Postman’s just delivered a little box of treats from Ciseco. Having taken them out of their wrappers, I’m a little nervous about ruining their nice clean appearance through my ham-fisted attempts at soldering, but the upside is that these kits are at the bargain basement end of the price spectrum, so if I really trash something it’s not going to be an expensive mistake. Who knows how long I will have to wait before I get some time to actually sit down and have a play – so for the minute, just some teaser shots.

First up is the brand, spanking new, only just released ENC28J60 Ethernet Shield for Arduino/Xino. Significantly cheaper than most ethernet shields because the network layer is implemented in software, rather than hardware (as on the Wiznet chip); the upshot is that you lose some program space on the Arduino for the networking library and it’s probably not as fast, but I liked the look of it because if I’m not blasting large amounts of data over the link, speed is less of an issue and if it’s used on a sensor node with no fancy bits, the space issue shouldn’t be a problem. Either which way, it’s a tenner for a network shield, so put a tick in the “hmm that’s interesting” box.

Ciseco ethernet shield

And here’s the board itself;

Ciseco ethernet shield board

Interesting that it’s got the Open Hardware logo on there and I’m guessing that “IOT Research” is “Internet Of Things Research” (though I couldn’t track down who they actually were in a lazy-arsed 3.8 second Google) … so it’s a big points tally in wank-word bingo if nothing else!

Next up is the Xino Basic for Atmel ATMEGA AVR Arduino compatible kit which is not a very catchy name, so most folks seem to simply refer to it as a Xino. It’s a sort-of “Arduino with most of the bits missing”, mainly intended for use in deploying a project rather than during its’ development. If your project is a clock controller that’s driving some LEDs with a bit of logic thrown in, do you really want to sink a twenty quid Uno into it? Err, no. There’s even a little prototype area on the top left corner of the board, so deploying your project may not even need anything else.

Ciseco Xino Atmel

Finally, there’s a ProtoX prototype board shield for three quid. I got this because I was already paying postage on the other two, to be honest. No idea if I’ll ever need or use it, but it’s sitting there for if I do and it’s a damn sight less than some other people want to charge you for a glorified bit of protoboard.

Ciseco ProtoX shield board