It’s time once again for another Blog Post! This time I will be writing about how the process of building a small computer has changed. That is to say, although I have been having fun (and it has been a long time since I could say that my ‘job’ was fun) putting together the pieces of a UDOO x86 basic board.
So far this experiment has mostly led me back to the ‘Shopping Cart’ for more parts. This is not the idea one thinks of when one sets out to start an economically viable business. In addition to UDOO Basic I have now ordered a 5″ LCD display and still need a solid-state MMD2 drive. Wow! So much for a ‘small’ device run on an x86 board like the Galileo!!
At least this is not just about me! When we, as individuals or companies “miss the mark” as Intel did (in my humble opinion – IMHO – now tell me, is that humble?) by releasing an Arduino-compatible x86 board that had too slow a Front-Side Bus what do we do? Try again!
This time however, older and wiser; I might just ask if I am starting to build the next Personal Computer and not the ‘Pod I was looking for in the first place.
Near the “turn of the New Year” I am looking over the developments that I have accomplished in 2017 in order to find profitability and profit for my small business. One speaks about Return on Investment or “ROI” a lot in Information Technology but the Business Strategy used to obtain that dollar reward is less discussed. But the moment you purchase a new technologic device, be it a mobile phone or a toaster you should be thinking about how you are going to earn your dollars back and more!
I wrote about and worked on x86 opcode embedded computers a lot during the year. But looking on YouTube and in the Jameco catalog I see that the Zilog Z80 and even the Motorola line-up of chipsets is a lot more popular in today’s Retro Computing Market.
I once even built a small board computer using the Zilog Z80A.
But “back in a different day” we all spoke about the IBM PC and how Microsoft took over from IBM, and the heyday of the Personal Computer began. This was our lore and if as technical professionals we had some of the facts wrong we still had enough background information to get started out here in the small computer economy.
You would have to be an English Literature major to compare the different stories, a.k.a, Product Histories, that are used to describe where we in today’s Internet of Things (IoT) space.
In fact, I am. Drum Roll Please!
We must evaluate why we have made the strategic business and technology decisions that we, as a culture have made.
But is this the best way to think about this material?
Should we instead determine our choice of Central Processing Unit (CPU) – an term that at once encompasses today’s Microprocessors (MPU) and MicroControllers (MCU) and GPUs and APUs by an actual metric rather than a User Acceptance cum. Business Success Story?
Here is my plan for earning income from LocalPOD without spending a penny more on development.
If you had attended Philadelphia’s Emerging Technology Conference in April of 2017 as I did you would have heard about how important Virtual Reality is today.
Basically in the last few months as I perfected my design of my first hotspot with a touchscreen: aptly named LocalPOD, I ordered a lot of 3D printed cases. These didn’t always fit and had to be thrown away. That was a lot of money to throw away!!
Now I am planning to build a site, right here, that lets someone choose their board and print a case. Wow it’s so easy!
The site will have to use VR so we can see right away if the case will fit.
Because! The biggest thing that the Small Board Market is lacking right now is the case!!!!
Hi! I’m still here working on LocalPOD but you would not believe how many great Hotspots POD and Gateways are out there already! Here is the AdLink Tech MXE-100i http://www.adlinktech.com/PD/web/PD_detail.php?cKind=&pid=1563# for example! Well that looks just great! But no one seems to offer a Hotspot with a reprogrammable LCD display! I wonder why??
I have had good news on the Intel side of the house however, sort of! The Intel Curie module based on one of the newer revisions of the Intel Quark series 32-bit micro(processor, controller)-units can run Linux. See https://electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/291192/can-the-intel-curie-modules-be-programmed-in-assembly-using-the-quark-toolchain That is fantastic news for me and when my Radeon board comes in from Gumstix I will be getting Linux going on it if I can!
You may ask how such a little board as that is going to compete with anyone!! Well just wait! At least it is low-powered.
The only thing that bothers me now about Intel’s modified Quark is that it really only runs a modified version of Linux. Linux is Open Source but an Intel subsidiary, WindRiver maintains this branch of the Yocto Open Standards build. The Intel Curie does not have an x87 coprocessor onboard requiring a top system engineer on call to set up Linux. What happened to open standards? You can read more about Wind River’s offerings here. https://www.windriver.com/news/press/pr.html?ID=13925
That may be alright with you but there are different versions of the word ‘free.’ The standard General Copy-Left states that I may have access to any open source code that I need to profit from my work. Yes, let’s go all the way back to 1980 and refer to Eric Raymond The Cathedral and The Bazaar. Perhaps Intel and Wind River have adopted RedHat’s version of Open Source which is to release their developments back into the community having profited from their own work: if so, that’s alright with me too!
