Most Appropriate Board? How to Choose

96boards

#1

I’m new to this whole world, and hoping someone can provide a little advice. I’m an (ex) systems developer with no experience in hardware, and just starting to explore what’s available.

Here’s what I’d like to achieve. I want to measure levels of sunlight in various locations around a garden to determine best places for planting. In terms of capabilities. what this means is minute by minute recording of sunlight or UV - probably comes to the same thing.

I’d want to leave it running for up to 24 hours (I’m too lazy to get up for sunrise), but I’d like it to be self-contained, as running cables / extension cords would not go well with possibility of rain. I’d like to collect data locally, which I suspect means on an SD card or on-board memory.

If I understand correctly, pretty much any of the 96boards implementations would suit, but to varying degrees. As I said, I’m a total novice, and any advice would be very, very welcome.


#2

I think you don’t need a powerful board for this kind of application.

a microcontroller would be well suited, you can have a look at both carbon and nitrogen 96boards. These boards provide the most common IO/BUS (GPIO, I2C, SPI, USB…) and you will get a relatively low power consumption. This will request some development and understanding a new os/build environment (cf www.zephyrproject.org). The main problem with this solution is maybe the data storing which can request an external SDCARD controller.

Maybe an ‘easier’ solution would be to use the Orange Pi i96 board running linux. This board provides same I/Os and includes WiFi and BT radio as well as micro SDCARD support.


#3

If you are starting out experimenting with hardware and are only doing a 1-off then I would look for an off-the-shelf kit that you can plug together. For a first project having something that has been proven to work together will help you.
The toughest requirement you seem to have is running for 24 hours off battery power. This will be a tough requirement for most single board computers and something more suited to microcontrollers.

For a gentle introduction I would point you at something like the micro:bit and a sensor with example code:

If you implement the software in Python on the micro:bit then there is storage available:
http://microbit-micropython.readthedocs.io/en/latest/tutorials/storage.html

You might even want to add moisture sensing:
https://www.proto-pic.co.uk/moisture-sensor-for-microbit.html

If you want a more comprehensive list of things to think about when choosing then take a look at this:
https://makezine.com/comparison/boards/

There are some interesting points in this article:

Good luck!


#4

Thanks, both of you! Sounds like this should be easier than I could have possibly anticipated. The micro:bit and sensor board look to provide pretty much everything except a power source. If a couple of rechargeable AAA will suffice, then great. Otherwise… I’ll think about that. Not a lot of storage on the micro:bit, but it should be sufficient and I can work around it one way or another. Thanks for the welcome to a whole new world.