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Dual-core MCU Arduino compatible SBC has WiFi and audio

Jun 27, 2016 — by Eric Brown — 1567 views

T-Firefly’s open-spec, Arduino Uno compatible Fireduino SBC offers Rockchip’s dual-core, Cortex-M3 RKNanoD MCU, plus WiFi, RTC, and MP3 audio.

Chinese embedded firm T-Firefly is apparently the new name for T-Chip Technology, which sponsors the Firefly open source hardware project. Its Arduino I/O- and IDE-compatible, dual-core Fireduino board is supported by the Firefly project along with Linux/Android hacker boards like the Rockchip RK3128 based Firefly-RK3288 Reload and Firefly FirePrime. Schematics and the like have already been posted.

(click image to enlarge)

Aimed at a variety of IoT and audio applications, the open-spec Fireduino is well on its way toward its $5,000 Kickstarter goal. The $15 and $20 early bird packages are gone, but you can still get a $25 package, which also includes an 8GB microSD card. Volume discounts are available, and the kits are supposed to ship in September.

Another view of the FireDuino
(click image to enlarge)

With the Fireduino, T-Firefly is sticking with Rockchip, but not a Rockchip processor that runs Linux. The Kickstarter page mentions an RKNandD chip, which is actually the RKNanoD, Rockchip’s dual-core follow-on to the similarly Cortex-M3 based RKNanoC. The cores are asymmetrical, with a 250MHz “system” core and a 300MHz “calculate” core.

The RKNandD MCU provides 64KB boot ROM, 64KB SRAM, plus 256KB DRAM for each core. There’s also 128KB (system) and 320KB (calculate) IRAM. A hardware accelerator provides for lossless audio decoding with MP3 support, and there’s an onboard 192KHz, 24-bit audio codec.

T-Firefly has added 4MB or 8MB of SPI flash, depending on whether you trust the website or the Kickstarter page, plus 16KB of boot ROM, and a microSD (TF) slot. Another key addition is a 2.4GHz Gigafu Tech AP6181 802.11b/g/n WiFi module, as well as an LCD i8080 LCD interface supporting 400 x 400-pixel displays.

The 192KHz, 24-bit audio is the highlight here. The RKNandD’s audio codec is expressed via three 3.5mm jacks for 2x line-in, 1x line-out, and 1x analog audio out interfaces. There’s an onboard microphone, plus playback support for MP3 APE, FLAC, AAC, OGG, AC3, and WAV decoding. The board also supports DLNA discovery.

Other Arduino-compatible interfaces available via the 50-pin expansion header include I2C, SPI, ADC, GPIO, PWM, and UART. Other features include an RTC chip, a status LED, two programmable LEDs, and a serial console for debugging. The 108.8 x 53.4mm, 37-gram board takes 5-12V power via a jack, or 5V though a micro-USB port.

The Fireduino is compatible with Arduino interfaces and Arduino IDE programming. It also supports T-Firefly’s FireBlock graphics programming software.


This is T-Firefly’s second MCU-based SBC after the FireBLE. The 80 x 45.5mm board runs on a Cortex-M0 based NXP QN9021 MCU that specializes in Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy (BLE).

Two views of the FireBLE
(click images to enlarge)

The FireBLE is equipped with 94KB ROM, 64KB SRAM, 128KB flash, and a 3-axis accelerometer and 3-axis gyroscope. A variety of analog and timer peripherals are available along with SPI, UART, I2C, and up to 15x GPIO.

Further information

The Fireduino is available now on Kickstarter starting at $25, with shipments in September. More information may be found on the Fireduino Kickstarter page and the T-Firefly Fireduino page.

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