It is no surprise that ARM microcontrollers become number one choice in many areas. One thing is that in many ways 32-bit ARM can be cheaper that other micros like AVR or PIC. Smaller price and better performance makes decision even easier. Developing tools also evolved in to user friendly solutions. You can see many ARM Cortex development boards made by different manufacturers for about $10. But are there really cheap ones that would have all necessary means to start developing projects? By means a have in mind, basic circuitry to keep chip running, programming and debugging interface and so on.
It appears that Development board can go as low as $4. Cypress Semiconductor offers Cy8CKIT-049-41XX development board that has 32-bit ARM Cortex-
M3M0 microcontroller running at 48MHz. Board comes with USB to serial bridge part which can be easily snapped of when deployed. Board also comes with CapSense interface, user LED, push button and all GPIO pin connectors.
Today most hardware have web connectivity. Wi-Fi seems to be taking things over as it frees us from wiring. Wireless applications can be placed anywhere in the radius, while wired solution may require careful planing and preparation. If you are looking for powerful wireless development board and still have easy programming experience, take a look at Spark Core.
This is and ARM Cortex-M3based Wi-Fi development board that carries leading Wi-Fi module (SimpleLink CC3000). ARM processor can be programmed wireless, so you even don’t need to see your device in order to upgrade firmware. Core is designed to run Wiring – same code as Arduino. If you can program Arduino, then using Spark Core will be pretty same. With provided API you can make Spark Cloud projects, that can be accessed anywhere in the world. To get started there are already several shields available, one is so called Shield Shield, which gives ability to use practically any existing Arduino shield. Also you can get battery shield, relay shield or even JTAG shield.
ARM Cortex microcontrollers are really powerful to do various interesting tasks. But when speaking of open source it sounds like complex tasks to get started. Getting tools ready, collect all necessary files for project template and so on. Tyler Gilbert decided to make this ARM Cortex-M3 power much easier to use. Instead of offering to pick an Arduino or Raspberry Pi he built pretty interesting system based on NXP LPC1759 microcontroller running at 120MHz. A specially designed board carries serial flash memory for storing system files, USB for connectivity, and connector for additional expansion boards. These can be Bluetooth, LCD, or any other you may need
The whole trick is that ARM board already comes with flashed CoActionOS which takes care of heavy load and leaves user with easy stuff. CoActionOS is a special RTOS which has several nice features. It already implements USB driver free virtual serial port. It takes care of external flash memory and uses it as file system. Of course it is a multitasking OS which can run separately installed programs and run them as pseudo processes. This means you can write your own C/C++ programs compile and run them as desktop apps. Apps can be compiled with provided GCC compiler. Nice user interface gives easy way of uploading compiled programs to this little computer. There is also an SDK for easy building your own interface where any resource like GPIO, USART, SPI or file system can be accessed and used in custom programs. Several demos show how easy it can be.
Quad copter is a fun flying device, but in order to control it you need some electronics and bunch of sensors. Alan has been working on cool quad rotor flight computer based on LP1769 ARM Cortex-M3 microcontroller that runs at 120Mhz and houses 512KB of flash and 64KB of RAM. Controller has four interfaces to connect rotor motors (can be expanded to six rotors if needed).
On flight computer you will find several useful sensors, including: altimeter, magnetometer, accelerometer and gyro. There is a μSD card slot which helps with firmware upgrading, configuration and logging. And of course there is an Xbee radio module for remote control and feedback. Since this is a thesis currently work in progress, there is no firmware available, but will be available after it is finished.