OpenPicus WIFI development board giveaway

OpenPicus gave us a Nest starter kit WIFI development platform to give away.  Leave a comment on this post with a project idea, and it could be yours on Thursday.

OpenPicus is working on open source wireless hardware and a free application development platform. The current WIFI hardware has a PIC 24FJ256GA106 microcontroller, and an MRF24WB0MA module provides the wireless.

An Arduino-like IDE has libraries and frameworks to simplify wireless development. If you have the grit to develop a wireless app without a proper debugging tool, then the firmware can be updated over USB via a bootloader in the PIC.

They sent a press release through the contact form. We asked for a sample, and got one. It sat in the lab waiting for a review that never happened. Now it’s time to give it away.

If you want to buy an OpenPicus, check out their crazy number of distributors.

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94 Comments

  1. I can use this for the hackerspace access system that we are designing. I initially thought doing this with Web Platform but we have to lay a looong cable for it. We want to open the door of our hackerspace with RFID but we want to be able to edit the list of cards without connecting a programming cable to the board. So this board is connected to RFID reader, and through wifi it is connected to the hackerspace lan. Whenever someone swipes their card for access, a log file is edited on a separate PC, door is unlocked. Whenever we want to add/remove a member from the access list, we connect to the system through a GUI, edits some parameters through it and saves the list.

  2. My project idea is way simple: for old hardware equipemnt that still depend on floppy disk drives, create an emulator that would replace the old cumbersome disks and replace them with a wireless connection.
    Bringing industry from the 80’s into the XXI century with modern tools without having to spend millions on new equipment!

    I’m already working on a device that I described, but is amazing how the wrong tools can make the work a pain and take all the pleasure from it. This, however, is perfect: 5V tolerant pins, fast processor, SPI hardware, not to mention the use of WIFI for wireless that is faster and more flexible than zigbee!!

    Damn! This hardware is really perfect for my needs! Can’t wait until Thursday.

  3. I would build remote controlled movable model rocket launching platform with beacons, alarm and so :)

  4. Got a few renewable energy projects in works. I would love a chance to wirelessly track their power outputs over the course of a day/week/month/forever.

  5. I’ve been wanting to build a sensor network at home for weather logging.

    Also, I’ve been working on a camera rig for time-lapse photography. It’d be nice to use the OpenPicus for that project so I can control the rig over wifi from an iPhone or iPad.

  6. Been thinking of a home medicine dispenser with remote monitoing capability, for like elderly people alone at home, their relatives can monitor whether they had the meds on time or not. This board is perfect balance of network and pin io control for this project. Probably add an accelerometer card to interface with it.

  7. Mmmm yes please, as was mentioned above, I see some home automation opportunities here.

  8. I’m building a custom alarm system for my car. I want to include wifi to allow various monitoring and control from my android phone and pc, when in range. I’m also looking into including tracking/locating using gps and wifi, similarly to how android devices do, for use in case of theft.

  9. Well.. I really need one for my remote surveillance robot project! consider giving it to me ! :) and yeah my robot is a dangerous prototype !

  10. I’d probably have to tie in a Redbee Econotag or Xbee in there for a Zigbee Bridge.

    I’d envision either a mobile robotics platform with WebOS/Smart Phone control via the FlyPort’s AJAX-capable webserver and accelerometer data from the smart phone..

    Or even a remote security camera that pans and tilts when the smartphone is moved and tilted.

  11. This can become a very nice interface for a large zigbee-enabled sensor and actuator network.
    Plug it to a router or coordinator and see magic happen.
    Want to see the current status of whatever you are monitoring? Connect through wifi with your smartphone! Want to change the behaviour of that whatever? Tap the screen! Plain easy.
    Also can be programmed to act a as a gateway to give Internet access to the zigbee network and make your sensors and actuators more intelligent, react to real life events, log measures to your servers or to services like Pachube, send e-mail alarms, etc.
    Or an interface and gateway at the same time!
    Just like the Connectport family.

  12. I’m working on a quadrotor, and this would be a neat addition. I’ve been building this thing on a shoestring budget (being a poor engineering student and all), and this would really open up a lot of cool avenues.

  13. My ideea of a project is a remote automated home, and the posibilty to control diferent aspect from a remote location, like temperature, intensity, electric blinds, garage dor, and with a android phone and some app the posibilty to control the house, and even the posibilty to monitor diferent aspect of a house with diferent sensors.

