Robotics/Computer Control/The Interface/SBC and multichip modules
SBC: Single Board Computers
Single Board Computers are a complete computer on a single printed circuit board. These usually require only a single power supply. SBCs commonly provide all standard PC I/O support like keyboard, mouse, SVGA, serial and parallel ports, ethernet, IDE, SCSI and USB. Some provide a PCMCIA connector. Late model SBCs are also replete with multiple CPU/Pentium 4/Xeon/AMD configurations.
SBC are commonly used in the industry in process control. Although they are quite expensive and hard to find (in retail), they can be a great way to control a larger robot. For small robots their power consumption would be a problem.
Stacking modular connector boards
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Many robots include a "stack" of boards, typically with a processor on one board, H bridge motor driver on another board, and a wireless communication on another board.
Many people prefer to build rapid prototypes out of many single-purpose boards that can be disassembled and re-used for the next prototype, rather than making a single big specialized PCB prototype that is used once for testing and then thrown away. There are many standards for such electronic pieces.
- gumstix and gumstix packs and more gumstix packs
- Stackable USB (USB is smaller and faster than the ISA bus used in the original PC/104)
- Virtual Cogs uses a stacking connector. Virtual Cogs wiki.
- ( Modular interface extension (MIX) stacking and communications interface )
- "pass-through 40-Pin OOPic expansion connectors"
- R-Dev-Ino is a Robotic Development Arduino compatible board, easily stackable.
- the JeeNode Arduino-compatible board and JeeLabs modules that plug into it: a b c d
- The Tower System
- Bug Labs
- The Grove system: "Cluster mode" and "Jigsaw mode"
- Microsoft .NET Gadgeteer
- DaisyLink interface
- gobus ports
- TinyDuino stacking connector
- Wouter van Ooijen's Dwarf Boards have 10 pin shrouded header connected by IDC ribbon cable connectors (GND, +5V, and 8 GPIO pins).
- "Stacking Arduino Shields" (compatibility between shields can be a little tricky)
- ... (Add to me)
(If I think the stacking idea is good, but my robot is too small for PC/104, do you have any tips for picking an appropriate stacking connector, and arranging which electrical signal/power goes where?)
The "stackable headers" are one way to stack boards together. What other options do we have for stacking connectors?
Multichip Module Boards
- Is there a better name for this sort of thing? See Talk:Robotics#terminology.
Multichip Module boards are lighter versions of the SBC. These boards provide less I/O abilities than a full fledged SBC, but are considerably less expensive. For example the Acme Foxboard provides a 100Mips processor with 16MB RAM and 4MB Flash running Linux. This board has IDE, SCSI, USB, Ethernet, I2C and more on a surface of aprox. 6x7cm. It consumes about 280mA and costs around €170. While this particular board is designed for embedded internet-enabled applications, it's a great board for controlling your robot. Another alternative is to use a Linksys router and install OpenWRT on it. You can usually pick these up for around $50. If you spend some time shopping around you may find similar boards that are better or cheaper.
- Timm Linder. "A comparison: Arduino vs. .NET MF vs. .NET Gadgeteer + others". Compares and contrasts the "DaisyLink" system, the ".NET Gadgeteer" system, and the "Seeedstudio Grove" system.
- "GROVE System" at Seeed Studio
- Grove-related posts on the Seeed Studio blog.
- "Better connector for Electronic Bricks?" discusses about the advantages and disadvantages of several connectors.
- "GROVE Starter Bundle" has photographs illustrating "Cluster mode" and "Jigsaw mode".
- "New electronic brick idea" describes the electrical connections in "Jigsaw mode" in more detail.
- "Introducing .NET Gadgeteer"
- "Home - Gadgeteer"
- http://gadgeteer.codeplex.com/wikipage?title=.NET%20Gadgeteer%20Socket%20Types ".NET Gadgeteer Socket Types"]
- "Stackable Header Kit"
- linuxstamp board runs Linux -- open hardware
- ARMUS Embedded Linux Board -- open hardware
- The Balloon Project designs boards that can run Linux -- open hardware
- "Teeny weeny Linux SBCs"
- ""Linux computer fits in USB key"". Archived from the original on 2013-01-28. http://archive.is/rG00q.
- TINI, the Tiny INternet Interface: TINI reference design TINI board webring "Unofficial TINI Information Site"
- small motherboards that run Linux