Amber Pi Design Kit - Review

Table of contents

RoadTest: Amber Pi Design Kit

Author: aley.rizvi

Creation date:

Evaluation Type: Development Boards & Tools

Did you receive all parts the manufacturer stated would be included in the package?: True

What other parts do you consider comparable to this product?: Arduino, other sensor boards, wireless communications devices

What were the biggest problems encountered?: Manual is not handy, and downloading the Amber Pi drivers is a lot of process of signing up your email.

Detailed Review:

As a tech lover, it was a great opportunity for me to review this product. I will like to thank Element14 for allowing me to test this product and express my technical opinion upon it. The Amber PI Design Kit has proven to be quite beneficial for me. In this review, I will explain this notion and conclude my findings. In this review, you’ll find a/an:

  • Introduction
  • Unboxing
  • Features
  • Applications
  • Resources to Use
  • Conclusion

Let’s dig in:

Introduction:

The Amber PI is an expansion board for the Raspberry Pi 3B. Basically, the Amber PI furnishes the Raspberry Pi with the sub-1-GHz RF-interface provided by AMBER wireless. Also, it equips the Raspberry Pi with two I2C and SPI sockets to connect I2C- and SPI-slaves with them. The Kit comes with several distinguished sensors. These include Humidity/Temperature Sensor, Pressure Sensor, and a 3-axis linear Accelerometer.

Unboxing:

Upon opening the package, the kit turned out to be exactly how an IT product should be. Neatly organized with clear-cut outlook of the product’s features, in a shock-absorber packaging. Here’s what came with the kit:

  • Amber Pi Design Board with 868MHz or 915MHZ Radio Versions
  • Temperature/Humidity sensor (I2C)
  • Pressure Sensor (I2C)
  • 3-axis linear Accelerometer (SPI)
  • Tarvos-III USB Radio Dongle
  • 2 Dipole Rubber Ducky Antenna
  • A Developer SPI prototyping board
  • Battery Holder for stand-by operations
  • A Quick Starter Guide.

Optional Features:

  • Raspberry Pi 3B
  • Power Supply Unit for the Raspberry Pi 3B

      Raspberry pi and Amber Pi design kit.

 

    Amber Pi board, Antenna, and USB radio dongle

 

    Amber Pi board along with temperature/humidity sensor, pressure sensor, accelerometer, and an empty SPI board

 

Features:

In the Amber PI Design Kit, everything was designed and placed in a compact space to ensure the kit does not take much space on the shelf. In the same regard, each component of the kit was quite fragile to handle. At the back of the board, there is a Default Pin-out Configuration for use in cases when anything goes wrong. The Amber PI board also comes with an Antenna connector, a reset button, RX/TX Lights, Blue LEDs, labeled SPI and I2C Headers, Travos III Radio Board, and GPIO Throughput Header.

The PROTO SPI consists of 4-wire SPI signals and the power signals of +3.3V and GND. If we look at the sensors then firstly, the HTS221 is an ultra-compact sensor for relative humidity and temperature. On the other hand, the LPS22HB is an ultra-compact piezo resistive absolute pressure sensor that tasks as a digital output barometer. Lastly, the LIS2DW12 is an ultra-low-power high-performance three-axis linear accelerometer, capable of measuring accelerations with output data rates from 1.6 Hz to 1600 Hz.

Moreover, the Tarvos-II Plug is a low-cost radio data transmission USB-radio-dongle, which functions as a remote station to the AMBER-PI. Using this, a bidirectional wireless bridge can be built. It can then, for example, transmit certain sensor values. In addition, it is a dipole antenna with SMA-connector, permitting wireless data transmission with extended range.

Setup:

Here’s where you will thank you didn’t throw out the manual in the first place. The manual will help you tons in the entire setup. You should note, however, that to use AMBER PI, you need to first install the AMBER PI driver. The latest Raspbian with GUI can be downloaded from https://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads/raspbian/. The installation process is quite easy and thoroughly explained in the manual. However, it still takes sufficient time to complete, around 40-50 minutes.

I used a class d kingston Micro SD Card with the latest Raspbian Operating System (November, 2019). The guide continues by explaining the entire Raspbian OS Installation process, for example, that you need to write the OS image on your SD Card. If you don’t know how to deal with Raspbian OS, there’s nothing to fret over! Below, I am attaching a link that can help you out to understand more about Raspberry PI and its components.

In the next steps, the manual explained how to configure the peripherals, installing the wiringPI library and the AMBER PI Driver, setting up the AMBER PI Hardware, and finally running it. Sounds easy? Well, at some stages it is better saying the process was easy than doing it since I faced technical issues at few points. Whether the manual mentioned incorrect procedures or there were technical calamities in my system, nevertheless, I significantly found it difficult to install the wiringPI library. The link never worked for me and to be honest, it was quite a pain in the neck to download stuff continuously from outsourcing links for the system to function. In fact, you have to sign up on the website to download drivers. If you are like me, who avoids signing up to random websites and downloading multiple files, then you will definitely find it a very tedious task.

In order to solve the issue, I had to ditch the manual for a while and use the internet to find the latest resources and links to the recent products. The same will work for you. It will all come down to what steps works for you and whatnot. Overall, the setup process requires the use of your technical information, several resources, and the AMBER PI not-so-correct handy manual.

Application:

As mentioned on the website and several resources, the AMBER PI Design Kit can be used for the following procedures:

  • As a gateway for Sub-1-GHz to Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or Ethernet
  • To collect Data for Sub-1-GHz radio devices
  • A Wireless remote control station
  • For Rapid prototyping of wireless data transmission applications
  • As a Mobile wireless sensor board for home and industries

Resources To Use:

With time, Wurth Electronik releases several documentation and resources on its website for the ease of the users. You should always head over to its website whenever using the Amber PI Design Kit. Here are some informative links I am attaching. Thank me later!

https://www.raspberrypi.org/magpi-issues/Beginners_Guide_v1.pdf

https://katalog.we-online.de/en/wco/AMBER_PI

https://www.we-online.de/web/en/index.php/show/media/07_electronic_components/eismart/eismart_handbuecher/AmberPi_2609017281001.pdf

https://www.we-online.de/web/en/electronic_components/service_pbs/wco/software/softwareuebersicht.php?_ga=2.184050278.1981948901.1573579727-942230648.1573579727

Conclusion:

Overall, Amber PI Design Kit is an intelligent wireless piece of device. The low-power consumption and less foot-print ability make this module extremely useful. It offers a great opportunity for enthusiastic developers to work on their projects and explore the IT world in-depth.

However, much needs to be done in improving this technology as well. It needs to be made cost-effective, as there are better solutions available in the market for young developers just starting in the field. Moreover, the process of using it needs to be made simpler, better, and easier to grasp. The relevant issues with the software need to be resolved, big time!

Still, this RoadTest was truly a remarkable experience for me. Once again, I will like to pay my tribute to Element14 and its team. With few changes here and there, this Amber PI can become the best board for development projects and research. The application of this board are gigantic.

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