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Interest in wireless sensor nodes has escalated over the past 10 years bringing with it a plethora of sensor hardware as well as protocol, algorithmic and application research. Yet there is relatively little diversity in terms of sensor nodes to support this research. This paper presents an alternative sensor node architecture, the Beastie, which aims to improve research and experimentation turnaround time while easing WSN systems programming considerably. We support our claims through quantitative evaluation and describe some applications where the Beasties have been successfully used.