Nanode – The Network Application Node

The Nanode is a new low cost open source Arduino compatible controller with built in ethernet developed by Ken Boak and members of the London Hackspace which aims to be a platform for creative development of network or internet connected projects, aka The Internet of Things.

Supplied as a complete kit of parts to build yourself the Nanode is powered by the familiar ATmega328 microcontroller running at 16MHz and like the Arduino it has up to 14 digital I/O lines and 6 analogue inputs. All pretty standard stuff, but what really sets the Nanode aside from other Arduino clones is the built in 10BASE-T Ethernet, giving you an internet connected Arduino platform for at least half the cost of an Arduino and ethernet shield or even the new Arduino Ethernet. To keep the cost down the Nanode uses the ENC28J60 ethernet controller instead of the Wiznet controller used by most Arduino shields which does mean changes may need to be made to some existing code.

In addition to the built in ethernet there is also a 2 wire serial interface allowing a 4 core cable to link and power multiple Nanodes plus a USB-B socket, support for SPI expansion memory (SRAM, FRAM, Flash or SDCard) and a dedicated port for connection of a JeeLabs RFM12B 433MHz or 868MHz wireless board. While the standard Arduino header layout means the Nanode is physically compatible with standard Arduino shields you need to bear in mind that digital pins 8,11,12 and 13 are used for the built in ethernet controller and 7,9,10 may also be used depending on the hardware options fitted so some things may require some modification.

Programming is currently by way of the 6 pin FTDI header (requires a 5V USB FTDI cable or board) with programming via the USB-B socket (using V-USB) currently a work in progress – it works but needs polishing, advice is to stick to FTDI for now.

The board is of very high quality and is well marked. All the standard parts are included, even some extra components to be soldered in at a later date to support the V-USB programming and some extra male headers. The online build instructions are very clear and it will take around an hour or so to build if you are well practised with a soldering iron, it’s all standard through hole stuff, nothing fancy except for the tiny MAC address chip which fortunately comes pre-soldered to the bottom of the board. Here is what the components of the kit look like and this is the completed board.

Having used Arduinos with ethernet shields in the past the Nanode is a much needed addition to the market, the reduced cost, size and complexity are very welcome and having been developed around a Hackerspace community there is plenty of information online as you might imagine, the wiki here should be your first port of call and there is also a Google Group and an IRC channel.

My first plan with this one is to replace the X10/Misterhouse based system that I currently use to send me a text message when the front door bell is pressed and will probably move my 1-wire temperature sensors on to it too. With so many possibilities I’ve got a feeling this will only be my first Nanode.

You can buy the Nanode kit directly from the Nanode website  or via Earthshine Electronics in the UK or from Wicked Device in the US.

Finally, the obligatory tweet that is the “Hello World” of the modern internet connected device:

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