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'[TECH] Looking For Cheap Embedded Platform'
2009\04\05@163457 by Marcel Birthelmer

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face
Hi all,
I have  project in mind that involves controlling some external circuits via
relays using a web interface. To that end, I'm looking for a cheap embedded
platform with the following properties:
- Ethernet connectivity
- 8 or more relay outputs
- programmable processor (to run the web server as well as the control logic
for the relays) - preferrably 32-bit, with enough oomph for a small RTOS or
Linux
- preferrably with available enclosure (this will be mounted outdoors, but
in a protected location)

There are of course many PC/104-style options, but they all seem to be
ridiculously expensive. Optimally, the whole thing would cost no more than
$150, but the cheaper the better.

Please let me know if you have any suggestions.
- Marcel

2009\04\05@172446 by Dave Wheeler

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face
Hi Marcel,

Have you seen the grasshopper (AKA AP7000 base)
AVR32, running embedded linux, web server, shed loads of I/O, open source
I think I paid about 90Euros for mine

Have a look over at http://www.ic-board.de

Might be more than you need but who knows :-)

Cheers

Dave


Marcel Birthelmer wrote:
{Quote hidden}

2009\04\05@174504 by solarwind

picon face
On Sun, Apr 5, 2009 at 5:24 PM, Dave Wheeler <spam_OUTg0gmkTakeThisOuTspambtinternet.com> wrote:
> Hi Marcel,
>
> Have you seen the grasshopper (AKA AP7000 base)
> AVR32, running embedded linux, web server, shed loads of I/O, open source
> I think I paid about 90Euros for mine
>
> Have a look over at http://www.ic-board.de
>
> Might be more than you need but who knows :-)
>
> Cheers
>
> Dave

SRSLY?!!?! AVR32 can run Linux? That's amazing. Why can't the PIC32 do
this? It's an industry standard MIPS M4K core after all...

2009\04\05@184211 by Michael Algernon

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face
Look at SheevaPlug.  Adding 8 relays should be straightforward using  
USB or a UART or using i2c.
http://www.marvell.com/products/embedded_processors/developer/kirkwood/sheevaplug.jsp

RELAYS   ( what size relay do you want ?)
www.virtualvillage.com/items/item.aspx?itemid=4778931&utm_source=baseusa&utm_medium=shopping&CAWELAID=237945517
www.dontronics-shop.com/super4-usb-relay-module.html
http://www.i2cchip.com
www.acroname.com/robotics/parts/R292-RLY08.html
http://www.newmicros.com/
http://store.qkits.com/moreinfo.cfm/K8056
http://www.phidgets.com/products.php?category=1&product_id=1017


{Quote hidden}

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All ideas, text, drawings and audio , that are originated by WFT  
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2009\04\05@185542 by William \Chops\ Westfield

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On Apr 5, 2009, at 2:44 PM, solarwind wrote:

> AVR32 can run Linux? That's amazing. Why can't the PIC32 do this?

No external memory bus for attaching the vast amounts of RAM (by  
"microcontroller standards" that linux needs.)

BillW

2009\04\05@185916 by William \Chops\ Westfield

face picon face

On Apr 5, 2009, at 1:34 PM, Marcel Birthelmer wrote:

> 'm looking for a cheap embedded platform with the following  
> properties:
> - Ethernet connectivity
> - 8 or more relay outputs
> - programmable processor (to run the web server as well as the  
> control logic
> for the relays) - preferrably 32-bit, with enough oomph for a small  
> RTOS or
> Linux

How about the "Make Controller": http://makezine.com/controller/
Atmel ARM cpu.  No relays, but it does have 8 half-bridge high current  
drivers aimed at motors, so adding relays would be a relatively simple  
matter.

BillW

2009\04\05@195849 by solarwind

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On Sun, Apr 5, 2009 at 6:55 PM, William "Chops" Westfield
<.....westfwKILLspamspam@spam@mac.com> wrote:
>
> On Apr 5, 2009, at 2:44 PM, solarwind wrote:
>
>> AVR32 can run Linux? That's amazing. Why can't the PIC32 do this?
>
> No external memory bus for attaching the vast amounts of RAM (by
> "microcontroller standards" that linux needs.)

