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CoAction Hero: a powerful proto-board with a 120Mhz processor, 1MB filesystem, and built-in OS for tinkerers and engineers alike.
CoAction Hero: a powerful proto-board with a 120Mhz processor, 1MB filesystem, and built-in OS for tinkerers and engineers alike.
CoAction Hero: a powerful proto-board with a 120Mhz processor, 1MB filesystem, and built-in OS for tinkerers and engineers alike.
217 backers pledged $12,110 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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CoAction Hero: 32-bit Open-Source ARM Cortex-M3 Board

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CoAction Hero:  Feature-Rich, Easy-to-Use, Open Source

CoAction Hero is an ARM Cortex-M3 microcontroller board with a built-in operating system (CoActionOS) delivering unprecedented power and ease-of-use to your electronics projects. It includes many of the features you find on Raspberry Pi but with the ease-of-use associated with Arduino.

Seamless OS Experience

Don’t let the OS scare you! The OS is pre-installed allowing you to create and install your applications without ever having to configure, modify, or install the OS. If you’ve never used an OS on a project like this, don’t worry. Creating applications is much like writing simple C/C++ programs on a normal computer. Even with minimal knowledge of programming, you will be creating amazing projects in no time.

In addition to the information here, you can find the software documentation, source code download, bug reporting, and tutorials on the CoActionOS website.

Kickstarter Objective

The funds raised from this Kickstarter project will allow us to build the first production run of the CoAction Hero.

CoActionOS Ecosystem

CoActionOS is a complete hardware/firmware/software toolkit designed to deliver a powerful, easy-to-use development platform for both Windows and Mac OSX (iOS and Android coming soon).  The hardware includes the CoAction Hero microcontroller board as well as stackable bluetooth and LCD device boards.  The firmware is an embedded real-time operating system (RTOS) with easy-to-use hardware abstraction libraries.  The software includes CoActionOS Link as well as an SDK with sample applications to enable you to easily create your own desktop applications that communicate with your embedded project over a fast virtual serial port USB connection.

Hardware

The CoAction Hero features a powerful ARM Cortex-M3 processor (NXP's LPC1759) running at up to 120MHz, a 1MB serial flash chip (which is used as a filesystem in CoActionOS), an expansion port, and micro USB connector.

CoAction Hero Pin Connections
CoAction Hero Pin Connections

The stackable device boards connect to the expansion port to provide additional functionality.  Two device boards (bluetooth and LCD) are launching as part of this Kickstarter campaign alongside the CoAction Hero with more coming soon.

LCD Device Board
LCD Device Board
Bluetooth Device
Bluetooth Device
CoAction Hero with stacked Bluetooth and LCD Boards
CoAction Hero with stacked Bluetooth and LCD Boards
CoAction Hero Expansion Pins
CoAction Hero Expansion Pins

Firmware

RTOS

CoActionOS is an embedded real-time operating system (RTOS) that fully integrates with the CoAction Hero microcontroller board.  The firmware uses the USB micro-connector to provide a driver-free virtual serial port for both Windows and Mac.  It also includes an easy-to-use filesystem utilizing the 1MB flash chip.

Easy Hardware Access

We provide a C/C++ library that makes using hardware peripherals (GPIO, ADC, SPI, UART, etc) and multi-tasking as simple as can be.  No need to read about registers in the datasheet.  Everything is taken care of by CoActionOS.

Multi-tasking

When it comes to multi-tasking, CoActionOS is no ordinary RTOS.  Applications are compiled and installed separately from the OS.  Each application runs as a memory-protected pseudo-process capable of running multiple threads much like on the Raspberry Pi.  This is accomplished not with an MMU but by taking advantage of the advanced hardware features of the ARM Cortex-M3 architecture.  This unique feature makes using a microcontroller RTOS seamless.  In fact, the "Hello World" program is exactly the same as a desktop application.

Hello World Program
Hello World Program
Hello World Output in CoActionOS Link Terminal
Hello World Output in CoActionOS Link Terminal

Software

Firmware Development Kit

We provide a free compiler (GCC) with CoActionOS.  We distribute ready-to-use binary packages for Windows and Mac OS X.  We recommend and provide support for compiling programs using Eclipse.  However, you can use any build system or development environment that you like.

User Interface

CoActionOS not only integrates with the hardware, but it also connects seamlessly to a desktop computer (Mac and Windows fully supported, mobile support coming soon).  Our user interface software (CoActionOS-Link) allows you to browse the embedded filesystem, send/receive text in a terminal, install programs, re-flash the kernel, and monitor running processes.

CoActionOS Link (Mac OSX)
CoActionOS Link (Mac OSX)

Create-Your-Own SDK

Our Qt based SDK allows you to build your own interface.  The SDK features easy-to-use Qt form classes to connect to CoActionOS, browse the filesystem, and access hardware (stdio, UART, SPI, ADC, etc).  The SDK incorporates Qt stylesheets to create an elegant, cross platform look-and-feel inspired by Twitter Bootstrap and integrated with Font Awesome More.

CoActionOS Link (Windows 7)
CoActionOS Link (Windows 7)

Support for iOS and Android Coming Soon!

The SDK is currently based on Qt 4.8.  It will be ported over to Qt 5.x, once Qt adds support for iOS and Android (which is planned for later this year).

Example Projects

1.8" LCD

Here the CoAction Hero loaded a bitmap (BMP) from the built-in filesystem and displayed it on a 1.8" color LCD.

CoAction Hero driving a 1.8" Color LCD using SPI
CoAction Hero driving a 1.8" Color LCD using SPI

DC Motor Control with PWM and PID

The following video shows the CoAction Hero controlling the speed of a DC motor.  The POT sets the speed using an ADC pin and the motor is controlled using a PID loop with PWM output (read more here).

In-Circuit Serial Programmer

CoActionOS ISP is an in-circuit serial programming application that allows you to program other NXP LPC microcontrollers using the CoAction Hero.  This includes using a second CoAction Hero to re-flash the CoActionOS bootloader or load a custom flash image.

CoActionOS ISP Circuit Setup (6 pin connection)
CoActionOS ISP Circuit Setup (6 pin connection)

High Performance LED Strip

This video shows the CoAction Hero driving a SPI based LED strip.  More information on this example is available here.

Production Plan

Once funding is successful, we will produce the first articles with our manufacturing partner in Asia.  We do not anticipate making any changes to the current prototype so there shouldn't be any surprises with the first article.  Once the campaign ends, full production will begin.  It will take approximately 6 weeks to receive the boards.  We will pre-install CoActionOS on each board and run a production test to ensure all components are correctly assembled and working.  From there, the boards will ship to you at the beginning of July!

Risks and challenges

There are some risks in this project, but we feel they are manageable. We have already done a small run of boards, and they work great. If demand is really high, we might encounter sourcing issues which can delay delivery. We will keep you posted on any developments.

The other challenge is software based. The software currently works great. However, as the software gets deployed to more and more people, little bugs will surface. We included the Beta tester reward in hopes that most issues will be fixed by the time the full production order is complete.

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    Beta Tester: one CoAction Hero at the regular delivery date plus a limited-edition prototype board that will ship as soon as funding is successful

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    Redmine special: CoAction Hero, USB cable, plus a one year subscription to the developer portal where you can manage your own embedded projects

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    Ultimate starter kit: CoAction Hero, USB cable, bluetooth device board and LCD device board

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Funding period

- (30 days)