Here on the Elektor news channel we’ve seen Elektor Germany Editor, Jens Nickel writing a blog called My Journey into the Cloud (currently at part 9, check it out!). It is his all-DIY, brick-by-brick, step-by-step, approach to getting all manner of things connected to the IoT, with a fine slant towards the programming aspects. The series is also in full appreciation of the bewildering number of standards out there and the armies of manufacturers and distributors all hoping to ride on Cloud 9 as far as sales are concerned. I say it’s well worth reading.

To these fighting suppliers should be added giant distributor Avnet, whose IoT concept called Visible ThingsTM was co-compiled by partner Silica. Visible Things is not a bad name I guess but then the payoff line: “The Edge to Enterprise IoT platform” may be pushing it a bit. But then the co-players are big guns like Microchip, NXP, Silicon Labs and ST.

Like everyone else in the IoT arena, Avnet-Silica (Av-Si hereafter) have a get-u-going starter kit, and it was launched At Embedded World 2016. I received the Bluetooth Smart Connectivity version (#  VT-SK-001-A101), the other versions are for LoRaWAN and SIGFOX. All three kits have the same purpose: smartphone in hand, read out a bunch of sensors located anywhere in the world. And press some buttons if an interesting or alarming situation is noticed.

Unpacking my Visible Things kit revealed the usual suspects: a main controller board with a fat ARM Cortex-M7 cored processor STM32F746, here:

and a smaller board with all the sensors on it and the Bluetooth communicator circuitry of course, here:

The large board is called ‘gateway’ by Av-Si, the small board, ‘Smart Sensor’. Reassuringly, the Gateway board is not a black box, it does have some connectors for external hardware and I do not mean USB or Ethernet but things like UART/SPI, I2C, and Debug.