An Arduino Uno compatible CPU board with Ethernet and NFC Tag technology on the same board.
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One of the major challenges when building small embedded computer systems is creating ways on how to interact with them. Luckily many of the simpler systems only needs one or two buttons and maybe a few LED's as indicators. In those situations it is easy. Designing more advanced user interaction systems for low end processors quickly becomes very expensive in terms of code size, ram usage and implementation time.
But even when designing and building more complex systems actually having to add a display and some sort of keyboard adds a lot of complexity and cost to your system, whether it is a one off system for your aquarium or if it is a high volume product.
In the mean time, almost everyone walks around with a spectacular graphical user interface in their pocket. The smart phone. Wouldn't it be great if there was a way to combine the two worlds.
Well as luck would have it, there actually is. Android phones have been equipped with NFC capabilities for many years but have found very little usage.
The SweetPea UnoNet board includes NFC technology that emulates an NFC tag allowing a smart phone to read and write data, through NFC, to an EEPROM located on the board. Effectively this means that a simple app on your smart phone can act as the UI towards the UnoNet board.
The picture above shows the UnoNet connected to an NFC antenna. A U.FL. connector on board allows you to hook up any compatible NFC antenna to the board. The kit of course comes with an antenna that works perfectly with the board.
It is an Arduino Uno compatible board enhanced with a W5500 Ethernet controller that allows it to connect to the Internet. As already mention we also added an NFC Dual Port EEPROM that act as the interface to a smart phone.
The use of NFC technology for this board is a perfect example on what can be done and how it can be used. We've created a simple Android app and Arduino sketch that together demonstrates how the network settings of the UnoNet can be changed and read back.
The SweetPea UnoNet board is based on the Arduino Uno design and complies with the 1.0 connector standard. The addition of the W5500 Ethernet controller and the NFC Dual Port memory puts a few limitations on what port pins that can be used for specific purposes but the limitations are very few.
We think the board will see a lot of use in sensor applications so we added quick connectors that allows you to get access to things like a One-Wire bus, the I2C bus and the serial port.
The Ethernet device used on the board is the cost effective W5500 from Wiznet Technologies. This device allows 8 simultanous sockets and have 32KByte on chip SRAM to buffer packets waiting for the processor to read them in. The latest version of the Arduino library from Wiznet already supports the W5500 and will work without any problems. Just download the library from the Wiznet website or from our Github.
For the NFC Tag we have developed our own library that takes care of the reading and writing of records to the EEPROM memory. In read only mode this library consumes less than 3.5KByte of flash memory. The source code is available at Github.
We designed a simple android app that can read and write the network parameters for the W5500 Ethernet device on the board. This app can be used as it is or as a base for your own implementation. Oh yes, I willingly admit that it is not the worlds most beautifull app that has been written. The app is available on Google Play and as sourcecode on Github.
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