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LinuxGuy
11-21-2008, 06:01 PM
I've recently learned that TinCanTools is discontinuing the Hammer Board, because they aren't making money on it. This is sad, to say the least. Tin Can Tools is not planning to make any more CPU based products. :( This has left me in a bit of a pickle, since I have spent almost a full year trying to make things work for W.A.L.T.E.R. I've been plagued with toolchain problems of one sort or another.

Given that, I am now looking at other possibilities for a new "brain" for W.A.L.T.E.R. as well as for use in other projects I have in mind. So far, the only cost effective product I can find is the Beagle Board (http://www.beagleboard.org).

The Beagle Board (http://www.beagleboard.org/) is based on the TI OMAP 3530 Cortex A8 (ARM11) processor with an additional TI DSP processor. I've already installed and successfully built a development environment for the Beagle Board (http://www.beagleboard.org/) and am now proceeding to learn how to build custom software images for it. If all goes well, I plan to get a Beagle Board (http://www.beagleboard.org/) in Jan or Feb. The Beagle Board (http://www.beagleboard.org/) has the computing power and feature set (in some ways it's overkill) for what I want to do with W.A.L.T.E.R. and in other projects. The Beagle Board (http://www.beagleboard.org/) sells for $149.95 and is available at Digi-Key (http://www.digikey.com).

I'm not dropping Hammer, but will be repurposing it. I still like Hammer very much, but it just doesn't have the power to be the main controller for W.A.L.T.E.R.

8-Dale

P.S. Just today it has been brought to my attention that what I wrote about the Hammer being discontinued by TinCanTools (http://http//www.tincantools.com) is incororrect. TinCanTools (http://http://www.tincantools.com) is NOT being discontinued at all. This was MY ERROR. TinCanTools has a good stock of the Hammer Board now and will continue to support it. I apologize to TinCanTools and anyone this misinformation on my part has affected - I misinterpreted some of what I was told by TinCanTools (http://http//www.tincantools.com).

Adrenalynn
11-21-2008, 06:31 PM
I'm surprised you're not all over the Gumstix?

DresnerRobotics
11-21-2008, 07:42 PM
I'm personally moving over to the Gumstix/OE platform. Cost-performance as well as all the add-on boards and community support for it is astounding.

Nammo
11-21-2008, 07:50 PM
Given that, I am now looking at other possibilities for a new "brain" for W.A.L.T.E.R. as well as for use in other projects I have in mind. So far, the only cost effective product I can find is the Beagle Board (http://www.beagleboard.org).

The Beagle Board is pretty good as long as you don't mind using USB bridgeware to do your interfacing. The GPIO is a little hard to work with because it is 1.8V.

The Gumstix Overo is also a good option. Since it uses the same chip and OS distribution, it's very compatible with the Beagle Board. A little more expensive (once you add the mother board), but it's smaller and may have some neat peripheral support.

At the last Homebrew Robotics Club meeting in California, there were three robots up and running on the Beagle Board. At least five more were in the works. So it seems like it's gaining traction among hobbyists.

I think it's a popular choice because it's cheap and PC-like. Any project that uses Linux on a Pico-ITX motherboard is a good fit for a BeagleBoard, since the BB is smaller, uses under 2 watts (compared to 10-15 watts), and usually (not always) delivers more raw performance.

- Nathan

LinuxGuy
11-21-2008, 08:17 PM
I'm surprised you're not all over the Gumstix?
I just found out about a new Gumstix board - the Overo. I am just starting to look at it now. To date, I have not liked the mechanical aspects of the Gumstix setup.

8-Dale

LinuxGuy
11-21-2008, 08:23 PM
The Beagle Board is pretty good as long as you don't mind using USB bridgeware to do your interfacing.
What do you mean by this?


At the last Homebrew Robotics Club meeting in California, there were three robots up and running on the Beagle Board. At least five more were in the works. So it seems like it's gaining traction among hobbyists.
This is cool!


