[Updated: Apr. 27] — Tibbo’s first Linux-based modular “Tibbo Project System” is based on a 1GHz TI Sitara SoC and features optional “Tibbit” I/O and sensor add-on modules.
Taiwan-based Tibbo Technology has been developing embedded devices since 2001, including a highly modular Tibbo Project System (TPS) platform that runs its lightweight Tibbo OS (TiOS) operating system. The company’s “Size 2” TPP2 and larger, “Size 3” TPP3 automation controller boards each run TiOS on a Tibbo T1000 ASIC, and support a variety of optional “Tibbit” I/O modules and connectors. Now, Tibbo has launched its first Linux-based TPS board supporting the same Tibbit ecosystem. The “Size 3 Linux Tibbo Project PCB” (LTPP3) board adopts the 165 x 94mm Size 3 footprint, and features -40 to 70°C extended temperature support.
LTPP3 board tricked out with Tibbit modules and connectors
(click image to enlarge)
The LTPP3 is equipped with a 1GHz Sitara AM335x, the same Cortex-A8 based SoC family used by the BeagleBone and many other embedded Linux boards. The LTPP3 can run just about any Linux distribution, but ships with a homegrown, Red Hat derived Linux distribution that has been “updated with the latest and greatest kernel and drivers,” says Tibbo. The company is in the process of porting its TiOS RTOS to Linux, at which point LTPP3 users will be able to run existing Tibbo BASIC and Tibbo C programs.
The board ships with Node.js, letting you use Node.js modules, such as serialport and socket.io. In addition, Tibbo is developing its own node.js modules for accessing the board’s hardware resources and installed Tibbit blocks.
LTPP3 bare (left) and detail view
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Tibbo offers a third option, as well: a commercial license for its Embedded Aggregate IoT platform, starting at a $90 one-time fee, plus the $130 cost of the board. Embedded Aggregate, which is also referred to as Aggregate IoT, offers a cloud-based remote monitoring, data collection, and intelligent device management platform for a large network of devices and computers.
The white-labeled, Java-based Aggregate platform includes visual analysis tools, and supports integration with other enterprise systems using open-source APIs, says the company. The platform supports more than 100 communications protocols, and can control each TPS board’s hardware resources, including GPIO, serial ports, and Tibbit modules, using a middleware C library. Specific applications support applications including M2M, SCADA/HMI, building automation, sensor networks, fleet management, signage, kiosks, meter reading, and more.
The LTPP3 board is equipped with 512MB DDR3 and 512MB NAND flash, plus an optional microSD slot. The only other real-world port not provided via Tibbits is a Fast Ethernet port with optional PoE capability. Optional GPRS is provided via a Tibbit module while optional WiFi is enabled via the one non-Tibbit expansion add-on, called the LW100.
LTPP3 tile layout (left) and Tibbit module and connector layout
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Like other TPS systems, much of the board’s surface is made up of tiles with GPIO connectors that link up with up to 14 Tibbit modules for various functions and interfaces. The top and bottom walls of its enclosures are formed by up to 14 Tibbit connectors equipped with I/O ports and other connections.
As a result, an enclosure grows organically out of the modular design, which “eliminates a huge problem of any low-volume production operation — the necessity to fit into and customize (drill, cut, etc.) off-the-shelf enclosures,” says Tibbo. There’s also optional vibration protection and DIN rail mounting.
Tibbit module (left) and Tibbit connectors
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The Tibbits use color-coded shells and have traditional 0.54 (100mil) pitch, supporting standard prototyping boards. There are a variety of shapes and sizes, as well as hybrid Tibbits that combine a module and a connector in a single device.
The Tibbits range in price from $2 for direct I/O lines to $44 for the GPRS modem, but most are under $20. Tibbits include a variety of sensors, serial ports, ADC and DAC modules, relays, isolated inputs, accelerometers, radios, and other gizmos.
The LPTT3 board itself lacks a power supply, and runs from a single, regulated 5V DC input power source. However, several Tibbits furnish wide-range, PoE, and isolated power supplies.
Specifications listed for the LTPP3 include:
- Processor — TI Sitara AM355x (1x Cortex-A8 core @ 1GHz); automatic on-demand CPU speed throttling
- 512MB DDR3 SDRAM
- 512MB NAND flash
- Optional microSD slot
- Optional WiFi (requires LW100 add-on module)
- Optional GPRS (requires Tibbit #47)
- Networking — 10/100 Ethernet port with optional PoE (via Tibbit module)
- Other I/O:
- Optional 96KHz stereo audio line out, mic in (requires Tibbit #48)
- 51x GPIO:
- 7x tiles
- 14x Tibbit module sockets
- 14x Tibbit connector sockets
- Tibbit #37 (RF connector) special socket
- 4x UART Tibbit module sockets
- 2x CAN Tibbit module sockets
- 8x interrupt Tibbit module sockets
- 1x PoE Tibbit module socket
- Other features — RTC with supercapacitor backup; 8x LEDs; buzzer; upgradable firmware via TFTP server
- Operating temperature — -40 to 70°C
- Power — 500mA @ 5.0V (full speed, 100BaseT mode); power-on/brown-out reset circuit
- Operating system — customized embedded Linux (based on Red Hat); supports Node.js, optional Embedded Aggregate, and soon, Tibbo Basic and C applications
The LTPP3 is available for preorder starting at $130, with shipments starting in May. More information may be found at Tibbo.com.