Microcomputing and cheap developer kits are becoming more popular, not the least in the form of Raspberry Pi. An interesting newcomer called Spark Core has appeared at Kickstarter, and it combines an Arduino platform with wireless networking.
Spark Core appeared on Kickstarter in May with the goal of gathering 10,000 dollar, which it has now surpassed ten-fold. The unit is no bigger than 2 x 3.3 centimeter, with hardware mounted on both sides.
The unit supports Arduino code through Wiring, and comes with an ARM Cortex M3 chip at 72 MHz, 128 KB internal and 2 MB external flash storage and 20 KB RAM. In no way extreme specifications in PC measurements, but sufficient for running the entire Arduino platform.
The most interesting property is the CC3000 WiFi module from Texas Instruments that is found on the same chip. The idea is that Spark Core can be integrated into all kinds of devices and inventions as an easily programmable WiFi module and at Kickstarter there are a couple of examples of wireless motion sensors, surveillance cameras and radio controlled cars.
”We love Arduino, and we love writing Arduino code. In fact, we love it so much that we couldn’t imagine the Spark Core without it. That’s why we’ve designed the Core to run Wiring, the same simple code as the entire Arduino platform. If you’re like us, the last thing you want to do is learn a new programming language or change your existing sketches.”
The idea is that Spark Core will also be easy to program for, and can be configured entirely over the wireless network. You can send code from the computer or even your smartphone, and the maker Spark Devices will offer a web interface for developers. It can also be remotely programmed over the Internet through the free service Spark Cloud, and it will be easy to let the unit download data from the Internet for use in the programming. Spark Core uses its own REST-API so that developers can easily write their smartphone apps around the device.
Like Arduino, Spark Core can use so called Shields, larger or smaller expansion modules that adds more interfaces, batteries or other similar properties. There is also a Shield that acts as an adapter and enables support for all existing Arduino Shields.
Spark Core runs on 3.3 V, consuming between 50 to 300 mA. This can be translated to maximal energy consumption at 0.99 W at data transfers, and the unit can be powered by the bundled micro-USB cable, that can also be used for configuration.
The unit runs open source code for all components, services and features, and at the moment Spark Core has collected over 400,000 dollar. Those who want to contribute to the project and secure a unit today already you can head over to the Kickstarter site here.