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The MetaBoard

A software interface for the breadboard. Configures your prototypes without wires or other components.

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The breadboard has an indispensable place on the workbench of a hardware developer. But this tool is also essential for any software developer who wants to program the world. The MetaBoard is a project that attempts to bridge the gap between the breadboard used by hardware developers and the digital interface used by software developers. This tool combines the best of both worlds.

Follow us to get updated as we prepare for a crowdfunded manufacturing round.

Design

Programmable – our software interface interacts with hardware to cater to the caprice of every programmer. It replaces wires with a programmable switch fabric. The user interface interacts with the switch fabric so you can connect channels to IO pins. It also interacts with the onboard ADC so you can apply logic levels at a click of a button and monitor signals in real time.

Connectivity – this tool supports automated prototyping. With the onboard USB port, you can be a few steps from your breadboard and still interact with it.

Modular – the platform includes an interface for custom shields.

Compatible with Arduino

Applications

Replace wires

1. Connect the controller board to your breadboard and PC.

2. Connect channels to IO pins in the user interface.

The user interface will interact with the hardware and implement your configuration on a breadboard via a programmable switch matrix, thereby replacing wires.

Monitor signals

1. Connect the GPIO channel to the ADC channel on the same IO pin.

2. Set the ADC channel on.

Then you can analyse the signal.

Build custom shields

This feature is still in development.

Specs

We are working on specs right now for the current iteration. Expect specs of the standard features by next week.

Block Diagram

The Team

Hi everyone! We are a new startup called Freesearch. We are a team of makers based in Australia. We want to hack your breadboard for the better.

R&D

- Matt Dixon

  • Updated project status

    Freesearch03/14/2017 at 00:59 0 comments

    Here we are at the end of Q1 2017and what have we got?


    We are just finishing up design details for out Beta test devices. We expect to be sending them out for a few lucky people to play with over the next month. If you'd like to have your say on some of the features included, or be one of the testers, head on over to our patreon and cast your vote. https://www.patreon.com/metaboard

    While our previous designs have focused on extensibility and modularity (and we intend to do so in the future), we are gearing up these ones for ease of use. Plug&play with as many features to help you test as possible. They look something like this:To give you a short tour, those pins at the end are the IO. Any signal coming in to one can come out the other via an internal channel. The channels are normally available on each side to allow the devices to be stacked together, but in this simplified version, we have only the programming ports on the side (sorry, no USB programming yet!). The five pins in the middle allow you to use a jumper to set the voltage of channel 9 to GND, 3v3, 5v or 12v.

    At the moment we have the supply channel, a GPIO, an LED, and an ADC, as can be seen here:

    We can toggle the onboard LED (which is internally connected to GND) by connecting GPIO and LED to the same IO, then toggling the GPIO:

    Similarly, we can link the GPIO to the ADC and see the waveform:


    Most importantly, however, is that you can plug anything in to the IO pins and use our interface to build a circuit around it! Let us know what tools you would find most useful in the Metaboard!

    If you like this project, please consider making a tiny donation over at our patreon. We have more exciting projects in the works and we can't wait to bring them to you! (Plus coffee is expensive)


    Thanks for joining us :)


  • Working on v0.3b ... a look back

    Freesearch02/26/2017 at 09:34 0 comments

    We are finalising v0.3b at the moment. This iteration simplifies our design. We are offering it to beta testers.

    But while you wait, here are some demonstrations of the utility of our tookit:

    Connecting channels to IO pins in the user interface

    Lighting up an LED on a breadboard and on the controller board using the user interface

    Applying logic levels at a click of a button in the user interface


  • Say yes to crowdfunding

    Freesearch02/18/2017 at 08:34 0 comments

    Hi,

    So, we are launching our crowdfunding campaign soon. We need funding to improve your prototyping experience and streamline our distribution. To be specific, this campaign will allow us to:

    • Finalise R&D in Q1 2017.
    • Manufacture and deliver kits to backers in Q2 2017.
    • Produce custom shields, such as a higher precision ADC, a DAC, a MIDI controller, an SoC, wifi adapter or an FPGA.
    • Secure retail distribution by the end of 2017.

    My team can't thank you enough for following this project. Your support makes the development of the MetaBoard possible. You light up our days. We want to light up your days, and your breadboards! Here is how you can nudge us along:

    - Spread the word to your friends, family, peers, enemies ... anyone who can put our project out there.

    - Let my team know what you think about the MetaBoard. Leave me a message on here or on metaboard.com.au.

    - Support my team on Patreon. Any donation encourages us and increases our productivity (especially when we can afford more caffeine).

    Once again, our gratitude is ∞. One more thing...

    - Yasmine

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Discussions

Adam Vadala-Roth wrote 01/22/2017 at 03:38 point

Interesting project, so this is a digitally controlled array of switches for controlling what sections of the breadboard are connected ? In the chat you asked for feedback perhaps a better explaination? If you need PCB and hardware feedback though I can provide that as well. Keep at i!

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technolomaniac wrote 01/22/2017 at 00:58 point

Reminds me of a crosspoint switch.  This is a pretty standard model but it'd be cool to see it implemented on a breadboard in a way that made connectivity faster or allowed you to try a few different options more efficiently.  A nice little debug technique us old-school FPGA dudes used a lot.  Question of course is where you mentioned on the .io that you wanted to sell this commercially and whether that'll really take off.  

My intuition tells me that having a programmable breadboard has some commercial "teeth" to it, but the UX and just how integrated that might be will determine it's success.  So as an example, have you explored sourcing breadboards and working out just how to mount this board as the underside of the BB where the switch fabric is integrated into the BB itself?  And what would the UI / UX of that look like?  This feels far more in line with what might have commercial legs IMO but I dont want to discourage you...after all, it's just my opinion and it may prove a raging success!  Best of luck! 

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Freesearch wrote 01/21/2017 at 19:45 point
Some people like to place wires, some people like to automate that. An application specific example is a flying probe tester.

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Martin wrote 01/20/2017 at 15:20 point

You really suggest programming instead of just placing a wire? Or did I miss something important completely ?

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Arsenijs wrote 01/28/2017 at 00:28 point

Yes, it lets you replace wires on the fly, measure the signals at the same time, apply different logic levels on a click of a button etc.

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