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DIY remote control, gaming console runs Linux

Sep 10, 2007 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 4 views

Virtual Cogs has started shipping a new board-level product for developers of customized, Linux-powered portable gaming consoles and remote control devices. The Portable Computing Cog (PC Cog) expands the company's i.MX21-based VC21 design, adding an LCD module, battery and charger, joysticks and buttons, and audio… I/O.

Virtual Cogs VC21
(Click for details)

The PC Cog is meant for use as part of Virtual Cogs's VC21 (pictured at right), a modular single-board computer (SBC) product comprised of a processor module and various stackable daughtercards. The Canadian startup launched the VC21 system in June of this year.

The VC21 is built around a VCMX212 processor module powered by a Freescale i.MX21 SoC (system-on-chip). Pass-through connectors on the processor module enable the attachment of one or more “Cog”-branded daughterboards to the top or bottom of the board. The company offers half a dozen such Cogs, including products that add cameras, touchscreens, sound cards, and so on.

The new PC Cog daughterboard is built around a 4.3-inch LCD touchscreen. Also present is a linear battery charger with LED charge state lights. A 1.7Ah lithium-ion battery is required and optionally available, but not included. Other PC Cog additions include a MiniSD slot supporting cards up to 2GB, a pair of joysticks, two “shoulder buttons,” and six general-purpose buttons.

PC Cog appears aimed at gaming and remote control applications
(Click to enlarge)

Additionally, the PC Cog is compatible with Cogs that add Ethernet, wireless connectivity, GPS, and/or a camera, the company said. An inexpensive case (pictured below) is available as an option, with either 1.1-inch or 0.6-inch case depth.

Virtual Cogs's $10 PC Cog enclosure
(Click to enlarge)

Touted PC Cog features include:

  • i.MX21 controlled power switch to control power to the stack
  • 4.3-inch 16:9 Color TFT LCD with 480×272 pixel resolution
  • Touchscreen interface for LCD
  • MiniSD card interface
  • Two mini-joysticks (digital), two shoulder buttons and six other general-purpose buttons
  • Audio CODEC with 16/20/24/32-bit 97-dB stereo playback and mono record up to 48ksps
  • Onboard microphone
  • Stereo amplifier and speakers
  • Audio-in jack (to connect an external microphone)
  • Audio-out jack (for headphones)
  • Built-in temperature and battery voltage measurements
  • Optional enclosures with 2 depths (0.6 and 1.1 inches)

“Just imagine controlling your mobile robot projects via Bluetooth, or head-to-head gaming action. It's all possible with the PC Cog and the rest of the Virtual Cogs VC21 series,” a company spokesperson said.

More details about the VC21 can be found in our earlier coverage, here.

Gumstix — another company offering small, modular SBC systems in small quantities, also recently added an LCD module, albeit one ostensibly aimed more at mobile phone applications.


The PC Cog is available now from stock, priced at $200 in single quantities.

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