We know what you’re thinking, “What’s the big deal? Looks like an SD card…” Well this is no SD card! The Electric Imp is a WiFi enabled development platform powered by a Cortex-M3 processor core. “Really?” Yup.
In essence, the Imp provides an easy, integrated way to connect almost any hardware device both to other devices and to internet services. It’s more than just a WiFi card, or even a WiFi module with processing built in - it’s an integrated platform that deals with the drudgery of connectivity, allowing you to concentrate on the application instead of the mechanics.
It does this by integrating an 802.11b/g/n WiFi transceiver, a great antenna, a Cortex-M3 core and lots of flexible I/O in a tiny package. But the hardware is only part of what makes the Electric Imp an innovative platform. The development environment and workflow is totally cloud-based and in-browser! Simply program the Imp with your WiFi Network information using your iOS or Android smartphone (Optically! No special hardware required!) then log on to the Electric Imp developer website and program your module over-the-air!
Development is done in-browser and in a language called “Squirrel,” which is a C-like language with extensions to communicate with the hardware interfaces and the service. Thanks to cloud-power, you get many big system benefits like buffered I/O and crash recovery - plus you can push updates to devices in the field with a few clicks. There’s even a Planner tool that makes it easy to design interactivity between your Imps.
Note: Although, the Electric Imp comes in an SD form factor, it isn’t compatible with standard SD devices. Development boards are available, though, in the related items below!
If a board needs code or communicates somehow, you're going to need to know how to program or interface with it. The programming skill is all about communication and code.
Skill Level: Competent - The toolchain for programming is a bit more complex and will examples may not be explicitly provided for you. You will be required to have a fundamental knowledge of programming and be required to provide your own code. You may need to modify existing libraries or code to work with your specific hardware. Sensor and hardware interfaces will be SPI or I2C.
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If it requires power, you need to know how much, what all the pins do, and how to hook it up. You may need to reference datasheets, schematics, and know the ins and outs of electronics.
Skill Level: Rookie - You may be required to know a bit more about the component, such as orientation, or how to hook it up, in addition to power requirements. You will need to understand polarized components.
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Based on 12 ratings:
1 of 1 found this helpful:
I’ve become a huge fan of the electric imp. Easy to set up, and once it’s connected to the internet, you’re off and running. The squirrel programming language is very intuitive. After having spent grad school using obscure codes and API’s for analog to digital circuit boards in PC’s, suddenly having a compact one that is easy to program is like a dream come true.
2 of 3 found this helpful:
If Internet connectivity is a requirement and only 9 pins is cool, this is a great platform. Very easy to use and great support via their forums.
1 of 2 found this helpful:
I’ve been working with the Electric Imp for some time now. It’s a great product, and would like to offer my services on projects that need a jump start, or engineering help. I have applied the Imp to IoT projects in the oilfield, collecting data, controlling pumps and managing cloud services. Drop me a line at email@example.com http://systemsofmerritt.com
Everything worked exactly as planned! I can now throw away my door fobs and use my new app! http://doors.simplesync.net/
Have now created an app that allows us to control lighting in a sports center from smartphones including video feedback from cameras. Just need to find a small 5v UPS solution to isolate the imp from the effects of short power cuts and power perturbations.
Nice IDE, language is fairly easy to code solutions and the ElectricIMP servers rarely offline and then only for scheduled maintenance. It would be nice to have the ability to perform accurate pulse width measurements. highly accurate/reliable interrupts or edge sensitive based measurements are not currently possible due to the communication overhead that comes with the nice server utilities.
I have four devices currently controlling and monitoring projects with virtually no downtime.
I followed an online instruction using the Imp to take temperature readings and post them to the cloud. All worked as it should, and now I can see how hot it is in the roof. Such an easy process and my first step into the IOT world…
The Electric Imp is an intriguing concept, and one that I had hoped would work great. But after several days of fighting with it, I haven’t been able to get it to connect to my home network.
I intended to compare the Electric Imp to the ESP8266, to see which one was better at connecting an Arduino to the Internet. The ESP8266 worked the first time. The Electric Imp hasn’t worked yet.
Sorry to hear you’re having trouble with the Electric Imp. Give our tech support team a shout via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and they can help you with this.
Very easy to set up what I wanted.
I used this as part of a wireless weather station (as described in a Sparkfun tutorial). So far, it has been operating flawlessly with no interrupts or hang ups. I like the Electric Imp IDE and cloud connectivity. It allows me to monitor and configure my code from anywhere in the world (as long as I have an Internet connection).
For even more fun, check out the ‘tomato-less’ boot loader setup where you can reprogram an Arduino from afar. Just like NASA reprogramming a Mars Rover. Or something like that.
The cloud based IDE is also pretty good. I’m not so sure about the choice of the Squirrel language (or whatever they call it), but so far I only needed to rely on someone else’s code example and it works just fine. It’s an amazing little device.