GadgetBox - No More Shield Stacking or Ugly Wires!

Build your IOT projects with Universal eCog modules that simply snap into low cost enclosures.

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If you are like me then you are real excited about the new developments with IoT devices. I can't stop thinking up new devices that I want to create and stick up on the walls to take care of day to day things. But one big problem I keep running into is the "Family Acceptance Factor"… It seems that when I make something with a stack of Arduino shields someone inevitably finds it ugly and quietly tears it down when I'm not looking. So while I love dreaming up and making new IoT devices I'm feeling pain from two things. One, stacking Arduino shields is cumbersome and two; my family won't accept these ugly circuit boards around the house.

GadgetBox is an IoT device that takes its inspiration from PC enclosures and lets you connect up to 4 peripherals without stacking. The best part - the addon boards form the lid of the enclosure that protects the electronics from the outside world and most importantly - from the eye.

GadgetBox tackles the biggest problems with current IoT devices - shield stacking, easily adding hardware, hardware compatibility, and an enclosure for your project. There are lots of IoT hardware options out there but none of them have thought the problem all the way through, so what we end up with is either a crazy tower of shields or peripherals soldered on with jumper wires. Not something we can proudly show our friends and family, let alone put into use in our homes.

GadgetBox starts with a case and builds from there - so the end result is an attractive, functional device with all of the electronics safely contained in the case.

Inside the GadgetBox case is a motherboard that provides all of the circuitry to charge and use a Lipo battery pack, provide higher current to your peripherals, and organizes all IO pins into the Universal eCog scheme. A motherboard for all of the most popular IoT devices is currently in the works - Arduino, Teensy, Pi Zero, ESP8266, etc.

eCogs are Universal peripherals that just snap into the motherboard and form the top of your enclosure. Only the hardware that is needed by the end user is exposed to the outside world, everything else is tucked inside the enclosure. Because the motherboards are designed using the Universal eCog scheme you can freely interchange your eCogs between motherboards. If you have an SD card eCog shouldn't you be able to use that same eCog with the Arduino, Teensy, Pi Zero, and ESP8266? Of course you should, the Universal eCog scheme makes that possible.

Motherboards in Development

  • Arduino compatible - Uses the new ATmega328PB chip that provides just enough IO pins to work with the Universal eCog scheme.
  • Teensy - Plug in a Teensy 3.2 and the Motherboard converts the IO pins to work with the Universal eCog scheme. Support for a Lipo battery pack and charging circuit are included.
  • Raspberry Pi Zero - Plug in a Raspberry Pi Zero and enjoy the Universal eCog scheme and Lipo battery support.
  • ESP8266 - For the absolute lowest cost possible, no need to add a Wifi eCog because the motherboard is the Wifi eCog! The ESP8266 is very GPIO constrained so there are tradeoffs with this design. It is not possible to implement the full Universal eCog scheme, but we are able to get SPI and I2C on all four eCog quadrants which opens up a lot of possibilities.

GadgetBox in Action

Eagle PCB Templates to make your own eCogs.

x-zip-compressed - 82.17 kB - 06/30/2016 at 23:22


  • Remote Control and Sensor eCog Snap Packs up for Pre-Order.

    Jack Gassett11/04/2016 at 20:34 0 comments

    If you have an idea for an IoT project that uses Remote Control IR commands or Sensor data then these eCog Snap Packs might be right up your alley.

    The Sensor eCog Snap Pack pairs with the Arduino Mini Pro (Clone) GadgetBox and lets you connect any of the sensors from the popular 37-in-1 Sensor Kits to make a nice looking Sensor based IoT device. Starting at $11 for the GadgetBox and $10 for the Sensor Snap Pack for a total of $21 is a heck of a deal for an enclosure, battery charger, esp8266 wifi, and sensor eCog.

    The Remote Control eCog Snap Pack pairs with the Arduino Mini Pro (Clone) GadgetBox to give you full IoT control over your Remote Control devices. Learn IR commands and blast them back out with the dual IR transmitter and make your IR devices controllable with web services, phone apps, or Home Automation controllers. Starting at $15 for the Remote Control Snap pack and $11 for the Gadgetbox for a total of $26 for an IR gateway.

    We are taking pre-orders now and hope to have everything shipping by the end of November. Be the first to check out the GadgetBox hardware and let us know if this is an idea that is worth pursuing. We are doing a limited run of 50-100 of these devices to see if there is enough interest to continue developing more eCogs and GadgetBox options. We need your help to get this idea off the ground...

    If there is enough interest we will proceed with the following GadgeBoxes that we are currently testing:

    • Teensy 3.2 and LC
    • NodeMCU
    • Raspberry Pi
    • ESP32 (If we can get our hands on one!)
    • GR8 C.H.I.P Pro (waiting for one to arrive still)

    To see all of the GadgetBox, Snap Pack, and eCogs options visit GadgetFactory.

    Thank you for checking out this GadgetBox idea, we appreciate all help and feedback.


  • Taking Pre-Orders for the first batch of GadgetBoxes!

    Jack Gassett11/02/2016 at 16:04 0 comments

    Be the first to try out the GadgetBox! We are just waiting for some charging modules to arrive from China and then we will have everything ready to go with the first batch of 50-100 GadgetBoxes for the Arduino Mini Pro. We finished the hardware guide, made the product page, and even got the GadgetBox library accepted in the Arduino IDE library manager. Everything is ready to go, so we decided to start taking pre-orders now and as soon as we get the last shipment from China we will ship the very first GadgetBoxes out.