    1. my ideea continues with the posibilty to remote control the whole house remote using some android app, and open/close the garage dor when the car is in close location to the house, using the GPS position.
      and start/stop sprinkler when the ground is dry, and all of that with a array of sensors contected to the OpenPicus WIFI.

  14. I’m developing a distributed seismic monitoring device for detecting and preventing rockfall hazard: this board could be an effective platform for my device. Don’t you think so?!

  15. I build custom lighting, props and scenic effects for the theatre.
    As these things are very mobile on the stage, it’s a real challenge getting control signals to them.
    This looks like a neat solution for controlling these complex props via DMX, over ArtNet, over WiFi – all of which are common in our theatrical environments.
    While the IDE will speed development, since I’m already a PIC user, I look forward to some lower level hacking too!

  16. I’d add a wireless link to an open source logic analyzer, I am going to build and would share my experience, schematics and software also for everyone who is interested in the same thing.

    Wireless link will make the logic analyzer more convenient to use (without wires going to the computer) and at the same time will provide an excellent isolation level between analyzed device and computer gathering the data.

    It will be even relatively easy to write programs for phones such as iPhone or HTC or anything else that has a built in wireless module, making logic analyzer work without PC needed. I cannot be sure I can handle this task alone, but if I share the hardware part with community, I guess we can make the software part together.

  17. I would use it in a Robot we’re building for a Robotic’s Club in my University. It would allow students to learn the basics about robotics and Wireless communications.

  18. What about having a chess game connected to the internet (http://www.instructables.com/id/picChess/).
    An online chess engine could replace my own routines, and the code for generating the VGA output could be ported to the on board micro.

    The other nice use this board could take is to be a network radio.

  19. If I win this great device I’m going to build a waterfall on my roof terras with RGB lights behind the water controlled through an internet page, so other people can set the color of the waterfall to what the like, maybe a pump controlled by the wifi board to so it can control the waterflow! And a camera to watch the live stream!

    Cheers,

    Ramon

  20. I’d use it to build a wifi infrared remote for my home theater setup. Have it run a small webserver that I pull up using my smartphone and use it to automate everything. All of the consumer ones out there won’t let me program in the IR hex codes that specify an input (HDMI 1, HDMI 2, etc), they just bump the input up or down.

  21. I’d use it to program a system capable of doing logic-level work. And in doing so, being able to store data in several media, and manipulating it. One good use for manipulation will be sending it over no-wire communication with other devices able to support the protocol.

  22. Im working on a version of the bristlebot – using bristle locomotion – it would be pretty cool to be able to control it through the network and it could send monitored data through the network and have it published throuh an embedded web server! to cut this short I want one :)

  23. rc controled car via web with router repeater so you can target wifi spots . this would be a mobile RC car war dialing

  24. Yea, that’ what I need! I would use it for a hub for local activity management solution – when nodes are in the range of the wifi hub they dump all measured data to it. Can’t wait.

  25. I’m designing an intelligent monitoring system for camper vans – I was looking into using a low-power PIC to monitor battery stats and other systems. This module would be perfect for alerting owners when the aux battery is running low if not plugged into the mains. It could even have a web interface so you could say, “I’m going on holiday tomorrow – turn the fridge on and make sure you’re all charged up.”
    It would respond, “Okay, fridge is on but don’t forget to fill the fresh water up, you’re down to 30%.”
    This would be the perfect development environment for this system. It would help me start my new business and change my life!

  26. Hi ian and all the readers,
    I’m just finishing a diy Video projector (PWM driven leds panel, 7.2″ lcd panel) and i would like to use the Nest starter kit WIFI development platform for
    – monitoring the internal led panel temperature (temperature alarm) and
    – driving the focus and keystone mechanical part (already in place but buttons should be pressed … so old school isn’t it ?)
    WIFI implementation would be the icing on the cake …
    Thank you very much
    Have a nice day

  27. For a long time I was planning to built a weather station. I need to place a wifi microcontroller kit in the top of my university building and to report weather data -temp, humidity and a prediction of rain/snow to pachtube. The data is then showed in my university website. it should also compare the data with a stored value of weather in the previous year and if there is a great deviation it should send mail to students(a selected group). i was thinking to make it with arduino but the wifi shield and all setup become very costly. This board will do the half the work it seems.

  28. I am building a greenhouse for my hydroponics system in my backyard. I want to monitor the different parameters such as temperature, humidity, pH, etc. and implement automatic control of the fans, pumps, etc. I want to try and automate the system as much as possible. A WiFi connection to the hardware controller would be the best, since the greenhouse will be some distance from the home computer.

