Saturday, April 4, 2009

New Overo Computer On Module!

Gumstix has come out with the Overo Fire COM - Gumstix now is calling them "Computer on Module" to differentiate what is the motherboard and what is the daughterboard - must have been some confusion between the computer board and expansion boards.

The Overo Fire COM is the top of the line in the Overo series, at least at the moment. It contains not only built-in Wifi 802.11b/g capabilites but also BlueTooth capabilities on board. This feat of magic is provided by a Marvell W2CBW003 integrated circuit (can be seen on the left side of the board in the picture) which connects to an external WiFi and BlueTooth antenna (not supplied) through a u.fl R.F. connector for each one. Even though the WiFi/BlueTooth radio Integrated Circuit package is only 12-mm x 12-mm in size it packs a great deal of capability. For those in the know - this is the same radio integrated circuit that is on the Beta Overo board and all the software drivers already exist in the operating system installed on the Overo boards. Couple the WiFi and Bluetooth capabilites with the TI OMAP-3530 processor on the Overo Fire COM and you have one very capable device in a very small form-factor! The only thing missing is a video out source on-board to make this a completely self-contained computer system! For video and USB access you will need one of the expansion boards mentioned below or build your own custom interface board.

I have discussed some of the capabilities of the TI OMAP-3530 processor in a previous posting so willl not delve into that portion again - I do want to talk a little about the Wi2Fi (Wireless 2 Wireless ) capabilites on this board. The W2CBW003 high-level block diagram is to the right.

Even though the block diagram shows 802.11a/b/g that is not the case with the W2CBW003 - it does not have 802.11a capabilities. I suppose this block diagram is used for a different radio integrated circuit and someone just got lazy! (grin). Not having the 802.11a capability will, in my opinion, limit the usefulness of this combination as more 802.11a access points are becoming prevealent - especially in areas saturated with 802.11 b/g and wireless phones, baby monitors and the like exist. Hopefully Gumstix will realize this fact and talk to Marvell about a WiFi/Bluetooth integrated circuit combination that is pin-to-pin (or should I say "Ball-to-Ball in reference to the methodology of mounting the integrated circuit to the circuit board) compatable so it is a direct replacement for the current 802.11 b/g configuration - I don't believe Marvell has such a device out yet but judging from the block diagram they may be working towards that goal.

The Overo Fire COM is the same physical size and electrical connection specifications as the original Overo Earth board so will work with the Summit Expansion board. Speaking of expansion boards Gumstix has come out with a few more in different configurations for the Overo COM series:

The Summit expansion board:
This is the first expansion board available for the Overo COM series - I have already discussed this board earlier so will not bore with details (grin). One thing I will say is it is the least expensive of the expansion boards and packs a good number of interfaces on-board for general purpose use. The only exception is a built-in ethernet connection but that is now covered by the Tobi board (see below).

The Palo-43 expansion board:
The Palo43 is a new expansion board for the Overo COM series of processor boards and works with all of the Overo COM boards. The Palo43 contains an LCD interface which will drive the Samsung P/N: LTE430WQ-F0C (available from Gumstix at a very reasonable price in single-unit lots) and a touch-screen controller to interface to the touch-screen resistive overlay on the Samsung LCD display. The board also contains most all of the interfaces contained on the Summit board thus it gives you the capabilites of the Summit expansion board with a self-contained LCD Touch-Screen capability. The Palo43 does not have a video output like the Summit expansion board (for obvious reasons). A second difference is the physical locations of the different interface connections - they have been moved to each end of the board to allow the additional circuitry needed to drive a LCD display. Since these systems are targeted at development this is usually not an issue (grin). One interesting note - the description of this board lists it's size as 80-mm X 39-mm but that is not the case given the size of the ports are the same as on the Summit expansion board.
UPDATE: The powers that be at Gumstix have determined there were some errors inadvertently incorporated within the description of this board. The actual size is 118.3 x 67.25mm and is reflected on the Gumstix website as well. Talk about quick response!!! Less than one day! These guys really do care!

