Tag Archives: SBC

The Raspberry Pi Goes to Zero

If you thought the legendary Raspberry Pi or RBPi was the smallest single board computers could get, well, you need to think again. Not only has the famous SBC shrunk in size, it has become a lot cheaper as well. The charitable Raspberry Pi foundation that launched the best selling computer in the UK is now offering their next model, the RBPI-Zero and in the US, it costs just $5.

RBPi-Zero comes with a 512MB RAM and a core that boasts of being 40-percent faster than what the RBPI-1 came with. The miniaturized SBC sports a Mini-HDMI port and two Micro USB ports, one of them for power. While comparing the RBPI-Zero with the first RBPI, the Raspberry Pi Foundation says the RBPI-Zero is equally revolutionary. They explained it would be manufactured in Wales, run the full Raspbian, while including other applications such as Minecraft and Scratch.

Similar to the requirements for the RBPi, the RBPi-Zero requires the user to attach their own power supply, keyboard, mouse or any other input device and the display screen. The cost of the new board is low because several components from the RBPi board are no longer present or have been simplified for the RBPi-Zero. According to Uben Upton, the founder of Raspberry Pi, all components on the new board justify their existence.

However, cutting features was not the sole process of getting the RBPI-Zero down to the bare-bones pricing of $5. The major contribution comes from the grand success of its predecessor, the RBPi, being the most successful computer in the UK for decades. The massive sales have enabled the Foundation to cut costs to unimaginable levels. The sheer numbers in sales have given them the economies of scale.

One of the processes in reducing the cost of the RBPi-Zero was keeping all components on one side of the board instead of two – it simplified manufacturing by removing half the assembly costs. According to Upton, they have moved the physical product around and the cost of metal connections has made an impact.

By redesigning the RBPi-Zero, the engineering solution to the necessities of space and cost has resulted in an extraordinarily aesthetic board. The precision and beauty of Zero comes out in its compactness and its symmetry. Just like its predecessor, nothing is hidden and all its inner workings are exposed to anyone with an interest. As Upton says, it is nice when things look attractive because they are functional.

The small form factor of the RBPi-Zero makes it simple for the board to be used in many more projects, whether it is robotics or Internet-connected devices. The easy to use board massively increases creative possibilities. You can use the RBPI-Zero in places where the RBPi would be difficult to fit. Presently, the Zero, a full-featured computer, will provide raw power somewhere between the first generation of the RBPi and its second generation.

The launch plans for the Zero are massive, with tens of thousands ready to ship. Raspberry Pi magazines such as the Magpi will feature a freebie RBPi-Zero with its 10,000 issues. Upton is expecting five such launch partners.

ARM9 SBC with 7-inch Touchscreen

Now you can have complete HMI or Human Machine Interface with the Linux-ready ARM9 Single Board Computer from Premier Farnell. It comes with a 7-inch touchscreen and you can use the SBC for home automation as well.

The EDM6070AR-01 is a single board computer with an integrated Embedded Display Module or EDM, which makes it suitable for supporting a variety of embedded HMI applications. These include data acquisition and analysis, network terminals, medical products, intelligent instruments and industrial control terminals. Farnell has included a Smart Home demo application with the SBC and it features a smart-LED controller. With the home automation application, users can set light levels independently in each room. Additionally, they can also set flexible states for humidity and temperature using the smart-climate feature. Moreover, the SBC also allows management of room-specific surveillance cameras and audio streaming.

The brain behind the EDM6070AR-01 single board computer is the Mini6935 COM or Computer-On-Module, which is based on the ATMEL ARM9 processor AT91SAM9X35. Compared with the SAM9G35, the 400MHz SAM9X35 is more advanced, offering 16KB each of data and instruction cache along with additional interfaces such as UART, ISI and CAN. However, unlike the closely related SAM9X25, the SAM9X35 does not have a second Ethernet controller, but adds a second CAN interface along with an LCD interface.

Within the Mini6935 COM are 256MB of NAND flash, 128MB of DDR2 SDRAM, 4MB of data flash and 4KB EEPROM. The COM has a 10/100 Ethernet MAC, while it routes all signals via two rows of connectors on the back of the module.

The EDM6070AR-01 includes an 800×600-pixel LCD controller, two USB host ports, a USB device port and two SD card interfaces. One hundred and eight GPIOs, dual SPI and CAN interfaces form the industrial IOs. The EBM6070AR-01 SBC ships with a Linux 2.6.39 BSP supporting QT GUIs and numerous file systems.

The 108 GPIOs are each 32-bits, of which three are peripheral IOs, and the rest are programmable multiplexed. The SBC is also equipped with a 12-channel, 10-bit ADC for the touchscreen and a 4-channel, 16-bit PWM controller. With dimensions of 64x45mm and running on 3.3V, 1.25A power, the SBC has a watchdog, can operate as a soft modem, and perform safely within a temperature range of 10-70°C. Apart from this, the EDM6070AR-01 also integrates three GPIO inputs and outputs along with various LEDs, buttons and buzzers.

The 800×480-pixel, 7-inch touchscreen stacks on top of the board. The LCD module is TFT, with 800×480, 24-bit resolution and a 4-wire resistive touch panel. The SBC networks through a fast Ethernet port controlled by a DM9161CIEP chip. Other features include two power LEDs, an IO button and Reset button, RTC with battery backup and a watchdog. The SBC also provides an output DC supply of 5V.

Among the real-world ports available on the EDM6070AR-01 are a USB high-speed host port, a USB device port, Audio in-out, Debug interface, RS232 interface, RS485 interface and CAN interface.
You can drop the EDM6070AR-01 SBC into your product with negligible integration efforts. It is also possible to wrap an enclosure around it, add software applications and allow it to become your finished product.