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Linux-ready Cortex-A8 module gains mobile GPS option

Jan 13, 2011 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

Gumstix announced a rechargeable, GPS-enabled expansion board for its Linux-ready, TI OMAP35x based Overo Computer-on-Modules (COMs). The Gallop43 is equipped with the U-blox Neo-5G GPS module, and offers connectors for a two-cell NiMH rechargeable battery pack and a 4.3-inch LCD-ready touchscreen, thereby providing a mobile companion board to any Overo-based device, says the company.

The Gallop43 is the latest of a line of expansion boards offered for the open-spec, Cortex-A8-based Overo COMs (see farther below). Measuring 4.65 x 2.65-inch (118.2 x 67.2mm), the Gallop43 is said to be designed to enable mobile, location-aware handheld devices incorporating any of the Overo modules.

Gallop43 expansion board
(Click to enlarge)

The board's 1.8-Volt U-blox Neo 5G module provides the Gallop43 with "ultra-fast signal acquisition for an integrated location-sensitive design," says Gumstix. The Neo-5G offers U-blox's "AssistNow" technology, claimed to enhance the TTFF (time to first fix) to one second. It also adds "KickStart" technology that's said to boost acquisition of weak signals, and also provides an SPI interface.

The Gallop43 is equipped with a MCX antenna connector for its U-blox GPS receiver, as well as a three-axis accelerometer, a mini-USB OTG port, and a 3.5mm stereo headset jack, says Gumstix. A 40-pin header handles signals for one-wire, PWM, I2C, SPI, A/D, and processor control interfaces. Users can also add the Gumstix 4.3-inch, WQVGA LCD touchscreen or two-cell NiMH battery pack options.

Gallop43, front and back

Design engineers can either integrate the off-the-shelf expansion board as is, or use the board's openly available schematic to incorporate its design elements into a custom designed expansion board, says the company.

Overo background

The Overo was launched in 2008 as a more powerful follow-on to the Verdex modules. All the Overo modules incorporate either the low-end (OMAP3503) or high-end (OMAP3530) versions of Texas Instruments' Cortex-A8-based OMAP35x system-on-chips (SoCs).

The Overo Earth and Overo Air (which adds Wi-Fi) both run on a 600MHz OMAP3503. The Overo Water (which adds OpenGL graphics), and Overo Fire (with OpenGL and Wi-Fi) originally ran on a 600MHz OMAP3530, but now use the faster 720MHz version of the SoC.

Last month, the company added an Overo Tide module (pictured), which doubled RAM to 512MB. All the Overo modules are supported by Gumstix with a variety of expansion boards and Linux-ready development kits.

Options available for the Overo series include a touchscreen LCD, HDMI-over-DVI, accelerometer, USB high speed and OTG, and 10/100 Ethernet (including dual Ethernet port support). Wireless options are said to include 802.11b/g, Bluetooth, and GPS. Additional options are said to include NiMH battery power, battery backup, stereo audio, cluster computing, and camera functions.

Stated W. Gordon Kruberg, President and CEO of Gumstix, "The Gallop43 expansion board is Gumstix' latest way of saying 'take Linux on the road' to our software and electronic design communities. The combined rechargeable battery and GPS features have been high on our users' wish list, specifically to build the special-purpose hardware meeting their own needs for location based services."


The Gallop43 expansion board costs $109 in orders of 1,000 units or more. The Gallop43 is also available in single units and small quantities for $129, at the Gumstix Gallop43 page.

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