This post is a fast guide for people who want to try to build an IoT project using IoT boards and Free cloud platform. When you enter the IoT world for the first time, the impact can be a little scary. There are so many topics included in the IoT world and different technologies. The IoT is a growing topic in the world and many big players are working on it. It is possible, anyway, experiment by yourself some IoT DIY projects. There are many different IoT definition pointing to several IoT aspects.

This guide wants to provide all the information you need before starting your IoT DIY project so that you can select the right IoT prototyping board according to the scenario where your IoT DIY project will work and the right IoT cloud platform. As we will see later, an IoT cloud platform plays an important role in IoT project because usually in an IoT project the prototyping board acquires data using sensors and send it to the IoT cloud platform.

What is Internet of things (IoT)?

If you are new to Internet of things (IoT), I report here a brief description. There isn’t only one simple description of IoT but there are several definitions taking into account different aspects. Generally speaking, IoT is the convergence between Wireless technologies, microcontrollers, services and Internet. The key factors of IoT are:

  • The thing
  • Internet

The first one can be any device that is able to connect to the network. A thing or device is a smartphone, a microcontroller, a smartphone, lamps, wearable devices, sensors and so on.

The Internet is the mean that connects the devices. So the first requirement is that all the devices must be able to connect to the network so that they can exchange data and information.

These devices through internet exchange information. Using sensors they can collect information about the world around them. These smart things send all this information to other devices or platforms that are able to store it. Every single “object” connected to the net can be the source or the destination of the information flow.  It could be the information source when uses sensors. At the same time,  it could be controlled remotely by other devices. From this point of view, the security aspect plays an important role: it is necessary to protect somehow the information. For this reason, security is a big issue.

So it is clear how IoT will impact our everyday life. There are some areas where IoT will have a great impact:

  • agriculture
  • energy
  • healthcare
  • transportation
  • logistics
  • supply chain

The basic concept that stands behind is:

IoT world is a smart network of “intelligent” electronic systems, called things, inter-connected that are able to send and receive data

There are several application fields:

  • Smart home
  • Smart cities
  • Wearable
  • Health
  • Connected car
  • Industrial applications

and so on. As you can realize, the application field is wide.

First steps with IoT boards

So what do you need to build IoT DIY project? You should buy a smart object that is able to connect to the internet. If not, you are not building an IoT project. These objects are IoT boards because you can use them to build your IoT DIY project. There are several dev boards available in the market with different specification. The first approach might be difficult to select the right one. In my opinion, there are two dev board families that should be considered at the beginning:

  • Arduino families
  • Raspberry families

Families because there is a different version of Arduino and Raspberry board. Arduino UNO is one of the most famous IoT dev board with Raspberry Pi 2. You can look at the available Arduino board. Raspberry has several dev boards too. While Raspberry has integrated ethernet connection and even WI-FI (in Raspberry Pi 3), Arduino doesn’t have it. In this case, you have to buy an expansion shield like an ethernet shield or wi-fi shield. Recently a new dev board is available called Arduino MKR1000 made for IoT project. I use Arduino Uno and Raspberry Pi 2 model B+and MKR1000 to build IoT project.

 

IoT DIY project using IoT boards

 

IoT prototyping board list

In this scenario, it is useful, to build your IoT DIY project, to have a list of IoT rapid prototyping boards (or development board). These boards play an important role. They are microcontrollers and microprocessors with chipsets to handle wireless connections. These development board with Cloud IoT platform enable a fast prototyping process.

Moreover, the spread of these IoT rapid prototyping boards is helped by the low price. Hobbyists and makers can use them in their IoT projects, without investing too much money. For this reason,  I think it is helpful to have a list of development boards ready to use in IoT projects before starting your IoT DIY project.

[bctt tweet=”Internet of things boards ready to develop IoT projects #IoT” username=”survivingwithan”]

Arduino Uno

Arduino Uno, for sure, is one the most used development board. It is an open-source development board based on ATmega328P.

IoT diy building project

The main features are:

  • 5V (operating voltage)
  • 8bit
  • 16MHz

It has, moreover, analog and digital pins. The interesting aspect of this board is it can be expanded using shields. A shield is another board that can be plugged into Arduino Uno that adds new features like GSM, Ethernet connection, WIFI and so on. It is very simple to use and has an official IDE to develop applications (or sketch). There are, also, free and paid IDE that offers more features respect to the official one. Recently, it is possible to add to this board Arduino Yun shield. This shield is made for IoT project and extends the Arduino Uno board features.

Arduino MKR1000

Arduino MKR1000 is one of the latest board. MKR1000 has been designed for IoT projects. It supports natively WIFI connection and it is very easy to use. It is based on the Atmel ATSAMW25.

arduino mkr1000
Image from http://store.arduino.cc

The main features are:

  • 3.3V (operating voltage)
  • 32bit
  • 48MHz
  • Built-in WIFI

I made an IoT project with MKR1000 and it is really simple to use. As Arduino UNO, this board supports analog and digital pins, moreover, it can be powered using an external Li-Po battery.

