Nanode : First Impressions
That was the first thought that crossed my mind when I saw the Nanode at the World Maker Faire in New York. This product is now available (and manufactured) in the USA thanks to the colaboration of its original designer, Ken Boak from London Hackspace and Vic and Dirk from WickedDevice. My board revision (Nanode 5) was the first set of kits available in the US.
I had heard of the nanode before, but never really was able to get over the international shipping costs and was not sold on a Microchip ethernet controller when the “standard” is any shield based on the Wiznet ethernet controller.
but $35? Heck. Why not!
So I bought one.
And it works!
Here is my take on the assembly.
The online pictorial building guide included plenty of visual and text instructions, however there were a few discrepancies between my board and the pictures. This is not surprising, as the PCB pictured in the instructions is from London Hackspace, where as my device is a new product made in the USA and sold by WickedDevice. They are working on their own documentation, as it should be available soon.
Most of the differences were minor component variations (the level shifter and capacitors were from a different manufacturer, the PCB was a different revision with a different screen print.
The first item to catch my eye was the SMT SOT23 labeled 11AA02E48 which is a 3 pin serial eeprom, pre-soldered to the bottom of the board. This was identified as the “MAC Address IC” in the instructions. This kit is intended to be assembled by the hobbyist, and most of us dont have surface mount soldering equipment (Well, some of us do). Props to the guy who has to hand solder and pack all these boards!
Another set of empty pads left room for an 8-lead SOIC, labeled 23k256, which is a 256k of SRAM connected to the SPI bus. No chip included with the N5 kit, but its listed as an optional component (original design notes here) to be used for
additional code storage or data logging Ethernet based arduino sketch uploads! This is based on a new bootloader called WickedBoot. Code is available in the invite-only Sketchgarden beta site. Code was previously in in development by the Arduino guys, but the guys over at wickedDevice are not quite ready to let their code go mainstream yet. (Other similar projects for TFTP arduino boot available here )
The only real “gotcha” is the 3.3v voltage regulator. The orientation does not match the orientation of the screen print. There is a “note” and a dashed line,probably a quick fix enabling them to deliver a working product in time for MakerFaire. This orientation is addressed in the documentation, but could be easily missed if you are used to jumping in without reading directions first (guillty as charged!). This has been identified by WickedDevice as something that is going to be fixed in version 6.
Once everything is assembled, loading up the first test sketch only requires a minor tweak to the line to tell it to use Pin 8. The code was developed for the Nuelectronics EtherShield The source code is up on Github, but hopefully there will be a custom library for the Nanode available directly from WickedDevice shortly.
Pop the ethernet cord in, fire up the browser, and go to the default IP address. you should see the first webpage served by the new Nanode!
I did notice lots of spare holes for missing components- 2 zener diodes, 2 resistors and a capacitor was left out- the instructions make reference to a Virtual USB option. Sweet! A quick search on their Wiki page reveals that its in the works, Code for virtual USB available here.
The thing that really got me excited was the Ethernet Bootloader. WickedDevice have a video showing this over on their blog. Cant wait till they release the code!
Overall I think it’s a great buy for under $40. Go buy one one!
Available from the following vendors: