Welcome the new Arduino – the Esplora! It’s shaped like a game controller, and it’s designed to be used out of the box as it comes with many sensors and actuators already on it (you can add a couple of extra ones). In more detail, the Esplora combines a light sensor, a temperature sensor, a 3-axis accelerometer, a joystick, a set of pushbuttons, a slider, an RGB LED, and a buzzer, together with a Arduino-compatible processor (ATmega32u4). The Arduino people write:
The Esplora can emulate a mouse or keyboard, allowing you to create your own controller for musical software, 3D modelling tools, or even a word processor. It actually comes pre-programmed with a game controller script, so you can plug it into your computer and start playing as soon as you open the box (requires the free Super Tux Cart videogame). There is no limit to the applications you can program – amusing, educational, useful.
We’ve already covered the Esplora on the main Electronics Weekly news site. Richard Wilson writes:
Arduino has introduced the Esplora controller board that is a complete development system with a variety of sensors and actuators. With a retail price tag of €45, the board combines an Arduino-compatible processor with a light sensor, a temperature sensor, a 3-axis accelerometer, a joystick, a set of pushbuttons, a slider, an RGB LED, and a buzzer. The Arduino Esplora is a microcontroller board derived from the Arduino Leonardo. It has a 16MHz crystal oscillator, a micro USB connection, an ICSP header, and a reset button. The Esplora has built-in USB communication in addition to a virtual (CDC) serial / COM port. The ATmega32u4 processor has 32 KB (with 4 KB used for the bootloader). It also has 2.5 KB of SRAM and 1 KB of EEPROM (which can be read and written with the EEPROM library). To use the sensors the board uses an analogue multiplexer. This means a single analogue input of the microcontroller is shared among all the input channels (except the 3-axis accelerometer). Four additional microcontroller pins choose which channel to read. The Esplora can emulate a mouse or keyboard in the design of a controller for musical software, 3D modelling tools, or even a word processor. It comes pre-programmed with a PC-compatible game controller script,. The Esplora is 100% Arduino software compatible but doesn’t provide Arduino Shield connectors (i.e. it can’t be used with Arduino Shields directly). The Arduino Esplora is available at a price of €41.90 +Taxes and €44.90 +Taxes for the Retail version (both supplied with USB cable).