If you want to get into DIY robotics, many begin with an Arduino board. Although Arduino isn’t the only type of experimentation board, it is extremely popular. One drawback of this type of board, however, is that it doesn’t do much when you plug it in. You have to add lights, sensors, or a robotic arm to do anything useful.
But Evive, which at press time is raising money on Indiegogo, comes equipped with a wide variety of accessories and tools and is available for $89 plus shipping. At it’s heart is an Arduino MEGA-compatible board, and you can add useful Arduino UNO (and some MEGA) expansion modules called “shields.”
Besides a plastic housing, the most obvious add-on is a screen in the upper-left corner. This screen can be used with test probes plugged into the sockets on the bottom of the unit as both a voltmeter and an oscilliscope. Considering the cost of Evive, and that it’s merely a small part of what you get, it’s a very impressive add-on.
Though perhaps a bit less obvious, Evive has a breadboard already mounted on it, which would be very convenient in prototyping scenarios. Additionally, it comes with a micro SD card reader for storage, a real-time clock, a buzzer, various human interface components, and even wireless capabilities in an upgraded configuration.
All of those accessories could be purchased separately for a normal development board, but this should be greatly appreciated by hardware hackers and prototypers who need a certain component immediately.
Evive Specs (Credit: Evive)
Their current package is 3D printed, but is quite functional. I plugged it into my computer’s USB port, and the backlit display came on and presented me with a few options. Using the tiny joystick, I navigated to the voltmeter, and after trying it out on a coin cell battery, it was on to the oscilliscope. The scope worked as it should, and allows one to adjust the voltage range as well as other display variables.
The next step was to test the Arduino interface. After selecting the correct Arduino MEGA board and the COM port that it was on, I loaded a “blink” sketch without issue. I was testing pin 13, and to my pleasant surprise, it already had an LED hooked up to it on the case. I also placed an LED between pin 13 and ground, which also blinked as it should.
Loading a “blink” sketch. (Credit: Jeremy S. Cook)
After the sketch was loaded, however, the screen started blinking. I’m told this is normal during uploads, but after disconnecting power and reconnecting, the screen displayed white. After a member of the Agilo team suggested I reload the firmware and sent me a .zip file with what I needed, I eventually got it to function again correctly. Unlike the “blink” sketch, it took some finagling with the settings before it uploaded correctly.
Another issue with the prototype was that the screws that need to be removed to install the battery were extremely tight. This should be resolved when they go from individually printed cases to an injection molded model.
Regardless of a few hiccups with the prototype, Evive is a functional board with some very impressive capabilities. The first units of Evive are supposed to ship in December 2016, so there’s still some time to perfect everything. Once they start shipping units, this could be a great way to start on your DIY robotics journey.