The Virtual Breadboard EDGEY Solves Components Shortages by Creating "Mixed Reality Circuits"

Supporting physical and virtual hardware in any combination, the EDGEY connects Virtual Breadboard to real-world microcontrollers.

Gareth Halfacree
4 months agoHW101

The under-development Virtual Breadboard package aims to free you of waiting for component deliveries or digging parts out of overcrowded drawers by simulating common hardware — and now offers a means of interfacing with physical microcontrollers to produce "mixed reality circuits."

"Virtual Breadboard […] was one of the first platforms to support Arduino virtualization," the software's anonymous creator claims. "The Arduino model simulates the ATmega328P core and peripherals which when connected to virtual components creates interactive all virtual models for learning and developing Arduino applications.

"When I realized it was going to be impossible to support all possible microcontroller modules to the necessary level of accuracy," the software's creator continues, "I had the idea of using the actual microcontroller with the virtual hardware instead."

Enter EDGEY, the first physical add-on for the Virtual Breadboard ecosystem. Using EDGEY and a suitable microcontroller adapter, a physical development board can be connected to the Virtual Breadboard system — communicating with simulated hardware as though it were real. Once a project is tested, the same microcontroller can then be used to drive the components' real-world equivalents — or a circuit made up of real and virtual devices.

At launch, EDGEY supports only four microcontrollers: The Arduino Uno, using a shield adapter; the Arduino Pro Micro; the BBC micro:bit; and the Raspberry Pi Pico. Its creator, however, claims to be working on adapters for a range of other popular boards, including the Raspberry Pi single-board computer family, the Propeller Flip, the Particle range of boards, NodeMCUs, Feathers, Teensy boards, and others.

Those looking to give the system a go can pick up an EDGEY on the Virtual Breadboard Tindie store at $49.99, plus $9.99 for the development board adapter. The software, meanwhile, is now available to download from the Microsoft Store — though reviews suggest it is still very much a work-in-progress with a range of bugs yet to be resolved.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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