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Open source hardware club ships Gumstix-based handheld

Feb 11, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 93 views

An open source hacker community has launched an online store to sell home-made gizmos, including a GPS-equipped baseboard (pictured) for the Linux-ready Gumstix Verdex processor module. GizmoForYou builds custom gadgets according to members suggestions, and sells the open-spec devices online, says the group.

(Click for larger view of 1.0 version of GizmoForYou's Gumstix DaughterBoard, with enclosure)

GizmoForYou acts like an open source version of Santa's workshop, building devices to order, based on wish list requests from registered members. The requests can be as simple as “I wish there was a device for switching power ON/OFF by sending an SMS message,” says the group. It then sells the devices to the member, as well as to the other interested buyers online. Volume is based on members voting for devices they think they might buy, so the idea is that the more people who vote for a product, the cheaper the cost.

The Gizmo developers post notes on their progress, and respond to member suggestions for new ideas and improvements. All software source files and hardware documentation are posted as open source, including schematics, mechanical designs, and PCB designs, says the project. GizmoForYou also sells all the parts, PCBs, and tools required to build the gizmo, so members can build their own devices or spin off new versions.

GPS — GSM Tracker Gizmo

So far, all the gizmos for sale are based on GPS. These include an “ISeeYou” GPS tracker and RF transmitter (which was built initially to track runaway surfboards), and a “GPS — GSM Tracker Gizmo” (pictured above) which incorporates a Linux-ready Telit GE863 wireless module to transfer GPS tracking information over cellular networks.

0.8 version of Daughter Board Gizmo for Gumstix Verdex Pro

The most challenging project involved two subsequent 0.8 and 1.0 designs of a simple PND gizmo called the Daughter Board Gizmo for Gumstix Verdex Pro. The device combines the Telit GE863 GMS-GPS module with a touchscreen LCD screen, all controlled by the gumstick-shaped Gumstix processor module. The Daughter Board designs include power and backlight buttons, as well as enclosures. They are claimed to offer all the peripherals provided by Gumstix's various daughterboards, all on a single baseboard, according to the group.

1.0 version of Daughter Board Gizmo for Gumstix Verdex Pro

The Gumstix Verdex platform has been used by a variety of open source projects, including an award-winning robotic clarinet. The 3.2 x 0.8 x 3.2-inch (80 x 20 x 8mm) SBCs are based on the Marvell (formerly Intel) PXA270 (aka “Bulverde”) processor, clocked at up to 600MHz.

Enclosure for version 1.0
Gumstix Daughterboard

(Click to enlarge)

The Verdex boards integrate up to 128MB of RAM and 32MB of flash memory soldered onboard, and offer support for USB host interfaces, inputs for CCD (charge-coupled device) cameras, and other peripheral interfaces. Gumstix itself sells a wide variety of custom boards based on the Verdex design, ranging from robotics devices to WiFi modules.

Gumstix recently introduced a next-generation Linux-based SBC design called Overo Earth that measures 0.7 x 2.3 x 0.2 inches — 40 percent smaller than the earlier Verdex. The Overo Earth incorporates the ARM Cortex-A8-based Texas Instruments (TI) OMAP3503 system-on-chip (SoC).

GizmoForYou is now working on a new project based around the Freescale i.MX platform, says the group.


The various GPS-related devices mentioned above are now available in various forms (with and without enclosures, etc.) at prices ranging from $31 for an unassembled Gumstix Daughter Board PCB to $175 for a completely assembled version (minus enclosure). More details can be found at the GizmoForYou online store, here.

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