So are the AVR32s more expensive than PIC32s? And how are they in
terms of power consumption? I know that ARMs take the most power out
of the 3. So do they take more or less power than the PIC32s in
general?

2009\04\05@214131 by William \Chops\ Westfield

face picon face

On Apr 5, 2009, at 4:58 PM, solarwind wrote:

>>> AVR32 can run Linux? That's amazing. Why can't the PIC32 do this?
>>
>> No external memory bus for attaching the vast amounts of RAM (by
>> "microcontroller standards" that linux needs.)
>
> So are the AVR32s more expensive than PIC32s? And how are they in  
> terms of power consumption? I know that ARMs take the most power out  
> of the 3. So do they take more or less power than the PIC32s in  
> general?

I dunno.  I haven't read the spec sheets recently, and I've shied away  
from any AVR32 interest for assorted reasons.

Your statement about ARMs is WAY too sweeping a generalization to  
cover a name that includes everything from 1GHz+ cpus with external  
buses and massive caches to 28pin 20MHz microcontrollers (and quite a  
few separate sub-architectures.)

BillW

2009\04\05@222019 by solarwind

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On Sun, Apr 5, 2009 at 9:41 PM, William "Chops" Westfield
<westfwspamKILLspammac.com> wrote:
> Your statement about ARMs is WAY too sweeping a generalization to
> cover a name that includes everything from 1GHz+ cpus with external
> buses and massive caches to 28pin 20MHz microcontrollers (and quite a
> few separate sub-architectures.)

28 pin microcontrollers? Really? Can you recommend me some? I need low
pin count ARM microcontrollers desperately.

2009\04\05@235238 by John Day

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face
At 05:44 PM 4/5/2009, solarwind wrote:
>SRSLY?!!?! AVR32 can run Linux? That's amazing. Why can't the PIC32 do
>this? It's an industry standard MIPS M4K core after all...

Well AVR32AP7000 can run full Linux, AVR32UC3A and AVR32UC3B don't
have the MMU so they can only run uCLinux.

But remember the AVR32's all support external memory - SDRAM, Flash
etc, so they can have big enough memory maps to run Linux.

PIC32 doesn't have an EBI that I am aware of, nor does it have an
MMU. Other RTOS's are available for the PIC32 but until they have an
MMU they wont have the threading. Some members of the 4K family have
MMU's, but Microchip specifically wanted a 32bit processor that they
could use to convert people back to 8/16 bit rather than having a GP
32 bit processor. Steve Sanghi said as much not long after the PIC32
was introduced.

Atmel have been selling a really neat little board, the ATNGW100
which comes with Linux,  2 Ethernet, USB, SD card interface for $89
which is a rather nice little 100 x 120mm board.

John



2009\04\05@235445 by John Day

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face
At 06:42 PM 4/5/2009, Michael Algernon wrote:
>Look at SheevaPlug.  Adding 8 relays should be straightforward using
>USB or a UART or using i2c.

If only they were available!

John

{Quote hidden}

>

2009\04\06@000120 by John Day

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face
At 07:58 PM 4/5/2009, solarwind wrote:
>On Sun, Apr 5, 2009 at 6:55 PM, William "Chops" Westfield
><.....westfwKILLspamspam.....mac.com> wrote:
> >
> > On Apr 5, 2009, at 2:44 PM, solarwind wrote:
> >
> >> AVR32 can run Linux? That's amazing. Why can't the PIC32 do this?
> >
> > No external memory bus for attaching the vast amounts of RAM (by
> > "microcontroller standards" that linux needs.)
>
>So are the AVR32s more expensive than PIC32s? And how are they in
>terms of power consumption? I know that ARMs take the most power out
>of the 3. So do they take more or less power than the PIC32s in
>general?

Just remember that ARM cores in micros cover a VAST range. ARM7tdmi
cores can be very low power, as can some ARM9's, but not all. ARM11's
of course are a bit on the hungry side, but then they start to rival
Pentiums in capacity.

ARM-Cortex (A8, A3, M0, M1, M3) all have specific feature mixes. The
PIC32 at the moment, with no Ethernet or CAN interfaces probably
compares with low end ARM7tdmi based products and is comparable in
power consumption.

AVR32UC3A and AVR32UC3B are comparable in cost to PIC32's in volume.

