Funded! This project was successfully funded on January 11, 2012.

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BoardX is a collection of electronic circuit boards that stack on top of one another to share resources and communicate


BoardX is a collection of electronic circuit boards that stack on top of one another to share resources, communicate, and extend the functionality of one another. This system is built on the motherboard that acts as both an electrical and structural foundation.

Unlike similar products (but much like a familiar PC system), the motherboard does not come with a processor pre-installed. Processors come as simple, low cost add-on boards, which allows any processor - or multiple processors - to be used with the system.

Don't forget to check the FAQs at the bottom if you're looking for info! 

Glamour shots:

Unique Features

  • Processor-independent hardware – the hardware is compatible with any processor, and even multiple processors (since they come as add-ons)
  • Program wirelessly using the XBee Radio Add-on
  • Choice of full size add-ons, or cheaper, miniature add-ons
  • Multiple, independent add-on sockets to reduce vertical growth to 1/3 that of Arduino
  • BoardX automatically routes Power, USB, SPI, UART, I2C and GPIO to the other add-ons so you don't have to wire anything by hand
  • A Breadboard is included on the motherboard for quick prototyping
  • High current allowance permits direct powering of motors, servos and other power hungry applications
  • An upgradable power supply feature allows the use of any conceivable power source and regulation method. It also plugs in, just like a normal add-on.
  • A unique shape and color, which resembles its name - BoardXThe rounded edges and isolated mounting holes make handling BoardX more comfortable and easier to install in robot chassis. 

Compatibility Features

  • BoardX works transparently with Arduino SDK! That means it works out of the box - if you plug in an AVR-X Add-on, it can be programmed over USB using Arduino's programming language and development software.
  • PIC, ARM, AVR, it doesn't matter - although we only have an AVR processor built at the moment, ARM boards are in development and you can always develop your own processor add-on using our free templates.

Check out how easy it is to use with Arduino:


How I Started

Let me take you back to a time when I was just an undergraduate engineering student, trying to make ends meet as the captain of one of Virginia Tech's lesser-known student design teams.

Working late into the night on robots at the competition:


My team and I were designing a solar-powered robot that would use a compass and accelerometer to navigate its environment. We didn't have much design experience back then, but we needed an easy way to combine several different circuit boards into one for our robot. We also needed to make sure that we could swap them out in case one was destroyed or burnt out, which was known to happen from time to time. 

Rather than design our own circuit board with all the parts permanently attached, I designed a very small motherboard for all the various third party sensors to plug in to. This was a huge hit with the team and also a time saver, since we could now build our system piece by piece and choose which parts we wanted to design and which we would buy.

Pictured below, an early prototype:


Expanding on that idea, I added a breadboard, standardized the size of the ports, and stylized the design so it would look as good as the rest of my projects. After researching existing products like Arduino or Beagle, I made it a point to fix certain weaknesses that I felt were holding those platforms back such as weak current allowances, fixed processors, and large add-ons. 

Why I Need Funding

I need funding because I want to price these boards as low as I can so that everybody can afford one. Unfortunately, it just isn't possible unless I buy a lot of these boards and have them assembled in a factory. I've assembled countless prototypes by hand but I'd rather spend my time designing new products than assembling things by hand.

All of the primary design work is complete, and the boards have already been tested. Now it's time to order them in bulk and get them in the hands of students, hobbyists and engineers around the world - and for me to get back to designing the next set of add-ons. 

For the moment, I assemble them by hand, which begins when I receive a panel of boards like this:

Assembly and testing takes hours and drives cost up! I want to have them mass produced so I can get back to designing more add-ons.

Help me get back to doing what I do best, designing add-ons like this motor controller (seen in green being developed on a PROTO-X):

Reward Explanation

Rewards are made up of various items that I am or will be selling, as well as some collector's items. 

