Gunnar Forsgren

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Kista, Stockholm, Sweden

Former Ericsson / Sony Ericsson development engineer.
30 years of engineering experience in telecom and mobile.
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November 17, 2010

SparkFun - tools for an innovative spirit

Mobimation has signed a reseller agreement with SparkFun Electronics for the swedish market. SparkFun is a U.S company in Colorado who sell all sorts of electronic project infrastructure components. In fact merely browsing their catalog brings about a sense of Fun for any hardware inclined developer ! You just want to jump in and begin developing. The conveyed sense of innovation spirit is tremendous.

I´ll highlight a few nice items they stock. Mobimation have an interest in Wifi conectivity and always look out for small compact hardware to underpin our ideas. One approach to development is to begin with prototyping using components readily available that cater for the access to the type of IO and sensor access needed. This can be sufficient for coming up with a working and demonstrate-able prototype. Once you see this is going to be a volume product you could develop your own board using maybe the exact same hw sourced as components. That is in itself a complex undertaking part of an industrialization process but may be necessary for margins and not least production quality and assembly costs.
I think Arduino is serious stuff for prototyping many solutions. These little processor chips by Atmel Corporation and the Arduino dev environment is so easy to use and interface to that many relatively low performance requirement product can easily be based on this. For industrialisation there are many chip alternatives to consider. I don´t see open source licensing considerations a hurdle either. In some cases it might be feasible to protoype with Arduino and base the resulting code on totally platform agnostic code.

In the meantime let´s look at what stuff is available to config your prototype rig.

I love Wifi enabling stuff for flexible connectivity. Wifi chips are still costly but for prototyping SparkFun carry the Roving Networks RN-131C wireless module (known as the "WiFly") based Arduino shield that you stack onto a regular Arduino board. At USD 89.95 single Qty it Wifi-enables the Arduino. You need to yourself solder header pin strips to it.
Such a module could then find its way into your final design as an SMD component:

From SparkFun 100+ quantity of this SMD mount module is down at $39.96

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