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Open source, DAQ-enabled hacking platform feels its inner Arduino

Aug 18, 2016 — by Eric Brown — 1,015 views

Agilo’s open source, Arduino Mega compatible “Evive” IoT prototyping and DAQ platform offers a 1.8-inch display, breadboard, analog controls, and more.

Agilo Technologies, a startup formed by students at the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IIT Kanpur), is pitching its flagship Evive prototyping product on Indiegogo. The company has achieved only 39 percent of its $30,000 flexible funding goal, with less than a week remaining, but it is committed to manufacturing the product and fulfilling orders. The company has already lined up other funding, as well as manufacturing and component suppliers, according to an email from CEO and co-founder Dhrupal R Shah.

Evive (left) and internal PCBs
(click images to enlarge)

The fully open source, Creative Commons licensed Evive, which starts at $89 for campaign backers, builds upon an Arduino Mega 2560 Rev 3 compatible board. The product is billed as a prototyping and STEM education tool for students, hobbyists, and makers.

The device has a special focus on IoT home automation and robotics. Agilo is collaborating with Robotrix India, an organization that aims to boost robotics education in India, to build high-school level robotics experiments based on Evive. The company is also donating Evive starter kits to needy schools.

Evive detail view
(click image to enlarge)

In some ways, Evive reminds one of the popular, computer education oriented Kano kit built around the Raspberry Pi. Kano recently expanded into Toys R Us and Barnes & Noble. Yet while Kano focuses mostly on teaching programming, Evive which supports the Arduino IDE, ROS, Scratch, Python, and other development solutions, goes further in teaching embedded computing skills.

Finding Evive’s inner Arduino
(click images to enlarge)

The 140 x 115 x 32mm, 320-gram Evive device aims to reduce the number of components needed in Arduino IoT development by offering physical switches, LEDs, buzzers, a menu display, and labeled ports, among other gizmos. Under the hood, a 16MHz Arduino Mega 2560 Rev 3 subsystem provides 8KB SRAM, 4KB EEPROM, 256K flash, and 56 DIO pins, 14x of which are PWM outputs. The 7-12V board also provides 16 analog inputs.

Display (left) and analog controls
(click images to enlarge)

The Evive menu interface is available via a 1.8-inch, 160 x 128, 18-bit color display that you control with a 5-way joystick. Interfaces are controlled using analog switches, sliders, and a pair of B103 (10k ohm) potentiometers. A microSD slot supports up to 32GB of storage.

Evive power panel
(click image to enlarge)

Even the 5-30V volt power input, which is backed up with a 4.5-hour, 2600mAh Li-ion battery, can be controlled by rotating a knob. An entire side panel of the device is designed for power I/O. The Evive includes 5V and 3.3V pins, along with a USB B-Type interface that supports power, charge, and serial modes. The device is protected against overcurrent, overvoltage, and reverse polarity, says Agilo Technologies.

Evive accepts standard Arduino shields
(click image to enlarge)

A 170-pin breadboard is mounted on the Arduino Mega in the semi-exposed belly of the device, called the Magic Lid. The breadboard includes mounts for adding more breadboards, and you can also mount Arduino Mega and Uno shields. The Magic Lid includes a pair of 3.3V DIO interfaces with a bi-directional logic level shifter.

Evive panel for data acquisition and other I/O
(click image to enlarge)

Labeled interface pins are arranged along the side panels of the device. Data acquisition interfaces include 24-bit ADCs, a timer, 12-bit DAC, an RTC, and a voltmeter/ammeter. There’s even a dual-channel mini-oscilloscope that supports low, up to 1kHz frequencies, and offers time, voltage, and current scaling, as well as scanning modes.

Top-mounted, color-coded jacks support two probe plugs and a COM plug for debugging. There’s also a port that supports two motor drivers.

For only $10 more, at $109, you get an 8GB microSD card, as well as WiFi, XBee, and Bluetooth modules. Add another $35 to swap out Agilo’s Arduino Mega 2560 R3 compatible for the original Arduino/Genuino version. Other packages charge more for a Dec. 2016 shipment instead of Jan. 2017.

Volume deals are available, as well as packages that include some of Agilo’s learning modules kits. These include a starter kit that adds sensors, switches, actuators, and larger displays and breadboards, as well as a home automation kit that supplies a more specific set of sensors, relays, resistors, a servo motor, and a camera. Two robotics learning modules are available. One is for a two-wheel differential drive modular mobile robot, and the other for a robotic arm.

Evive technical overview video

Further information

Evive is available on Indiegogo for six more days starting at $99, with shipments due in December or January. More information may be found at the Evive Indiegogo page and the Agilo Technologies Evive website.

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