Pictured below are BoardX Add-on PCBs [the BETA reward package], clockwise from the top left: AVR-X, PROTO-X, FRAM-X, ADC-X, and XBee-X

AVR-X Add-on (the Arduino compatible processor!):

XBee-X Radio Add-on (A serial mesh networking radio! Works with PRO too):

ADC-X Add-on (an 8-channel analog to digital converter on I2C):

 
FRAM-X Add-on (512 bytes of non-volatile RAM on I2C, extreme low power):

PROTO-X Add-on:

A shot of the underside of BoardX Motherboard:

FAQ

  • Yes it did. I set my sights high and got a lot of great feedback, but ultimately fell short of a goal to raise 20K. So I've taken that in to account and seriously upgraded the rewards, and also chosen to take a more gradual, less grandiose approach to growing my company. We can't all be facebook.

    Last updated:
  • Nope! I use the US Post Office for all the time to ship these babies out and haven't had a problem yet. The only issue you may have is that you are responsible for any import fees or tariffs that your country may have levied against the US.

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  • Yes! Arduino SDK can't tell the difference between our system (a BoardX Motherboard + AVR-X Add-on) and a normal Arduino Duemilanove

    Last updated:
  • The documentation is available on the new website, http://www.upgradeindustries.com/. Some of it is preliminary, but I'm working on that.

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  • Probably not at first without substantial hacking (which can be a good thing). I guess I should make it clear that I didn't set out to create another Arduino. Their shields are designed to be used with a single, specific family of processors which runs counter to my design methodology. I wanted users to be able to create very small, very cheap add-ons that don't take up lots of space and it just wouldn't happen with an Arduino sized shield layout.

    Additionally, the size of an Ardunio shield makes it incompatible with the layout of BoardX. They just wouldn't fit. That doesn't mean somebody couldn't make an adapter board if there's an arduino shield that somebody simply must have, but it's not in the works on my end.

    I liked Arduino's software so it's compatible with that, but that's where the similarities end and I tried to set BoardX apart.

    Last updated:
  • The previous Kickstarter did, as well as my website.

    Here's some of those links for you:

    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/upgradeindustries

    GizMag:
    "...Something of a prospective big stepbrother to Arduino, BoardX is a new DIY electronics kit dreamt up by robotics enthusiast turned entrepreneur, Kevin Green. Like Arduino, BoardX is a customizable and expandable motherboard that forms a base, schematically and structurally, to whatever electronics wizardry the end user has in mind. What separates BoardX from Arduino is its larger physical size, greater current-carrying capacity, and the fact that the board does not come with an integrated processor. Users must select their own..."

    Read more: http://www.gizmag.com/boardx-diy-electronics-kit/20613/

    PCWorld:
    "...BoardX is essentially a microcontroller motherboard, very similar to the motherboard inside your computer. Unlike Arduino and some other microcontrollers, the processor isn’t soldered onto the motherboard with BoardX. Rather, it’s soldered to a second board that stacks right on top of the BoardX motherboard. This allows you to easily swap it for a different one, or even add a second processor right on top..."

    Read More: http://www.pcworld.com/article/244636/boardx_stacks_the_deck_against_arduino.html

    NYC Resistor:
    "...It’s essentially like an Arduino, but instead of just having rows of headers that you can plug anything into, it’s designed to accept any of a bunch of pluggable sensors and parts. It has a breadboard built in, and it dresses like a New Yorker (that is, all in black), so it looks pretty rad..."

    Read more: http://www.nycresistor.com/2011/10/31/boardx-a-new-pluggable-arduino-compatible-board/#more-4522

    Last updated:
  • 1. XBee-X Radio (complete)
    2. PIC18 MCU (in progress)
    3. ARM MCU (in discussions with 3rd parties to develop)
    4. Renesas MCU (in discussions)
    5. 2-Channel PWM Motor Controller (in progress)
    6. MicroSD Card Reader (in progress)

    Last updated:
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    [OMEGA] You get rush delivery before anybody else of the following items, shipped first priority: 2 x [SIGMA Reward Package] + A Genuine BoardX Motherboard PCB Coffee Coaster + Your name listed on our website as a supporter + a personal thank you note!

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