Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Waspmote Starter Kit

Waspmote is an open-source wireless sensor platform specially focused on the implementation of low-consumption modes, which allows the sensor nodes ("motes") to be completely autonomous, i.e. battery powered. The life span of Waspmote sensor nodes may range from 1 to 5 years depending on the duty cycle and the radio used.

A custom Integrated Development Environment for Waspmote is available on Windows, Mac and Linux. It was derived from the popular Arduino IDE, and is used for writing and uploading code to the Waspmote (which comes with a USB bootloader installed), as well as for monitoring the serial output. An API is available for you to use in your own applications. Waspmote communication apps for iPhone, Android and Java are already available.

Using a Waspmote Gateway, it's possible to program new firmware into Waspmote nodes remotely via 802.15.4/ZigBee or 3G/GPRS/WiFi — single nodes, multiple nodes or the entire network at once. See the Over-the-Air Programming Guide below.

The Waspmote hardware is based on a modular architecture. The idea is to integrate only the modules needed in each device, optimizing costs. For this reason, all the modules (radios, sensor boards, etc.) plug into Waspmote through sockets.

Modules available for integration into Waspmote include ZigBee/802.15.4, GSM/GPRS, 3G/GPRS, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, NFC/RFID, Sensors, and industrial wired communications modules (RS232, RS485, CAN, ModBus, 4-20mA).

This kit includes:
x1 Waspmote 802.15.4 PCB Antenna (since August 3rd, 2015)
x1 Waspmote Gateway 802.15.4 PCB Antenna (since August 3rd, 2015)
x1 2300 mAh LiPo Battery
x1 miniUSB Cable

Are Waspmote and Arduino platforms compatible? Waspmote uses the same IDE (compiler and core libraries) as Arduino. For this reason the same code is compatible in both platforms — just by adjusting small things like the pinout and the I/O scheme. We love the fast learning curve of Arduino and for this reason we tried to make a platform compatible with it. The idea is that an Arduino user may work with Waspmote in a transparent and easy way (because the source code will be the same, there is no learning curve). 

Then, are Waspmote and Arduino the same thing? Definitely not. Arduino is a really nice platform to learn how to use electronics and is intended to make cheap "home projects" while Waspmote is a device specially designed to create wireless sensor networks which need a long life span and are meant to be deployed in a real scenario like in a city. 

I just want to "play" with Waspmote; isn't it cheaper using Arduino? This depends on what you want to do exactly. Waspmote is a very compact board including everything needed for creating wireless sensor networks: wireless communications, RTC clock to allow scheduling interrupts, microSD to store data from sensors, a 3-axis accelerometer (very useful for detecting falling nodes and as a sensor by itself) and of course, battery and solar sockets with charging regulator for making the node completely autonomous. Adding these features to an Arduino is possible, but it can get complicated in software and cumbersome in hardware — not to mention the hassles of getting your device certified (see below). 

Is Waspmote open source? Yes. All the source code libraries are released under the LGPL license so developers may choose if the programs they create are released as open source or not. Are Waspmote and Arduino FCC and CE certified? What are the differences? Both Waspmote and Arduino "core" boards have FCC and CE certifications. However, in order to use the platform with a communication module (ZigBee, WiFi, 3G, etc.), a Radio Certification is needed. This is the main difference between Waspmote and Arduino certifications. Waspmote has Radio Certifications for all the possible combinations of the communication modules (802.15.4, ZigBee, 3G, ZigBee + 3G, etc.), and Arduino does not.