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Minion is a small, low cost dev board with a wireless radio, ready for the Arduino environment with no need for your own Arduino board.
215 backers pledged $14,827 to help bring this project to life.

About

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$14,827

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THE BATTERY SHIELD IS NOW AVAILABLE as an add on. Add $7 to your order for each shield you want. (See more details at the bottom of the page)

If you want more than 4 minions add $20 for each addition minion you want.

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When it comes to Arduino based Dev boards there are 100's of options. Some are super tiny, but only have 4 ports to address. Some have tons of ports but the size is unrealistic for real life application. Then there is the matter of a radio, radios are not included in your run of the mill dev board, heck they're not even thought of. If you want to integrate a radio into your Aurdino system you have to go buy one and most of the time they cost the same or more than the dev board it's self.... It's frustrating. But it doesn't have to be....

Presenting the Minion!

Minion is a tiny little board of wonder. This little guy comes fully equipped with: 

  • Micro USB Port- for programming ease
  • 6 Analog Lines, and 14 Digital +3 extra lines that can be used as digital lines
  • ATmega32u4 Atmel Chip- The same one the Leonardo uses (that's the new one!) This allows us to have built in USB support. With that you can make minion appear to your computer as a keyboard, mouse or a joystick.
  • 3.3V Power Regulator- You can power the minion from either your USB port or any voltage supply up to 16v. It is also made for lower power applications. The power regulator takes 2 microAmps when active.
  • USB Powered or External- In order to allow the Minion to operate from either the USB or external power we added a power switching system. When you plug it into the computer minion will automatically switch its power to the USB's power supply. This helps prevent voltage problems between power sources. When there is no USB power it will pull from the external power.
  • 915 MHz Radio from HopeRF- The RFM12B. There is an extensive library for Arduino for this radio that makes getting up and going a snap. (Now also available in different frequencies 915MHz and 433MHz)
  • Compact: small, we mean really small, like 1.125" X 1.5625" small! For comparison the Arduino Leonardo's dimensions are 2.95" x 2.08". That's more than 3 times larger than the minion.

With this board, you can make any project wireless ready. You could make a homemade weather station or talk to your robot girlfriend in the basement! You could even activate the bat signal from the comfort of your own computer. The sky's the limit with Minion. With the low cost and easy integration, there is no option as logical as the Minion. 

How Minion Compares To The Market

Currently we have working prototypes as seen here:

PCB layout:

Assembled Boards:

We have also started putting together some projects using the Minions. Here is a video where we are controlling a RC car with our computer and 2 Minions. For more detailed information see our website for code, examples and projects.

UPDATE 1: The Minions is in 2 different frequencies!

Minions are now available in 433MHz and 915MHz.

433MHz and 915MHz can be used in the Americas.
433MHz can be used in Europe
433MHz and 915MHz can be used in Australia. 


***If your country isn't included above search for the ISM bands available in your country.***

When we send out the survey at the end of the kickstarter we will ask what bands you prefer.

STRETCH GOALS

STRETCH #1 GOAL REACHED!:

To celebrate we are releasing the Battery Shield and is available as an add on.

The Battery Shield has a 3 AAA battery holder mounted to the underside of a custom PCB. The Minion board plugs into the shield and is powered from the batteries. The Shield also has breakouts for all of Minion's pin to make wiring up projects easy. It also has a power switch to make it easier to store without removing the batteries. And last of all it has the ISP programming port. This allows someone to use an ISP programmer to program the Minion. This would be helpful if you want to put a custom bootloader into the Minion or if you want to program with AVR Studio or some other tool then the Arduino Environment

The Battery Shield is the size of the holder. Just larger than 3 AAA batteries. We went with AAA's because it was the best combination of size and capacity. Also AAA's are widely available.

The Battery Shield is a great addition helping to make your Minion mobile, add $7 to your order for each shield you want.

Risks and challenges

We have spent a great deal of time refining the design, the components used, and the schematics. We've tested time and time again. One of our biggest challenges are volume, we have manufacturers lined up but with out a high order volume we won't be able to get the cost low enough to be affordable. To combat this we set our funding goal at a level that required us to get the order volume we needed to send it to our manufacturers. Our PCB designs are quoted, our components are in stock, we have everything lined up and ready for production. We just need you.

Another challenge we face is gaining attention to this project. We are excited about the prospects of this board. It is a low cost way to get communications between projects and something the hobbyist community needs. But without the support of the hobbyist community it won't make it to the light of day. To overcome this we have started a site called MinionCity.com, there we will post projects ideas, specific code, downloads, specs and anything else the community asks for. We want to continue to maintain this site after the project has been funded.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $6 or more About $6

    MINION SKELETON:

    If you want to make one of these with your own twist you can order the PCB and Bill of Materials listing recommended parts. Or you can just make a nifty key chain.

    1 Bare PCB Board

    *Add $10 for International Shipping

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    5 backers
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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    LONE WARRIOR:

    Don't be fooled by it's size, this single bandit is a deadly device for the Arduino environment.

    PLEASE NOTE: This Minion will not be able to communicate with any devices that do not contain the RFM12(B).

    1 Minion ready to program on delivery

    *Add $10 dollars for International Shipping

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  3. Reward no longer available

    Pledge $37 or more About $37

    FIRST 10 Get 5$ OFF!!!!

    MINION COMPANIONS:

    These deadly com-padres can talk together all night working in your behalf. With these boys on your side your sure to accomplish your goals.

    2 Minions ready to program on delivery

    *Add $10 for International Shipping

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    Reward no longer available 10 backers
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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $42 or more About $42

    MINION COMPANIONS:

    These deadly com-padres can talk together all night working in your behalf. With these boys on your side your sure to accomplish your goals.

    2 Minions ready to program on delivery

    *Add $10 for International Shipping

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    102 backers
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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $80 or more About $80

    MINION WAR PARTY:

    Using this band of rugged brothers, you can practically take over the world. With these guys nothing will stand in your way!

    4 Minions ready to program on delivery

    *Add $10 for International Shipping

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    89 backers
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Funding period

- (31 days)