I think it's a popular choice because it's cheap and PC-like. Any project that uses Linux on a Pico-ITX motherboard is a good fit for a BeagleBoard, since the BB is smaller, uses under 2 watts (compared to 10-15 watts), and usually (not always) delivers more raw performance.
Yes, the Beagle Board definitely has the potential to run applications that would otherwise be run on an x86 pico/mini-ITX board. I have some things in mind where this would be the case already.

8-Dale

Nammo
11-21-2008, 09:10 PM
Originally Posted by Nammo http://forums.trossenrobotics.com/ambience/buttons/viewpost.gif (http://forums.trossenrobotics.com/showthread.php?p=23635#post23635)
The Beagle Board is pretty good as long as you don't mind using USB bridgeware to do your interfacing.

Originally Posted by LinuxGuy http://forums.trossenrobotics.com/ambience/buttons/viewpost.gif (http://forums.trossenrobotics.com/showthread.php?p=23635#post23635)
What do you mean by this?

Most embedded controllers (like the Hammer) have some GPIO you can use to drive servos or connect to TTL UARTs. The BeagleBoard appears to have this too, but its GPIO can't handle voltages above 1.8V so isn't suitable for direct connection to robot controllers.

But, if you have USB-based motor/servo controllers they work just fine. For example, Phidgets! Or something like the Make Controller.

- Nathan

LinuxGuy
11-21-2008, 10:12 PM
Most embedded controllers (like the Hammer) have some GPIO you can use to drive servos or connect to TTL UARTs. The BeagleBoard appears to have this too, but its GPIO can't handle voltages above 1.8V so isn't suitable for direct connection to robot controllers.
This is solved by using level shifters to convert between voltages. :) It's not a difficult thing to handle with various solutions.


But, if you have USB-based motor/servo controllers they work just fine. For example, Phidgets! Or something like the Make Controller.
While this is, of course, a possible solution, it is not the only one. I don't think Phidgets is cost effective for the things I want to do with embedded computing. Now, using Arduinos or compatible boards would be cost effective and pretty inexpensive. I'll be using some Arduinos, and hopefully other boards, in various projects over time.

I do plan to experiment with Phidgets at some point, but not for things I have in mind fairly soon, mainly W.A.L.T.E.R. I plan to save the USB connections for things like WiFi, Thumb Drives, etc.

8-Dale

Nammo
11-21-2008, 10:39 PM
Here's another interfacing idea:

Tony Pratkanis had a RoboMagellan robot using a BeagleBoard. He had a PIC board doing the motor control and sensor interfacing. He connected the RS232 port on the BB to a MAX232 style level shifter and hooked it right into the PIC's UART.

- Nathan

LinuxGuy
11-24-2008, 12:23 AM
I'm interested in eventually getting a RoboMagellan type of robot built, but don't see that happening any time soon. I'll gradually aquire sensors I will need and learn them as I go. As for the Beagle Board (http://www.beagleboard.org), I've now got a complete development environment built for it. I won't be able to get a Beagle Board (http://www.beagleboard.org/) until Jan though. :( I have to replace my main video monitor next month (I'm going for a Samsung T220HD or T24HD, so it can double as an HDTV too), and may get a new wireless keyboard/trackball combination too. If I don't get the latter, I may get a Beagle Board (http://www.beagleboard.org/) for Christmas. :)

So far, getting setup to develope for the Beagle Board (and Gumstix Overo (http://gumstix.com/store/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=27&products_id=211&osCsid=e76d8eb4a49da9d0938265a9f161ed9b)) has been much easier than doing the same thing for Hammer. Now I am wondering how hard it would be to define Hammer (http://www.tincantools.com/product.php?productid=16133&cat=0&page=1&featured) within Open Embedded and use that for developing for it.. I was sorry to here that TinCanTools is discontinuing Hammer (http://www.tincantools.com/product.php?productid=16133&cat=0&page=1&featured) and will not make any more CPU based boards. I'm looking into the Gumstix Overo (http://gumstix.com/store/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=27&products_id=211&osCsid=e76d8eb4a49da9d0938265a9f161ed9b) more closely also, and think it could have a good future in my projects, and it is the same price as a Beagle Board (http://www.beagleboard.org/). :) However, the Gumstix Overo (http://gumstix.com/store/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=27&products_id=211&osCsid=e76d8eb4a49da9d0938265a9f161ed9b) requires a small motherboard to bring out all its connections to the outside (another $59.00).

