Frequently Asked Questions

Please email us if you have a question that we haven't answered. Thanks!

How do Pinoccio boards talk to one another?

Each board has an 802.15.4 radio that communicates with any other board on its PAN ID, in a mesh network configuration.

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How do Pinoccio boards talk to the Web?

Our starter kit includes a Wi-Fi shield that fits on top of one of the Pinoccio boards. That board and shield combo acts as a bridge between the Pinoccio mesh network and the web.

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What is this Pinoccio API you mention?

Ooh, we're excited about this! Getting physical devices to communicate with the web only solves the part of the problem. Often you still have to build your own support for polling or sending information with specific APIs, for storing the data that your boards generate, and deciding on ideal protocols and architectures to maximize the efficiency of your project. This is often hard, and most people don't find it fun! So we're building out a full-featured Pinoccio API to do all this hard work for you.You can find more details on the Pinoccio API page.

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Am I locked in to using Pinoccio’s API?

No way! One idea that’s really important to us is that you control your own data, not us. You don’t have to use Pinoccio’s API server. Program your board to connect to your own server and go nuts! We do want to make sure it’s dead-easy to get your board talking to the web, and the Pinoccio API is the fastest and easiest way to do it.

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Can I create a wireless mesh network?

Yes! Pinoccio is perfectly suited for creating mesh networks. Several network configurations are possible, including the traditional coordinator/router/end-node, as well as a completely decentralized peer-to-peer mesh network with routing.

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What if one board in my mesh network is out of range of Wi-Fi?

No problem. We support routing between boards, so if board A and board C are out of range of each other, but they can both reach a board B, then B will route packets for A and C to reach each other.

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Why did you choose this particular architecture?

The Atmel 802.15.4 radio in the ATmega256RFR2 chip we’re using has a ridiculously low power draw for the range you get. We can blast the radio non-stop at full power, and a 550mAh battery will power that (and the MCU) for something like 27 hours. It only draws around 17mA at full radio transmitting power, and the MCU in the highest power state. We wanted this sort of endurance while still remaining networkable. Thus this was the right package.

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How long does the rechargeable battery last?

You can use the board non-stop at full power for around 27 hours. However, it’s more likely that you’ll put the board to sleep, and have it wake up when certain conditions are met. Using it this way, you could have a board run on one charge for years. This can vary a lot depending on how you’re using Pinoccio, but we’ve examined every component going into Pinoccio boards to ensure they have very low leakage and can sustain very long battery life.

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Will you offer shields for custom functionality?

Absolutely. We have 32 header sockets on each Pinoccio board that can accept any number of shields. We will be offering some of our own shields, as well as assisting third-parties in developing their own shields that work with Pinoccio boards. We’re also building in ways to manage the power a shield uses, so you can program your Pinoccio board to turn off power to the shield if it’s running low. And multiple shields can be stacked on top of one another, for all types of crazy projects.

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Does Pinoccio still work without Wi-Fi access?

Yes! Pinoccio boards can act as a standalone network — with no Wi-Fi around. We spoke with several environmental scientists about how they’d use Pinoccios, and they often have sensor networks in the middle of the desert or jungle, and laying coaxial cable at a site can cost thousands of dollars and many man-hours of digging trenches for conduit. So we wanted to have the ability to do standalone networking, and 802.15.4 mesh networking with routing fit the ticket perfectly.

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Do you plan on supporting IPv6 or 6LoWPAN?

We want the ability to easily get a Pinoccio network onto the web today, and to be able to reach it — and web/mobile apps to reach a board. So we settled on a shield/bridge setup, where it’s easy to get Pinoccios online if you want to. But we see everything moving towards an IPv6 future, and we’re ready for it. We have the ability to upgrade the 802.15.4 network library to support 6LoWPAN, which lets IPv6 route across an 802.15.4 network. It’s still a ways out, but our grand vision is to have each Pinoccio board pingable over IPv6 from the web.

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Does it work with my Raspberry Pi?

It sure does. Many people think they should use a Raspberry Pi as the gateway between a Pinoccio mesh network and the Internet, but no need for that if you have a Pinoccio and the WiFi shield--this will do the bridging for you. However, if you want a full Linux system for your particular project, and still want the mesh networking of Pinoccio, you can attach a Pinoccio to the pins on the Raspberry Pi and get your Pi talking to the mesh. Raspberry Pi has also discussed its support for Arduino boards.

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Why didn’t you just use Wi-Fi for networking?

We could have just used Wi-Fi radios for networking, but Wi-fi modules tend to use a lot of battery when sending or receiving data. They typically draw up to 150mA when transmitting, and we’re at 17mA with the 802.15.4 radio. Plus, the Wi-Fi modules are still relatively expensive, and we wanted to stay closer to the cost of a standalone Arduino board, not the cost of an Arduino board and a Wi-Fi shield--which is usually over $100.

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Pinoccio is “an Arduino Mega with wings”? Come on!

In many ways, Pinoccio is as powerful as an Arduino Mega. Sure, because of its tiny size Pinoccio doesn't have as many I/O's, but in terms of power, speed, and memory, they're quite similar. And Pinoccio is more powerful than an Arduino Uno.

Pinoccio Arduino Mega Arduino Uno
Open Source Hardware Yes - check mark Yes - check mark Yes - check mark
Microcontroller ATmega256RFR2 ATmega2560 ATmega328
Clock Speed 16 MHz 16 MHz 16 MHz
SRAM 32 kB 8 kB 2 kB
EEPROM 8 kB 4 kB 1 kB
Flash Memory 256 kB 256 kB 32 kB
Programmable LEDs 1 RGB 1 green 1 green
Built-in Radio Yes - check mark
LiPo Battery Yes - check mark
On-board Sensors Temperature
Serial Lines (UART) 2 4 1
Analog Input Pins 8 16 6
Digital I/O Pins 17
4 with PWM
54
15 with PWM
14
6 with PWM
Dimensions 2" x 1" 4" x 2" 2.7" x 2"

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Why the name Pinoccio?

The name is an homage to Pinocchio, the little dude from Italian folklore who wanted to cut his strings so that he could become a real boy and explore the world. He just wanted to be wireless!

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Where’s the “h”?

It’s a bit of a sensitive topic around here, but we’ll try to give you the highlights lowlights. After a promising career as a child actor, h blew his remaining wealth on go-karts and paddle boats. H then went on to community college, paying his own way by working part-time as a gas station clerk. Unable to ward off his demons, h struggled with an addiction to candy bars and soda. H was last seen in the Mojave Desert, hopped up on Dum-Dums and Whoppers, shooting pop bottles with a BB gun while babbling incoherently. H, if you’re out there, call us, we’ll pay for the bus ticket home.

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