There’s no one thing about the RedBoard Artemis that jumps out as its killer feature. It’s the whole package. New brain on a familiar body? Check. Competitive price, with bluetooth support as a bonus feature? Check. Stretches a battery? Check. A clear path to mass production for anything you prototype with the board? Check.
Artemis is a new push for the year for Sparkfun. It’s a module: A chip on a board with a few other needed things, like a bluetooth antenna, meant to be soldered onto the surface of whatever board you design. The strengths of the Artemis module are the strengths of the Artemis flavor of RedBoard: Competitive pricing, good horsepower for the wattage, and bluetooth support.
To get you started, SparkFun has built four different prototyping boards around the Artemis module, from the smaller Nano board up to the larger ATP (All the Pins) model. In the middle is the RedBoard, SparkFun’s Arduino-Uno-like board, now in a version powered by the Artemis module.
A few more nice touches on the RedBoard Artemis:
- Old USB connectors begone. About time someone made a board with USB-C.
- Built-in microphone? Bonus.
- Want to see just how long you can stretch its battery life? There’s a spot to attach a coin-cell holder on the bottom of the board. Example programs show how to take advantage of the Artemis’s low power features.
- The Artemis module is already FCC certified. Go into mass production with a product built with Artemis and you shouldn’t have to pay to do that again.
I do have one grumble with the RedBoard Artemis: SparkFun drops hints that you should use it for Machine Learning. That’s why they put the microphone on-board: So you could use it as a voice recognition device. Unfortunately, the Machine Learning setup is still rough around the edges: You’ll be directed to leave your familiar Arduino editor behind and start learning a new SDK. Documentation for using the Machine Learning software is still written for the RedBoard Artemis’s relative, the SparkFun Edge, without any mention of the RedBoard Artemis or how the setup should be adapted to its differences between the two boards.
Machine Learning stumbles aside, the RedBoard Artemis feels to me like the Honda Civic of prototyping boards: Familiar, well engineered, a bit drab, but in the end oh-so-sensible, and a great value.