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I'm new to the embedded device world, but I've got an idea I'd like to try to implement. I found an integrated circuit that will give me the input I want, now I need to find a device to log the data coming in from the circuit (a couple floating point numbers/every few seconds) and display the data via a web interface. The IC works over an SPI or I2C interface.

My background is in Python and Linux being able to use these on the device would be great, but the low-cost/power requirement is a higher priority than the toolkit. I'm hoping to find something well under $100 which rules out Gumstix and Beagle Board.

  • Hmmm, bifferboard looks like a good candidate – Pete Aug 6 '10 at 19:30
  • very sweet form factor and prices. The only downside i see is the 486 instruction set where either ARM or MIPS have far more performance per milliwatt and MHz. For extremely low performance requirements it seems a great solution. – Javier Aug 9 '10 at 13:59
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there are some very low cost linux-capable platforms, mostly based on ARM or MIPS processors. mostly manufactured for domestic routers, are quite powerful by microcontroller standards. check openWRT distro, they support several of such platforms.

to go lower level, you get into microcontroller territory. these chips usually don't run any OS, just your application code in a loop (written in C or assembler). recently they've gained enough horsepower to do TCP/IP on Ethernet, like this. some of them use a simplistic BASIC interpreter instead of an OS, making it very easy to use.

If you don't care about size, an amusing solution is described here. In short, they use a simple microcontroller to emulate an old PC ISA-bus to drive a very old ethernet card. In fact, it could be easier to directly connect an ethernet chip, some of these are designed to be used by 8-bit busses.

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Have you considered the Arduino board with its ethernet shield? I haven't personally worked with the Arduino device, but know many people that have. From what I've heard, it's very easy to get up to speed on programming it.

  • Still seems a bit pricey. ~$75 for this when I could get a full Linux install with SheevaPlug for $99 – Pete Aug 6 '10 at 17:08
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As suggested, an arduino would be an easy way to get your data into a computer. Rather than going up for the ethernet shield though, something like http://www.arduino.cc/en/Main/ArduinoBoardDiecimila has usb communication capabilities via a FTDI usb<->serial chip.

Not sure about whether the drivers are cross platform, but with a linux background, I'm sure you can find a way to get access to the usb port.

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