BeagleBone black

This board is a low-cost board supported by the community made for developers and hobbyists.  It uses Linux as OS.

beaglebone black
Image from https://beagleboard.org/black

The main features are:

  • AM335x 1GHz ARM® Cortex-A8
  • 512 Mb RAM
  • HDMI
  • Ethernet
  • USB

Raspberry PI 2 Model B

Raspberry, like Arduino, is one the most used development board. Raspberry Pi has various versions with various power capabilities. Moreover, Raspberry can be considered a small computer because it has all the features we can find in a common PC: keyboard, HDMI and so on. It is very small (more or less it is like a credit card) and is powered by Linux. Raspberry PI 2 model B has been replaced by the latest Raspberry PI 3.

raspberry IoT diy

Raspberry PI 2 is a 900MHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 CPU with 1Gb RAM. Moreover, it has 40 GPIO pins. It supports a full Linux Version. The Raspberry PI 3 compare to the previous version has:

  • A 1.2GHz 64-bit quad-core ARMv8 CPU
  • 802.11n Wireless LAN
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)

Do you know you can use Raspberry to develop android app using Android Things?

UDOO

UDOO Neo is an interesting board that differs from others. It is a Arduino-Android/Linux device. It has a set of built-in features like WIFI, g-axis motion sensor and Bluetooth support.

UDoo neo
Image from www.udoo.org/udoo-neo/

It has three different versions:

  • Basic
  • Extended
  • Full

They have different features and different specs.

Particle Photon

Particle Photon is a very small development board with a built-in WIFI module. This makes it ready for IoT project. It has a set of expansion kits that make the development process faster.

Particle photon
Image from Particle store

This board uses shields to expand its capabilities.

There are other IoT prototyping boards like Intel (Edison and Galileo) or Samsung Artik, those mentioned above are, in my opinion, the most used and offer a large community support that is useful when you approach IoT world for the first time.

At the end of this post, I hope you gained an overview of what is IoT and how to use IoT rapid prototyping boards to getting started with IoT projects. What IoT rapid prototyping board do you use for your projects? … And what project are you developing? Let me know leaving a comment below this post.

ESP8266

This board is a low-cost board with a built-in WIFI system that enables rapid IoT project prototyping. It comes with several variants having specific features like memory capacity or pins number. We can use the Arduino IDE to develop IoT application or alternative IoT IDE. You can find more information at the manufacturer site.

Intel Edison

Intel Edison is a new IoT development board very powerful. It comes in several variants, the one that I like is Intel Edison with Arduino breakout kit. The main specifications are:

  • Intel Atom™
  • 500MHz dual-core x86
  • 1GB RAM
  • Wi-Fi 802.11n
    Bluetooth 4.0

This board can be used to develop Android Things app.

Summary

This post wanted to give you an overview of IoT ecosystem and how to start building IoT DIY project. There are infinite IoT DIY projects to develop, your fantasy is your limit. You can build IoT sensor based projects or you can control remotely Arduino with a smartphone.

12 COMMENTS

  1. Gave me a good overview of several “unknown terms” I’ve been reading in different articles. And most importantly … Pi or Arduino

    • Arduino UNO is a dev board used to start with electronics and IoT projects. It is a micro controller and it has an IDE to develop application. Raspberry PI (different versions) is also a dev board but much more powerful than Arduino UNO. Raspberry has a OS called Raspbian (Linux like) or you can install other OS like Windows 10. It depends on the type of project you want to build. Both dev boards have a I/O pin that can be used to connect components like sensors, motors, shields and so on.

    • Do you mean a blinking led? If so you can buy Arduino Uno or MKR1000 or something like that. A led and if you buy Arduino UNO you need an ethernet shield of WIFI shield to connect it to the net. With MKR1000 you don’t have to buy the shield, it has WIFI module built-in.

  2. For an impressive, small dev board check out the digistump.com Oak, built in wifi, particle connected and the size of a silver dollar.

  3. Hi Francesco

    This is Tilokesh Mallick. I’m an Electronics Engineer and having basic understanding
    of Arduino Uno, Raspberry Pi 3, Python, AWS-IoT, MQTT.

    I read your article with keen interest. and its really helpful for me doing IoT projects.

    I would like to request you for some IoT project tutorials with the combination of Arduino Uno, Raspberry Pi 3, Python, AWS-IoT, MQTT.

    Thanks and regards

    Tilokesh Mallick
    [email protected]

    • Hi Tilokesh,

      thank you very much. Do you have a specific project in mind that combines Arduino, RPi3 and AWS-IoT?
      If you developed an IoT project and you would like to describe it, you can create an article and i can publish it.

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