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Late comment: sorry folks I had to break away for a meeting... as I read up the commments, it was a good forum today!

Manager

OK Everyone -- another hour has slipped through out fingers -- I'm going to race off to wroite some more articles -- I hope to see you all again next week -- until then, I hope everyone has a WONDERFUL weekend!!!

@Duane: ... but close enough to require far mor research than switching from one product line menber to another should take...

The main thing is that you are having fun :-)

Max - Yes. I saw that blog. I do love my PIC MCUs, but they drive me nuts too. There are so many variations, that I'm sure could be consolidated down to about a thrid. And many, many of them are almost exactly the same as some other, but close enough to require far mor research than switching from one product line menber to another should take.

Blogger

Byr EE,etc. It was great chatting with you -- hopefully we'll see you here again next Friday -- and don;t forget to look for my Ardiuno blog later today.

 

Also -- I'm planning on doing a blog about my favorite iPad apps (engineering and otherwise) in the not so distant future...

@Duane: Max - I was brining up a small board based on a varient if PIC16F MCU that I hadn't used before....

On the one hand I love Microchip -- their PICs have beet really useful -- did you see my What's the Most Popular MCU of All Time? blog? I think the PIC16F family have sold more than 7 billion units (eeek).

Having said this, their 8-bit architecture is "esoteric" to say the least -- you can program them in C, but the architecture is rooted in the past and is not ideal for the task. By comparison, the 8-bit Atmel AVR architecture (as used in the Arduino Uno, for example) was designed from the ground up to be able to efficiently run C (by which I menn, to allow C cpompilers to efficiently map th ecode onto the architecture)

Thank you all, I had a nice chat and Thank you Max for setting the topic,

have a nice weekend all

Manager

Max - I was brining up a small board based on a varient if PIC16F MCU that I hadn't used before. It's real close to a bunch of others that I've used, but it still took me more than an hour to get the right combination of settings between the conficuration bits, clock settings and - yes, even basic port configuration - before I got the chip to do anything. It's nuts. The Arduino take care of all of that for you.

Blogger

I'm not a pro, but the Raspberry Pi has a massive following constantly putting out tutorials and project ideas. 

Blogger

I have not used SBC in practice, just wondering which ones are more supported and equipped with lost of code samples and app notes, any input from the Pros as a take home of todays' chat?

Manager

@docdivakar: have not thought about SBC application in mobile comm., as you pointed the use cases are endless, need a good eye for its own market.

Manager

@Duane: You don't have to worry about getting tripped up by configuration bits or the idiosyncracies of I2C, etc. You can get right to the programming...

Max likes!!!

@Caleb: I have several flavors. The selling point is ease of use.

I've invariably got projects on the go that benefit from a microcontroller -- I've bounced around all over the place (the most recent was a PICAXE programmed in BASIC) -- but (for reasons you will see in my blog later today) I now need to learn the Arduino...

@Garcia: Today is my wife birthday and we have a romantic dinner in about an hour...

Tell her HAPPY BIRTHDAY from everyone at EE Times

Garcia - One of the nice things about the Arduino, education wise, is that it's close to the hardware, but a lot of the messy details are handled. You don't have to worry about getting tripped up by configuration bits or the idiosyncracies of I2C, etc. You can get right to the programming and then later explore some of those painful environmental issues.

Blogger

@Max: it's funny, i have gone through teh same experince for some time avoiding to be controled by Stev Jobs's invention and his iTune, and about to give that up, for similar reasons, everyone else has it and they are all happy campers:)

Manager

@Max: "watch for my column on MCU Designline later today..."

I'll take a look after dinner ;-)

Blogger

@max, I have several flavors. The selling point is ease of use. Many people go from arduino to using bare chips, not the other way around!

Blogger

I'm so sorry because I'm having a good time -- I'm very interested in the current topic-- but I must go :-(

Today is my wife birthday and we have a romantic dinner in about an hour...

GOOD BYE & HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!!!

Blogger

@Garcia: I'm not an Arduino user...

Neither am I ... but I will be soon -- watch for my column on MCU Designline later today...

I would really like to see some better tools and/or documentation on getting direct access to the hardware with the SBCs through the OS and higher level applications. Tools and documentation are out there, but not easy to use or find in my experience

Blogger

@Caleb: that's a great experince/view to have (having tried both iPad 7 Nexus), they are almost like Windows and Linux, teh android being open is offering lots of more oppurtunity but still you have more current apps for iPad, I think the shoudl converge atsome point.

Manager

@docdivakar: If for eg, you include 3G/4G radios in them, you will corner a good size of the market for low end / prepaid plans in dev economies where texting still is a major traffic %%.

Good point -- this is one reason why I love these discussions, becaus ethey make me think of things I wouldn't otherwise have thought of :-)

@Susan: I'm not an Arduino user, but I've used the under-the-hood AVR microcontroller in quite a bunch of projects. I 'm not sure about using the Arduino with educational purposes, as it has been thought to be programmed using an extra layer of software abstraction -- instead of using the C commands for accessing the AVR resources, you have the Arduino API.

