Give Your Board Some Brains, with the CircuitBrains Module From Kevin Neubauer

Pack a punch into your next project with the CircuitBrains module from Keven Neubauer.

Tom Fleet
a month agoPython on Hardware

There is no arguing against the growing popularity of the Adafruit CircuitPython school of thought. Allowing hobbyists and professionals alike to deploy the popular Python scripting language on embedded hardware, the appeal is clear to see.

However, running an interpreted language in an embedded scenario can take a little extra grunt, and that's where the CircuitBrains module, designed by Kevin Neubauer, really shines.

He's taken the core components required to develop with CircuitPython, and boiled them down to a diminutive module, just shy of 30mm²! This postage stamp-sized module packs a punch, reducing the burden on the designer down to simply laying down a footprint to accept the boards 44 pins, across four rows of castellated pads around the perimeter of the module.

The pitch of the castellated pad connectors is such that students and hobbyists alike will have absolutely no trouble in soldering this module down.

Board Specifications

  • Dimensions: 29 x 29 x 3.5 millimeters / 1.15 x 1.15 x 0.15 inches
  • Microchip ATSAMD51J19A Microcontroller (32-bit ARM Cortex-M4)
  • 8 MB SPI Flash
  • Onboard 3.3V LDO regulator
  • Power and status LEDs
  • Breakouts for SPI and I2C
  • Breakouts for 14 analog and 19 digital inputs/outputs

The care and attention paid to the design of the module is apparent, even when looking at the little details.

There has been due diligence in laying out the crystal oscillator, and in the overall tracking of the board. The tented vias on the underside of the board ensure that you don’t have to worry about any exposed copper you may have forgotten to mask on your application board. All in all, rolling this module into your application board should be an absolute breeze!

The end goal for Neubauer is to reduce the barrier to entry for people looking to get started with CircuitPython in their own projects. That is not to say the module is exclusively for CiruitPython enthusiasts — the ATSAMD51 processor is the very same that is found on the Adafruit Metro and Grand Central boards, and has Arduino support, and can also obviously be used with more "bare-metal" toolchains and IDEs.

Neubauer has plans to evaluate the cost and feasibility of manufacturing the CircuitBrains module, but until he's happy with the design and pricing, anyone itching to get their hands on this hardware is free to check out the hardware repo, linked below.

Going the extra mile to make things easy for anyone wishing to use the CircuitBrains module, Neubauer has also kindly provided a suitable KiCad footprint for the module, again, linked below.

Product Page @ kevinneubauer.com

Hardware Repo - GitHub

KiCad Library / Footprint - GitHub

Tom Fleet
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