Recomendations for low end single board computers

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Hi all,


Looking for recomendations for low end single board computers


I'm a professional software engineer with a mix of experience in
Windows and embedded development currently working for "the
corporation" on WinCE development.  I've been hankering to set up at
home to do a bit of embedded development, initially just for interests
sake but with a possible angle towards some contracting/consulting.


I'm looking for a family of small single board computers (thinking high
end 8 bit through to low end 32 bit uCs) to play with, with a view to
developing embedded web servers, data gateways, remote control widgets
and the like.

Things I'm keen on..

- A simple and free RTOS

- A development environment based on GCC

- A S/W framework based on some flavour of open source model, with an
enthusastic user community colaborating on components and libraries

- A low cost development kit (this is only a hobby for now, so not
prepared to spend thousands to get started)

- a selection of modules available including development boards,
encapsulated units ready to clip to a DIN rail and go and core modules
that can be piggybacked onto simple carrier boards for custom H/W
developments.  (I'm primarily a S/W guy and quite apart from lack of
experience I don't have the resources at home to do anything but the
most basic of H/W)


The Ethernut (http://www.ethernut.de/en/index.html ) looks like the sort
of toy I'm after, how do people rate it?

Had a bit of exposure to Dallas Semiconductor TINI modules a 3-4 years
back, which also have some of the attributes I'm after, are these still
a live product?  At the time it seemed that they did everything
advertised, but ran out of puff just at the point we tried to pull
everything togther to build a real product.  Have they got any better?

Quite like the modular H/W architecture of some of the Advantech ADAM
gear, but their S/W framework just aint what I'm after.

Anyone out there got any other suggestions of toys I should be looking
at, or links to good online catalogs?

Thanks

Richard.

richardDOTlangATtrimbleDOTcoDOTnz


Re: Recomendations for low end single board computers

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Take a look at Olimex's development boards:

http://www.olimex.com/dev/index.html

They are available for AVR (8bit) and ARM (32bit), both supported by
GCC.

They have distributers around the world:

http://www.olimex.com/dev/order.html

Tom

Re: Recomendations for low end single board computers
Hi Richard,

I'm rating Ethernut on top, but as one of its developers and the
general manager of egnite GmbH I'm most prejudiced. I'll try
to give some neutral comments.

richardlang@my-deja.com wrote:
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For most applications 8 bit MCUs provide sufficient resources.
However, you may think about encryption and, when standards like
SSL are required, most of these devices simply do not have the
power. I think Rabbit (now part of Digi) offer SSL with 8 bit
CPUs, but no idea about the performance. Also Ubicom's MCUs may
provide the required power. But in general a low end ARM7 is
recommended.

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Nut/OS (Ethernut RTOS) isn't actually that simple. One of its
goals is to offer a programming environment similar to desktop
PCs. You can, for example, use (f)printf on RS232, LCDs and
even TCP streams. That requires a lot of overhead (e.g. buffer
copying). On the other hand you can easily create applications,
which are running on a desktop _and_ on the target hardware.
The ETH Zuerich created a Linux / OS X environment for their
Nut/OS based Bluetooth stack. Though I've to admit, that
I failed to get it up last time I tried.

For very low end targets you may also have a look to
http://www.sics.se/~adam/lwip /
and
http://www.sics.se/~adam/uip /


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If Linux is an option, the list shrinks a lot.

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http://www.freertos.org /
seems to have an active community too. As long as you intend
to develop for non commercial use, the GPL is fine. For
commercial products the BSD licence typically is a better
choice.


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http://www.ethernut.de/en/portarm/gbaxport2.html
http://www.ethernut.de/nutwiki/index.php/GameBoyLinks

Regards,
Harald

Re: Recomendations for low end single board computers
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Just to clarify - FreeRTOS.org contains an exception to the GPL.



In summary



+ the scheduler code is GPL'ed, if you make modifications to the scheduler
itself you must abide by the GPL.

+ however, application code that uses the scheduler through the published
API can remain proprietary and the GPL does not apply.



The intention is that the FreeRTOS.org community benefits from changes or
enhancements to the actual kernel code, but users are not obliged to open
source their own proprietary application that simply makes use of the kernel
services.  Using FreeRTOS.org in a commercial application is therefore not a
problem.



Regards,

Richard.



http://www.FreeRTOS.org





Re: Recomendations for low end single board computers

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As a native German speaker, these lawyer texts are Greek to me
anyway. But wouldn't
http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/lesser.html
exactly meet your intention? I assume, that developers of
commercial applications feel insecure by an exception, which
is contrary to the initial licence.

At least the LGPL would allow me to "steal" code from FreeRTOS
for Nut/OS, which is currently not possible.

Harald

Re: Recomendations for low end single board computers
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[snip
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Try this H8 based board from Nu-Horizons.

http://www.nuhorizons.com/services/development/webserver/evalboard.html

The board at time I purchased it was only $125
The H8 family is supported by GCC
 (http://www.kpitgnutools.com /)

There is a free RTOS (BSD License) for the board
 (http://www.shift-right.com/xmk )

There are two TCP/IP stacks that run on the board
 (http://www.sics.se/~adam/uip/ and
  http://savannah.nongnu.org/projects/lwip /)


Re: Recomendations for low end single board computers
richardlang@my-deja.com wrote in news:1126845519.201573.119550
@g44g2000cwa.googlegroups.com:

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<<<<stuff snip here>>>>
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try family of micros from jkmicro.com

Arthur Kloc
Klocworx Inc
arthurATklocworxDOTcom


Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with them. just a happy user!!

Re: Recomendations for low end single board computers
Richard,

one of my 3 favorite has already been mentioned focusing on low cost
32-bit micros, Olimex. Here are the other two New Micros
http://www.newmicros.com/ with a very nice download site for GCC and a
development enviroment based on Eclipse, the other one is
http://www.embeddedartists.com/

You can get started for way less than $100 (or 100 Euro for that
matter). A port of FreeRTOS is also available as well as uC-OSII and
others.

A good source of information is also the LPC2000 Yahoo group with lots
of good contributions, files and links (after you sign up).
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/lpc2000 /

Hope this helps.  IMHO there is little reason to start with an 8-bit
any more, today you can get ARM micros for very low prices

An Schwob

richardlang@my-deja.com wrote:
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Re: Recomendations for low end single board computers
 > - A simple and free RTOS
 >
 > - A development environment based on GCC
 >
 > - A S/W framework based on some flavour of open source model, with an
 > enthusastic user community colaborating on components and libraries
 >
 > - A low cost development kit (this is only a hobby for now, so not
 > prepared to spend thousands to get started)
 >
 > - a selection of modules available

Sounds like the Zworld/Rabbit line of "cores" and SBCs would be a good
match for that list of requirements. See http://www.zworld.com /.

Note that they are currently running a special on a complete development
environment for their EtherNet-capable 3720 core for $99. Considering
what's in the bundle, they're giving them away.

Daniel Birket

Re: Recomendations for low end single board computers

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Except that there is no gcc toolchain as far as I can see!

It does not seem a good fit to me, given the OP's preference for free
tools and the open source community. There are plenty of processors
that ARE supported by gcc.

<SNIP>


--

John Devereux

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