The Tobi expansion board:
The Tobi expansion board is the third in the Overo COM series of expansion boards. Like the Summit expansion board it contains Audio Sterio Input and Output connections, High-Speed Version-2 USB-OTG and USB Host ports, a HS Version-2 USB Console port, 5-VDC Power Connector and the 40-pin connector location to access the different interfaces provided. In addition to all of the above interfaces the Tobi also has a 10/100 megabit, full-duplex Ethernet port on board as seen on the right side of the circuit board in the image to the right. You can check out the specifications for the port here: LAN9221 The physical size of the board is: 105 x 40mm.

Update: As of this moment (June 5, 2009) there is an Interference between the Overo Air COM and Fire COM modules with a component on the Tobi board. In other words you can not use a Overo Air COM or Fire COM with the Tobi board until Gumstix resolves this issue. What does this mean? You can not have 802.11b/g and Bluetooth capabilies on the Tobi board. If those are not a problem you still can use the Overo Earth COM and Water COM on the board without any physical component interference issues. In my opinion (for what it is worth) this really blows! I would want ALL capabilities available (wireless, bluetooth and ethernet) on the board for a full fledged computer in a very very small space, but that is just me.

Now - as of the date of this posting the Overo Fire and Overo Air (same as the Overo Fire but uses the TI OMAP-3503 instead of the TI OMAP-3530 processor) are out of stock. I suspect this will be cleared up in short order as I suspect there will be a good demand for the two COM boards as people find out about their capabilities and the fact they have WiFi and Bluetooth hardware already on the boards! Given the Overo Fire COM utilizes the TI OMAP-3530 which has video DSP hardware capabilites and OpenGL built into it things will get very interesting in the upcoming months as programmers start to bring out the capabilites of the Overo Fire COM board! These are indeed exciting times!
Mine is already on order!!!
If you would like to see more about this and the other Gumstix boards checkout this link:

As a matter of interest I have been in contact with the CEO of Gumstix and he is expecting the Overo Air and Fire boards to be available next week (April 13th, 2009) or there abouts.


  1. awesome. beat this:

    LOL! Our IT teacher back in the general school tried to be very mystical about it and said that it's a computer. lol. it's good for nothing. ok. it's a microcontroller for hobbyists but nothing more. so it's really limited to a few things. Compared to the above gumstix is using some alien technology :P

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  3. For a few years now I've been thinking of making something like:

    With these I could do everything that Media Enclosure could and also have emulators in my front room. I wanted to buy a beagleboard for this project but those don't have wireless or bluetooth built in, and the ports that would need to be exposed are on 3 of the 4 corners making it a little awkward. I've pre-ordered a Pandora which has pretty much the same everything this does minus the HDMI and I'll play with the software side of things on that.

    I'm excited to see what you do with your Overo, this is probably the best site I've seen that explains the gumstix. Heck, I didn't even know how the Overo mounted to the daughter boards until I saw your photos. With Ubuntu 9.04 less than a week away I hope I see lots of projects with the OMAP boards like these and the beagleboard.

  4. Hi Gary,
    Can you tell me if the W2CBW003 is capable of ad-hoc connections? I intend on loading OSLR (like you've done, according to your twitter) when I purchase one of these. However I couldn't find any documentation about the W2CBW003, describing if it was possible to use the Overo's to form a mesh network.

  5. I have seen that on my Palo board the reset switch does not work. The touch controller SPI interface MISO has issues and there is interferance problems when using the Fire with the Tobi board.

  6. AlexM - Sorry for the delayed response. The answer to your question about the W2CBW003 running in ad-hoc mode - Yes - but with a caviat... It seems the driver for the device does not allow power management so the device runs hot (have not tested it myself but hope to in the next week or two). In the Managed mode it seems to run cooler as the power management is active.

  7. Hello gary, excuse me Do you know, how Can I acces to the overo fire and send signal to input outputs analog digital or PWM? I want to send signal for control a motor DC. Can you help me, please. My email is