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Saturday, July 16, 2016

Low cost development boards for experimenting/DIY purposes with Windows OS support

There are many low-cost, tiny, but yet powerful development boards available for general use or development purposes. The main pro of these boards is that, with few add-ons, can be used as a tablet or as a PC also.
Here I’m listing few such boards or PCs. These PCs supports latest version of Windows that is Windows 10. Few of these boars uses ARM based processors, which supports Windows 10 IoT core, a version of Windows 10 that is optimized for smaller devices.

RaspberryPi:

The RaspberryPi is a low cost, credit-card sized computer that plugs into a computer monitor or TV, and uses a standard keyboard and mouse. It is a capable little device that enables people of all ages to explore computing, and to learn how to program in languages like Scratch and Python. It’s capable of doing everything you’d expect a desktop computer to do, from browsing the internet and playing high-definition video, to making spreadsheets, word-processing, and playing games.
What’s more, the RaspberryPi has the ability to interact with the outside world, and has been used in a wide array of digital maker projects, from music machines and parent detectors to weather stations and tweeting birdhouses with infra-red cameras. We want to see the Raspberry Pi being used by kids all over the world to learn to program and understand how computers work.
Latest version of RaspberryPi is RP3. See specs. All these for just within Rs. 3000 in India.
1.       A 1.2GHz 64-bit quad-core ARMv8 CPU
2.       802.11n Wireless LAN             
3.       Bluetooth 4.1
4.       Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)
5.       1GB RAM
6.       4 USB ports
7.       40 GPIO pins
8.       Full HDMI port
9.       Ethernet port
10.   Combined 3.5mm audio jack and composite video
11.   Camera interface (CSI)
12.   Display interface (DSI)
13.   Micro SD card slot (now push-pull rather than push-push)
14. VideoCore IV 3D graphics core

Coming to Windows support part, go to link: https://developer.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/iot
Quoting it here:                                              

Raspberry Pi 3 now available

Get your hands on the new Raspberry Pi 3 board with Windows 10 IoT Core, now part of the NOOBS installer. We've released a new Windows 10 IoT Core Insider Preview through Windows Insider that will let you take full advantage of Raspberry Pi 3.
·         Purchase Raspberry Pi 3
·         Become a Windows Insider
·         Get started with NOOBS

You can also get one open source Windows CE BSP for RaspBerryPi on codeplex: https://ceonpi.codeplex.com/

MinnowBoard MAX:

MinnowBoard MAX is the second generation MinnowBoard (released in July 2014), updating and replacing the original MinnowBoard. The MinnowBoard MAX board has an upgraded 64-bit Intel®Atom™ E3800 (Bay Trail-I) processor with better graphics and revised I/O, shrinks the footprint by more than half, supports additional operating systems (Linux, Android, and Windows) and significantly improves on the original board on price, performance, and energy consumption.
The price is around Rs. 15,000

BeagleBone Black:

High-performance, low-power world with the tiny, affordable, open-source Beagles. Putting Android, Ubuntu and other Linux flavors at your fingertips, the Beagle family revs as high as 1GHz with flexible peripheral interfaces and a proven ecosystem of feature-rich "Cape" plug-in boards.
1.       Processor: AM335x 1GHz ARM® Cortex-A8
2.       512MB DDR3 RAM
3.       4GB 8-bit eMMC on-board flash storage
4.       3D graphics accelerator
5.       NEON floating-point accelerator
6.       2x PRU 32-bit microcontrollers
Connectivity          
7.       USB client for power & communications
8.       USB host
9.       Ethernet
10.   HDMI
11.   2x 46 pin headers
Software Compatibility
12.   Debian
13.   Android
14.   Ubuntu
15.   Cloud9 IDE on Node.js w/ BoneScript library
Plus much more
So, there is no official Windows OS available for this. But you can get an open source Windows CE BSP for BeagleBone! Get it here on CodePlex: https://beaglebonebsp.codeplex.com/
Price is around Rs. 4000