John

>

2009\04\06@000337 by solarwind

picon face
On Sun, Apr 5, 2009 at 11:52 PM, John Day <EraseMEjohn.dayspam_OUTspamTakeThisOuTsiliconrailway.com> wrote:
> Well AVR32AP7000 can run full Linux, AVR32UC3A and AVR32UC3B don't
> have the MMU so they can only run uCLinux.
>
> But remember the AVR32's all support external memory - SDRAM, Flash
> etc, so they can have big enough memory maps to run Linux.
>
> PIC32 doesn't have an EBI that I am aware of, nor does it have an
> MMU. Other RTOS's are available for the PIC32 but until they have an
> MMU they wont have the threading. Some members of the 4K family have
> MMU's, but Microchip specifically wanted a 32bit processor that they
> could use to convert people back to 8/16 bit rather than having a GP
> 32 bit processor. Steve Sanghi said as much not long after the PIC32
> was introduced.
>
> Atmel have been selling a really neat little board, the ATNGW100
> which comes with Linux,  2 Ethernet, USB, SD card interface for $89
> which is a rather nice little 100 x 120mm board.

That's pretty cool. Thanks, I'll remember this and get ARM next time I
want to build something with serious computational power.

2009\04\06@000444 by John Day

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face
At 10:20 PM 4/5/2009, you wrote:
>On Sun, Apr 5, 2009 at 9:41 PM, William "Chops" Westfield
><westfwspamspam_OUTmac.com> wrote:
> > Your statement about ARMs is WAY too sweeping a generalization to
> > cover a name that includes everything from 1GHz+ cpus with external
> > buses and massive caches to 28pin 20MHz microcontrollers (and quite a
> > few separate sub-architectures.)
>
>28 pin microcontrollers? Really? Can you recommend me some? I need low
>pin count ARM microcontrollers desperately.

I am not sure about 28 pin, but have a look at the NXP LPC2xxx
series. A huge range of ARM7tdmi's with all sorts of
memory/peripheral mixes. I think that Luminary micro might have some
smaller parts using one of teh Cortex architectures.

J

>

2009\04\06@001503 by solarwind

picon face
On Mon, Apr 6, 2009 at 12:01 AM, John Day <@spam@john.dayKILLspamspamsiliconrailway.com> wrote:
> Just remember that ARM cores in micros cover a VAST range. ARM7tdmi
> cores can be very low power, as can some ARM9's, but not all. ARM11's
> of course are a bit on the hungry side, but then they start to rival
> Pentiums in capacity.
>
> ARM-Cortex (A8, A3, M0, M1, M3) all have specific feature mixes. The
> PIC32 at the moment, with no Ethernet or CAN interfaces probably
> compares with low end ARM7tdmi based products and is comparable in
> power consumption.
>
> AVR32UC3A and AVR32UC3B are comparable in cost to PIC32's in volume.

Thanks. If I want a simple yet powerful controller, I would pick the
PIC32 especially due to its simplicity of use and support for 64 bit
floats and optimized math routines. If I want low end controller use,
I'll stick with 8 bit microcontrollers in DIP format. If I want
powerful CPUs, I'll shoot for ARM such as ARM7 - especially since they
have a memory bus which can be expanded so running Linux on them is
easy.

As much as I want to get into Atmel AVRs, I really can not find a
suitable use for them. They're generally more power hungry than PICs,
some are more expensive in the same class, less on board peripherals,
no support for 64 bit floats on the 8 bit side and so on...

PICs are just too awesome.

2009\04\06@010012 by Xiaofan Chen

face picon face
On Mon, Apr 6, 2009 at 10:20 AM, solarwind <KILLspamx.solarwind.xKILLspamspamgmail.com> wrote:
> On Sun, Apr 5, 2009 at 9:41 PM, William "Chops" Westfield
> <RemoveMEwestfwTakeThisOuTspammac.com> wrote:
>> Your statement about ARMs is WAY too sweeping a generalization to
>> cover a name that includes everything from 1GHz+ cpus with external
>> buses and massive caches to 28pin 20MHz microcontrollers (and quite a
>> few separate sub-architectures.)
>
> 28 pin microcontrollers? Really? Can you recommend me some? I need low
> pin count ARM microcontrollers desperately.

For example,
http://www.luminarymicro.com/products/100_series_devices.html

They are not that useful after all due to the low flash memory size.

