Newbie asks Do I really need the USBDroid?

The USBDroid provides USB Host functionality for use as an Android peripheral as an Open Android Development Kit board. [Product page]
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ngp99
Posts: 49
Joined: Sat Jul 14, 2012 1:53 am
Location: Dee Why NSW

Newbie asks Do I really need the USBDroid?

Post by ngp99 » Sat Jul 14, 2012 2:49 am

This may sound a bit dumb but I have only just stumbled into the Arduino World.

I currently use a laptop to read a heat meter. This is fine (sort of) but I keep asking myself why I can't do this with just a phone. Now I find that I probably can. I have also just bought a cheap Android 4 tablet, as it happens without any intention of using it for data aquisition.

I thought it was all coming together but, after the initial flush of enthusiasm, I have to say I'm a bit scared of the lack of documentation and extra complexity of the USBDroid and I'm far from sure I need it. I have seen the Philip Lindsay video and was a lot less impressed than the interviewer was.

I don't need to control a display, I just need to download numbers. For this I believe a bluetooth module would suffice and, I guess, has the advantage of being able to talk to any old phone or tablet. In the light of that, the Freetronics "Eleven" or at most the "EtherTen" would be fine.

Further, I don't think I would ever have a smartphone permanently connected, so I don't need the phone charger facility.

I really think an Arduino is the way to go but is there a "must have" in the USBDroid that I need to know about?

Thank you

marks
Posts: 31
Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2012 8:13 pm

Re: Newbie asks Do I really need the USBDroid?

Post by marks » Sat Jul 14, 2012 9:56 pm

It depends,

I use the USBDroid to read a USB device, so the USBDroid is acting as a USB host. I also have a bluetooth module which sends data to Android devices.

Bluetooth is way easier than USB Host/OTG on the Android end. Basically you Need Android 3.1 or above to support this and not all devices work either i.e. if you have an unknown USB device then quite often the Android OS will not pass it to the USB Manager and that's the end of it.

The other side of the coin though is that a lot of newer Android tablet devices don't have bluetooth.

So it's a question of working through the various pros and cons and making a decision.

Cheers,

Mark S.

ngp99
Posts: 49
Joined: Sat Jul 14, 2012 1:53 am
Location: Dee Why NSW

Re: Newbie asks Do I really need the USBDroid?

Post by ngp99 » Sun Jul 15, 2012 3:35 pm

Thanks, Mark

The Android is V4, and bluetooth is on board, so I guess it is worth a go. I'll plump for an EtherTen module and a bluetooth card. The ethernet facility might be just as useful.

Cheers

Nick

marks
Posts: 31
Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2012 8:13 pm

Re: Newbie asks Do I really need the USBDroid?

Post by marks » Sun Jul 15, 2012 10:00 pm

Sounds like a plan Nick.

The USB Host on Arduino was a major pain and took a long time to get working properly. The basic problem is that the USB devices I talk to are proprietary and no detail is available.

The Bluetooth connection between the Arduino and Android was trivial in comparison. Run a service on the Android device 'listening' for connections. A very simple 'handshaking' scheme in software and away you go. The trick is the Android will always be quicker and has a much larger buffer than the Arduino, so you can always, within reason, count on data from Arduino to Android. You just need the 'handshaking' efforts concentrated on Android to Arduino as that's where any issues will likely fall.

Mark S.

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