Raspberry, BeagleBone, etc. are the ideal tool for learning OS, both Linux and Android. The students can play with the whole filesystem and it they blow it away, the problem can be fixed by just replacing the storage SD. 

Blogger

@max, I feel you on the apps. Google's play store has helped tremendously, but It still isn't quite the same. The selection is smaller than itunes and overal app quality is lower due to fragmentation of hardware. 

Blogger

@Patk0317: Commodore 64? ;<)


LOL

@Caleb: The cost is considerably different though, and the bar for entry into development is lower with android.

True and true. However, as an end user, I want my apps!!! :-)

Susan, Garcia - The point that the Arduino and Pi are designed for teaching different things is a very good one. The Arduino is more of an embedded tool while the pi isn't so much about hardware

Blogger

@EE,etc.: As one example of the use of the iPad, about a year ago I build a ukulele (don't ask :-)

The first thing you want to do when you have a ukuleke is tune it ... I was thinking about going to the local music store to buy an electronic tuner, but then I thought "I wonder if they have an app for that?" THEY DO!!!

i just looked at the article again and ALL of the SBCs mentioned have some version of an ARM on them. Are there any SBCs that don't feature ARM?
CEO

@EE,etc and Max,

 I have both an ipad and the Nexus7. the ipad has more polish for sure in both software and hardware. The cost is considerably different though, and the bar for entry into development is lower with android. 

Blogger

@EE,etc.: I am also planning to break years of apple-resistance and buy teh ipad next week:)

I don't think you will regret it. When the iPad first came out, I looked around all the computers in my office and at home and said "Nah -- don't need it."

Sometime later I purchased a small "netpad" computer to sit on the couch at home to be used to look things up -- what a PAIN that was -- it took forever to boot up -- I wish I'd never set eyes on it.

In fact it wasn't until the iPad2 came out that I went to a conference and saw that just about everyone I knew had one and were using them to take notes and send emails (FYI -- When you get one, download the "Notes Plus" application -- it's AMAZING!!!"

So I got one and I've never looked back...

 

@EE,etc: I think 'positioning' is a hard challenge for the <$100 tablets -as you mentioned every one goes for the obvious opportunuties; fresh approaches are needed to create new ones for these. If for eg, you include 3G/4G radios in them, you will corner a good size of the market for low end / prepaid plans in dev economies where texting still is a major traffic %%.

Manager

@Duane and @Garcia-Lasheras: good points about what board to use teach certain lessons. If you were developing a lesson plan, you'd start with Arduino first and then teach OS on the Pi? Any other recommendations for boards to use in education?

Blogger

@Max: I think you juts gave a good summary of what a good tablet can do on a daily basis, I am also planning to break years of apple-resistance and buy teh ipad next week:)

Manager

Alternatively, does anyone have any SBCs that were mentioned in this article, but that shouldn't have been?

So does anyone have any SBCs that weren't mentioned in thsi article, but that should have been?

@Duane: "The Arduino, without an OS, is far easier to use, and in my opinion, a much better educational tool."

Arduino is a better educational tool for hardware, I agree... but the point is that the Raspberry is GREAT for Operating System education: this project is more related with OPEN SOFTWARE than with OPEN HARDWARE.

Blogger

@EE,etc.: I am not a pro-apple person as i don't think apple products are really designed for Engineers...

Generally speaking I agree with this -- there are some interesting ways in which the iPad can be used as an oscilloscope or a logic analyzer or ... and there are some interesting applications ... but generally speaking I regard the iPad as a content consuming/display devuce rather than a content generation device.

Having said this, I always have my iPad with me at home for it's ability to wander aroudn with me and th efact that it's "instant on" -- I'm constantly using it to check up on fact and things -- I'm going to be using it to play an audio book while I'm on a road trip tomorrow ... and I love having access to all of the iPad apps

The question is, what are you defining as a SBC? Most of them seem to be ARM based. Does a Cortex M3 based board count as an SBC? Is an SBC only a general purpose computer? Does it need to run an RTOS? There is even an RTOS that runs on an 8051 now, so would an 8051 based board be considered and SBC?
CEO

I don't know why we're comparing the two. I have 5 different types of arduino on my workbench and love them, but they aren't single board computers. Not even close. 

Blogger

@docdivakar: I agree that SBcs could be more powerful but what kind of market do you think the SBCs are targeting? other than education, Industry, ..

Manager

I've just done a little work trying to get to the hardware through a Raspberri Pi or Beaglebone OS. It's possible, but not easy. Funny thing is, though, that I used to have to work through an OS way back in the Apple II and DOS days. It can be quite the struggle.

The Arduino, without an OS, is far easier to use, and in my opinion, a much better educational tool.