  29. Ideal for a project I have in mind, a slot race wifi lap counter!
    I current develop it with Arduino, but i need some wifi connection!!

  30. hello,
    that is THE missing piece of my diy real time laser projector … (Openlase based)
    Sending ilda files via wifi connection will give to the projector the so expected autonomy allowing extra real time event to be displayed …
    I cross my finger
    Thank you for the competition
    Christelle

    1. Hello I am French have you try this module with your laser projector?
      Is the wifi works well.
      If so thank you to tell me what is the procedure of installation and configuration.

      thank you very much

  31. A home appliances remote control which can be controlled by HTTP requests through mobile’s wifi connectivity.

  32. I would appreciate one. I am looking into creating a wireless control of music, video, etc. for my toddler. Blocks with RFID would be his simple interface to the server behind the scenes.

  33. I was thinking about building a wifi-based network hacking kit where you dont have to plug in power or anything. Bit like the teensy HID attack but then for wifi. You just make sure that a certain package is delivered, and it will automatically make connection with the server. The fact that you can update the firmware over the internet would make it a good subject for testing, since you dont need any physical access anymore, and if you combine it with gps and/or sensors you know instantly when your shit is discovered, which is handy in cases where you dont have access to power-outlets, or when you are sure your package will travel a lot (and GSM is too expensive to use).

    Onliest question I am asking myself is if the hardware accepts “promiscious mode”…

  34. this wifi module would be great to rebuild my cooling and lighting system controled over the internet.

  35. Been working on some ways to automate data acquisition to monitor my beer brewing setup (temperature, off gassing rates) and this would be a nice addition!

  36. why not a wifi becon signal , we add a gps and hide it on your car to know where he are the wifi is anywhere now so if the “box” detect a free wifi spot he can transmit a signal or even send mail with gps location.

    we can also add a battery and sd card or hard drive to make a portable wifi media storage

    a wifi monitoring and analysing system with battely graphic lcd

    a automatic wifi downloader , when unsecure wifi detected the box download list of files

    or just use it a simple remote control

    we can also use it to boost and make a repeater wifi

  37. Hi everybody there!
    I’m Claudio co-founder of openPICUS project and I’m impressed from the number of nice ideas about the use of Flyport.
    We wait for you on our website forum as well to share our passion for automation and open source!

    Good luck to the winnger

    PS of course I’m not partecipating in this give away! :-)

  38. This would make a fantastic Sensors logging or I/O board. But since this board lacks the debugging support, simple projects would suffice. remote environmental sensors loggers or basic remote home controllers accessible via the web browser.

  39. Utility Metering, SMART meter
    – node: Analog measurement front end + LCD + Nest starter kit
    – reading host: OpenWRT + PC

  40. Add a touch screen LCD, hook it up to my Google calendar and Remember the milk, and you get my family information system. It will allow all of us, even my son, to see whats up for today (no, he doesn’t own a smart phone right now :) As a bonus, link it to weather.com and you know whether to take that umbrella with you or not. I’m not sure if its possible to add handwriting recognition to a PIC, but something like grafitty should be enough to allow adding events and todos (and hey, to got this stuff into a Newton and even a Palm :)

  41. I was thinking of doing a NTP synced alarm clock with a web interface to schedule multiple programmable alarms. Maybe throw in some mp3 or more basic audio streaming from my NAS. I would kind of hard to get an RJ45 cable next to my bed so wifi would be really great. That board would be cool for this!

  42. I need a WIFI enabled video and audio sender / receiver. I’m sure the unit would be powerful enough to stream?

  43. I’m half way through designing an unnecessarily over engineered nixie clock that has VFD, CapSense, Proximity Sense, MP3 Player, SD Storage, AM/FM and more. I’d like to use the Openpicus StarterKit Nest for automatic NTP time sync, Alarm settings and integration in to Outlook (for calendar events and reminders).

  44. I’m going to start my first real project–a VFD clock that keeps time through NTP broadcasts. The display will be a 20×2 dot matrix VFD that will display various info it receives via a network socket, outside temp, stock quotes, cpu load, etc…

    The Openpicus will allow this to be wireless.

  45. Would use it as part of my home-automation system I’m building. I’ve started out with a series of RFM12b connected microcontrollers. Every room is going to have an array is sensors (some are alerady up and running), and I want to control everything from the lights to the coffemaker. This would be perfect to give it real network connectivity

  46. Hi! I would like to use it for recieving data from multiple ECG/bllod oxygen level devices, on a single user interface. for monitoring multiple ECG devices.

