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arduioo week3 Expanding the Arduino Ecosystem with MicroView

Marcus Schappi, Madeline Schappi and JP Liew introducing the MicroView on Kickstarter

The Arduino is arguably one of the most successful products, and probably one of the most recognised brand names, to come out of the maker movement. As a result there are a growing number of clone, derivatives and compatible—for various values of compatible—boards out there. Some of these share the classic Arduino form-factor, and some don’t.

The MicroView may be Arduino compatible—and a member of the Arduino at Heart program—but it doesn’t share that classic form factor. It’s a tiny chip-sized, breadboard compatible, Arduino with a built-in OLED display. Despite sharing the same ATmega328P micro-controller as the Aruino Uno, the MicroView looks nothing like an Arduino.

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The board started off as a prank between friends. JP Liew—the CTO of GeekAmmo—emailed Marcus the details of a great new product he’d discovered on Alibaba. The product was almost exactly what the MicroView turned out to be, with one slight problem, it didn’t actually exist. Not wanting to let Marcus down, they actually sat down and built it.

I sat down and spoke to Marcus Schappi—the CEO of GeekAmmo, and co-creator of the MicroView—and talked about it, their Kickstarter campaign, and how he sees the MicroView sitting in the expanding Arduino ecosystem.

Interview with Marcus Schappi, the CEO of GeekAmmo

While there are other Arduino compatible boards around the same size, or even smaller, than the MicroView—the Tinyduino and the Microduino spring to mind—there aren’t any this small, self contained, and with an OLED screen on top. The sleek, shiny, plastic housing of the MicroView is also an interesting evolution for a platform that is very much tied to the little blue rectangle. Although perhaps it should be expected, as the people behind the MicroView also worked on Ninja Blocks—which wrapped a Beaglebone Black in plastic and hid it away in a similar fashion.

The MicroView will ship with a custom software library to give easy access to the OLED display from your Arduino code. The library should allow you to quickly display text, sprites, graphs and gauges in just a few lines of code. The team have provided early access to the board design files, as well as the MicroView Arduino library, for backers. They’ll be putting the files up on Github after the Kickstarter funding period is over.

Gauges on the MicroView

Gauges—like this gauge showing the reading of a Light Sensor—can be displayed using the MicroView OLED library with as few as 2 lines of Arduino code.

Interestingly, because of the built in display, this is an Arduino that can also lead you through building projects around it,

“This is the first Arduino that can teach you electronics and Arduino. The MicroView comes preflashed with built-in tutorials that are displayed on it’s gorgeous organic LED display.” – Madeleine Schappi

Blowing past their project goal in less than 24 hours the MicroView team still has 25 days to go on their Kickstarter, and it’s quite possible that the 5,000 units that they’re prepared to build on the first production run—the board will be manufactured on-shore in the US by Sparkfun—might well disappear before the clock runs out.

General Specification

  • Support for the Arduino IDE 1.0+ (OSX/Win/Linux)
  • 100% Arduino Compatible
  • Built-in 64×48 OLED display
  • Direct 3.3VDC – 16VDC power, input, no power regulator needed
  • Standard DIP Package
  • Breadboard friendly or direct solder

Hardware Specification

  • Display: 64×48 OLED Display
  • Microcontroller: ATmega328P
  • Operating Voltage: 5V
  • Input Voltage: 3.3VDC – 16VDC
  • Digital I/O Pins: 12 (of which 3 provide PWM output)
  • Analog Input Pins: 6
  • Flash Memory: 32 KB
  • SRAM: 2 KB
  • EEPROM: 1 Kilobyte
  • Clock Speed: 16 Mhz
  • No other components required

Alasdair Allan

Alasdair Allan is a scientist, author, hacker, tinkerer and co-founder of a startup working on fixing the Internet of Things. He spends much of his time probing current trends in an attempt to determine which technologies are going to define our future.


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