5 Nov 2003 tdickens   » (Observer)

EPIA motherboards:
I'm very intrugued by the recent information on the VIA motherboards. These are high-speed, small footprint motherboards that appear to be ideal for small robotics systems. Their current offering, the Micro-ITM, is a 7.5"x7.5" board, and they have announced a new Nano-ITX board that is 4.5"x4.5", due out by the end of the year.

I am compiling information on these boards and want to configure a system that uses:

  • A small Linux installation.
  • C, C++, or Java for the application code.
  • A 12VDC power source.
  • External I/O that is easy-to-use and easy-to-program, such as parallel-port, serial-port, USB, other? Used to incerface with:
    • Motors (PWM?).
    • Various sensors.
    • Small LCD display for info (i.e. 20 chars x 2 lines).
    • Co-processing boards such as a BOTBoard ot PIC.
    • LEDs, lots of LEDs. Kids like blinky lights!
  • Does not require a hard drive due to size, power, and robustness.
  • One or more low-cost cameras for sensing.
  • No monitor for normal operation, but can use a monitor for programming and debugging.

The information I have found includes the following links. Please forward or reply with additional information to help understand the configuration options available and what people have found works. I'm already building a 6" cube robot that will take the new 4.5"x4.5" Nano-ITX board when it is available:

http://robots.net /article/983.html
http://www.via.com.tw/en/Digital%20Library/PR 030924VTF-5_VI AKeynote.jsp
http://store.ituner.com/ituner/viamo.html
http://www.mini-box.com/pw-60.htm
http://www.mini-box.com/cfadapter.htm
http://www3.sympatico.ca/howlettfamily/epia/epia.html
http://www.essencompu.com/nupplysingar.asp?ID=3484

Questions I'm fuzzy about:

  1. I've seen references to the Mini-ITX and the Micro-ITX. Are they 2 names for the same thing, or different boards?
  2. Does anyone know any additional specifice on the Nano-ITX board, such as availability date, cost, processor speed, power requirements, etc?
  3. Will the 12VDC power board for the Mini-ITX also work for the Nano-ITX board? It looks like power-wise and connector-wise it should work, but it also looks like it is more than 4.5" in length.

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