Tentative Custom Shield - Legacy Shield

Hello friends,

We’re discussing one of the CUSTOM SHIELD projects with its backer, and have a concept in the works that we wanted to share with the group for feedback.

The basic idea is that we’d like to provide a Wi-Fi interface for “Legacy” products, i.e. products that use traditional wired communications standards like RS232, so you can bring them online and interface with them wirelessly quickly and easily.

One version of this would be to focus on RS232 and create a shield that pairs a MAX232 and a DB9 serial port to create an RS232 interface.

Another version might also include other ports like RS485 and Parallel. Including more options would make it work with more legacy products, but would also make it more expensive.

Thoughts? Would people like to see something like this? If so, what ports would you be most interested in seeing?

I would say if you are going to do one (RS232) just do them both (RS232 and RS485) because they are dead simple… and it won’t cost that much extra for the buyer to have this “multi-tool” in their bag of shields. Right now I wouldn’t have a need for the RS232, but I would for RS485. There are a ton of things that use RS232 though so it would be good to have just in case.

That said, if the only need currently is for RS232, that would be pretty trivial to implement.

RS485 is pretty stinking cheap - you just need a nice way to select between the two with software, or plug style jumpers.

Parallel ports don’t even get on my radar these days…

RS232 would be cool to connect up the Dylos DC1100 Pro with PC Interface for highly accurate particle counts.

It would be useful to have a shield which has all the control lines to control heating and cooling systems and a decent sized touchscreen LCD display. I noticed a few months ago that WiFi home thermostats are extremely expensive ($500+) and closed. It would be cool to have an open source system to control all that.

(cue someone finding a kickstarter which already does that :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: )

@Rockvole Adafruit has sourced some cool capacitive touchscreens that are targeted for RasPi, but might work fine with Spark Core if it has the right I/O. Not out yet, just mention of it in last weeks AAE.

This is the next best thing https://www.sparkfun.com/products/11925

I have one of these shields and have done some extensive stuff with it, but it really needs to have your fingernail or a stylus to control it. http://www.adafruit.com/products/376 I had to implement a command system via UART to a secondary arduino to get some I/O. The sparkfun ArLCD would be much preferred and seems like it’s much more sensitive to finger pad touch, not to mention it’s larger and has a separate controller for graphics. If adafruit does that with the capacitive display, it will pwn everything.

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I think that this would be a great shield to have available.
I know you could build your own to meet your exact needs , but in my opinion it would make the SparkCore more ‘attractive’ for new users looking to use this hardware in their solutions.

In the past I did a significant amount of work updating the hardware on an old AIRBUS Wind tunnel – so that it could interface with LabVIEW and have a nice GUI frontend.
As we had to interface with lots of legacy serial equipment and were forced to route cable runs through less than ideal paths we spent lots of time looking into various hardware options available to make life easier. Maybe something like the Sparkcore and a Legacy interface type shield would have made this kind of task much simpler, I would certainly have looked into it as an option.

It would be interesting to add an IR transceiver to this shield since I believe IR follows similar standards to RS232.

I think it would be handy to control fans and projectors and such.

Feature creep :slight_smile: 10 replies later… Danger Shield!

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But I thought we liked to use every available pin :smile:

I guess there are different approaches to building shields :

  1. Bundle all the things together on a shield which are useful together - which is my preference.

  2. Bundle things on a shield because they share chips and protocols and such - so adding those things is cheap, which I guess the serial and IR shield might be.

  3. Make the shield just do one or two things well - which I guess is the idea behind this shield.

Option 3 is better if you have a way to stack more than one shield or if you want to sell more cores :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

I actually prefer multi-use cases as well… it’s the Swiss Army Knife model. One problem is knowing when to quit adding features. That said, I would much rather have one swiss army knife than a drawer full of similar tools, Although it’s harder to sell that swiss army knife to everyone that just need a spork or a cork screw.

The typical shield model is to break out just the device or protocol needed… then stack away.

Here’s the knife I personally have carried with me everywhere I go since high school. Used multiple times daily.

You forget to pick up your grandma from the airport, and forget to put gas in your car, but never leave home without your swiss army knife or you’re going to have a bad day.

Yes that’s what I thought, but by the photos of the Spark shields it doesn’t seem that they can be stacked.

I certainly like the idea of a shield for serial communications over longer distance like RS485 since they are pretty common in legacy building automation systems and this would provide an opportunity to start replacing parts of those systems while leaving the cables there. And with IR would be great, I want to build a remote control for my air conditioner.

We’ve actually updated the designs so they are, in fact, stackable. However, they don’t all have the same footprint, so you may not get the prettiest outcome… generally we are trying to design our shields to be more “complete” than Arduino shields, so that they represent everything you need for a project rather than just Arduino-shaped breakout boards for certain sensors or actuators. After all, if you need the traditional Arduino stackable designs, you can use the Shield Shield (which now has logic level conversion to 5V) to gain access to that whole ecosystem.

Was there ever movement on this shield? It would be great to have a true RS232 connection, either a DB9 port or even screw terminal, either way. The current solutions won’t work for me, as my uses require the RTS and CTS pins.

Unfortunately this shield was never built, but there are a few options if you are interested in RS232:

Use an RS232 shield with our “Shield Shield” or with a Sparkfun Photon Redboard:

or use an RS232 breakout board:

Hope that helps!

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Thanks @zach I’ll check these out

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