Regards,
Xiaofan

2009\04\06@012247 by Xiaofan Chen

face picon face
On Mon, Apr 6, 2009 at 7:58 AM, solarwind <spamBeGonex.solarwind.xspamBeGonespamgmail.com> wrote:
> So are the AVR32s more expensive than PIC32s? And how are they in
> terms of power consumption? I know that ARMs take the most power out
> of the 3. So do they take more or less power than the PIC32s in
> general?

Both PIC32 and AVR32 will remain the niche. If you want to go
up the ladder, go the ARM route. There are many choices,
lower-end ARM7 and Cortex M3 (M0 is even lower end) is similar
to current AVR32UC and PIC32MX. Higher end ARM9/11/Xscale
and Cortex R4/A8 can run full-fledged Windows CE and Linux
since they have MMU. Some ARM 7 can run uCLinux as well
(no MMU).

The other strong contender is Freescale ColdFire. V1/ lower end
V2 are similar to PIC32. Higher end V2/V3 are similar to ARM7
and even some ARM 9. V4 can run full-fledged Linux.

Xiaofan

2009\04\06@013029 by Xiaofan Chen

face picon face
On Mon, Apr 6, 2009 at 4:34 AM, Marcel Birthelmer <TakeThisOuTmarcelEraseMEspamspam_OUTcarrietech.com> wrote:
> Hi all,
> I have  project in mind that involves controlling some external circuits via
> relays using a web interface. To that end, I'm looking for a cheap embedded
> platform with the following properties:
> - Ethernet connectivity
> - 8 or more relay outputs
> - programmable processor (to run the web server as well as the control logic
> for the relays) - preferrably 32-bit, with enough oomph for a small RTOS or
> Linux
> - preferrably with available enclosure (this will be mounted outdoors, but
> in a protected location)
>
> There are of course many PC/104-style options, but they all seem to be
> ridiculously expensive. Optimally, the whole thing would cost no more than
> $150, but the cheaper the better.
>
> Please let me know if you have any suggestions.

Hmm, it seems to me that you are trying to build something
similar to a PLC. US$150 can be done if you are doing it by
yourself. But ready made parts typicall cost more with Ethernet
interface. With RS232 interface, there are more choices.
For example, Automation Direct sells quite some Micro
Brick-style PLC with price tag of US$99 to US$129.
I think there will be more and more micro-brick style
PLCs in the market and the price point can be lower
than US$150.

Some cheap PIC stuff here (no Linux)
http://www.modtronix.com/index.php?cPath=1_36

You can probably doing similar things with PIC24 or
PIC32.

You can probably build your own but it is not easy
to beat the lower-end PLCs with the reliability and
ease of use.


Xiaofan

2009\04\06@020422 by Marcel Birthelmer

picon face
{Quote hidden}

The problem with doing it myself is that after PCB cost + hardware, I'll
already be at $150, and that doesn't even take into account the time
invested on this. I was hoping to exploit some vendor's economy of scale
here, but it doesn't look like there's a lot available.

2009\04\06@024857 by William \Chops\ Westfield

face picon face

On Apr 5, 2009, at 7:20 PM, solarwind wrote:

>> Your statement about ARMs is WAY too sweeping a generalization to
>> cover a name that includes everything from 1GHz+ cpus with external
>> buses and massive caches to 28pin 20MHz microcontrollers (and quite a
>> few separate sub-architectures.)
>
> 28 pin microcontrollers? Really? Can you recommend me some? I need low
> pin count ARM microcontrollers desperately.

There aren't very MANY...
 www.luminarymicro.com/products/100_series_devices.html
Note that a 28-pin ARM has something like 7 power pins, plus crystal  
plus reset; there are only 18 actual IO pins...

