Friday, September 17, 2010

Chumby Hacker Board

This is pretty neat. It's a Single Board Computer that is basically the guts of a small device called a Chumby. The hardware is all Open and it runs a custom distro of Linux. Specifications below.

  • Freescale iMX.233 processor running at 454 MHZ
  • 64 MB onboard RAM
  • Comes with 512MB uSD card with 100 MB Linux installation all ready to go
  • Dimensions are 3.9" (100mm) x 2.4" (60mm) x 0.75" (20mm)
  • 3.3V I/O pins can talk to most sensors, motor drivers, etc. No struggling with 1.8V levels.
  • Low power, fanless CPU draws only 200 mA at 5V
  • Built-in Lithium Ion/Polymer battery charger and 5V boost converter for portable projects
  • Three USB ports!
  • 1.9W mono speaker amplifier into 4ohm (0.1" JST onboard connector)
  • Microphone input (0.05" JST onboard connector)
  • LCD controller with 2mm output port
  • 3.5mm A/V output jack with stereo audio and NTSC/PAL composite video
  • Back of board has GPIO outputs on 0.1" header spacing, plug in an Arduino proto shield! Serial ports, ADC's, PWM, GPIO all running at 3.3v logic
  • Quadrature encoder connections onboard
  • 5-way joystick on-board
  • MMA7455 3-axis +-2G to +-8G accelerometer on-board
  • 3.3V TTL serial port for easy shell access
  • Full GCC toolchain is ready for you to download and get crackin'!
  • Schematics, Gerbers and original layout files are at the Wiki
All for only $89 at adafruit.

This could have quite a few uses for ham radio operators. Linux has integrated support for AX.25 Packet in the kernel. I've heard it's possible to set that up with a sound card interface. If someone made the software available this could end up being a very small Echolink or IRLP node. I wonder if the processor is fast enough to do simple software defined radio tasks? This could make for a tiny, full SDR with one of the softrocks or some other SDR kit. The CPU uses very little power.

My only disappointment is no onboard wifi. It's a small loss though. Not everyone would use it and it's easy enough to add a dongle on one of the usb ports.

Supposedly the board is only in beta right now so it's subject to revisions and has a limited production for now. I see a bright future for this thing.