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Hands-on with the TinyDuino and TinyLily Systems from TinyCircuits - The TinyShields

By: Charles Gantt | Editorials in Maker & DIY | Posted: Feb 12, 2014 8:33 am



Moving back to the TinyDuino system, TinyCircuits sent me several of their TinyShields to check out and play with, and I cannot begin to express how impressed I am with how much functionality, technology, and robustness that TinyCircuits has packed into each one of these little shields. As I mentioned earlier, the TinyDuino system utilizes a special connector that allows the boards to be securely stacked on top of each other without the need for header pins.


This tiny connector system is very secure, and when using it paired with the TinyDuino Mounting Kit hardware pack, the boards are actually more secure than traditional header pin stacking methods. When connected together, the fit is quite snug, and surprisingly requires a bit of pressure to separate. Let's take a look at the TinyShields I received, and touch on some of their highlights.




TinyShield: 16 Edge LEDs




One of my favorite TinyShields is the 16 Edge LEDs module; I mean, who does not like LEDs right? As its name implies, this board features 16 edge-lit LEDs in Greed, Red, and Amber colors. The LEDs are addressed using a method called Charlieplexing, which allows control of many LEDs using a much lower number of I/O lines. The board has been designed so that it is highly-visible, even when stacked in the middle of a large TinyDuino stack.


TinyShield: GPS




Another Shield that is high on my list of awesomeness is the TinyShield GPS, a GPS shield that is designed around the Telit JF2 GPS Module, which is uses the popular SiRFstar IV chipset. Output is in the NMEA format, and its antenna is built right into the PCB, so no additional antenna is needed.


Out of the box, the TinyShield GPS is configured to a 1Hz update rate, but can easily be switched to 5GHz via a simple NMEA command. Logic Level Shifters are also built into the board itself to ensure proper operation throughout the TinyDuino's 5V operating range.


TinyShield: Wi-Fi




One of the coolest features of Arduino is how easy it is to integrate into a network, and the TinyDuino is no exception here. The TinyShield Wi-Fi is an 802.11b/g compatible Wi-Fi adapter that is based on Texas Instruments' Ti CC3000 Wi-Fi module.


The module supports WEP, WPA, and WPA2 encryption, and has a built-in TCP/IP stack which supports up to four concurrent sockets. Like the TinyShield GPS, the TinyShield Wi-Fi features a built-in antenna directly on the PCB, so no external antennas are needed. The shield connects to the TinyDuino via the SPI interface to ensure fast and efficient data transfers.

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