I’ve been a bit lax with the blog updating. In Part 1 of this post I promised Part 2 “soon” and here it is, eight weeks later. Oops.

This two-post series, aimed at embedded device beginners, explains some differences between Arduino and Raspberry Pi. In this second part we’re going to focus on one particular issue – “real-time” constraints. We’ll also quickly look over some of the alternative devices available.

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Decisions, Decisions…

“If I can buy a Raspberry Pi so cheaply, why would I ever use an Arduino for an electronics project?”

I often hear this from people who are new to embedded programming and electronics. This post is the first of two, aimed at beginners in the embedded world. We’ll go over some of the differences between a typical Arduino and a Raspberry Pi, and the reasons you might want to use one or the other for a project.

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This post is about last month’s Shenzhen Maker Faire. It follows on from Shenzhen Trip Part 1.

Maker Faire

Shenzhen was my first Maker Faire that wasn’t “Mini”. Mini Maker Faires are organised externally to Make Magazine but under license, and there have been two of those in Australia – Melbourne in 2012 and Sydney in 2013. Both were great fun, but I was looking forward to attending a “Big” Maker Faire.

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Earlier this month I was lucky enough to head over to Shenzhen, China, for Dangerous Prototypes’ Hacker Camp and Maker Faire Shenzhen. I flew over with Jon Oxer (from Freetronics), and Mitch Davis (from Hackvana) was on our flight as well. Good Melbourne contingent!

Ian from Dangerous Prototypes has put a great series of day-to-day blog posts up on the Hacker Camp mini-site explaining the full program, so I won’t bore you by repeating them. Needless to say he and Jin, and the other organisers, did an insanely great job of showing us all the things they love about living in Shenzhen. I want to highlight just a few things from the trip that stood out for me.

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I’ve been messing around with Bluetooth Low Energy on a few projects lately. There’s some fun stuff out there, but like a lot of embedded stuff it can be a bit tricky in a non-Windows environment (I run Linux whenever I can.)

The BL-600SA

One module I’ve come across is the Laird Technologies BL-600 Series. The BL-600SA is a complete, FCC module certified, Bluetooth Low Energy systems-on-a-chip. It costs $13US in single quantity at Digikey.

BL600-SA Modules

Inside the metal can the BL-600SA is actually a Nordic nRF51822 Cortex M0 microcontroller with built in Bluetooth Low Energy, bundled with its supporting components and a chip antenna.

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