Chapter 5. Particle Photon

When cost or power put constraints on your hardware design budget, working with microcontrollers can be a relevant option. With a special transceiver chip for Internet access, boards such as the Particle Photon can, for example, act as sensor nodes in a room. Of interest to the book, much of the Particle toolchain is developed in JavaScript. This sets the background for this chapter.

The Particle (formerly Spark.io) family of boards talks to networks with different chips. The Photon board uses a WiFi chip from Broadcom (BCM43362) that handles the WiFi RF and protocol layer. Besides boards with WiFi, there are Particle boards that support 3G cellular networks.

The Particle Photon

From the perspective of the physical layer, an embedded device can either support Internet access on the same chip (as the Tessel 2 shows) or with specialized chips that handle the Internet connection.

In this chapter, let’s look at a strategy to add building blocks for WiFi with an external chip such as the Particle Photon. The Particle Photon has a small form factor and low power consumption. But as with much of engineering, there are tradeoffs in selecting the “best” approach. From a JavaScript viewpoint, the Particle Photon is interesting because of its Node.js-based toolchain to develop applications with a Photon. The Particle Photon is shown in Figure 5-1.

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Figure 5-1. ...

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