LattePanda:

This one is very recent project, backed by many backers on KickStarter, “LattePanda”!
LattePanda is featured with quad-core 1.8Ghz, 2/4G RAM, 32/64 GB eMMC, WIFI, Bluetooth 4.0 and USB 3.0, plus onboard Arduino processor!
You will get pre-installed Windows 10, with license key, total price is around 8000 INR!
Official Website: http://www.lattepanda.com/

Intel Galileo:

The Intel® Galileo Gen 2 board is the first in a family of Arduino-certified development and prototyping boards based on Intel® architecture and specifically designed for makers, students, educators, and DIY electronics enthusiasts.
• Intel® Quark™ SoC X1000 application processor, a 32-bit, single-core, single-thread, Intel® Pentium® processor instruction set architecture (ISA)-compatible, operating at speeds up to 400 MHz.
• Support for a wide range of industry standard I/O interfaces, including a full-sized mini-PCI Express* slot, 100 Mb Ethernet port, microSD slot, USB host port, and USB client port.
• 256 MB DDR3, 512 kb embedded SRAM, 8 MB NOR Flash, and 8 kb EEPROM standard on the board, plus support for microSD card up to 32 GB.
• Hardware and pin compatibility with a wide range of Arduino Uno R3 shields.
• Programmable through the Arduino integrated development environment (IDE) that is supported on Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, and Linux host operating systems.
• Support for Yocto 1.4 Poky Linux release.
• 6-pin 3.3V USB TTL UART header replaces 3.5-mm jack RS-232 console port for Linux debug. New 6-pin connector mates with standard FTDI* USB serial cable (TTL-232R-3V3) and popular USB-to-Serial breakout boards. 12 GPIOs now fully native for greater speed and improved drive strength.
• 12-bit pulse-width modulation (PWM) for more precise control of servos and smoother response.
• Console UART1 can be redirected to Arduino headers in sketches, eliminating the need for soft-serial in many cases.
• 12V power-over-Ethernet (PoE) capable (PoE module installation required).
• Power regulation system changed to accept power supplies from 7V to 15V.
• The Intel® IoT Developer Kit for Intel® Galileo Gen 2 adds C, C++, Python, and Node.js/Javascript support for developing connected sensor Internet-of-Things applications.
• Intel Galileo also supports the Wyliodrin platform that provides C, Python, Node.js, and Visual Programming environments from a remotely-connected browser.
• In addition to open source Yocto Linux, Intel Galileo Gen 2 supports VxWorks (RTOS), and now Microsoft Windows is supported directly from Microsoft.

Arduino development boards:

The Uno is a microcontroller board based on the ATmega328P. It has 14 digital input/output pins (of which 6 can be used as PWM outputs), 6 analog inputs, a 16 MHz quartz crystal, a USB connection, a power jack, an ICSP header and a reset button. It contains everything needed to support the microcontroller; simply connect it to a computer with a USB cable or power it with a AC-to-DC adapter or battery to get started. You can tinker with your UNO without worrying too much about doing something wrong, worst case scenario you can replace the chip for a few dollars and start over again.
"Uno" means one in Italian and was chosen to mark the release of Arduino Software (IDE) 1.0. The Uno board and version 1.0 of Arduino Software (IDE) were the reference versions of Arduino, now evolved to newer releases. The Uno board is the first in a series of USB Arduino boards, and the reference model for the Arduino platform; for an extensive list of current, past or outdated boards see the Arduino index of boards.

So, all these boards are very useful for students or individuals who want to experiment with, or do some DIY Projects or want to do small academic projects with embedded system and embedded software such as Windows, Android or Linux. These boards are not only low-cost but also very powerful and compact in size.
These are also useful for individuals who want to use low-cost and compact PCs, as, with some add-ons these boards will work as a simple tablet or PC!

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