    You can get one of the first GadgetBoxes for as low as $11 for the unsoldered option. For $11 you get an enclosure, battery charging module, and the GadgetBox Motherboard that breaks all of the IO of the Arduino Mini Pro (clone) into four easy to interface locations. Perfect if you have a project in mind and can forgo the eCogs for now and just directly solder your components to the Motherboard.

    Up next for documentation and pre-orders is the following eCog Snap Packs:

    • A sensor Snap Pack - Takes any sensor from the 37-in-1 Sensor kits, an ESP8266 Wifi Module, and an I2C OLED display module.
    • A remote control Snap Pack - eCog to send and receive IR commands, ESP8266 Wifi Module, and an I2C OLED display module.
    • Barcode Scanner Snap Pack - PS/2 connector for a barcode scanner, EP8266 Wifi Module, and an I2C OLED display module. (This was a special request to make an Iot Barcode Scanner)

    We would love to hear your ideas for eCog Snap Packs, please feel free to comment with your ideas.

  • GadgetBox UserGuide for Arduino Mini Pro (clone)

    Jack Gassett11/01/2016 at 18:10 0 comments

    Ok, the UserGuide for the first GadgetBox which uses an Arduino Mini Pro (clone) module has just been completed and posted online:

    Up next is the User Guides for eCogs, eCog Snap packs and then the following GadgetBoxes:

    • Teensy 3.2 and Teensy LC
    • NodeMCU
    • Raspberry Pi Zero

  • First GadgetBox test run almost ready!

    Jack Gassett10/31/2016 at 16:40 0 comments

    Hello everyone,

    Exciting news, I'm just about finished pulling everything together for the first test run of 50-100 GadgetBoxes for the Arduino Mini Pro (clone) modules. One of the biggest problems was getting the price right and by using existing modules I think I have finally found the right approach. The pricing will be very affordable (it's not much more then you would pay for just an enclosure!):

    • $11 for the GadgetBox enclosure, motherboard, battery charging, and supporting hardware. This is not soldered so you can decide how to configure it. Maybe you don't want to use eCogs but instead want to solder your own components directly to the motherboard. You bring your own Arduino Mini Pro module
    • $15 for the GadgetBox enclosure, motherboard, battery charging, and supporting hardware - with this option the motherboard is already soldered. You bring your own Arduino Mini Pro module
    • $16 for the GadgetBox enclosure, motherboard, battery charging, Mini Pro Module (clone) and supporting hardware - Not soldered.
    • $20 for the GadgetBox enclosure, motherboard, battery charging, Mini Pro Module (clone) and supporting hardware - Motherboard soldered.

    I just received the first 100 enclosures with the cutouts and silkscreen for the Arduino Gadgetbox. Here's a look at them in the box:

    I've also got about half of the components needed for a first test run of 50-100 Arduino Mini Pro (clone) GadgetBoxes. Just waiting for the Arduino Mini clones now, here is what it looks like without them:

    I'm also finishing up the hardware guide which I hope to have done today or tomorrow and will post about here.

    Keep watching if you want to be one of the first 50-100 to test out the GadgetBox. :)

  • GadgetBox - eCog Snap Packs

    Jack Gassett09/13/2016 at 22:01 0 comments

    Snap Packs are 4 eCogs manufactured together as a single board that can snap apart into individual eCogs.

    This saves on manufacturing costs!

  • Assembling GadgetBox IOT Enclosure

    Jack Gassett09/13/2016 at 21:56 0 comments

    Shows how all the pieces of the GadgetBox go together:

    * The Enclosure

    * The optional battery

    * The GadgetBox Circuit Board

    * The Universal eCog Modules

  • GadgetBox 2.0 Redesign - Enabling Universal eCog Modules

    Jack Gassett09/13/2016 at 21:24 0 comments

    With the first GadgetBox design I realized that I painted myself into a corner by putting the headers in the middle of the board. Doing so limits the different IOT modules that we can put into the GadgetBox.

    One of the goals with GadgetBox is to make eCogs a Universal plugin that can be used no matter what IOT platform you are using. Whether that be Arduino, Teensy, Raspberry Pi, ESP8266 and so on. If you have a SD Card eCog there is no reason you shouldn't be able to use it with any of the above mentioned modules.

    By redesigning the GadgetBox to make more room for larger modules such as the Rasberry Pi Zero we are that much closer to Universal eCog Modules all housed in an attractive enclosure.

    Keep tuned for more information as the GadgetBox development continues.

  • First GadgetBox project: Remote Control.

    Jack Gassett08/06/2016 at 17:17 0 comments

    Here is a quick video showing the first working GadgetBox using a pCog (project Cog) design to implement a working remote control solution. A pCog is four eCogs that are manufactured together and can be snapped into four separate eCogs if desired. For example the eCog in the upper left quadrant of the pCog is a blank eCog, if we wanted to add a display instead we would just snap the pCog apart and replace the blank portion with a display eCog.

  • pCog Circuit Boards arrived.

    Jack Gassett07/29/2016 at 19:30 0 comments

    I just got back from vacation and found some circuit boards waiting for me!

    Here are some pictures of the pCogs in different colors so we can get a feel for how the contrasting colors look with the boxes.

    My vote is for the Black case and Red eCogs, allthough the White case with Red eCog looks good too.

  • Bluetooth (BLE) HM-10 eCog

    Jack Gassett07/12/2016 at 18:22 0 comments

    Just made a Bluetooth (BLE) module using the HM-10 module:

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christo.flemmer wrote 08/14/2019 at 14:40 point

Nice project. What is the size of the motherboard and ecogs

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Craig Hissett wrote 02/27/2017 at 14:53 point

Such a fantastic idea!

I love the neatness of the end product. Even my missus wouldn't mind that! :)

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