Sunday, August 18, 2013

Impressions: Electric Imp

I finally bought myself an Electric Imp with an arduino shield. It has its own Wi-Fi and Cortex M3 processor, with different I/O pins and even a cloud processing and development area.

Using the Electric Imp for the first time has been really interesting especially since the cloud processing and development uses a Squirrel type programming language. This creates a very simple to use but also different type of embedded system compared to normal. The Electric Imp actually uses an android application with a series of quick blinks to send the wireless network data to it through a sensor. After that though all the programming is done on the cloud and every time you run the cloud programming it downloads it onto your device through the wireless network you connected up to.

It's an interesting concept bringing to mind many different advantages such as being easier to program from great distances just by using the internet and also being able to utilise online websites and information. Unfortunately there are disadvantages such as all the code produced is placed on the Electric Imp system in the cloud which may make programming work difficult for a business point of view since it's on a different companies system. Currently it also must be connected to the internet at all times or else it won't function appropriately. Below is a picture of the Electric Imp Shield by Sparkfun. The second Picture shows the shield connected to the Electric Imp which is the SD Card looking device, it's also attached to my Arduino Due.

Side View of Electric Imp Shield
Soldering the headers myself was very easy and made quite a good connection between the Arduino Due and the Electric Imp shield. There is no problems with connectivity and voltages work perfectly fine. Interestingly though the Arduino Due is not actually needed since the Electric Imp has its own processor although it's a lot easier so that it can be powered by the USB connection of the Arduino.

Electric Imp with Arduino Due and Shield
All up this is a really nifty device which opens up a lot more projects especially internet based ones. It also allows for a very effective and sort of cheap way to make the Arduino online accessible while also having the added advantage of many extra features though the cloud processing. Personally I can't wait to try this out and coming up with some projects of my own.

Electric Imp Website: http://electricimp.com/
Electric Imp Wiki: http://devwiki.electricimp.com/doku.php
Spark Fun Shield: https://www.sparkfun.com/products/11401 

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