Communication between a project and another device is simple. Simply plug your Arduino into your computer, and there you go. If you want to connect wirelessly, however, you either have to get yourself a WiFi or Bluetooth shield, find a board with them already on, or make your own from scratch. The problem with existing solutions is the size; they are usually quite large, and not as useful for small, permanent embedded projects.
Oak, by Digistump (the same team that brought you DigiX), is a tiny Arduino compatible development board, with a built in WiFi module. This little board would be perfect for those ‘set-and-forget’ projects like weather monitors, or home automation. Similar to a Arduino Pro Mini, you get a tiny board, without any pins or sockets soldered on, allowing you to use the board however you want.
The Oak uses a 32-bit microcontroller for the brain, which runs at 80Mhz, and can be overclocked to 160Mhz. This is lightning fast compared to the standard 8-bit ATMega chips used in most development boards. It includes a WiFi module (802.11b/g/n), and features all the usual communication lines, like SPI, I2C and UART.
There are 11 digital pins (with up to 6 of them being used as PWM), but only 1 analog input. You can, however, get around the input limitations by multiplexing. The Oak also features a sleep mode, allowing low power use, and has the ability to measure the voltage of the connected power source, so you can monitor the battery level and notify if it’s getting low.
As the Oak is Arduino compatible, you can program it with the standard Arduino IDE. Uploading sketches is done over the WiFi, and not via the USB cable (which is for power only). This allows you to update your project in situ, wiothout having to plug it into a computer to upload.
Digistump have an amazing set of tools for their products. The Oak comes with RootCloud, which is a free REST API cloud platform. With RootCloud, you can communicate between all your projects, with all manner of hooks, functions, and display a web based dashboard, that can show graphs, maps, indicators and more. This allows real-time monitoring of your project’s sensors in your own dashboard. RootCloud also comes with iOS and Android apps so you can turn pins off and on directly from your phone. None of RootCloud is compulsory; you can always create your own, or download the open source copy and run it wherever you want.
Oak looks to be an amazing little board, for those who want a remote project that can monitor sensors etc. You could have one in each room of your house, with multiple sensors, connected to all sorts of relays and devices, and create your own smart home!
Digistump have set up a campaign on Kickstarter for the Oak, and have already smashed their target. You can grab your own Oak for $13, and estimated delivery date is September 2015. Why not pledge $95 and get 10 boards? That’s cheap by anyone’s reckoning.