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Microchip AVR-IoT WG Dev Board - Review

Scoring

Product Performed to Expectations: 9
Specifications were sufficient to design with: 10
Demo Software was of good quality: 10
Product was easy to use: 9
Support materials were available: 8
The price to performance ratio was good: 9
TotalScore: 55 / 60
  • RoadTest: Microchip AVR-IoT WG Dev Board
  • Buy Now
  • Evaluation Type: Development Boards & Tools
  • Was everything in the box required?: Yes
  • Comparable Products/Other parts you considered: ESP32, ESP8266-NodeMCU, CC3200, Redbear-labs CC3200.
  • What were the biggest problems encountered?: Getting the permissions right on google cloud services for the board to communicate with google cloud and vice versa. WiFi sometimes does not auto connect. The device ID is blank sometimes. Not able to read the public key sometimes.

  • Detailed Review:

    Story

    This is my first ever road test on Element 14. I would like to thank rscasny for giving me this opportunity. I believe that to review a product one has to experience it for the very purpose that it is made for, with this thought I began my RoadTest journey and started exploring the AVR IoT WG development board. I planned to prototype a simple IoT application using the on-board sensors, actuators, and Google Cloud IoT services.

     

    Getting started and Detailed Board Overview

    Microchip provides a detailed overview of the board and a getting started video which helps you connect the device to Google Cloud and stream data within 30 seconds. This is where I started exploring the board. You can check the links below.

     

    Quick Overview of the board and Soldering

    Out of the box we just get the AVR IoT Development board. A micro-USB cable would have been a good addition to the board. The expansion pins are also not available. In this video, I have given a short overview of the board and soldered the pins to the board. Check this video if you are interested to learn more.

     

    Explore example project and add your own modules

    The out-the-box examples which that connects to Google cloud and seamlessly visualize the sensor data on the web site. I was really excited to develop a prototype application on the board. Atmel START helps you get started with developing your prototype. It provides a neat way to develop by providing an infrastructure to configure the projects with different middle-ware and drivers. In this video, I have shown how to add a relay click middle-ware to your project and how to configure it.

    Command Line Interface(CLI) demo for debugging your project

    The CLI feature of the code is very useful. It helps in connecting to WiFi when the Click-Me.html method doesn't work or the AP mode is not working. You can use the CLI method to reset the device, check the CLI and firmware version, get the public key, connect to wifi, and see the debug messages on the serial terminal. Here is a short demo of all these features. You can see the application demo video on how I use the CLI for checking if the messages are received by the device from the server.

    Application Demo

    I have tried to demonstrate a prototype application which uses the on-board sensors to send the data to google cloud, visualize the sensor data on the web site. I am running cloud IOT server on a Raspberry Pi which subscribes to the messages and sends commands to the device whether to turn on or turn off the devices connected the relay depending on the sensor data. Check out this video for a short demo. The intent of the project is to evaluate how easy it is to integrate Google's IoT services with AVR IoT WG with a basic application. Challenges and Key learning are summarized below.

    Github Link to migrate out of the box website to your Google Account: https://github.com/Leverege/microchip-avr-iot

    Google Cloud IoT Core Python Samples: https://github.com/GoogleCloudPlatform/python-docs-samples/tree/master/iot/api-client/end_to_end_example

     

    Summary

    • The Microchip AVR IoT WG is a complete package having everything on board viz. Sensors, Secure element, Micro-controller, WiFi module, Battery charging, and Debugger.
    • A micro-USB cable in the box would have been a good addition.
    • The software samples provided cover all the peripherals of the board along with CLI for debugging and seamlessly connect to Google Cloud services.
    • The various click boards along with the drivers and middle-wares are available at Atmel START to interface more sensors with the board.
    • The form factor of the board is good for prototyping IOT applications.
    • The IDE support available for this board across different OS is excellent.
    • The debuggers that come with Atmel Studio is excellent to debug code and fix problems.
    • The documentation provided is sufficient to quickly prototype simple applications.
    • Familiarity with Google Cloud services and setting the permissions to the files and folders would help accelerate development.
    • Libraries to interface more peripherals apart from the click boards should be available.
    • The documentation on the code generated from Atmel START should be more detailed for a beginner to understand and develop complex applications.
    • Code walk-through would help beginners to get started with developing applications quickly.
    • As the code generated in the sample program are using RTOS, developers having some knowledge of RTOS will help in programming the board.
    • As this board gains more popularity, application development and problem-solving on this board will only become easier.

     

    Finally, I would like to recommend this board to anyone who wishes to dive into the world of IOT devices powered by the comprehensive cloud services by Google. This board is a complete package to build complex applications. Thank you for reading the review, I would like to leave you with a quote

     

    "You are only limited by your own imagination"

    Benny Bellamacina


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