8-Dale

Alex
11-24-2008, 10:00 AM
[moved to brains forum]

LinuxGuy
11-24-2008, 12:46 PM
I'm personally moving over to the Gumstix/OE platform. Cost-performance as well as all the add-on boards and community support for it is astounding.
The BeagleBoard/OE platform is pretty much the same as the Gumstix/OE platform. What causes you choose the Gumstix over the BeagleBoard? Are you talking about the Gumstix Overo or Verdex?

The Gumstix Overo might have an advantage over the BeagleBoard because it uses the carrier board idea and one could plug future Overo series boards into the same Summit carrier or design custom carrier boards for the Overo. You can't do that with BeagleBboard, but you get all the connectors on the board. I can see where each platform has its advantages and drawbacks.

To upgrade to a later version of the BeagleBoard, you have to buy a whole new board (with connectors). However, with BeagleBoard you get everything without having to purchase a carrier to get the connectors, but you could design a custom carrier for the Gumstix Overo. Hmmmmmm, I could see a more robotics oriented carrier for the Gumstix Overo.

8-Dale

Adrenalynn
11-24-2008, 05:25 PM
Little-known fact: Size does matter...

Nammo
11-24-2008, 11:51 PM
You could design a custom carrier for the Gumstix Overo. Hmmmmmm, I could see a more robotics oriented carrier for the Gumstix Overo.

There's already a project like that in the works:
http://robosavvy.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=17919

I'm pretty happy with the BeagleBoard because it's cheaper and small enough. But, I think Overo + Robotics carrier is an unbeatable combination. Since they use the same software and hardware it should be easy to jump off BeagleBoard when the Overo gains those kinds of features.

One minor advantage of the BeagleBoard is that it has a C64x+ DSP capable of 6.8 billion integer multiply-accumulates per second. There may be a pricier Overo down the road with the DSP, but it's not there on current versions.

- Nathan

LinuxGuy
11-25-2008, 09:38 PM
There's already a project like that in the works:
http://robosavvy.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=17919
Isn't this oriented towards the Bioloid only? I'm thinking of something of more general interest using the servos and such most use these days. I'd prefer something that isn't tied to a specific manufacturer. However, I also think it's cool there is a robotics carrier in the works for the Overo that uses Bioloid components - this should really open up the Bioloid components to a wider audience who might not be able to either afford the Bioloid comprehensive kit and/or prefer to use a different controller with the Bioloid components.

I think something like this with standard PWM, I2C, and SPI interfaces available would be an awesome product! There might even be room for a "Bioloid port" on such a board. If I remember correctly, the Bioloid stuff works on a daisy chained interface, so only one or two "ports" would be needed.


I'm pretty happy with the BeagleBoard because it's cheaper and small enough. But, I think Overo + Robotics carrier is an unbeatable combination. Since they use the same software and hardware it should be easy to jump off BeagleBoard when the Overo gains those kinds of features.
I don't see the Gumstix Overo as a successor to the BeagleBoard at all. I see the possibility for both in various projects I have in mind. First and formost, I need to have a new "brain" for W.A.L.T.E.R. that is not going to be set out to pasture anytime soon (several years would be good). I see room for both the BeagleBoard and the Gumstix Overo, as well as other boards using the same processor family.

8-Dale

TinCanTools
12-02-2008, 01:22 PM
I've recently learned that TinCanTools is discontinuing the Hammer Board, because they aren't making money on it. This is sad, to say the least. Tin Can Tools is not planning to make any more CPU based products.


this information is completely incorrect. the Hammer HAS NOT BE DISCONTINUED. TinCanTools has however begun work on accessory products for other hardware platforms such as the beagle board. there are currently no plans to produce any additional development boards for the hammer, however those that are available now, as well as the hammer, will be available for at least the next two years.