OK, so here’s my next few thousand words about the new Molecule.Net range from Ingenuity Micro.
Justin from Ingenuity Micro has been beavering away over summer (while avoiding winter in the UK) designing up some PCBs as part of a science experiment to bring Molecules to the community. There’s finally a bit more to show for it than just the friendly banter that has happened over the past months, and there’s going to be less flashy blinkies than you’re used to from Justin - for those who like that kind of thing, sorry, not on my watch !
Today, I’m going to give you a preview of the range of modules that start the Molecule.Net lineup. This is not all the modules there are, it’s just all those that have passed the QA inspection and reached limited production. Some time in the near future there will be news on moving to general availability (for most; there’s still that list Mr Duthie ! ) but right now there’s nothing on that front for me to tell; Justin will reveal all in his own good time.
So onto the good stuff.
Oxygen. Everyone needs Oxygen to live, right ? RIGHT ! Oxygen is the third most prevalent element in the universe, but will be the most abundant in your netmf kitbag. Oxygen forms the basis for life in the Molecule.Net family with it’s STM32F411CEU6 processor, but don’t be deceived: while the Oxygen’s small size reflects it’s low power consumption, when it comes to features it still delivers! Running at 96MHz, there are 20 accessible GPIOs that includes 2x SPI channels, 6x PWM channels, up to 5x Analog In, I2C, and a UART or two for good measure, so Oxygen will surely find a place in all your fun projects.
Hydrogen. The most abundant element in the universe, and certainly the most prolific method of connecting devices in the Molecule.Net range. The Molecule.Net Hydrogen module is a BLE module based on the Bluegiga BLE113 Bluetooth Smart module, to make all kinds of cool interconnected gadgets and apps. The Hydrogen module is one of the designed-to-ride-piggy-back modules and plugs into the 4-pin RF Module header.
Helium. I was going to make up some “marketing speak” about Helium here, but really what is there to say - it would just sound high and squeaky. The Molecule.Net Helium module uses the RF Digital Corp RFD21733 2.4GHz RF module (and obviously plugs into the RF Module header), and is so easy to set up a simple serial connection between two devices it’s hardly worth talking about. But it’s just so simple, and that is worth talking about ! Just open the serial port, and send data. Out it pops on the other end. Far too easy. And what’s better still, is it just works; throw a wall or two or some distance between your end points, Helium don’t care !
Neon. Bright and showy normally, well not this little module, it just gets on with the job! Based on the Wi-Fi module Du Jour, the ESP8266, this little puppy gives you a simple connection to the outside world over big bad Wi-Fi networks. Neon also plugs into the RF Module header.
And last but certainly not least is Nickel. Nickel is a quite innocuous metal, but the Molecule.Net module namesake really packs a punch. Feed it between 1v and 5v and it’ll spit out a nice 5v to power your device. Whether you like your rechargeable batteries in OldSkool NiMH chemistry, or more hip and happ’nin Li-Ion, or even if you opted not for rechargeables but an alkaline battery or three, Nickel’s got your back. It is fitted with a JST connector using “standard” 2mm pitch pin spacing as you’d find on many of the Li-Ion batteries you’d buy from Adafruit, Sparkfun and the like.
So there you have it. Great range of modules to start a collection of Molecules with.
One of the very cool things I’ve found in the day or so I’ve had one running on my bench is the low power consumption. For fun I ran a quick test, with two Oxygen boards with Helium RF Pipe modules on top, and watched the current draw. With a simple test that was sending the date and time over the RF connection every second, static draw was around 32-33mAh, with the spike up to ~36mAh when actively sending. All in all a pretty impressively low number ! (the picture shows my multimeter attached to the uCurrent from EEVblog http://eevblog.myshopify.com/products/ucurrent in 1mV/mA mode, so that’s showing .032A or 32mA).
Now all this talk of gasses and elements reminds me of this post that popped into my Facebook feed a few days ago; for jollies, you should read Absolute Zero is 0K • Damn Interesting which is quite a story about liquefying gasses, scientific research, and very cold stuff.