Getting Started with Your First Electronics Projects in Geppetto

September 20, 2019 Zachariah Peterson

Geppetto is an online platform that allows anybody with access to a modern browser to develop their newest development board and move on to low volume manufacturing. One of the challenges in launching your product, especially hardware products, is that it requires an array of skill sets and some reasonable level of experience. Geppetto gives designers and start ups that are transitioning into their growth phase a platform for quickly adapting existing electronics projects into fully functional boards using modular design tools.

Building a single-board computer like a Raspberry Pi requires experience in schematics design, PCB design, software design, and other skill sets. Entrepreneurs and engineers without significant electronics or PCB design experience would normally have to hire someone to build this type of development board from scratch or clone it in a standard EDA program. Rather than forcing designers to create each portion of a single board computer from scratch, Geppetto allows you to build a board from separate modules. This lets you focus on functionality without becoming mired in the finer aspects of PCB design.

The Benefits of Modular Design for Electronics Projects

To use Geppetto, you don’t necessarily need to know anything about the schematics, PCB layout, power design, or have extensive  electrical engineering knowledge. You only need to define your board size, select your processor or system on module (SoM), select your interfaces like USB, HDMI, camera, and/or wireless, and add any other accessories you can think of. Gepetto automatically defines connections between them. Geppetto also produces 3D rendering, allowing you to see how the finished product will look after it is assembled.

The modular design interface for new electronics projects in Geppetto

You can only go so far in the design cycle with off-the-shelf development kits, bodge wires and breadboards.  At some point, you will have to make the jump to a fully customized piece of hardware. This is a great time to look to Geppetto to help you make that leap.  While you might deem the prospect of redesigning your electronics project online undesirable, Geppetto streamlines the process by reducing different functional blocks in a product into individual modules. The connections are rigidly defined, allowing you to worry about quickly placing each portion of your design into a production-quality assembled board, which eliminates many complicated aspects of PCB design and manufacturing.

What Can You Build with Geppetto?

This is one of those questions that might pop up with new users, “What can I make with this”? Below are some examples of applications of Geppetto:

  • Sensor Nodes: With Geppetto, you can build nodes in a network of sensor arrays. Some capabilities include temperature, humidity, light, and magnetic sensing. Geppetto includes an array of standard sensors that you can incorporate into your project.
  • IoT Applications: The next million-dollar idea may be an IoT product, considering that the industry is growing fast. Geppetto is an ideal tool to help you get your product ready for production and take it to market quickly. You’ll be able to include industry-standard IoT connectivity interfaces like LoRaWAN, WiFi, Bluetooth, GSM, ZigBee, Ethernet, USB, and others.
  • Evaluation Boards: New releases of SoM, SoC, SBCs, and specialized components create a need for development kits and development boards for your customers. These development boards can be made in Geppetto quickly, allowing you to bring standard communication and data processing modules onto your board. Some examples include a breakout board for the Jetson Nano COM or even a development board for the Raspberry Pi Compute Module.
  • Add-on Boards: Some electronics projects are actually part of a larger system, and you can quickly build add-on boards that interface with a larger system using standard communication interfaces. You can also design a custom board for interfacing with Raspberry Pi, Arduino, BeagleBone, and other development boards.
  • Drones and Robotics: The Geppetto platform provides tools to design and build unique drones and specialized robotics.

Some Existing Electronics Projects for Geppetto

Gumstix Geppetto gives users access to an online community where they can make their electronics projects publicly available. If you’re still in the design phase and want to see what you can do with Geppetto’s design tools, you’ll find plenty of inspiration from other projects on the platform. This allows users to clone an existing project and use it as a starting point for their new product.

  • IoT Air Quality Sensor Board – This board features an SGP30 multi pixel gas sensor and uses the ESP32-WROOM as the COM. This is just one of many possible low-cost sensor arrays that can be created with the modular design tools in Geppetto.
  • Strata – A low power wireless sensor node for LoRaWAN applications featuring environmental sensors and a Microchip ATmega32U4 8-bit MCU.
  • Poblano 43C – A powerful single board computer based on a TI Cortex-A9 processor that supports the Yocto Project build system with wireless connectivity provided by the TI WiLin8. This board also includes touchscreen support.
  • Gumstix Chatterbox W5G for Raspberry Pi® Compute - A Raspberry Pi Compute Module board that is designed to interface with Alexa Voice Service (AVS).

Cloning electronics projects in Geppetto

With the online design tools for electronics projects in Geppetto, you can quickly create cutting-edge, fully functional modular hardware systems in a browser-based design interface. You’ll have access to industry standard COMs that run on popular hardware platforms, making your designs production ready and adaptable for nearly any application.

Take a look at some Gumstix customer success stories or contact us today to learn more about our products, design tools, and services.

About the Author

Zachariah Peterson

Zachariah Peterson has an extensive technical background in academia and industry. Prior to working in the PCB industry, he taught at Portland State University. He conducted his Physics M.S. research on chemisorptive gas sensors and his Applied Physics Ph.D. research on random laser theory and stability.

His background in scientific research spans topics in nanoparticle lasers, electronic and optoelectronic semiconductor devices, environmental systems, and financial analytics. His work has been published in several peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings, and he has written hundreds of technical blogs on PCB design for a number of companies.

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