German company Calliope has launched a compact and versatile educational computer designed to give children an age-appropriate and creative introduction to digital technologies by teaching them electronics and programming skills.
The ‘Calliope mini 3’ microcontroller board—an upgrade to the original Calliope mini with enhanced features and functionality—is primarily designed for educational purposes. It enables a wide range of projects from simple games to IoT devices. Through the device, users can read sensor data, control LEDs and sounds, and connect motors for robotics and automation projects. The device is supported by the customizable ‘Calliope mini’ app featuring several editors upon which to code as well as information about projects and activities.
“Calliope mini 3 works with multiple programming environments and is supported by an online community and educational resources, making the platform accessible to users of various skill levels and introducing people of all ages to the world of coding, electronics, and physical computing,” says Jørn Alraun, Managing Director, Calliope. “The device empowers users to explore STEM subjects, develop problem-solving skills, and unleash their creativity in a user-friendly, accessible, and affordable way.”
Nordic nRF52833 SoC runs complex programs
The Calliope mini 3 employs the Nordic Semiconductor nRF52833
multiprotocol SoC’s powerful 64 MHz Arm® Cortex® M4 processor with floating point unit (FPU) for core processing power to run its complex programs and handle various tasks. The SoC provides ample Flash memory for storing program code and data, as well as RAM for program execution.
The nRF52833 SoC also provides the Bluetooth
® LE connectivity enabling the Calliope mini 3 to communicate wirelessly with other devices like smartphones and tablets. The SoC offers a user-friendly interface for programming using languages like MakeCode, MicroPython, and even C/C++. In addition, Nordic’s nRF52820
SoC is employed to power the device as a USB drive on a connected PC and to copy the data to the nRF52833, as well as for serial communication.
The Calliope mini 3 comes with an array of onboard sensors including an accelerometer to measure motion and orientation enabling projects like gesture-controlled games or step counters, a magnetometer for compass applications and orientation-related projects, and a light sensor to measure ambient light levels used in projects for detecting changes in lighting conditions or creating light-sensitive prototypes.
The device integrates a 5x5 LED matrix that allows text and graphics display, three RGB-LEDs to show colors within projects, USB-C power, and a built-in microphone and speaker for audio output. It also features two Grove and two Jacdac connectors for easy and quick extendibility to external hardware. Calliope mini 3 employs two AAA batteries for extended run times.
Nordic nRF Connect SDK aids development
“The functionality of the Nordic nRF52833 SoC is crucial for creating IoT applications with remote control and data exchange capabilities, while having a chipset that is not using too much power, and can be put into different modes,” says Alraun. “Nordic technology helps a lot in building energy efficient, yet powerful prototypes.
“Plus, our Nordic representative does an amazing job on all levels, and we have been introduced to the value of the Nordic SDK [Software Development Kit], reference designs, and Nordic DevZone forum to aid the development process.”