The influence of open-source electronics platforms like Raspberry Pi on product development cannot be denied. Designers from companies small and large leverage ready-made hardware solutions for a quick path from prototype to production. Other popular platforms include Arduino, BeagleBone and Arm Mbed.
The Maker Movement – a loose collection of tinkerers, hobbyists, students and enthusiasts within the tech-influenced DIY community – has been a driving force here. Makers use various open-source electronic platforms as they develop interactive products ranging from robotics and drones to arts, crafts and musical instruments.
As Makers mature into newly formed companies, start-ups adopt open-source electronics platforms to shorten the design cycle. The ease-of-use, community support, and cost-effectiveness offer an easy alternative to discrete hardware designs. Thriving and expanding ecosystems provide new and updated alternatives as well.
Raspberry Pi Powers Industrial Sensors
Toronto-based Fibos is a fast-growing start-up focusing on fiber optic sensors. Their unique optical sensing solution leverages proven telecommunications technology for the industrial sensing industry and provides an optical alternative to traditional electrical sensing solutions.
Their technology – via the Fibos Optical Gauge Sensor (OGS) and Optical Gauge Amplifier (OGA) – mimics electrical pressure, temperature, vibration and load sensors. The optical isolation also provides EMI and radiation immunity, thermal stability over of a wide range of temperatures and intrinsic safety.
The focus of Fibos technology is definitely the optical domain, so they desired an easy-to-use electronics platform to get to market quickly. Fibos engineers utilized the computing power of Raspberry Pi for sensor data acquisition, data processing, and data transmission via analog, serial and Ethernet signal paths.
The Raspberry Pi attaches to the OGA via a Samtec 2×20 SSW series socket connector.
ARM Mbed Ecosystem Expands
Arm Mbed platforms offer an alternative to Raspberry Pi. While Raspberry Pi simplifies coding basics, prototyping, and hardware/software interaction, the Arm Mbed platform combines the scalability of Arm Cortex microprocessors with the Arm software ecosystem.
Switzerland-based u-blox is one of a number of Arm Mbed platform solutions providers helping grow the Arm Mbed ecosystem. They have recently introduced several new open-source electronics platforms targeted at IoT applications.
The C030-N211 and C030-U201 application boards are an out‑of‑the‑box rapid prototyping solution for IoT applications supporting cellular technologies. The EVK‑ODIN‑W2 is designed for use with Arm Mbed and is a complete starter kit that allows quick prototyping of a variety of applications.
Samtec Maker Expansion Accessory Kits
Rapid prototyping of innovative projects using open-source electronic platforms typically requires basic connectors and cable assemblies. Samtec has developed expansion connector accessory kits for four of the most popular platforms:
- Arduino Uno R3 Expansion Connector Accessory Kit
- Arm Mbed Application Board Expansion Connector Accessory Kit
- BeagleBone Black Expansion Connector Accessory Kit
- Raspberry Pi Expansion Connector Accessory Kit