Blogger

Arduino doesn't output to a standard video device, or have usb host... nor built in storage interface.. hardly a SBC

Blogger

@Duane: I wouldn't count the arduino as an SBC [...] it doesn't have an OS and isn't as capable.

It not having an OS is what makes it attractive to me LOL

@Caleb, thanks for sharing that, I am not a pro-apple person as i don't think apple products are really designed for Engineers, will be glad to see other players compete at similar level/quality.

 

Manager

@Max: "I'm happier creating applications that run on the "bare metal""

In fact, you can program some of this SBC using bare-metal C code... but you'll soon discover that the peripherals are not designed for doing that -- i.e. GPIO management is really too slow!!

Blogger

I wouldn't count the arduino as an SBC, or at least not in the same class as the Beaglebone, Raspberry Pi and such. The Arduino is significantly easier to use, but it doesn't have an OS and isn't as capable.

Blogger

@ee,etc, I have a nexus 7 (2013). It is very competitive with the smaller ipad. Not a perfect replacement, but close. 

Blogger

To be honest -- SBCs that run at the Linux level with stuff like HDMI and things are a bit outside my comfort zone. I'm happier creating applications that run on the "bare metal" -- reading input pins and "twiddling" output pins...

@Max:  "but don't they count as Single Board Computers (SBCs) also?"

I think that the key difference is that SBC are able to run a full featured Operating System

Blogger

@@EE,etc: I think the performance in graphics will improve as volume increases in the <$100 tablets; I still don't see these proliferating in dev economies at the introductory level, so I assume there is a play for these, a good one at that.

Manager

@Max: agree Max, the iPad is the only real tablet out there, but I hope Android is catching up soon.

 

Manager

I know that the Arduino boards aren't as "all singing, all dancing" as things lik ethe Raspberry Pi ... but don't they count as Single Board Computers (SBCs) also?

@Max: the Raspberry is a bit "obscure" with respect to hardware, but the Beaglebone is totally open (all the hardware design files, including gerbers, are available online)

Blogger

If only you coudl get a sub-$100 tablet with access to the iTunes stors and to all of Apple's app store contents... without that, I can't see myself ever moving away from my *precious* (sorry, my iPad)

@docdivakar: Thanks to point out the use in developing countries, but can we get video inetnsive apps to run on the sub$100 computers? I doubt it.

Manager

Max, I love the Parallela concept but I've a doubt about it... At first I thought that it could be used as a Zynq dev-kit, but now I'm becoming aware that the Zynq is only a necessary part for linking with the Epiphany resources... am I right???

Blogger

@Garcia (Javi): ...are we ready to teardown those under 100 little rascals?? ;-)


Actually, it woudl be interesting to get a detailed breakdown of the types of chips (in addtion to the processors), number of layers in the board, etc...

@EE,etc: the sub $100 tablets have a lot of functions that a majority of developing countries can use in education. But I agree video / graphics-intensive applications may not run very well on these.

Manager

I was glad to see the Parallella represented -- thsi really does qualify as a personal supercomputer...

are we ready to teardown those under 100 little rascals?? ;-)

Blogger

Hi Duane -- Hi Javi (Garcia)

I must admit that I was surprised by the range of SBCs that are available -- and remember that this article just mentioned a small sampling...

Hello Max & Susan... thanks for hosting!

Manager

I tend to go for practical use,

what will be the current application for the <$100 computers these days?

I can think of more Industrial, Machine Control, public gaming machine were a fixed computer at min price is needed, any one can point to other applications?

Manager

Hi Docdivakar, welcome.

 

Blogger

we're at least becoming more aware of them since the raspberry pi. Many were out there before hand but the public didn't hear about them so much. 

Blogger

These boards are all so impressive. It seems like there's been an explosion of them since the Raspberry Pi came out.

Blogger

laggy buggy messes. Hopefully that will change though. 

Blogger

I've used a couple sub $100 tablets. they were horrible

Blogger

Hi Susan, thanks, it's my 1st time joining, glad to be here.

 

Manager

Hi EE,etc. Thanks for joining in.

Blogger

@Caleb: ...there's no need to brag max.

If I don't brag about myself, no one will do it for me :-)

Hi Max, the story is great, or to be correct it was great maybe up to introduction of the tablets, I think what we need now is perhaps the tablets under $100.

 

Manager

well, there's no need to brag max. 

Blogger

Ha! I'm the first here :-)

The "EE Times Week In Review" is a live online chat about what's been happening in electronics and engineering and what you thought about it all, from hard news to the weird and wonderful.

This week's chat will take place on Friday, August 23, 2013, commencing at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time / 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

Although we will be talking about anything and everything of interest, our lead topic will be Cabe Atwell's article: The Biggest-Little Revolution: 10 Single-Board Computers for Under $100. It will be interesting to ponder the commercial potential and implications of this type of board.



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