I’m a passionate maker and student. I love things that fuel my passion and enable learning. I’m always hunting new tools and ideas. In my opinion, the best tools are multipurpose. Amazing things can be done with a Swiss Army knife and Leatherman. MacGyver is irrefutable proof of that fact.
One of the indispensable tools in my toolbox are microprocessor development boards. Raspberry Pi, Arduino, and BeagleBone are microprocessor boards found on many maker’s workbenches. Over the last few years, makers have created amazing projects using these inexpensive mini-computers. These boards ushered in a new era of benchtop MacGyvers. As time passes, though, makers are experiencing new frustrations. Their ideas have grown in complexity but their projects are hostage to the hardware that once liberated. Whether it be sparse I/O, limited processing power, hampered image processing, or closed software systems, makers are hitting real road blocks. Take heart, though! These road blocks may soon be removed.
Snickerdoodle is the latest (and possibly baddest) microprocessor development board soon to be available to makers and students. Created by Krtkl Inc., Snickerdoodle aims to enable the next generation of maker projects with some unique and powerful features.
Snickerdoodle begins to separate itself from the microprocessor pack with notable features:
- Dual core ARM Cortex-A9 processor
- Built-in 2.4 GHz 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi
- Built-in dual-mode Bluetooth 4.1
- 154 software configurable general purpose I/O
- Remote hardware configuration (via Android and iOS apps)
The last two: software configurable I/O and remote hardware configuration are especially unique. Snickerdoodle combines an onboard FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) and 154 user-configurable I/O to provide maximum configurability. That configurability is field programmable wirelessly via an Android or iOS app. The app will provide a number of preconfigured “personalities” for the Snickerdoodle. This makes the configuration of the Snickerdoodle simple for those wanting a quick start. For custom configurations, Snickerdoodle offers total freedom to create a configuration suited to the project. The only limitation is your imagination and ingenuity.
Snickerdoodle is Linux-based and supports Snappy Ubuntu Core Linux, ROS, and FreeRTOS. It will use an Eclipse-based development environment and will support Python, Java, and C/C++. All OS and software components have an active, strong userbase.
Snickerdoodle offers these features in the base model with a price equal to that of a wireless Raspberry Pi B–$55. That’s an incredible price considering its power and configurability.
What are you going to build today?
So, what can you build? Well, I think a maker’s project boundaries just expanded significantly. Some possibilities to consider:
- RADAR-enabled robotics using self-navigation
- Multi-axis robots and 3D printers
- Advanced, humanoid animatronics
- Zero-latency heads-up overlays for video game displays
- Computer vision systems for 3D mapping and object recognition
There’s a place for Snickerdoodle in STEM education as well. Budding engineers, scientists, and technology artists could find great experimentation, learning, and expression in Snickerdoodle’s possibilities. At $55, Snickerdoodle could enable a fantastic science fair project any GeekDad would be proud of.
Snickerdoodle will also have optional baseboards that get your projects going quickly. Each baseboard has on-board memory and an identification chip that allows the Snickerdoodle to know which board is attached. Necessary configuration packages are loaded automatically. The piSmasher single board computer is described by Krtkl as “the Raspberry Pi on steroids.” It will do everything the Raspberry Pi can do along with Snickerdoodle’s added capabilities. It will also provide simultaneous HDMI input and output ports.
Other baseboards offered include:
- giggleBits hackable Gigabit Ethernet router – an open-source, hacker-friendly Gigabit Ethernet router + 802.1Qav Audio Video Bridging switch
- breakyBreaky Breakout – provides the full Snickerdoodle pinout on 270 0.1″ headers.
- And more on the way…
Who’s using it and where can I get one?
An active userbase is one of the most important factors in a hardware platform’s success. I spoke with Krtkl’s CEO, Ryan Cousins, about their plans to grow Snickerdoodle’s user community. Krtkl has a few initiatives underway:
- YouTube channel with tutorials to help you get started
- A developer Alpha program with ~100 users to seed the knowledge base and user forum
- A hackster.io project contest
- Project demos directly from Krtkl
Snickerdoodle is currently available for pre-order via Krtkl’s CrowdSupply campaign. As of this writing, they are funded at 80% with 27 days to go. Shipping is expected for Spring 2016. With these features and a $55 price point, Snickerdoodle is one to watch.