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
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.
- 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
- ... (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?)
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.
- 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"
- TINI, the Tiny INternet Interface: TINI reference design TINI board webring "Unofficial TINI Information Site"
- small motherboards that run Linux