If you're reading this then you probably know what Arduino is. Cool right? Better than cool, it's uniquely able to fulfill almost any gadget-fan's fantasy for very little money and a little bit of coding, all supported by the biggest tech community on the web. But wait, there is a little fly in the geeky ointment isn't there? Should it look like the laptop your friend dropped on the sidewalk last week? And it's just not very easy to use your handheld particle beam analyser when it's spread across your whole work bench. Not to mention your non-geek friends just don't get it unless it comes in a shiny plastic case, right?
So, what do we need? We need all the amazingness of an Arduino (and then some) plus a 4.3" touch screen and all packaged in a nice handheld or wall mounted plastic enclosure straight from an Italian design studio. No one else was doing it so we decided to use our product development experience to bring this 'next step' to life.
We've taken the essence of an Arduino Mega 2560, complete with standard expansion connectors, then added a beautiful 4.3" LCD display with resistive touchscreen, the awesome FT800 display controller (makes creating UI and games a cinch), a Micro SD card socket (for images, game resources, audio files, etc), a speaker, a 3-axis accelerometer, a LiPo battery charger, battery, indicator led's, IR emitter (remote control something?) and IR receiver (something to be controlled?). And last, but by no means least, an XBee socket (Zigbee, IEEE 802.15.4, WiFi, Bluetooth, Cellular).
Then we crammed it into this lovely enclosure which comes in two types: 19mm thick handheld (fits Omnuino, LiPo and XBee module) or 28mm thick wall or panel mount version which can fit all that plus one Arduino shields (most standard shields, some may need modifying), or more than one if you extend into the wall or behind the panel.
(Both the wall/panel-mount version and the handheld version are available in shiny black or shiny white).
Arduino / Omnuino Compared
What can I do with it?
What? You really need help coming up with cool ideas for this puppy? Okay, here's a few things WE want to do with it:
Wall or Panel Mounted Version Examples
Smart Home controller
3D printer interface
Digital picture frame
HiFi front panel
Robot face with animated eyes and voice?
Handheld Version Examples
Desktop Twitter / Facebook monitor.
Radio control model controller
Auto performance display
Portable ECG / heart rate monitor.
Risks and challenges
What could go wrong?! Well nothing much technically. The design is done, it's real and it works. But production can have some challenges. Electronic components are like commodities and can go through huge price and availability changes. The plastic case comes from Italy and we have to setup some tooling to make some modifications to it. We are old hands at PCB manufacture and assembly. The only real risks associated with these things are time delays. We've been pretty cautious with our delivery timescales so hopefully, even if we hit a snag or two, we'll still hit the deadlines.
Yes... and no. Xbee's that have an SMA socket on them are a lot taller which would have meant the Omnuino case would have been at least 50% thicker. We wanted to avoid that so the SMA type Xbee won't work.
However, if you use an Xbee with an u.fl connector you can still use a pigtail SMA connector. That also means you can choose what surface to bring the antenna out onto.
The second problem is that the top of the Omnuino case slips down over the bottom which would mean you'd have to drill a hole in the bottom half of the case for the SMA/Antenna and then cut a slot in the top shell so it can slide over the SMA. But that should work.
That's something we'd very much like to do: a sort of GUI toolkit. Problem is that we may not have the time or cash to do it, but I'd really like to. Two possible outcomes: if Omnuino exceeds its goals then we may be able to come up with a stretch goal that covers the cost of creating that toolkit. If not then don't despair. Arduino users already have the Gamduino2 library which builds upon the FTDI FT800 (the graphics processor) API. Quite a lot of 'widgets' (buttons, dials, sliders, etc) are already available that are super easy to code. We will create some hints and tips on how to use those two libraries to take you some way along that road.
BTW, google FT800 and/or Gameduino2 and you'll find some videos that show what's possible.
One of the first Omnuino's.
OK, now we're talking! You get one of the very first Omnuino's, and all the stuff in reward #2. You will be able to select the type (wall-mount or handheld) and color (black or white) after the campaign closes.
TWO of the first Omnuino's.
You get two of the very first Omnuino's, and all the stuff in reward #2. After the campaign closes you'll be able to choose one handheld, one wall-mount, or two of one type and either in either colour! (thanks to E.W.H for this idea:)
One of the first 100 Omnuino's.
Everything from Reward #2 PLUS your Omnuino will be one of the first 100 and will have it's production number (n/100) laser etched on the case and PCB. This might be history in the making!
Everything from Reward #4, but a totally unique Omnuino - number ONE! The very first production Omnuino off the line. There can never be another one. 1/n laser etched on the case and PCB (n will be whatever the batch size is).