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uClinux-based serial port servers include WiFi

Jan 21, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 5 views

VScom is shipping a line of uClinux-based serial port servers designed as an openly programmable RISC-CPU development platform for automation equipment. The OpenNetCom devices come in one, four, and eight-port configurations, and are equipped with WiFi to enable remote monitoring and control of industrial equipment.

(Click for larger view of VSCom 423)

Designed for remote data collection and processing, the OpenNetCom 123 (one serial port), 423 (four ports), and 843 (eight ports) are touted by VScom as offering short and easy development and testing for small- to medium-volume embedded industrial applications. Based on ARM9 166MHz processors and equipped with 16MB SDRAM and 2MB flash, the fanless, low-power devices include Ethernet and WiFi connections. Serial support includes RS232, RS422, and RS485 connections backed up with high-speed 16C950 UARTs (128-Byte FIFO). The larger OpenNetcom 423 and 823 models measure only 6.6 x 3.9 x 1.1 inches.

OpenNetCom 123

The devices are freely programmable and include an ARM9-optimized uClinux 2.4 distro, complete with pre-integrated RedBoot bootloader and hardware driver modules. An included gcc-toolchain cross toolchain lets users remotely develop their application, which can be upload by FTP. Developers can recover the factory configuration via a write-protected RedBoot partition, the company said. The developer's kit includes the CramFS (Compressed ROM File System) file system for applications and libraries, and the JFFS2 (Journalling Flash File System Ver2) for configuration and data storage. Developers can debug code with gdbserver from the remote computer or debug the kernel with kgdb, using the optional OpenNetCom Service Board (pictured below), which offers JTAG and three LEDs.

Service Board

The following are the specs for the OpenNetcom serial port servers:

  • Processor — ARM 9 166MHz
  • Memory — 16MB SDRAM, 2MB Flash
  • UART controller — 16C950C (128-Byte FIFO) or compatible
  • Connector type — SMA-Reverse (WLAN antenna); RJ45 (Ethernet); DSUB 9 male (serial)
  • Ethernet — 10baseT/100baseTX Autodetect and Auto-MDI(X)
  • WiFi — 802.11b/g RaLink card (RT2560) with WEP and WPA security
  • Serial — 1, 4, or 8 x ports with up to 1.843Mbps port speed and supporting the following modes and signals:
    • RS232 — full duplex; TxD, RxD, RTS, CTS, DTR, DSR, DCD, RI, GND; up to 921.6Kbps
    • RS422 — full duplex; Tx+/-, Rx+/-, GND; up to 3.6Mbps
    • RS485 — 4-wire full duplex; Tx+/-, Rx+/-, GND; up to 3.6Mbps (ART or RTS control)
    • RS485 — 2-wire half duplex (with and without echo); Data+/-, GND (ART or RTS control)
  • Digital I/O — 3 internal signals @ 3.3V level
  • Power requirements — 9 – 30V DC input, 500mA @ 12V
  • Power supply adapter — 12V, 1000mA, connected by terminal block
  • Dimensions (without DB9 connector & DIN rail mounting kit) — OpenNetcom 123, 2.9 x 4.5 x 1.0 inches (73 x 115 x 27 mm); OpenNetcom 423 and 823, 6.6 x 3.9 x 1.1 inches (167 x 99 x 29 mm)
  • Operating Temp. — 32 degrees F to -76 degrees F (- 0 degrees C to – 60 degrees C)
  • Weight - 123 0.4 lbs (0.2kg); 423 0.9 lbs (0.4kg); 823 4.2 lbs (1.9kg)
  • Optional Accessories — DIN-Rail mounting kit; service board with console port, diagnostic LEDs, 20pin JTAG connector


The OpenNetCom modules are all available now, via distributor Vision Systems, or direct outside of Germany. The 123 is priced at 150 Euros (~$215) in single quantities, while the 423 costs 260 Euros (~$376). In quantities of 100 or more, the devices cost 123 Euros (~$178) and 220 Euros (~$333), respectively. Additionally, they are available without WiFi, priced about $10 lower. A 16-port model is also available.

Information on the products and ordering details are available here.

Many thanks to S. M. Das for tipping us off about these products.

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