:24 pm »
Watched the KS video - impressive idea and execution so far. 

Good luck, I think you will do well with it (is it a 30-day campaign?  Looks like you are going to do very well, if so).

What is the plan post-Kickstarter?  Are you intending to mass-market in retail or.... ?
It's not always the most popular person who gets the job done.
 

Offline stelios

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Re: SAM: The Ultimate Internet Connected Electronics Kit (yet another one)
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2014, 11:21:45 pm »
What seems to be missing is a battery-pack module for longer independent operating time of  the modules.

Also a usb power distribution module and/or cable set would be nice for more permanent designs or bulk charging.
This would resolve the mess of wall wart usb chargers and cables.

A battery pack would be a nice addition, yes. Especially for modules that are quite power hungry. Sensors on the other hand can last for days or even weeks if we decide to turn the system led off or just blink it on regular intervals.

As for bulk charging, we might have something in the works.  ;)




Watched the KS video - impressive idea and execution so far. 

Good luck, I think you will do well with it (is it a 30-day campaign?  Looks like you are going to do very well, if so).

What is the plan post-Kickstarter?  Are you intending to mass-market in retail or.... ?

Thanks Corporate666 for your feedback. Yes, it is a 30 day campaign, we just launched it yesterday!  :)

We are still exploring our options, ideally yes, we want to sell this in retail.


 

Offline Kjelt

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Re: SAM: The Ultimate Internet Connected Electronics Kit (yet another one)
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2014, 08:45:35 am »
In my definition an IoT device should have its own IP address and be directly accesible through the net.
Looks like you use bluetooth as wireless communication channel so the devices are not IoT devices themselves.
So you always need a bridge to use the devices?

The idea is very nice, ofcourse a lot has been built already in the hobby community, it is very nice that you made the SW so easy to use that kids can use it as Lego blocks to create and it would be a nice addition to the Lego assortment esp. if prices can be kept low.
What I do miss is a nice plastick box around the devices now they are a bit too naked and vulnerable for kids. Good luck on your project.
 

Offline jmag999

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Re: SAM: The Ultimate Internet Connected Electronics Kit (yet another one)
« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2014, 11:40:51 am »
Since no schematics are available yet, I only have a couple questions on the implementation based on what I learned at Maker Faire.  First, why did you go with a lipo + usb charger solution?  Seems like an expensive option.  Did a coin cell not provide enough battery life, or was it instantaneous current requirement or some other decision point.  What is the battery life?  I know you are using a CSR part, can you tell us if this is using the CSRMesh software, or is it strictly point to point?
 

Online EEVblog

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Re: SAM: The Ultimate Internet Connected Electronics Kit (yet another one)
« Reply #8 on: October 01, 2014, 11:43:02 am »
In my definition an IoT device should have its own IP address and be directly accesible through the net.

That would be my definition too.
And it's the reason why the IoT dream is not really possible without IPv6
 

Offline stelios

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Re: SAM: The Ultimate Internet Connected Electronics Kit (yet another one)
« Reply #9 on: October 01, 2014, 02:24:45 pm »
In my definition an IoT device should have its own IP address and be directly accesible through the net.
Looks like you use bluetooth as wireless communication channel so the devices are not IoT devices themselves.
So you always need a bridge to use the devices?

The idea is very nice, ofcourse a lot has been built already in the hobby community, it is very nice that you made the SW so easy to use that kids can use it as Lego blocks to create and it would be a nice addition to the Lego assortment esp. if prices can be kept low.
What I do miss is a nice plastick box around the devices now they are a bit too naked and vulnerable for kids. Good luck on your project.

I do agree with the fact that a true IoT device should be exactly that, directly accessible from it's own IP, IPv6 perhaps, as Dave points out. However, for this particular project wi-fi is not a good fit, both in terms of price and specs. It's far too expensive and also power hungry for a 'real time' sensor; these are not blocks that are just accessible from the internet, they must be accessible locally as well.

In my opinion, unless wi-fi addresses the cost issue, which slowly it kind of trying to do, BLE will continue to expand. We might even see a home internet router which embeds BLE as well, that involves some sort of direct BLE addressing over the internet?!. 

The PCBs will be conformal coated to avoid potential shorts, water damage and so on but if we get enough money and have enough time we will probably design a simple casing. We have a couple of casing designs ready but nothing too 'realistic' at the moment. Thanks for your feedback. 


Since no schematics are available yet, I only have a couple questions on the implementation based on what I learned at Maker Faire.  First, why did you go with a lipo + usb charger solution?  Seems like an expensive option.  Did a coin cell not provide enough battery life, or was it instantaneous current requirement or some other decision point.  What is the battery life?  I know you are using a CSR part, can you tell us if this is using the CSRMesh software, or is it strictly point to point?

We didn't really want to put the user in the position of having to buy batteries all the time. It might be cheaper for us but it's expensive for the user in the long term. We are using a 45mAh battery at the moment (might do a custom one in the future).

Power consumption details:
BLE base part:

Sleep current = ~1uA
Fast advertisement mode (not connected to a master) =  ~1.2mA
Normal operation (connected to a master and transmitting at regular intervals)= 300-600uA

The last one depends on the actual type of sensor/actuator, some of them are transmitting more frequently than others.

Top sensing acting part: this can range from hundreds of nA for buttons and low power sensors and can go up to tens of mA for motors - although motors have a larger battery ofcourse.

The software is at the moment point to point but we are developing the mesh version of it now. It will be ready by March when we ship.
 

Offline jmag999

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Re: SAM: The Ultimate Internet Connected Electronics Kit (yet another one)
« Reply #10 on: October 01, 2014, 02:43:54 pm »
So roughly 6 days of battery life at best?  Even for a button board?  That does make a case for a rechargeable battery, but it seems you can do better on the sleep currents.  Is the 300-600uA continuous when connected?
 

Offline PointyOintment

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Re: SAM: The Ultimate Internet Connected Electronics Kit (yet another one)
« Reply #11 on: October 07, 2014, 06:27:30 am »
photo
So it's like littleBits?

KS campaign
Oh, I like it! Looks nice, especially the IDE!

Offline stelios

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Re: SAM: The Ultimate Internet Connected Electronics Kit (yet another one)
« Reply #12 on: October 07, 2014, 12:53:08 pm »
So roughly 6 days of battery life at best?  Even for a button board?  That does make a case for a rechargeable battery, but it seems you can do better on the sleep currents.  Is the 300-600uA continuous when connected?

Sorry jmag999, I haven't seen your reply. Yes, sounds about right. 300-600uA is the average consumption when connected. We can, if we want to, increase the interval between transmissions and make the battery last for months, this however has dramatic effect on user experience, latency is added and the system is slower overall. There are situations where you don't mind latency, for example controlling something over the internet or tweeting something on the click of a the button, however, this is not true for workbench/prototype systems. Perhaps we should give the user a choice; power saving vs optimized for low latency. Again, thanks for your feedback. 

So it's like littleBits?

Oh, I like it! Looks nice, especially the IDE!

They have similar footprint, indeed, however these do not require any physical connection which makes the whole system much more flexible.
 


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