Friday, July 25, 2008

Sun SPOT

Have you ever dreamed of having a project that produced a chip that did something real, something that you can make then use in the real world, instead of the digital projects that come from wonderland were people use some switches to play a game! Well, I had that dream. I love to program chips to make stuff like telling me when someone turns the light on in some room and to react to it according to some program I've already put in it. Though our beloved FPGA can do a lot of really great stuff but it's programming is frustrating. VHDL is one great-extremely-low-level language and it can teach us a lot about digital design but again if I want something to use something in a robotics project would I choose VHDL over Java?! I guess not. Sun has done it people. A programmable device that could be programmed directly using J2ME technologies. With high processing power and a lot of cool features that could be put in real use easily, I think it's everything that a programmable board should be. I was told about Sun SPOT(Sun Small Programmable Object Technology) by Juan Ramon Sun's Education & Research Manager during Wikimania. He told me -as you can find on SPOT's home page- that SPOT is not available in Egypt yet and it's really expensive but it's also kind of new so I'll keep dreaming about having SPOT somewhere in our labs maybe not for digital courses but for embedded courses. I'll list some of its features and you can also check it on Wikipedia.
Sun SPOT Processor Board:
180 MHz 32 bit ARM920T core - 512K RAM/4M Flash
2.4 GHz IEEE 802.15.4 radio with integrated antenna
USB interface
3.7V rechargeable 720 mAh lithium-ion battery
32 uA deep sleep mode
General Purpose Sensor Board:
2G/6G 3-axis accelerometer
Temperature sensor
Light sensor
8 tri-color LEDs
6 analog inputs
2 momentary switches
5 general purpose I/O pins and 4 high current output pins
Software:
Squawk Virtual Machine
Fully capable J2ME CLDC 1.1 Java VM with OS functionality
VM executes directly out of flash memory
Device drivers written in Java
Automatic battery management

I copied those features from SPOTs home page where you can find a lot more about it.
If you know about anything else like it please leave a comment about it and if you like this post -or not- please leave a comment.


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6 comments:

  1. really its very nice article Ahmed
    and i hope this dream becomes true and it was not bad to have FPGA


    Amr Mahfouz

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  2. Great Article, and thanks for writing it up! Hope we can get Sun SPOTs into Egypt for you soon! I don't think that, for what you get, Sun SPOTs are 'quite expensive' and if you compare them to other platforms out there, you'll likely find that they are quite cheap! Plus we have a fantastic Educational Discount which makes them downright cheap!

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  3. Good news but how about about efficiency ...
    I think that the most important thing about java is portability which is reaching by scarifying a bit of efficiency due to the intermediate interpretation to byte-code and it is a must to achieve portability in both different computer platforms and cellular phones. But in our case now the H/w (chip) is manufactured by Sun and there is no need to scarify ... Software will now run on a one and only one machine which is "Sun SPOT", and thus it will be better using any thing other than java.
    Thanks for the article and for reading my comment and I wish to here a reply :)

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  4. Actually the operating system Sun SPOT works on is a JVM so efficiency is no problem with SPOT as your code is translated directly to the SPOTs processor.

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  5. it`s so cool {i am one of the people mad about JAVA technologies}, but about getting it to here, we may hold a presentation about it to tell our Drs about this but am not sure about the result of this :D

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