But now you are wondering why I called this post A Different Take on Web Development?? While I am trying to benefit personally from my own development, LocalPOD, using any preferable, and preferably Intel, chipset that is out there, I might still need to earn a dollar from web development!!
LocalPOD is off to a great start. The Kickstarter campaign did not complete but it had two supporters. Plus all of the people who provided advice really should be counted too! But that’s business stuff; back to technology!
I have been able to clarify what LocalPOD is: an “all-in-one portable data networking hub.” One might have a bluetooth camera or speaker that just doesn’t connect to a computer. Or one might want to use a hotspot on a new computer. One might want to use a wired USB keyboard on one’s cellphone. There are a variety of other connectivity combinations where LocalPOD may help.
So the prototyping phase of LocalPOD is really over. That’s good because Intel Corporation just discontinued or rather modified my system of choice, Intel Quark X1000 x86-based System on a Chip. Now the Intel Quark just supports the Intel Curie system. This is a scaled back version of Intel’s original offerings in 2013 that allowed one to run i586 x86 Linux on a 32 bit system with all the fixings. Intel Galileo, Intel Edison and Intel Joule were all included in this list. Do I need a Trademark Symbol here?!
That may be a good thing. One the prototype is done, scaling back to an MPU might work. MPU stands for MicroProcessing Unit. The original Quark was truly a CPU: Central Processing Unit. I learned that the presence of the x87 Mathematical CoProcessor on the Quark CPU is what allows Linux to run: I have no idea why?
Scaling back is not really what I want to do, but hardening the design and using an MPU could be alright. So I am wondering if I might move on from the Software on a Chip (SoC) that we have seen represented by systems like the Intel Curie, Arduino and ARM and just go back to the old System on a Board: that is, computer board that I used to build. Back to the future!
Isn’t it funny that all of these new Single Board Computers use System on a Chip processors? Why not use a little more board?
You see, one does more than set a goal for a project like this; then carry it out. One does not succeed in that way. It is more like one has a dream and “throws one’s heart over the bar.” Thanks to Reverend Norman Vincent Peale for that one! I thought he was talking about gymnastics.
It has been hard for me to convince people that they need LocalPOD. Not LocalPOD as it currently stands but LocalPOD as it is intended to be at the delivery date of the Kickstarter in September 2017. For I have done so much work to bring this project to this stage over the last five years. Knowing that I needed a small computer to make the ‘Pod a success I tried out so many devices: Arduino, programmable without a bootloader, BeagleBoard, an ARM3 Tiger board, TI DSP and MSP430. The only thing I didn’t try was Raspberry Pi! I think that the Galileo board is great!
Please keep your comments coming. And please support LocalPOD on Kickstarter! Remember you are not buying hard-baked hardware. A lot of software development has gone into the ‘POD by myself and the free Open Source community as well!
What use is a blog if one never makes a post?! Development can be slow, and I don’t like to speak up unless I have something new to say. I have heard it said that one must start selling one’s solution to anything prior to completing development: in fact secure the promise of sales prior to investing a lot of money into overhead and inventory. It makes sense; one needs so many things to be independent (and for me, that includes camping supplies!) But at the same time I do not like to make empty promises. Why promise something new before you are sure that the BETA even will be a success?!
You may be wondering, dear Reader, how my mind has wandered off technology into the sales cycle. Maybe it was the most excellent Technology Conference I just attended in Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Emerging Technology Conference. I have heard that a good developer should attend at least one conference a year: this may have been it for me. The tantalizing solutions presented during this two day conference made me take a step back. What is the use of working and working only to achieve incrementally smaller results?!
Hi! This is Evan! It took about 5 years, but here is LocalPOD in operation! This is a hub with an LCD screen that can “connect your cellphone to your computer with two clicks” Now that I have my computer networked to my hotspot I can think about getting my phone to connect via bluetooth!
I already worked that out!
LocalPOD is made of an Intel Galileo Gen 2 board with an Intel Centrino 135 daughterboard. It took me a long time to learn how to program the Yocto Linux Embedded Kernel Operating system that it runs. Don’t ask me what Yocto stands for but they are a pretty good open source consortium. Galileo is Arduino-compatible and runs on Intel’s x86 software that Personal Computers in the Windows world have long used but it is not as fast as a real Arduino. But its good enough to get the LCD display going, for which I have chosen Vizic Technology’s 272×480 pixel screen: this unit has an ARM processor on it so that I didn’t have to map out all the pixels.
Right now it is starting to rain here and I have to get home. If you have any questions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 908-359-8070. Thanks! Have a Marvelous Day!