  47. Hi! I would like to use OpenPicus WIFI for steering and recieving video data in my inspection robot.

  48. I was thinking it would be great for controlling my hydroponic greenhouse out the back (as yes I do grow vegetables).

  49. Some autonomous reprap server / controller (via hooking it to a RAMPs shield), running a an http service to provide local hackerspace gcode files upload, printing and queue monitoring would motivate me…

  50. Nice give away :)
    Just went to see the specs and the transmission speed is slow for video, but it can still transmit some data.
    My project :remote control

  51. I have a toy RC tiger tank that is just begging for a wi-fi control update to turn it into a computer controlled house sentry! It case Parallax ping and is controlled with a combination of an arduino and the rc controller….adding wifi control would be great for interent control and adding a streaming camera :-)

  52. We have to build a remote controlled soccer playing robot.It wont be a simple task to implement with out a communication module like this.
    We have to transmit and receive various kind of data.This is the best solution for us.Hope u cn consider me on this give away :)

  53. I would connect the device to the NetworkViewer I am working on to make a distributed network. Maybe garden remote sensors. Please see openecosys.org for details.

  54. As WiFi is a high speed protocol, then an interesting project would be to take the front-end of the logic analiser and use TCP/IP over WiFi rather than USB. This could allow collecting data from over 5 meters away and would allow direct uploading of data to a webserver.

    The as the PC (client) software is currently written in Java it would make re-writting to allow data capture via TCP/IP easier

  55. I’m currently worknig in a greenhouse automation project conected to the internet for, among other things, allow remote management of the same, so I need an embedded webserver.

  56. I would like to monitor falling snow conditions outside my house to set an alarm to see if I need to wake up early to shovel my driveway (or take the day off to go skiing).

  57. This would make a fantastic framework for our eco wifi hotspot. It would allow us to record battery status, voltages, wind speed, solar power and provide additional remote control for the lighting circuits.

  58. As a network administrator working in my college, I’d like to use the kit to develop some network attached power cords, so I can remotely turn on/off servers/switches as they need a manual reset while I’m away. Thanks in advance!

  59. Coule use on a crawl space robot to monitor for leaks and maybe critters (just had a mouse get in through a wind damaged vent and chewed through a hot/cold flexable duct).

  60. Very interessting !.

    Would be awesome for home automation or maybe a wifi enabled car alarm ? ;-)

    Bo :o)

  61. Well, I’m currently in the processing of upgrading my (modular-) EEG based brain-computer-interface with a board that sports something entirely new to the OpenSource BCI scene, as far as I know. Near-Infrared-Spectroscopy. It’s similar to the optical pulse-meters that have been featured before, but it measures the relation of oxygenated to deoxygenated blood in the cortical tissue. It’s not too complex, but there are a few more parameters that can be tweaked on-line then with your standard EEG setup (eg there is a channel/sampling rate tradeoff) and it makes total sense to have a graphical interface for that. (Select active channels, for example.) Thus, the WiFi board would definitely come in handy!

    1. Would love to use this to let as a snail mail notification module. I’d also be eager to use this as a wireless sensor development kit to be used in conjunction with an iPhone (Android has bluetooth SPP, but Apple has made the barrier to bluetooth communication too high with its Made For iPod program).

  62. I was thinking about AVRs with built in usb and radio capabilities would work well enough, but a PIC connected to wifi could give my CAD control headset a boost with network access capabilities and an already well implemented tool set which would improve its opensource-ness.
    Basically its an EEG set with some cameras attached that read eye movement which would relay all that info back to the computer as fast as it can (so as to offload the processing onto something that can handle it with ease) and thus make the setup exceedingly fast, and I’ll have other bits in there as well for head orientation for a variety of control. So far I’ve been stuck on programming and the radio comms have been a major issue, use of wifi should clear that up.

  63. This one, I would like to include in a scary halloween project. Probably a wifi controlled casket/skeleton/360 rotating head. Add a wifi camera and I can have a web controlled halloween control center with video feedback to scare those kids during trick or treat.

  64. like to have it for home automation monitor and control room temperature, energy consumption, security etc.

  65. 2001

    I had OOP’ed RS-232 peripheral interface control loop code for quadratic equations and this evolved into case with nested conditionals.

    I kept the code with me but household goods denied, hardware never returned.

    some developement hardware would be useful…

  66. I am working on a set up box to transmit and receive HD video via internet. I need Wifi connection at the receiver end. That way the video can be directly stream into the user’s TV screen. The wifi module is vital for my project.

    Thanks

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