QuickDAQ.mikroBUS™ Next Generation Development System
Let's face it, writing software is a lot of fun. And writing software that interacts with the real world, like embedded systems do, is even more fun. But even for seasoned experts like us, working with hardware can be extremely difficult, and the complexity and hassle of just getting up and going is often an enormous obstacle. The QuickDAQ.mikroBUS™ project was born out of the desire to make working with custom electronics dramatically simpler, faster, and cheaper.
The QuickDAQ.mikroBUS™ can be thought of as a board that provides your computer with the same low-level peripherals that a microcontroller has, such as GPIO, analog input, PWM, SPI, I2C, UART, etc. It comes with a standard .NET class library and can be used in any normal .NET application, so in that sense it can be thought of as a Data Acquisition (DAQ) board, thus the name "QuickDAQ". What makes it unique is that it is also specifically designed to operate in the Virtuoso Low-Code Environment.
Virtuoso is a state-of-the-art general purpose Low-Code platform, which means it gives you the ability to design applications at a high level of abstraction without writing any code. Virtuoso supports, among others, a C# .NET WPF host platform which allows you to design applications by dragging and dropping nodes, configuring them, and connecting them to each other. This is called "Node-Based Visual Programming", and Virtuoso translates your high level graphical design to a fully formed Visual Studio project that you can build and run. So if you want to perform a high level task, like getting the current temperature in your city or sending a text message, you don't need to bother with the underlying C# code. Just drag and drop your node, and you're done. What's particularly exciting about Virtuoso is that it's built to scale: anyone can create nodes based on their C# code and share them with or license them to the community.
After you've dragged and dropped your nodes and your schematic design is complete, you can always go in and extend your application directly in C#. You can design your application in both the 3rd generation language (C#) and the 4th generation language (Node-Based Visual Programming) simultaneously, with no limitations whatsoever on what your application can do. Thus, Virtuoso is called a "Cross-Generation Language" Low-Code workflow. You can also effortlessly host virtual microprocessors in your app, which is where the power of combining the QuickDAQ.mikroBUS™ with Virtuoso really shines.
One of the things you can drag and drop in Virtuoso is a virtual microprocessor target, which results in a new C/C++ project being added to the application, which will run in parallel but also be able to be interacted with from other Virtuoso components. You can easily add digital and analog I/O, communication peripherals, LCD display buffers, serial communication streams, and more, and Virtuoso handles everything for you. From there, you can develop C/C++ applications that interact with the components on your Virtuoso schematic, which can be thought of as virtual hardware.
Virtuoso nodes for the QuickDAQ.mikroBUS™ allow effortless interaction with the real world using the peripherals that the board provides. Thus, the Click boards™ or custom circuits built on top of the QuickDAQ.mikroBUS™ become real hardware in the simulation loop. The QuickDAQ.mikroBUS™ has three standard mikroBUS™ slots, and all of the peripherals of the mikroBUS™ can be accessed directly from your virtual microcontroller. Fire off a SPI transfer from your target, and if your target's SPI bus is wired to the SPI bus of one of the mikroBUS™ expansion nodes, then your transfer magically happens at the SPI bus pins.
Alternatively, you can use a pre-written node specific to a Click board™ to directly provide the sensory I/O without having to perform the lower level communications. The Click board™'s node handles the lower level details and just gives you what the Click board™ provides directly. So instead of performing I2C communications to read the proximity sensor, you can just connect to the analog output of that node and use the proximity signal directly. Although everything is extremely high-level and breathtakingly easy to use, the result is highly optimized code added to your application.
See how it all works by watching the short demonstration below.
The QuickDAQ.mikroBUS™, with the Virtuoso low-code environment, provides the absolute fastest and most flexible way to tackle your experiments, hobbies, and design projects, using code that you can always migrate to a real microcontroller. The QuickDAQ.mikroBUS™ provides the ideal base platform for any design. And for GroupGets buyers helping to bring this product to market, we at Embeddetech have partnered with MikroE to build powerful development platforms. You can buy the QuickDAQ.mikroBUS™ board by itself, sure, but to fully experience the dizzyingly lightning-quick speeds in setting up your working functionality, you should definitely use this as an opportunity to load up on Click board™ sensors. With the availability of over 800 Click boards™ from MikroE (and growing!), the platform offers enormous versatility.
