Recomendations for low end single board computers

Hi all,
Looking for recomendations for low end single board computers
I'm a professional software engineer with a mix of experience in
Windows and embedded development currently working for "the corporation" on WinCE development. I've been hankering to set up at home to do a bit of embedded development, initially just for interests sake but with a possible angle towards some contracting/consulting.
I'm looking for a family of small single board computers (thinking high end 8 bit through to low end 32 bit uCs) to play with, with a view to developing embedded web servers, data gateways, remote control widgets and the like.
Things I'm keen on..
- A simple and free RTOS
- A development environment based on GCC
- A S/W framework based on some flavour of open source model, with an enthusastic user community colaborating on components and libraries
- A low cost development kit (this is only a hobby for now, so not prepared to spend thousands to get started)
- a selection of modules available including development boards, encapsulated units ready to clip to a DIN rail and go and core modules that can be piggybacked onto simple carrier boards for custom H/W developments. (I'm primarily a S/W guy and quite apart from lack of experience I don't have the resources at home to do anything but the most basic of H/W)
The Ethernut (http://www.ethernut.de/en/index.html ) looks like the sort of toy I'm after, how do people rate it?
Had a bit of exposure to Dallas Semiconductor TINI modules a 3-4 years back, which also have some of the attributes I'm after, are these still a live product? At the time it seemed that they did everything advertised, but ran out of puff just at the point we tried to pull everything togther to build a real product. Have they got any better?
Quite like the modular H/W architecture of some of the Advantech ADAM gear, but their S/W framework just aint what I'm after.
Anyone out there got any other suggestions of toys I should be looking at, or links to good online catalogs?
Thanks
Richard.
richardDOTlangATtrimbleDOTcoDOTnz
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On 15 Sep 2005 21:38:39 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@my-deja.com wrote:

<snip>
Take a look at Olimex's development boards:
http://www.olimex.com/dev/index.html
They are available for AVR (8bit) and ARM (32bit), both supported by GCC.
They have distributers around the world:
http://www.olimex.com/dev/order.html
Tom
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Hi Richard,
I'm rating Ethernut on top, but as one of its developers and the general manager of egnite GmbH I'm most prejudiced. I'll try to give some neutral comments.
snipped-for-privacy@my-deja.com wrote:

For most applications 8 bit MCUs provide sufficient resources. However, you may think about encryption and, when standards like SSL are required, most of these devices simply do not have the power. I think Rabbit (now part of Digi) offer SSL with 8 bit CPUs, but no idea about the performance. Also Ubicom's MCUs may provide the required power. But in general a low end ARM7 is recommended.

Nut/OS (Ethernut RTOS) isn't actually that simple. One of its goals is to offer a programming environment similar to desktop PCs. You can, for example, use (f)printf on RS232, LCDs and even TCP streams. That requires a lot of overhead (e.g. buffer copying). On the other hand you can easily create applications, which are running on a desktop _and_ on the target hardware. The ETH Zuerich created a Linux / OS X environment for their Nut/OS based Bluetooth stack. Though I've to admit, that I failed to get it up last time I tried.
For very low end targets you may also have a look to http://www.sics.se/~adam/lwip / and http://www.sics.se/~adam/uip /

If Linux is an option, the list shrinks a lot.

http://www.freertos.org / seems to have an active community too. As long as you intend to develop for non commercial use, the GPL is fine. For commercial products the BSD licence typically is a better choice.

http://www.ethernut.de/en/portarm/gbaxport2.html http://www.ethernut.de/nutwiki/index.php/GameBoyLinks
Regards, Harald
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Just to clarify - FreeRTOS.org contains an exception to the GPL.
In summary
+ the scheduler code is GPL'ed, if you make modifications to the scheduler itself you must abide by the GPL.
+ however, application code that uses the scheduler through the published API can remain proprietary and the GPL does not apply.
The intention is that the FreeRTOS.org community benefits from changes or enhancements to the actual kernel code, but users are not obliged to open source their own proprietary application that simply makes use of the kernel services. Using FreeRTOS.org in a commercial application is therefore not a problem.
Regards,
Richard.
http://www.FreeRTOS.org
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Richard wrote:

As a native German speaker, these lawyer texts are Greek to me anyway. But wouldn't http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/lesser.html exactly meet your intention? I assume, that developers of commercial applications feel insecure by an exception, which is contrary to the initial licence.
At least the LGPL would allow me to "steal" code from FreeRTOS for Nut/OS, which is currently not possible.
Harald
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snipped-for-privacy@my-deja.com wrote:

[snip
Try this H8 based board from Nu-Horizons.
http://www.nuhorizons.com/services/development/webserver/evalboard.html
The board at time I purchased it was only $125 The H8 family is supported by GCC (http://www.kpitgnutools.com /)
There is a free RTOS (BSD License) for the board (http://www.shift-right.com/xmk )
There are two TCP/IP stacks that run on the board (http://www.sics.se/~adam/uip/ and http://savannah.nongnu.org/projects/lwip /)
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snipped-for-privacy@my-deja.com wrote in

<<<<stuff snip here>>>>

try family of micros from jkmicro.com
Arthur Kloc Klocworx Inc arthurATklocworxDOTcom
Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with them. just a happy user!!
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Richard,
one of my 3 favorite has already been mentioned focusing on low cost 32-bit micros, Olimex. Here are the other two New Micros http://www.newmicros.com/ with a very nice download site for GCC and a development enviroment based on Eclipse, the other one is http://www.embeddedartists.com /
You can get started for way less than $100 (or 100 Euro for that matter). A port of FreeRTOS is also available as well as uC-OSII and others.
A good source of information is also the LPC2000 Yahoo group with lots of good contributions, files and links (after you sign up). http://groups.yahoo.com/group/lpc2000 /
Hope this helps. IMHO there is little reason to start with an 8-bit any more, today you can get ARM micros for very low prices
An Schwob
snipped-for-privacy@my-deja.com wrote:

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> - A simple and free RTOS > > - A development environment based on GCC > > - A S/W framework based on some flavour of open source model, with an > enthusastic user community colaborating on components and libraries > > - A low cost development kit (this is only a hobby for now, so not > prepared to spend thousands to get started) > > - a selection of modules available
Sounds like the Zworld/Rabbit line of "cores" and SBCs would be a good match for that list of requirements. See http://www.zworld.com /.
Note that they are currently running a special on a complete development environment for their EtherNet-capable 3720 core for $99. Considering what's in the bundle, they're giving them away.
Daniel Birket
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Except that there is no gcc toolchain as far as I can see!
It does not seem a good fit to me, given the OP's preference for free tools and the open source community. There are plenty of processors that ARE supported by gcc.
<SNIP>
--

John Devereux

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