tinyTILE

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The humble Arduino. Not as powerful as a Raspberry Pi, but you can drop it into countless projects and it will just work, no reboots / crashes...it just works!

My first foray into electronics was with an Arduino Uno and since then I have used many other boards. So when the tinyTILE landed on my desk I had to have a go!

This unit was provided by CPC for review, as always a review unit does not guarantee a top score. This is a fair review.

tinyTILE == Arduino 101

The Arduino 101, a board with newer Intel Curie module that offers

  • Low power consumption
  • Accelerometer
  • Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)

but it retains the classic Arduino board layout.

tinyTILE board layout

alt The tinyTILE, as the name suggests is a lot smaller than a typical Arduino 101 but we still have...

  • Low-power 32-bit Intel Quark microcontroller
  • 384kB flash memory
  • 80kB SRAM
  • Low-power integrated DSP sensor hub and pattern matching technology
  • Bluetooth® Low Energy (BLE)
  • 6-axis combo sensor with accelerometer and gyroscope
  • 3v I/O (Not the standard 5V that most Arduino use)
  • Regulated 3.3 volt power output
  • I/O connections have the same names and functions as the Arduino/Genuino 101 board

I soldered up the board ready for use.

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So let's test out this new board...with that old chestnut

Yes the "hello world" of Ardunio is always my first test, just to make sure that the board works. I connected an LED to pin 13 and of course used

But I encountered a bug when running the board on my Ubuntu 16.04 machine...my tinyTILE was detected but I could not successfully upload a sketch to it.

After some Googling I found the issue is common with Arduino 101 boards and there is a fix with the Arduino application, but we need to use the terminal to fix it.

udev roolz

I had to run a script in order to enable the Arduino IDE to upload sketches to the tinyTILE. This fix basically changed the udev rules, enabling my user account to access the tinyTILE device.

In the terminal from my home directory I typed

cd .arduino15/packages/Intel/tools/arduino101load/1.6.9+1.28/scripts/  

I then ran the script using sudo

sudo ./create_dfu_udev_rule  

And being a good hacker I took a look inside the script before I ran it.

#!/bin/bash
#

if [ "$(id -u)" != "0" ]; then  
   echo "This script must be run as root"
   exit
fi

NAME=99-arduino-101.rules

echo >/etc/udev/rules.d/$NAME  
echo \# Arduino 101 in DFU Mode >>/etc/udev/rules.d/$NAME  
echo SUBSYSTEM==\"tty\", ENV{ID_REVISION}==\"8087\", ENV{ID_MODEL_ID}==\"0ab6\", MODE=\"0666\", ENV{ID_MM_DEVICE_IGNORE}=\"1\", ENV{ID_MM_CANDIDATE}=\"0\" >>/etc/udev/rules.d/$NAME  
echo SUBSYSTEM==\"usb\", ATTR{idVendor}==\"8087\", ATTR{idProduct}==\"0aba\", MODE=\"0666\", ENV{ID_MM_DEVICE_IGNORE}=\"1\" >>/etc/udev/rules.d/$NAME

udevadm control --reload-rules  
udevadm trigger  

Back to Flashing an LED!

Yes I got the LED flashing!

So I went a little further, controlling an LED over Bluetooth. I followed the guide over at Arduino.cc and installed the app on my Android phone.
The LED was already connected to pin 13, and to turn the LED on / off all I needed to do was send the 1/0 over Bluetooth using the app and the rather straight forward guide.

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But can I automate it?

Sure, the application has a tool to create macros! So I created one called Blinky..yeah you guessed it! To blink the LED. All you need to do is record the steps that you would like the macro to reproduce.

alt You can give your macros an icon to easily identify them

Is the tinyTILE any good?

The board has lots of features, in fact the accelerometer example that I used for another test was super simple to use, and I can see this powering a few gesture based projects in the future.

alt Testing the accelerometer with my Ubuntu machine

It is a great board, sadly let down by the price £37.20 (inc VAT) is a lot to spend on a board such as this. Sure it has some great features, chiefly BLE and a small form factor, but these features can be added to other boards for a lower cost.

If you need timing critical data collection, this is a great board and worthy of further investigation.

Do I buy it?

If you need
Timing critical experiments / applications that can send data over Bluetooth Buy a tinyTILE

Else if you need
To tinker with a microcontroller board that has Bluetooth and an accelerometer Buy a micro:bit

Else if you need
To learn more about Arduino and take your first steps with it Buy an Ardunio Uno

Else if you need
To gather data in the field and send it to a remote device Buy a Pi Zero W

Conclusion

The tinyTILE is a really tiny Arduino board. It has a powerful processing package suited to gathering and interpreting sensor data, and it can run happily from a USB power supply via the micro USB interface.
The price is the biggest drawback. For seasoned Arduino users who need this for a serious project then this is a great board. But for those of us just starting out with Arduino / Electronics then this is an expensive first board.

Thanks to CPC for providing the kit

alt Underside of the board, with many test pads

alt The tinyTILE compared to a cloned Arduino Pro Micro, it really is a tiny device!

Rating

Price 3/5
Features 4/5
Build 5/5

Final Score

4/5

Where can I get one?

£37 inc VAT from CPC