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Hawkboard ARM platform 
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LQFP112 - Up with the play
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Joined: Tue Jan 15, 2008 5:31 pm
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I had an idea of using an embedded PC as a car computer and came across this little treasure:

http://www.hawkboard.org/

It's an ARM-based open hardware embedded computer with both PC features and embedded system features (no CAN on the basic setup, but it shouldn't be too tough to implement through UART).

Apparently there's quite a lot of going on with ARM Linux, and since power consumption of ARM processors are measured in milliwatts (well, by the hundreds but anyway), it would double nicely as a watchdog/car alarm as you could simply leave the system running for days without exhausting the battery and as a regular in-car computer (though there might be some limitations on MPEG4 playback)

There's a similar item from Glomation, not open HW but with CAN built in:

http://www.glomationinc.com/products_9315.html


Mon May 10, 2010 3:32 pm
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1N4001 - Signed up
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Joined: Tue Jun 10, 2008 5:17 pm
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There are a lot of nice options with ARM's. You get a lot of processor for small $. Many of the chips have a nice UDMA mechanism that will let you rake a chunk of memory across the outputs of pins nearly independent of what the processor is doing. Such that if the clock signal for this UDMA is generated by the CAM gears / RPM input signal, you could have the engine run at a fixed RPM, load, ect with out CPU intervention. Basically all that the CPU has to do is update a chunk of memory to make proper environment variations, and it does not have to do all the calculations all the time. Therefore, real time operation for the CPU becomes much less important. To me ARM's sound like a lot of flexibility and lots of stability. Not to forget and mention, they are used in some 70% of embedded devices, so knowing them makes me more marketable in my career as well.

I'm sure that pre-made and tested ARM boards exist, but I don't think these boards would work out so well for an ECU application. The key problem I see with the above two noted boards is the temperature ratings. The BGA parts they show will be stressed at temperatures -20c to +120c. Discrete components larger than 1205 start to get stressed, also BGA's larger than 1205 will also need special PCB attention to prevent the chip from popping off. It's much easier to get the board layout to work with flying leads. Flying leads allow the PCB to grown and shrink with temp variations. The open nature of the Hawkboard would likely allow for modifications and other chip selections, if so desired. So perhaps they could be good for a proto, and re-designed for a final version later on.

I see QNX listed, that's a dang fast OS, and is likely well suited as a base OS to work from.


Tue May 11, 2010 2:57 am
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LQFP112 - Up with the play
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Joined: Tue Jan 15, 2008 5:31 pm
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Engine management is most certainly well within ARM's capabilities (and with *plenty* of margin) but I was thinking more of an in-car entertainment/car alarm/valet equipment (door locking according to the location, time of day and period of inactivity for example, or other comfort/safety automation). The Hawkboard turns out to be based on Beagleboard which is more expensive, but has much faster processor and OpenGL acceleration H/W. It is more lacking on the low-level hardware IO though, missing GPIO and A/D converters, but does have SPI, I2C and I2S buses. One of it's suggested uses *is* in-car entertainment head unit!


Thu May 27, 2010 10:17 am
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1N4001 - Signed up
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Hmmm, Hawkboard eats Beagle's if given the chance right?

A while back I had mentioned the PICODLP. The dev setup uses the beagle board. I think that would make a great configurable gauge display. Picture putting a piece of paper over your current gauges, then mounting the PICODLP to the steering column. Then you can have any set of gauges you want, just picture if your oil sensor goes wonky for some reason, your configurable display could make that go large to increase emphasis, ect. Or if someone else is driving it but doesn't want the gauges set as you have it, they could be configured on a per person basis. So many things could be done with that type of setup. I think the 80's dash project is great, but just picture being able to configure it via software. One of my biggest concerns is if you would be able to see the DLP display all the time. Perhaps a hybrid would be best. Say speed and RPM as real displays with other gauges as DLP based.

Any how If you get into it, let me know. I'm currently dubbing with an ARM based project that involved the LPC2378. I'm no programming wiz, but I might be able to help in some kind of way.


Thu May 27, 2010 11:54 am
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