Alternatives to mini-ITX/x86 architecture ?

What reasonably priced, lower power, alternatives to mini-ITX boards/x86 processors are people using to control their robots when they need more
processor capability/memory/device interfacing than the PIC controllers allow ?
The mini-ITX boards are nice and cheap with a full range of device interfacing options, but have relatively high power requirements.
I am interested in computer vision, so something like a USB interface would be required.
Has anyone tried using a PDA to do onboard processing/device control ?
In case it makes a difference on availability, I am in the UK.
Thanks for any information,
Simon.
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Simon Clubley, clubley@remove_me.eisner.decus.org-Earth.UFP
SCO: Proudly pushing Microsoft down to #2 on the list of most disliked companies
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: What reasonably priced, lower power, alternatives to mini-ITX boards/x86 : processors are people using to control their robots when they need more : processor capability/memory/device interfacing than the PIC controllers : allow ?
hacked I-appliances. Sorry if I'm getting repetative. :-)
ie -- I'm useing a Virgin Webplayer. P200 with 800x600 LCD, and a laptop style IDE connector, 2 USB, and 2 serial ports at TTL level.
They show up on e-bay every once in a while.
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Chris Candreva -- snipped-for-privacy@westnet.com -- (914) 967-7816
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clubley@remove_me.eisner.decus.org-Earth.UFP (Simon Clubley) wrote in message

PDA might be a little slow for computer vision. If I were doing that, I might look at a board with a DSP chip on it, plus a "lot" of RAM.
For a step up from PICs, etc, I've been scrutinizing the Rabbit - mainly because it has up to 512KB or so of RAM, and it's cheap - but it's prolly too slow for c.vision.
We've had long discussions about processor selection in the past. Personally, I'm in favor of having a PIC/AVR/HC11/Isopod/etc for a control processor for the robot, and then adding separate co-processors for specific tasks, such as vision. Might be easier than trying to fit everything onto a single processor - especially since the robot will usually want to have quick low-level responses that need to pre-empt high-level processing. Look at the subsumption architecture [if you're not already familiar with it] - as a way to set up a hierarchy of control.
- dan michaels www.oricomtech.com =======================
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I'm almost ready with my CPU card that utilize an Atmel 91R400008 CPU. This is an ARM7 running in 66MHz, having 256kB SRAM in it and I've coupled it with 8MB (max.) of FLASH. That's pretty capable compared to a PIC, but less powerfull of course than an ITX motherboard. My next step I'm thinking about is the Atmel 91RM9200 CPU, which is a ARM9 CPU at ~200MHz with cache, integrated SDRAM controller and (which might be interesting for you) an integrated USB controller. I would couple it with, like 32MBytes of SDRAM and again some flash, let's say 8Mb.
My goal also is computer vision. My block-diagram-level system contains the sensor and the optics removed from a web-cam, connected to an FPGA which would do the bulk of the processing. The rest of it can be handled by one of the above mentioned CPUs.
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Andras Tantos
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What is "relatively high power" ? Measured they are something south of 20 watts so figure an amp and a half to two from a 12V supply. A powersonic gell cell can keep the thing running for several hours.
--Chuck
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Chuck McManis wrote:

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Wow -- these ARE pretty thrifty on power usage. Via has a summary at:

http://www.via.com.tw/en/VInternet/power.pdf
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The Artist Formerly Known as Kap'n Salty wrote:

The only problem I have with these mini-box.com is that when you order it goes through iTuner, and I placed an order there on the 23rd, with 2nd day air.
They sent neither a shipping nor a back-order notice. Finally Friday I called them, and their customer service rep was fairly clueless, only saying that my order shipped on the 24th by UPS (he refused to give me a tracking number, despite several email requests).
There are other suppliers, and if I don't get my order Monday I will have to go through my credit card to get my money back. -- D. Jay Newman
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D. Jay Newman wrote:

I finally got through to somebody today who would actually look at the records and agreed that my shipment hadn't actually been, well, shipped.
They said they'd ship it out next-day air, but they only shipped it out 2nd day (which is what I paid for over a week ago).
I'm not sure that I'd use them again. -- D. Jay Newman http://enerd.ws/robots /
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WOW!     Your approach to relative is a few lightyears from mine. I develop using wheel chair parts. I consider "nominal" as enough to carry a 500 pound robot at 7 MPH for at least 4 hours.
    I am amazed by what I read here and understand that motor power has nothing to do with capability ... just wanted to amplify power consumption.
        Bill
On Sat, 31 Jan 2004 08:15:39 GMT, "Chuck McManis"

*** Insky Engineering When you need an engineer really bad, we are. *** *** *** *** Voice, Video, And Data for Doctors, Lawyers, and even the Police Chief. ***
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Yes, I think that it's reasonably safe to assume that your power requirements are indeed several light years apart from mine... :-)
A board/processor consuming up to about 5 watts total (before external devices) at mini-ITX prices would have been ideal. It's a pity that you can't get a board similar to the mini-ITX, but with an ARM or a Motorola embedded version of PowerPC, at mini-ITX type prices.
I think that I am going to wait for the nano-ITX range and see what power consumption range that requires. (Does anybody have an expected release date ? I thought that it was going to be the end of 2003.)
Thanks to everyone for their replies and suggestions.
Simon.
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Simon Clubley, clubley@remove_me.eisner.decus.org-Earth.UFP
SCO: Proudly pushing Microsoft down to #2 on the list of most disliked companies
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Simon Clubley wrote:

If you like Java, then look at the Systronix JStik http://www.jstik.com /
It is very low power (about 0.5 amp at 100 MHz) and runs Java bytecodes natively. 8 meg Flash and 4 meg RAM.
I've built several bots with this system. I'm going to a Mini-ITX system because I want to do more with mapping, planning, and vision.
One of my projects (temporarily shelved for a few months) is using four optical mouse imagers and a PIC as a camera. Things have gotten busy here, but I *will* get back to this project shortly. -- D. Jay Newman http://enerd.ws/robots /
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