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Arduino Robot top board. "First official Arduino on wheels." (via Arduino.cc)

 

It is that time of year again when technology enthusiasts gather to behold new and interesting devices. Of course, it would not be Maker Faire if Arduino in one form or another did not make an appearance and appear they did in the form of a robot and a hybrid Arduino/Linux platform. Debuting last weekend at San Francisco’s Maker Faire, the Arduino Robot is officially the first equipped with wheels for locomotion. The tiny robot was designed using a pair of circular boards with one acting as the control board and the other as the motor board. Each is a fully programmable Arduino PCB outfitted with an ATmega32u4 microcontroller with most of the pins dedicated to both the control board (which processes sensor data and operates the OS) and motor board (dedicated for running the bots motors). Programming the board is done in much the same way as an Arduino Leonardo through a USB connection (on both boards) which shows up on a computer as a virtual Serial/COM port. Powering the robot can be done in either of two ways with one being the USB connections or with four AA NiMH batteries; however the motors are disconnected when powered by USB for safety purposes. The design was a joint effort between an international team as a way to make learning science more fun especially for children.

 

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Arduino Yun. Atmel ATmega32u4 & WiFi SoC from Atheros AR9331 paired to ruun Limino an OpenWRT- a GNU Linux based program primarily used for network traffic routing (via Arduino)

 

Another interesting Arduino product recently unveiled in San Francisco was the Arduino Yun, which fuses a Leonardo board with a Wi-Fi (Atheros AR9331) SoC running Linino (customized version of OpenWRT). What makes the board notable is its ease of navigating complex web services (XML and HTTP transactions) as the Yun incorporates a Bridge library that hands over the heavy lifting to the Linux-based SoC. The board comes outfitted with everything a typical Leonardo board such as a USB port, microSD slot for more storage options and wired Ethernet as an extra connection option (over Wi-Fi?). Once the board is turned on, it creates a Wi-Fi connection or access point (simply called ‘Arduino’) giving the user full access to the internet. The board supports both Shell and Python languages like its Leonardo cousin allowing users to customize their boards with a wide range of options. Linux users will also have the option to take advantage of SSH (Secure Shell) which keeps your data safe (at least more secure than Windows protocols) while on the internet. According to the Arduino blog, the Yun (first in a new series of boards using Linino) will retail for $69 US and will be on the market sometime in June (2013). Linux/Arduino users can now rejoice, as there is yet another option for their home-based projects.

 

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