This GroupGets offer also includes a Virtuoso Embedded Target Development Toolkit license for non-commercial use, if you are wanting to build a virtual embedded system and interface it to the real world with the QuickDAQ.mikroBUS™. You never need an Embedded Target Development Toolkit software license if you're just building low-code C# apps to control the QuickDAQ.mikroBUS™, you only need the license if you want to host virtual embedded C/C++ targets. If you need a commercial license, contact us and we will give you the option to exchange your non-commercial license for a $150 credit towards a commercial license. That's right, you could buy a QuickDAQ.mikroBUS™ for $150 and then exchange your non-commercial license for a $150 credit towards a commercial license. A no-brainer!
Both Virtuoso and the QuickDAQ.mikroBUS™ are insanely easy to use, and the learning curve is essentially non-existent. The only thing there is to experience is just how powerful and awesome the combined tools are. Below are some videos that give an idea of how much of an improvement Virtuoso and the QuickDAQ.mikroBUS™ are over conventional embedded development.
Take a look at how fast debugging code on virtual hardware is, compared to debugging in-circuit. Once you're used to the unlimited breakpoints and instantaneous stepping through code, developing in-circuit will feel like moving in slow motion!
The QuickDAQ.mikroBUS™ gives you effortless interfacing to real peripherals and real hardware, a central element of any embedded project. But working with virtual components can make testing your code much cheaper and easier. The video below shows the same exact application code running on a real and a virtual Curiosity 8-Bit eval board from Microchip.
You don't need Click boards™ to use the mikroBUS™ sockets, you can directly interface to the peripherals on the mikroBUS™, such as SPI, I2C, analog input, PWM, etc... from your virtual microprocessor target or your C# application. However, we strongly recommend checking out the hundreds of Click boards™ available to easily get up and running with a variety of sensors, control outputs, and real-world connectivity. Although low-code nodes for all of the Click boards™ listed below are not available at this time, they can still be accessed directly at the lower peripheral level, such as SPI and I2C. We will be working to create components for low-code access to all of these boards and more.
If you purchase the QuickDAQ.mikroBUS through this GroupGets campaign, we are partnering with MikroE to provide deeply discounted Click boards™ at a 20% discount from MikroE's normal price. These will be handled as separate transactions after the campaign finishes, and additional transaction fees and shipping fees may apply
We will be building out a robust content library of example projects that incorporate the benefits of virtual hardware with flexible and cheap real-world hardware interfacing using the QuickDAQ.mikroBUS™. For example, this will include capturing real-world data using the QuickDAQ.mikroBUS™, and training deep neural networks to classify events based on the inputs.
We will have a levitating ball control system example, where you will be able to implement and test a control system that levitates a metal ball by controlling an electromagnet.
We will have digital signal processing examples incorporating live input and output from the QuickDAQ.mikroBUS™. Powered with the Montage platform, the community will be able to share and even sell components and example projects, to help build out the potential of virtual hardware. The possibilities are limitless!
The QuickDAQ.mikroBUS™ hardware and software is complete. Orders for hardware will be filled according to normal production lead times at the completion of the campaign. Production release of Virtuoso is expected by the end of August, though COVID-19 may have a logistical impact on our team.
Writing software is a lot of fun. And writing software that interacts with the real world, like embedded systems do, is even more fun. But even for seasoned experts like us, working with hardware can be extremely difficult, and the complexity and hassle of just getting up and going is often an enormous obstacle. The QuickDAQ.mikroBUS™ project was born out of the desire to make working with custom electronics dramatically simpler, faster, and cheaper.
One QuickDAQ.mikroBUS Board, One Year Virtuoso Student License ($120 value)
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