We’ve spent the last few months wandering in the desert, searching for a low-power alternative to the Arduino. (We may have also taken summer vacations and focused on our real jobs—these two things did not happen concurrently.) Google around for solutions to the Arduino current-draw problem, and you’re bound to end up at the JeeLabs site. It’s the online home to a Dutch engineer named Jean-Claude Wippler who, to understate matters considerably, is obsessive about making low-power Arduino-based boards designed to work well with environmental sensors.
Behold the JeeNode, above. It’s about the size of a stick of chewing gum (the old style kind, like Juicy Fruit or Doublemint). It’s basically an Arduino with a radio transceiver attached, meaning it can talk to other JeeNodes via radio frequencies. But best of all, it consumes very little power. Whereas our Arduino consumed 50 milliamps when idle, JeeNodes claim to consume less than 10 microamps. That’s a huge difference—instead of the batteries dying in 3 days, we might see the batteries last for more than a year.
Well, we’ll have to see about that. We got a pair of JeeNodes, hooked them up, and have commenced battery testing: