Prototyping Products with Spark Core > Then Manufacturing Custom Boards

I’m planning on using the Spark Core for what it was intended to be used for. For quickly prototyping a useful product that can eventually be moved over to a custom circuit board specific for your product design for optimum performance and lowest manufacturing cost.

I have a few questions about this process that I figured I would ask about.

The Spark Core is different in that it is one of the first to have the CC3000 Wifi chip + ARM 32 Processor which is more powerful than most of the Arduino options out there. The Spark Core is priced right also considering the other options are considerably more expensive.

So since the CC3000 is being optimized around the ARM32 processor with the Spark does that mean that its going to be really hard to upgrade to a slightly more powerful ARM processor if the application calls for it?

Or once all the bugs are worked out and understood does that mean that we will be able to use the CC3000 chip with other ARM processors with relative ease?

Is the Spark Core really the first product design to use 5000+ CC3000 WiFi Chips? Is it really the first large roll out of CC3000 chips?

@zach @zachary I see the cost for the CC3000 chips go down greatly when purchased in quantity. Is there any possibility to throw down with Spark on their CC3000 chip ordered to get a discounted price for guys who may not need to purchase 500 or 1000 chips due to be a startup or simply not needing having the demand to support that large of a purchase? I guess the same would go for the ARM 32 processor. Any thoughts on this?

Those are just a few thoughts that came across my mind today while thinking about the whole prototyping to finished design process.

Nope! The beauty of the CC3000 is that it’s actually a WiFi chip combined with an 8051 MCU running a full fledged network stack! This means your MCU doesn’t have to do any heavy lifting. The CC3000 was actually designed as a low cost WiFi module for 8, 16 and 32-Bit processors. Specifically things like Arduino (AVR), Energia (MSP430/Tiva C [ARM Cortex-M3]), chipKit (PIC 8/16/32) and basically any other MCU that isn’t powerful enough to run a full fledged OS (Linux) or networking stack.

Yup.

Yup!

Actually that’s not what the Spark Core was designed for. It is intended to be used in your production hardware! If you purchase in bulk the Spark guys will cut you a really good deal on the Core. You’ve got to remember, you’re not just buying some hardware, you’re also buying the entire web service backend! Having to create that all yourself would cost a lot of money. In addition, you also get fully managed support from the Spark Team.

Trust me, you don’t just slap a CC3000 and ARM on a board and call it done. They’ve put a tremendous amount of effort into getting the layout just right. Something like the CC3000 emits a tremendous amount of noise that can couple into your ground plane and destroy the integrity of your analog I/O.

Another consideration is they’ve done all the FCC compliance testing for you. This can cost a lot of money and be very tedious.

If I were designing a product (and I am), I would just put a footprint for the Core on my board and treat it like one physical component instead of a group of parts.

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@Timb Great info Tim! And that does give me a better understanding of whats going on here. Didn’t really think about the value of the Spark Cloud. For $40 its a GREAT VALUE.

Exactly! And I’m sure with a bulk purchase it’s not going to be close to $40/ea. :wink:

Basically, if you have a product that needs WiFi and the ability to access data/control stuff over the web, using the Spark Core is going to cut your design to manufacture time at least in half! Not to mention the highly reduced support costs. Imagine buying a few hundred Cores a year and trying to get TI to fix a bug. Not going to happen! (Even Adafruit couldn’t do it.) But because of :spark:'s volume, they’re getting results.

To me, the Spark Core just makes sense.

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Yes it sure does make sense.

Just look at all the zombies walking around staring at nothing else but their smartphone. The just need more and more based applications to play with online via their Phone and Spark Core is going to make that so much easier and cheaper to do.

I like how Xivley was talking about how web enabling existing products can bring a whole new level of usability to businesses product lines and therefore has the potential to drastically improve or increase a businesses sales and profit margins.

Were in the mist of a product revolution here, I guess they call it the “Internet of Things”.