Plans for other Core versions?

Hello all,

Do you guys have any plans to produce more versions of the Core with different ARM micro controllers or that breakout more of the MCU IO ports and PINS for added connectivity and expandability?

Your concept is GREAT! but in some ways the current Core feels a bit lacking due to the low PIN count for interfacing external hardware. I understand the current Core fills a certain niche and the price can’t be beat. Just wondering if more capable versions will be produced in the future…

Thanks again,

notronrj, in fact there is an ongoing discussions right now with the Spark Team as to where the Core is going. As an Elite, I would be glad to take your ideas to the Team. :smile:

1 Like

Hi peekay123,

Couple of ideas off the top of my head:

1- A 40 pin DIP version using the current processor having more of the useful I/O and peripheral ports made available. This would make a great Core for those that need more interfacing options and/or need to interface with more hardware than can be done using the current Core.
2- A version built around an NXP LPC1768
3- A version built around an NXP LPC1768 that is mbed platform compatible.
4- A version based on the current Core with more RAM/Flash.
5- A version that has a built in microSD slot.

In general the concept of a small board with an ARM core with built-in wifi is brilliant. The next version could just be a beefed up version of the original that has more of the I/O peripherals pins of the MCU available for use. Having an on board microSD slot would be great for situations where data needs to be saved somewhere when cloud connectivity is lost or not available. With microSD data could be stored and forwarded to the Cloud when the cloud becomes available.


notronrj, thanks for your input! Several ideas along the lines of what you are thinking of are being considered. There is presently work being done by @timb on a few Spark shields including a microSD/FRAM shield for external storage. Check it out. :smile:

@zach @zachary @timb @peekay123 @david_s5

Gents, on the topic of a Spark Core II et al, I really think the topic should get some serious attention. As a prospective commercial user of the platform I started out wildly excited at the time of the Kickstarter project. But first some background.

I have been developing a commercial application (reasonably complex & sophisticated) using the Electric Imp platform, and from a RAM, Flash and wireless stability point of view it has been superb. But, with the Squirrel code being intermediate byte code and thus interpreted, real time processing and interrupt handling became a problem. Also the limitation of not having access to an IP stack (at least UDP) as well as the reliance on the Imp Cloud are all limiting factors. Otherwise, still a superb platform for many tasks.

From the Spark Core side the main attractions have been and remain the open source nature of the project, the detachable umbilical cord to the Spark Cloud and the general excitement and cooperation in the Spark community. However, by the time my Cores arrived reality had sunk in and after very limited experimentation I have shelved my Cores for a couple of reasons.

  1. Memory especially RAM but also Flash. In the era of declining uC (and supporting hardware) cost, it is just not practically feasible to do anything of any real sophistication with a total of 20KB RAM. I believe 64KB must be a minimum maybe 96KB. Flash at least 256 KB but preferably 512Kb.

  2. “Real Time” capability. The current Arduino based execution model does not allow this. In addition the RAM/Flash side stops the use of something like FreeRTOS+???. It is not feasible as a platform with the memory available.

  3. Wireless instability. Also, for any serious use this must be fixed, preferably with FreeRTOS support as well.

The increase in uC spec will add to the cost, I estimate it going up to about $50, but it will increase the opportunity exponentially into the commercial space. Physical size, if it had to go even double to current real estate to enable more IO’s, also still reasonable since the current Core will still be there as a smaller and lower cost alternative.

If you can get the above right, you will create a huge market not just for the Core II/Ultra/whatever but also for breakouts or “baseboards”. I started a process to commission the design of a range of open source mote baseboards (hoping to attract developers to help write supporting drivers for them) to address specific needs I have including:
A) Environment sensing
B) Motion sensing
C) Power measurement and control
D) Human interface
E) General purpose with selected bits of all the above.

My commercial needs remain, and it is burning, but for a significantly higher spec Core. I am happy to have a discussion around specs, cost and an order, should there be serious interest in taking this further.


PS: I apologise for addressing the comment so widely, but hoping to stir up a serious and urgent discussion on this topic.

Thanks for sharing your experience and needs @ammaree; that’s super helpful. A more powerful board is one of the many versions we’re discussing and is a common request. We hear you!

@ammaree just wanted to thank you for the thoughtful response. Your requests very much fall in line with some of our thoughts around the next-gen hardware. I would love to discuss your project further with you and find out more about what you’re developing, and see if our plans will intersect with your needs; shoot me an email at zach at spark dot io when you have a chance.

@ammaree Did you get my reply?