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Eval Board ATmega32U4
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Customer Reviews

Split Personality is Both Good and Bad There are a number of microcomputers available on the market at this moment. Some are aimed at Linux, others aimed at IoT development, while others are targeting Android. One of the original platforms is Arduino. This is a microcomputing area for at all forms of device controllers. Plenty of projects are run using Arduino thanks to its extensive library of scripts and add on boards. Like all microcomputers the Arduino Yun runs off of a couple of volts, 5 volts to be exact. A quick look at the board and you might think the processor is massive. Closer inspect shows that it’s the WiFi that is huge, the processors are (yes, there are two on this board) an Arduino controller chugging along at 16 MHz and the Linux processor at 400 MHz. A wee bit slow for most microcontrollers these days but not many can talk to two different systems at the same time without the need for a shield. This is a shield and a controller in one. Cool, eh. The Yun comes with multiple ways to communicate. It is loaded with WiFi, Ethernet, USB, microUSB (power), microSD card, 20 GPIO pins and three reset buttons. I’m not sure I need three reset buttons or even where the third one is located. My fingers happen to always pick up the device right where the reset button is. Luckily, the Yun has them slightly tucked away for knuckleheads like me. It is a bit smaller than the Raspberry Pi or Beagle Bone Black but a majority of the space is taken up by the Ethernet and USB ports plus the WiFi chip. Take those away and you’ve got a pretty worthless tiny device. The Ethernet doesn’t have connection lights on it for those who enjoy watching green and yellow challenge each other for domination. Those lights are connected in a row of other lights near the back end of the board. Okay, maybe I do watch those lights a little too often. You can disable the WiFi if you want to save your batteries since WiFi will suck the life out of most microcomputers if not managed properly. Power is everything to microcomputer users. BTW, the Yun has no onboard power management. Be careful when using anything other than the microUSB jack for power. Oh hey look, I found the third reset button. It was hidden next to the Ethernet jack. It seems as though each reset button only affects one area. You can reset the WLAN connection, the Ethernet connection or the entire Yun board. Why they didn’t just put one reset button for the network connection is beyond me. But, hey, I’ve got three reset buttons, cool. If I have a problem with the system, I usually just reboot the whole thing but that’s just my technique. The Yun is a bridge board between an Arduino controller and a Linux environment called Linino. This OS was built for the Internet of Things with several factors in mind. First of all, it can use python, Java, bash or Node.js (Javascript) to control your device. This makes it a fast and scalable OS. Next, the platform has GPG implemented with allows for digital signatures. It’s a security thing. Lastly, it means your device will at least have a couple of years before a new IoT standard comes out defined by RFC. I shouldn’t be so mean. Google is behind this OS so it is open source and has 3,000 libraries backing it up. That isn’t bad for a cross platform OS. The microcontroller side of the Yun runs off of 3.3 volts at 50 mAs but you don’t need to worry about the voltage drop because that is handled by a JP3 pin at a switch regulator. The Yun has 64 MB of DDR2 RAM and 16 MB of flash memory which isn’t stellar compared with most other microcomputers out there. The Pi has 1 gig and the Radxa Rock has 2 gig. But neither of those boards have a split personality like the Yun does. The Yun is quite different than other Arduino boards. The power must be moderated at 5 volts. The SPI pins are not connected to any of the digital I/O pins as they are on the Uno; they are only available on the ICSP connector. This means that if you have a shield that uses SPI, but does NOT have a 6-pin ICSP connector that connects to the Yun's 6-pin ICSP header, the shield will not work. It is not possible to access the I/O pins of the Atheros AR9331. All I/O lines are tied to the 32U4 chip. The Yun does achieve something that I found interesting, if the Arduino programming library and drivers aren’t already installed on the computer, the computer see the Yun as either a keyboard, a mouse or a com port. This is usually done on purpose to spoof the hardware identification (HID) of a USB device to gain access to a system. The Yun does this as part of its function to communicate between Arduino and Linux and your computer. Two of my computers detected this as a Yun because the drivers and library were already installed but an older Windows 7 machine had no clue what was being connected and asked for the driver. When I didn’t provide the driver, the computer designated the Yun an input device like a mouse or a keyboard. That’s a cool hack. When I went to exploit this hack by connecting a thumbdrive to the Yun, the computer changed its opinion of the Yun and made it a serial connection for a USB drive. This little hack didn’t work when I connected via WiFi or Ethernet because the MAC address gives away the true nature of the device. Each connection has its own MAC address. It is something to consider if you are looking to bypass HID access control on Windows machines. Just spoof the USB HID as well and you are connected but trying to execute commands will be a challenge unless you can make a call to powershell using kernel level commands. I guess this is a little off topic, sorry. There are plenty of ways to use the Yun ranging from specialized network interfaces for remote access to general use of controlling robotic equipment. Software like Autobahn lets you use the network connection to control devices over WiFi or Ethernet. Neither of these connections are in realtime so expect some delay depending on bandwidth and distance (and protocol and link state and so forth). Keep in mind that if you intend to use the Yun as a media server, firewall or other network device, of the 16 meg of memory onboard, 9 megs are already used by the operating system. You’ll have to load from the microSD card for other applications. Remember to use class 10 or higher for your microSD cards. Four is just too slow. Looking at the Yun I had some reservations about the functionality of it because of the odd limitations. Now I see that those limitations were imposed because of the cross platform and cross functions of this board. You are going to lose some sanity when you spilt your personality like that. Arduino did a good job of making a very useful board. There are some areas that could be tweaked but no so much that I wouldn’t recommend it for its primary purpose, be a link between Arduino and Linux, the physical world and the digital world. You’ll have lots of fun playing and building with this project. June 4, 2015
  • 2015-06-11T15:21:19.784-05:00
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