Sunday, October 28, 2012
A Brief History of Nanode
Nanode was conceived back in the summer of 2010, when I returned from a trip to Shenzhen, China. I was between jobs, and had a bit of time on my hands for tinkering with some new product ideas.
Nanode arose out of the need to find a cheaper way of connecting simple open source hardware, such as Arduino to the internet, so that Arduino could be used for a range of sensing and control applications.
The combination of an Arduino and a low cost ethernet shield came to approximately £35, and from a quick glance at the Arduino and the ethershield showed that not only could the circuit design be produced on one pcb, but produced at considerably lower cost. So with the breadboarded prototype working, I set about producing a pcb version, which using conventional through-hole components and DIL ICs, could be sold as a kit and assembled by anyone with basic soldering skills.
It was anticipated that the kits could be sold for about £20, and so ten prototypes were made to test out the pcb layout. These first ten Nanode prototype pcbs were produced and sent out to friends and enthusiasts for beta testing and application development.
From the outset, Nanode was offered as a DIY kit consisting of the pcb, the ICs and some 50 other components. Assembly was fairly straightforward - and an online pictorial build guide was produced to make the assembly process as simple as possible - even for those who had had little or no previous soldering experience.
During the summer months of 2011, 550 Nanode kits were produced in the UK on green pcbs and sold out by the end of August. In September, 500 new red pcbs arrived from China changing the appearance of Nanode somewhat.
Following a review of the design in the Autumn of 2011, it was clear that the addition of a wireless transceiver link would considerably enhance the capabilities of the device. With a RF module onboard, Nanode could "talk" to other hardware devices such as smart sensors, extending the control and monitoring range to several tens of metres from the ethernet router. RF range tests showed a useful range of better than 125m.
The pcb was updated at the end of October 2011, so that Nanode could benefit from an RFM12 RF transceiver, and thus be compatible with JeeNodes from Jeelabs. In addition to the RF module, an extra 3V3 regulator, a miniUSB socket for power and an extra green LED were added. There were spare locations on the board to which a 32K SRAM, a real time clock and a microSD card could be added to the underside of the pcb.
Following the success of the first prototype above 500 Nanode RF units were produced in China on a distinctive blue pcb.
The last of these Nanode RF kits sold out at the end of October 2012. So from the humble kit beginnings and just 18 months, almost 2000 Nanodes have been produced so far, with production and kitting happening in the UK, USA and China.
Clearly a replacement to the Nanode RF was needed, and this is where our friends at Wicked Device of Ithaca NY, stepped in.
Wicked Device had become Nanode distributors in the USA, and in 2011 had produced their own versions of the kit and pcb.
Following the requirement for a low cost ethernet gateway product for the Air Quality Egg project, Dirk Swart and Vic Aprea at Wicked Device redesigned the Nanode RF so that it utilised surface mount components, and could be mass produced on a pick and place machine. So it's my pleasure to introduce the new Nanode Gateway, the first of the Nanode SMT units, which is being produced at Wicked Device's premises in upstate New York. These units will be available through the Nanode Shop from early November.