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The Biggest-Little Revolution: 10 Single-Board Computers for Under $100

8/20/2013 09:40 AM EDT
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Patrikb
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Re: Commercial use
Patrikb   8/21/2013 4:25:09 AM
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I think this is very much the equivalent of what the mini-ITX was some years ago for embedded PC based DYI type projects, or PC104 in th 90's. Some of them will go into volume, but very often it's used only for early stage proof-of-concept development work, which is great. For real commercial volume projects though, I think most of them end up with either a Computer-on-Module and a custom carrier, or a making a customdesign with the SOC on a single board. Having said that, if you can solve all of your application requirements with only one off-the-shelf board that is manufactured in volume, that will always be the most cost-efficient alternative, the same way you have a embedded applications where an embedded PC motherboard or SBC has all the functionality onboard that's needed. 

patrick.mannion
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I have an Artigo 1000 kit - for free if you want it
patrick.mannion   8/21/2013 11:12:53 AM
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Hey, nice piece Cabe! Some great tech for next to nothing. Speaking of which, I have an Artigo 1000 kit (http://www.via.com.tw/en/products/embedded/artigo/a1000/) that I got from DesignWest (more on DesignWest in the coming days, standby). I've been sitting on it for a few years. I went to set it up as a simply webserver the other day only to find it's way outdated and no longer supported by Via Technologies. I could mess with it, but just don't have the time for some odd reason.

Anyone want it? It's a great little package and I can't just throw it out.... If you want it, and are based in the US, I can mail it to you: no charge (how's that for a deal?:). Just ping me at patrick.mannion@ubm.com.

All I ask is that you share with us what you do with it and how you did it. Deal? Just some photos and a description.

Luis Sanchez
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Re: Commercial use
Luis Sanchez   8/21/2013 11:15:56 AM
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What means SOM ?  

So these boards are also a way to get people famliarized with a certain kind of board or architecture and then be able to sell them the high end commercial application boards. 

That's good marketing!

sam512bb
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Very nice boards, but concerns about using them in products
sam512bb   8/21/2013 12:55:15 PM
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I really like a number of these boards in terms of their features and price, but so far I cannot justify their use in released products in my Industry (Industrial Control).  I say this, as all of these and other generic controllers lack suitable industrial hardened power supplies, or transient protection/fusing, etc that are needed for long term reliability... the result is that additional boards, etc would be needed and then one has to determine if it would be cheaper to design a custom single board solution, as opposed to having multiple assemblies (the off the shelf board and one or more custom boards) and associated cabling.  Secondly, how does one mitigate long term support risk?  A number of the boards use devices that are not widely available and/or are consumer oriented and so design changes, etc are a real possiblity... the result is that support costs increase in order to support the different flavors of the boards.  Indeed, some of the boards have released design files so that one "could" remanufacture their own board, but this is also not a simple undertaking, as some parts may be specialized or have high minimum order quantities.  In my view I see these boards as excellent learning platforms, proof of concept vehicles, or even as reference designs that firms can use... but certainly nothing that I could use for my production needs.

 

patrick.mannion
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Re: I have an Artigo 1000 kit - for free if you want it
patrick.mannion   8/21/2013 2:03:13 PM
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And the winner is.. Daniel Winder from Decagon Devices who'll be re-engineering his garden monitoring and control systems. Looking forward to seeing those photos, and maybe a fresh tomato or two in the mail. Good luck, Daniel.

aerives
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Re: Commercial use
aerives   8/21/2013 2:24:43 PM
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Hi Rick, the open source nature of BeagleBone Black is actually what makes it great for commercial applications. The Sitara AM335x processor that powers the board is available for purchase from low quantities to high quantities, so we see hobbyists using the board for DIY projects as well as developers taking their Beagle-based projects to Kickstarter. We're excited about how open source boards and software eases the development process for both groups of developers.  Check out the projects page on BeagleBoard.org to check out what people are developing: http://beagleboard.org/.

– Alejandro Erives, Texas Instruments, member of BeagleBoard.org

betajet
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CEO
Re: Commercial use
betajet   8/21/2013 2:53:18 PM
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SOM = System-on-Module also known as Computer-on-Module (COM).  A SOM is a very small card, usually the size of a DIMM and often using a DIMM connector.  A SOM makes it easy to incorporate a computer + DRAM + Flash, all with high-density interconnects, into a custom base-board which provides external I/O interfaces and can get by with low-density interconnect.

Susan Rambo
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Re: The mind boggles...
Susan Rambo   8/21/2013 7:33:36 PM
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Agreed. I bet the Apollo program could have used a few of these boards.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: The mind boggles...
Max The Magnificent   8/22/2013 10:19:57 AM
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@Susan: I bet the Apollo program could have used a few of these boards.

I'm sure you will be amazed to hear that I have a story about this. Konrad Zuse was an engineer in Germany who had a fully mechanical binary floating-point computer called the Z1 working in his parent's front room in Germany by 1938 ... way ahead of anyone else in the world. During the war he went on to create relay-based and vacuum tube-based computers.

Meanwhile, Wernher Magnus Maximilian, Freiherr von Braun was a German rocket scientist, aerospace engineer, space architect, and one of the leading figures in the development of rocket technology in Nazi Germany during World War II and, subsequently, in the United States. After the war, von Bron moved to Huntsville, Alabama (where I now hang my hat), where he lead the development of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions.

I met Konrad Zuse's son Horst, who told me about a chance meeting between his father and von Bron when both were being evacuated from Berlin -- Konrad with his computers and von Bron with his rockets -- in an attempt to sav etheir work from the allied bombing missions. I think they met in an inn just for one night.

I can imagine the conversation "What do you do?" and Konrad describing his large heavy computers and von Bron describing his rockets. The one thing von Bron was desperate for was a light, accurate control system. Neither of them would have envisaged putting a computer (big, heavy) on a rocket...

CCarpenter0
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Freelancer
Speed of Light
CCarpenter0   8/22/2013 2:50:23 PM
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At the current pace of developments, I think we have to wonder what capabilities an article like this one will describe two or three years from now. 

And perhaps more tellingly -- how easy will it be to port the software that I'm working on today to the next generation of these (amazing) boards?

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