At the 48pin level you have lots of choices.  Luminary, NXP, ST...  Of  
course, with companies ADVERTISING "features" like "only 7 bypass caps  
needed for power", one starts to worry about systems cost rather than  
chip costs :-)

BillW

2009\04\06@030252 by Xiaofan Chen

face picon face
On Mon, Apr 6, 2009 at 2:04 PM, Marcel Birthelmer
<RemoveMEmarcelb.listsspamTakeThisOuTgmail.com> wrote:
>> Hmm, it seems to me that you are trying to build something
>> similar to a PLC. US$150 can be done if you are doing it by
>> yourself. But ready made parts typicall cost more with Ethernet
>> interface. With RS232 interface, there are more choices.
>> For example, Automation Direct sells quite some Micro
>> Brick-style PLC with price tag of US$99 to US$129.
>> I think there will be more and more micro-brick style
>> PLCs in the market and the price point can be lower
>> than US$150.
>>
>
> The problem with doing it myself is that after PCB cost + hardware, I'll
> already be at $150, and that doesn't even take into account the time
> invested on this. I was hoping to exploit some vendor's economy of scale
> here, but it doesn't look like there's a lot available.

Try google for "Ethernet I/O" and you will get some hits. They are
not as feature rich as the PLCs but might be an option.
http://www.audon.co.uk/netiom.html
microcontrollershop.com/product_info.php?cPath=98&products_id=2192
http://home.cogeco.ca/~hduff/EIO_Main.htm

These cheaper modules do not run Linux though.

If you really want cheap embedded modules, then those
home network router can not be beaten. Really cheap,
runs Linux, but might not be reliable enough for your
application. You just need to hack the program and
add the relay board.

Xiaofan

2009\04\06@071750 by olin piclist

face picon face
solarwind wrote:
> 28 pin microcontrollers? Really? Can you recommend me some? I need low
> pin count ARM microcontrollers desperately.

Why do they need to be ARM?  What task do you have that is specific to the
ARM architecture that it can't be performed on any other?


********************************************************************
Embed Inc, Littleton Massachusetts, http://www.embedinc.com/products
(978) 742-9014.  Gold level PIC consultants since 2000.

2009\04\06@080424 by solarwind

picon face
On Mon, Apr 6, 2009 at 7:18 AM, Olin Lathrop <olin_piclistEraseMEspam.....embedinc.com> wrote:
> Why do they need to be ARM?  What task do you have that is specific to the
> ARM architecture that it can't be performed on any other?

Floating point calculations that are annoying to do on the PIC due to
lack of C compiler support.

2009\04\06@101134 by Raymond Hurst

picon face
How about the cheapest Intel or AMD motherboard you can buy combined
with an I/O card?
Ray

2009\04\06@125111 by olin piclist

face picon face
solarwind wrote:
>> Why do they need to be ARM? What task do you have that is specific to
>> the ARM architecture that it can't be performed on any other?
>
> Floating point calculations that are annoying to do on the PIC due to
> lack of C compiler support.

All PICs have C compiler support, so this only comes down to a speed issue,
not ARM versus some other architecture.


********************************************************************
Embed Inc, Littleton Massachusetts, http://www.embedinc.com/products
(978) 742-9014.  Gold level PIC consultants since 2000.

2009\04\06@150410 by Herbert Graf

picon face
On Sun, 2009-04-05 at 13:34 -0700, Marcel Birthelmer wrote:
> Hi all,
> I have  project in mind that involves controlling some external circuits via
> relays using a web interface. To that end, I'm looking for a cheap embedded
> platform with the following properties:
> - Ethernet connectivity
> - 8 or more relay outputs
> - programmable processor (to run the web server as well as the control logic
> for the relays) - preferrably 32-bit, with enough oomph for a small RTOS or
> Linux
> - preferrably with available enclosure (this will be mounted outdoors, but
> in a protected location)

Is this a one off? If so get one of the "open source" wireless routers
like the Linksys WRT54G or equivalent ones. They run Linux and there are
a ton of firwares you can upload if you don't want to do the work
yourself. Most have a few pins of GPIO that you could easily interface
to (usually connected to LEDs). An alternative is some have serial
ports, connect a low end PIC to the port and with a few perl scripts
running on the router you're ready to go.

TTYL

2009\04\06@150924 by William \Chops\ Westfield

face picon face

On Apr 6, 2009, at 9:53 AM, Olin Lathrop wrote:

>> Floating point calculations that are annoying to do on the PIC due to
>> lack of C compiler support.
>
> All PICs have C compiler support, so this only comes down to a speed  
> issue,
> not ARM versus some other architecture.

He meant "lack of extended floating point support in the available C  
compilers"  rather than "lack of C compilers for the architecture."  A  
lot of the 8-bit compilers (PIC and AVR come to mind) seem to only  
support 32bit floats.

BillW

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