Thursday, June 25, 2009

Too many Directions!

In working with the Overo COM line I have come to a revelation.... well.... more of an observation really.

My revelation is this:

There are so many more possibilities as to what can be done using the Overo COM line of computers than can be accomplished by one person!

DUH! one might say - that is obvious. What really brings it home for me is looking at the computer itself with all of the different capabilities built into it's design. This machine has so many different interfaces built into it's design Gumstix had to settle on a sub-set of the interfaces to bring out to the outside world! I suspect they would have had to make the COM board bigger if they wanted to bring all of the capabilities out from the OMAP Cortex-8 processor just because there is no physical way to have the interfaces access the outside world through the two 70-pin connectors on the current boards. Too bad as there are other interfacing capabilities on the OMAP processor that are not accessible.

OK - So now you have some idea of the quandray I face - so many possibilities, so little time! the following is a partial list (as I am sure you can come up with ideas I have not even considered) of things I want to do with this machine....

1. Intellegent firewall/router/access point.
There is no reason the machine could not handle this sort of application - it is based on Linux and there are all sorts of applications to implement a firewall/router/wireless access point using the Overo COM computer.

2. Wireless MESH-Based communications data collection & processing system.
This is one neat idea as what I envision is the COM system configured to run wireless communications between multiple COM machines and using a MESH network for redundancy of the network link. Given the computing power of the OMAP-3 processors and using the 3530 gives the ability to perform DSP based processing one should be able to come up with all sorts of monitoring/control system ideas for this computer. Heck, you can even have a display using the machine's video capabilities for such things as process control and monitoring. Talk about inexpensive control systems!

3. Intrusion Protection System.
Hmmm - How about a computer system small enough to fit in a cigarette case but able to detect unauthorized access to a network - maybe even able to thwart a hacker attack on a network too. There are software applications for linux that allow monitoring and intrusion prevention (using firewall controls) that can run on the COM machines. At 600-MHz the COM machines clock is faster than a Cisco PIX-515 firewall if that gives you any idea of the capabilities. I know - this is an ARM based RISC machine - so what - it is still FAST! (grin).

4. Intertial Navigation System.
This is an interesting idea I had. There is enough compute power and interfacing capabilities in the COM machines to build an inertial Navagation system! At first I thought it would cost an arm and leg to build such a device as the cheapest one I could find on the Internet runs more than $4000 USD. Well - a little research reveals you can obtain the hardware for a GPS, 3-Axis Magnatometer capable of very low magnetic field measurements down to 0.015 u-Tesla and a 6-degree of freedom solid-state gyro/accellerometer package for less than around $200 - $250 USD! Given the Earth's magnetic field ranges from around 30 - 60 u-Tesla there is no problem in detecting the direction/orientation of the Earth's magnetic field! With a GPS, Magnatometer and gyro/accellerometer package you can build your own inertial navigation system that rivals most expensive packages for a small fraction of the cost. What can you do with such a system??? How about sailboat autopilot? UAV anyone?

5. Magnatometer Mapping System.
Building upon the inertial Navigation System you could use the 3-axis magnatometer output along with the GPS information to produce a map of the magnetic field in an area - by moving back and forth along a line and sweeping the area and given you know the orientation and direction of movement based on the sensor inputs from all of the sensors and GPS you can draw a "map" of the earth's local magnetic field strength and orientation relative to the sensing system over a given area. Basically you have a method to detect iron/steel objects by the affect they have on the local magnetic field. Buried treasure anyone???

6. Perimeter Monitoring System.
An interesting thought here. Why not use the COM machine as a perimeter monitoring system. Since you can get a LCD display for the COM machine you could actually "draw" the perimeter you are monitoring on the display then change icons/colors to denote where things are happening. By using wireless sensors and coupling back to the COM using wireless communications you could actually deploy a monitoring system rather quickly. I am not delving too much into the details here but there are all sorts of possiblities!

7. Home Entertainment System.
I follow several forums such as the Gumstix and Beagle-Board Forums and I get this idea from the Beagle-Board forum. Seems there is an effort out to build a home entertainment system based on the linux operating system. This would be a natural thing for the COM computer as it runs linux. The really nice thing is the Gumstix Overo line and the Beagle-Board both use the same OMAP processor (at least the OMAP 3530) so the same applications software will run on both boards. Granted there may be some small differences but for the most part there is very little difference as far as applications software is concerned. One such application is a home entertainment system - it is in development on the Beagle-Board so should port directly over to the Overo COM machines too (grin).

8. Home Control/Monitoring System.
This idea is a combination of the perimeter monitoring system and the home entertainment system. Why not combine them to have a total home control and monitoring system - you would use the television as the display for the system when you needed to check on it and then could watch movies played through the COM board or TV from an external source. All you have to do is use your imagination to come up with all sorts of possiblities!

As you can see I am having a great time coming up with ideas - now all I need is the time to work on them! Hopefully in the coming months I will actually have the time to put into implementing some of the ideas mentioned here. As I work my way through them I plan to post the information here so others may follow along and hopefully make some improvements on my initial implementations! That is what public domain software/hardware is all about - improving upon ideas! Everybody comes out ahead!!!

I thought of some more ideas and have listed them below but did not expand on them - see what you can come up with for them and let us know! Who knows - you may come up with the next killer application!!!

9. Network Monitoring System.

10. Communications System.

11. VoIP PBX System.

Your Ideas here.

As you can see - If you can dream it you can do it! All it takes is just some common sense and a will to succeed. It also helps if you have an understanding of the projects and know where to find the parts. Comments??? Ideas??? Let me know!!!

1 comment:

  1. thanks for all these directions and good ideas

    i am trying to build a system on chip using the beagleboard but i am worried about the drivers diffination and which operating system will be more suitable for run time application

    i hope to hear from you