Wifi for $19 - Spark Photon

**Ships: est March 2015

The Photon is a $19 tiny Wi-Fi development kit for creating connected projects and products. It’s easy to use, it’s powerful, and it’s connected to the cloud.


Spark P0 Wi-Fi module
Broadcom BCM43362 Wi-Fi chip
STM32F205 120Mhz ARM Cortex M3
1MB flash, 128KB RAM
Soft AP setup
FCC/CE/IC certified[/quote]


Yeah, I’ve been waiting for this to come out. I saw a few spec sheets a year ago showing that they were working with muRata to integrate the Broadcom wifi and an stm32 mcu. This CPU has the ram and flash to support .net mf so this certainly has my attention. Also, they have surface mount modules with mcu, wifi, antenna, and FCC certification for $12 each. All we need is a wifi driver. I’ll be looking at the Broadcom API soon to get a feel for how hard it would be. It might also need a TCP stack.

I’d really like to see Microsoft pick two of the mcu+wifi integrated solutions and support them as reference designs. This device (or ti cc3200) and another with more flash and ram perhaps. One that is inexpensive and one that is more beefy.

I’m sure the Edison will be a reference device for Microsoft’s embedded OS. We need one too.


@ Valkyrie-MT - I believe Oberon has the port for M3 already in the PK.

I’m guessing that means with some “minimal” work “we” could put netmf on this thing? That would be sweet.

I think so.

Holy Cow! My bad! I got ElectricImp confused with SparkIO. Believe it or not, ElectricImp is doing an almost identical device with the same Broadcom wifi paired with the stm32f405! It looks like SparkIO did not use muRata.


Yeah, the MCU support is not a concern. This is the same CPU as the one in the Netduino 2, but I think the Spark Photon has more RAM and Flash. So, we probably just need to update the scatterfile and the platform file. The real work would be in that Wifi adapter.

With both of these devices using NET MF compatible MCUs and the same Wifi, there will be a lot of incentive to get this driver integrated. Like I said, if Microsoft wants to put IoT with NET MF, having them get these components to work would be a great place to start.

I ordered one of these Spark Photons. As soon as I get it, I’ll throw.NET MF on there just because I can :slight_smile:

The more I look around, the more interesting stuff I find. It looks like the hardware reference from Broadcom included the STM32f205 processor: http://uk.mouser.com/ProductDetail/Broadcom/BCM943362WCD4/?qs=s5SkPsIz10%252b5IlhCsqvsmg==

I’m guessing that manufacturers that integrated the Broadcom chip are keeping things simple by sticking with the same family as the reference MCU. That’s why the SparkIO, ElectricImp, muRata and the Broadcom Reference all use the STM32.

I looked up the MCU on the Broadcom chip and it is also the 128k RAM + 1MB Flash – so also a .NET MF friendly unit. The eval boards are nice too:

Imagine one of these modules on a board with lots of gadgeteer sockets. The whole thing could be super compact!

Of all of them though, the SparkIO modules are the least expensive. $12 is really an amazing price point for that module.


That’s what really raised my eyebrows. WiFi and a micro for 12 bucks! If somebody we’re to work out a driver for the wireless, I, and probably others here, would be happy to donate (some small amount) of cash to incentivise the effort.

@ ransomhall - When you say driver, do you mean a netmf/gadgeteer driver or getting netmf to run on the module itself?

@ munderhill - I mean whatever Valkyrie-MT means by his last sentence above. I assume that means getting the WiFi chip to work in Netmf. Doesn’t sound like porting is much of an issue.

[quote=“ransomhall”] I assume that means getting the WiFi chip to work in Netmf.

Yeah, I meant getting the Broadcom wifi to work. One approach (the best and fastest) would be to take Broadcom’s reference implementation in C++ and integrate that into a .Net MF port. The other would be similar to what I did with mIP, which is to open an spi port to the Broadcom chip from managed code and do everything in managed code.

Getting .Net MF to work on this is almost certainly not an issue.

I’m hoping Microsoft will consider doing the integration.

I ordered a couple of the photons when they were announced. I would love to see .NetMF run on these babies. Looks like a great unit for IoT.


I have the original Spark Core’s and they are great but I hate the online programming setup. Too slow and there is no in circuit debugging.

I’ve tried to setup the JTAG via Netbeans but so far can’t get the debugger to run. I can build and download VIA USB but I really want debugging to work. I hate trying to find issues without single stepping etc.

Where is people now on this board ?

@ njbuch - I think they are shipping in May, if I remember the email I got about a month ago.

Is there a version of this but for ethernet? I just need a chip to offload the website of the device to.

I am getting 2 Photons in the mail this week.

Has anyone made any progress on getting netmf running on these devices?
Has anyone run into a road block that would tell me it is not going to be very easy to get netmf running?


@ terrence - I am looking at it with Justin, but the problem is that the necessary pins to load the NETMF firmware and bootloader are not accessible from the outside. I am going to remove the metal shield that covers everything to see if the pins are then accessible. If there are, we’ll be halfway there…

Great news. Please keep us posted on your progress.

@ munderhill - ugh. If you can’t access the boot loader pins without removing the shield, this thing is DOA.