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Wireless touchscreen kits run Android or Linux on TI Sitara

Sep 14, 2015 — by Eric Brown — 696 views

Gumstix unveiled a pair of $329, 4.3-inch, wireless, battery-powered “Pepper” touchscreen kits that run Android or Linux on an 800MHz TI Sitara SoC.

Gumstix launched its original Pepper SBC kit in 2013, and is now following up with two new models featuring the Texas Instruments Sitara AM3354 instead of AM3359 system-on-chip. They also add Android support in addition to the previous Yocto Project-based Linux build.

The new boards provide resistive (Pepper 32R) or capacitive (Pepper 32C) 4.3-inch Newhaven touchscreens with 482 x 272 pixel resolution instead of the earlier support for generic 4.5-inch resistive touchscreens. The new models appear to replace the original, which is no longer posted on the Gumstix store.

Gumstix gen-2 Pepper Kit with 4.3-inch touchscreen
(click images to enlarge)

Other changes compared to the original Pepper include the switch to DDR3L for the allotted 512MB of RAM, as well as battery power support, using a new 2-cell JST XH balance connector. An extra-cost 5.5V-36V ready battery is required.

There are also two standard USB 2.0 ports and two micro-USB-B ports, instead of the earlier one USB 2.0 port and three micro-USB-AB ports. The boards’ USB ports should not be used for power input, however, “due to the power requirements posed by the screen and WiFi,” says Gumstix. Instead, “the boards should only be powered via the battery connector.”

As before, the new Pepper 32R and 32C SBCs are equipped with a gigabit Ethernet port and cable, and once again, 802.11b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth (now version 4.1 with BLE) radios are provided via a TI WiLink 8 module. An apparently new u.FL connector and external antenna are also available.

Like the previous Pepper, there’s a microSD slot, which is available with separate data cards for loading Android or Yocto Project-based Linux. Other features include 3.5mm stereo audio ports, and as well as a pair of unexplained “tactile switches on the flip-side of the board.” 

The Sitara AM3354 is clocked slightly higher at 800MHz than the similarly Cortex-A8 based 720MHz AM3359 of the earlier Pepper SBC. The AM3354 offers the same PowerVR SGX 3D GPU, but lacks the AM3359’s PRU subsystem for industrial I/O programming.

Further information

The Pepper 43R and Pepper 43C Handheld Development Kits are each available for $329, including cables and the respective Newhaven 4.3-inch touchscreens. The Pepper 43R and 43C boards can also be purchased separately, in which the required WiFi/Bluetooth antenna is included, but the bootable microSD and cables for Ethernet and USB are not. More information may be found at the Pepper 43R and Pepper 43C product pages respectively.

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