The LightBlue Bean is a microcontroller platform that costs just $30 (Price: $30.00), making it a perfect prototyping platform for the electronics hobbyist or tinkerers. The little Bean has a lot of potential in the DIY area with a nice introduction into the Internet of Things and programmable over-the-air.
The LightBlue Bean package a series of distinctive attributes that make it ideal for long-term use, attach sensors, or program it right from your iOS device.
Below is a list of the most important features of the microcontroller:
- it runs for months on a coin cell battery;
- compatible with the Arduino IDE;
- the Bean iOS Loader application allows you code directly from your iPad/iPhone over Bluetooth LE;
- upload the sketch to Dropbox;
- the microcontroller is ATMega328P (run at 8MHz);
- it has eight digital I/O pins to add additional sensors, LCD screen, etc.;
- RGB LED for notifications;
- built-in 3-axis accelerometer;
With this impressive list of features for a tiny prototyping platform, the Bean is very competitive in the DIY culture.
LightBlue Bean: What is good for?
In the Internet of Things world, we need to connect physical devices to the digital world. The Bean board has “Arduino like” features and a Bluetooth Low Energy module that gives users most of the functionality to connect and program the little board wirelessly right from a smartphone or a PC.
Powered by a coin cell battery, the device lets you do things when you are in its range. For example, you can develop an application to lock or unlock the doors of your car, control a robot, control a drone, or control the lights of your home.
Nothing is perfect. The Bean impresses me with its size and features, but it has some design issues that should be dealt with before purchasing the microcontroller board.
The Bluetooth compatibility
To work with LightBlue Bean, you have to be sure that your smartphone/tablet/PC has Bluetooth LE (4.0) connectivity.
The development issue
The little development board has only iOS support. So, the board is limited to iOS users at this time while Windows or Android users have to wait a significant amount of time for their version of the software.
If you have programming issues with the Bean, the most common case comes from the installed battery. So, in this case you can purchase a 2 AAA battery holder with a switch and solder it directly to the battery terminals.
The LightBlue Bean has some great features and a very competitive price for a prototyping platform. No matter your level in engineering things, you can find in Bean exciting features to build fun Do-It-Yourself projects.