Production update and Zigduino plans

Production Status

All of the pieces for production have come together nicely; we expect to have the first run done and ready to ship this Friday. We'll open the store when they're ready to ship. Contact us or subscribe to our RSS feed in order to receive notice as soon as they are ready. There is one unfortunate caveat, however: we have not worked the kinks out of our RoHS-compliant process yet. Therefore, we will not be able to ship boards from this first run to customers in the European Union. 

Zigduino Product Plans

I'm as excited as everyone else in the larger Arduino community about the introduction of the new Arduino Uno. The shield interface has remained compatible, so I can continue to production with the 16 channel high side shield; it will work with all existing shield compatible Arduino variants.

The first production Zigduinos will use the old FTDI chip rather than the new ATmega8U2. Changing that up at this point would consume another couple of months and interfere with testing of the 802.15.4 radio and the software. I'd like to get them out on the market ASAP; updating the USB interface can wait a little longer.

Zigduino Software

The Arduino core libraries and IDE are substantially ported. However, sufficiently large changes to the IDE were required that I will be hosting a Zigduino-only port of the Arduino package. This is because of two substantial changes in addition to the library porting:

  1. Use of WinAVR-20100110 instead of WinAVR-20081205 for back-end compilation. Non-Windows platforms (to come later) will require a similar update to gcc and libc. This is because the version that ships with the standard Arduino package (as of 0019; I have not inspected 0020 yet) is too old to support the ATmega128RFA1 and therefore cannot compile to the right target.
  2. Application of uracoli's patch to Compiler.java, enabling the Arduino IDE to compile against pre-compiled libraries. This is because the RF libraries provided by Atmel are provided in pre-compiled form, i.e. as *.a files. They are not, in general, open source. However, that should not affect the open source hardware status of the Zigduino because these libraries implement well-designed public standards. 

In order to get the Zigduino into the hands of users ASAP, I plan to release it with a ported Arduino package and direct end users to one of the existing available RF libraries. There are two options that I know of right now. First, the uracoli project is developing a completely open source 802.15.4 MAC. This will not provide ZigBee support, but it will provide networking for up to thirty compatible devices.

Users who want to interface with ZigBee devices or who want to try out one of the other protocols built on top of 802.15.4 will need to download one of Atmel's free design software packages which includes the libraries for 6LoWPAN, ZigBeePro, Route Under MAC, and RF4Control, as well as several proprietary Atmel toolkits. While I don't think this is entirely ideal, it does allow me to get to market much, much sooner and with much better firmware.