30 + new Rpi compatible hardware boards


19 posts
by johndobson » Tue May 08, 2012 11:36 am
Hello

Our company is making an interface board between Rpi and the E-blocks range of boards. We believe that this will give us more than 30 boards that Raspberry Pi users can interface to - everything from a simple relay board through to Zigbee and Wi-Fi. Hopefully I have attached the PCB layout and the schematic. We will supply a power supply too.Our main goal here is to give educational users a range of plug in boards that can be used safely with Rpi.

I would be really interested to hear what you think of this idea.

John Dobson

http://www.matrixmultimedia.co.uk



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by nick.mccloud » Tue May 08, 2012 11:57 am
Looks like a pretty comprehensive range.

Are you providing a userland driver for the Pi?

You have a web cart, payment service provider info but no pages have have any prices so it's a bit hard to know if they are industrial or educational levels of pricing. Personally I'm quite interested in the FPGA starter kit.
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by johndobson » Tue May 08, 2012 11:59 am
here is the schematic

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by johndobson » Tue May 08, 2012 12:02 pm


here should be the layout
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by johndobson » Tue May 08, 2012 12:03 pm
apologies - finger troubel - here is the layout

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by johndobson » Tue May 08, 2012 12:05 pm
hello nmcc

The prices are all on our web site. If you are not seeing them then you may have changed your IP address. I don"t have a price for the Rpi interface board yet. It is likely to be £25 +. We will also make a plastic cover.

As for drivers – we are going to worry about that later. Do you believe we need to provide them?

regards,
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by morphy_richards » Tue May 08, 2012 12:08 pm
Yes - in theory I like it. As nmcc says - I would need to see some prices.

As head of a school department my budget has taken a real hammering over the past couple of years and even earning extra money by training up student teachers does not really make up the shortfall. Because of that I tend to avoid this sort of thing (even Lego Mindstorms doesnt get a look-in anymore) and am moving more in the direction of Arduinos (and of course raspberry pis) for aspects of teaching control systems.

I would still be interested in knowing more about this product but as a product developer are you aware of the tight budget constraints that most state school departments have to work with? My 'basic' budget for everything from printing to replacing broken hardware is now in the order of £3000 to £4000 per year.

Best regards.
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by morphy_richards » Tue May 08, 2012 12:13 pm
Have just found your prices. They seem reasonable and the products look good. I wouldn't mind seeing some demo videos of the kit in action if that could be managed or is already out there somewhere :-)
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by johndobson » Tue May 08, 2012 12:14 pm
Hello Morphy-richards

thanks for your comment. Yes we are aware of UK budgets in schools, colleges and universities. Arduino is a tough competitor for us. We focus on providing more complete solutions that are flexible, reliable and rugged: electrically and mechanically.

regards

john
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by morphy_richards » Tue May 08, 2012 12:18 pm
Last bit from me ...

I would be put off by the prices of your sensor modules - to me, ability to use sensors would be fairly crucial but everything in there seems quite pricey.

I appreciate you are using high quality components but I would be more interested in a range that is more in line with the prices of the "circuit boards" range.
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by nick.mccloud » Tue May 08, 2012 12:25 pm
johndobson said:


The prices are all on our web site. If you are not seeing them then you may have changed your IP address.


I was looking at the starter kits - having a particular interest in microcontroller programming. I can see other prices now!


I don"t have a price for the Rpi interface board yet. It is likely to be £25 +. We will also make a plastic cover.


Will there be legs for supporting the EBlocks as the interface board will be about 2.5cm above the Pi and I wouldn't want to leave them hanging in the air. £25 feels a bit steep considering the components - I appreciate you aren't getting the volumes the Foundation get but it's essentially a way of allowing people to buy EBlocks.


As for drivers – we are going to worry about that later. Do you believe we need to provide them?


Given the audience some sample software is definitely going to be needed - the learning curve on IO is somewhat steep judging by the number of forum questions we've seen. Some collaboration with other IO board people may elicit a user space driver sooner rather than later.
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by johndobson » Tue May 08, 2012 3:40 pm
hello nmcc

mechanical issue: yes we need to offer some kind of housing that makes the whole thing rugged. We will figure that out later. Whatever we do must be mechanically right.

Costs: handmade in Britain! If we can get the volumes up then we can drive the costs down.

drivers: we suspect that there will be lots of sample programs and drivers for controlling the basic I/O. When we have the hardware back (around a week) then we will start to look for a solution.

regards

john
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by nick.mccloud » Tue May 08, 2012 5:29 pm
johndobson said:


Costs: handmade in Britain! If we can get the volumes up then we can drive the costs down.


Send me the BoM and the Gerbers and I'll quote you - seriously - handmade security modules in the heart of Derbyshire going on behind me.
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by morphy_richards » Wed May 09, 2012 10:21 am
Would the interface allow you to easily use this gLCD Module from your range as a display?
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by johndobson » Wed May 09, 2012 11:05 am
hello morphy_richards

electrically: yes. Physically:no. you need this one:http://www.matrixmultimedia.co.....;PHPSESSID=

regards

john
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by morphy_richards » Wed May 09, 2012 12:08 pm
It seems quite a nice little display and would be good for some projects but it's a shame it's so small.

I've been looking at this sort of thing recently with the view to using it with a Raspberry Pi and other hardware to make a kind of exploded hardware - input, output, storage etc. display board except that it would actually be working  act as an interactive information point / knowledge base etc.

If anyone could come up with an equivalent sized display with competitive prices I think they might be onto something.
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by brian_reiter » Wed May 09, 2012 7:35 pm
How about something like this? Came to just over 25 pounds including postage. There's no HDMI or VGA but it does work with my DuinoMite.

It may be worth a look.
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by johndobson » Thu May 10, 2012 8:04 am
One of the things that is kind of annoying and kind of great is that it is cheaper to buy a complete finished monitor in full plastic moulded housing than it is to buy a tiny LCD display. We do have a VGA adaptor board (http://www.matrixmultimedia.co.....;PHPSESSID=) and you can get monitors from £30, but by then you might as well buy a new HDMI equipped one.

john
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by johndobson » Wed May 16, 2012 6:31 am
Hello

Been out of the office for a couple of days. I fount the first prototype of our Rpi interface board on the desk of one of our dev team. You can see it here with a LED board on port 1 and a switch board on port 2. I reckon that inputs on one port and outputs on another port is the first place to start learning about modern electronics. Below these you can see the LED board (this is a relatively complex 5 pin serial device), and our sensors board. The sensors board allows students to interface Rpi to the really excellent range of Vernier laboratory sensors that are in tens of thousands of schools worldwide. (We also have a Pasco interface.)

The Rpi board is powered by a plug top power supply which is also used for the 'downstream' boards.

I guess that next we have to start doing some coding to make sure that all of this works. Our guys are experts in PICs and Windows and are all busy on other projects. I have not figured out how we are going to get this part of the project done yet. If anyone out there would like to help us do some software to prove these designs then please get in touch. I would also really like to hear from UK computer science teachers as we are planning a few other products in this area for release at BETT 2013.

john
PS - can't seem to upload images in this new version of the forum - any ideas? Here is the link:
http://www.matrixmultimedia.com/temp/First%20board.TIF
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