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AlsRobotics
Geek!

United Kingdom
399 Posts

Posted - 16 Mar 2008 :  13:43:56  Show Profile  Visit AlsRobotics's Homepage  Click to see AlsRobotics's MSN Messenger address  Reply with Quote
Hi all,

Just thought I would post up some of the new technology stuff I have been looking at recently, as I have had robotics in the back of my mind for it etc.


Linux based laptop with solid state disk, ASUS EEE, on ebuyer at: http://www.ebuyer.com/product/141743
These seem like a nice little toy, not much in the way of processing power, but ideal for application when on the move.

Microchip have a new 32bit Micro out, about time too. Development kits can be bought from Farnell http://uk.farnell.com/1523317/semiconductors/product.us0?sku=MICROCHIP-DM320001

Old technology but at a good price, ITX boards on eBay, item, 130204842957


Which brings me back to the Robux project, I really must get some more work done on that.

Regards,
Al.


http://www.alsrobotics.co.uk - Robotics Site
http://www.qtronics.net - Electronics and Firmware Design Consultants
http://www.bajabeetle.co.uk - The Place for Aircooled addicts
http://www.robux.co.uk - Open Source Robotics

Bob
Serious Geek!

United Kingdom
1263 Posts

Posted - 16 Mar 2008 :  15:16:08  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by AlsRobotics

Hi all,

Just thought I would post up some of the new technology stuff I have been looking at recently, as I have had robotics in the back of my mind for it etc.


Linux based laptop with solid state disk, ASUS EEE, on ebuyer at: http://www.ebuyer.com/product/141743
These seem like a nice little toy, not much in the way of processing power, but ideal for application when on the move.

Microchip have a new 32bit Micro out, about time too. Development kits can be bought from Farnell http://uk.farnell.com/1523317/semiconductors/product.us0?sku=MICROCHIP-DM320001

Old technology but at a good price, ITX boards on eBay, item, 130204842957


Which brings me back to the Robux project, I really must get some more work done on that.

Regards,
Al.


http://www.alsrobotics.co.uk - Robotics Site
http://www.qtronics.net - Electronics and Firmware Design Consultants
http://www.bajabeetle.co.uk - The Place for Aircooled addicts
http://www.robux.co.uk - Open Source Robotics



Hi Al

I think I had my hands on one the other day, but it was badged up as an RM machine. Seemed very competent for its intended market (sets of wireless linked network machines that could be easily transported between classrooms for use in school)


Bob
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AlsRobotics
Geek!

United Kingdom
399 Posts

Posted - 16 Mar 2008 :  15:51:38  Show Profile  Visit AlsRobotics's Homepage  Click to see AlsRobotics's MSN Messenger address  Reply with Quote
Yeah i was thinking about getting one of the EEE, business expense etc, for testing and it seems like a great fit to the robux project.

Although i have been looking on eBay at the Fujitsu Stylistic UMPC type thing, that might be more suited, better hardware spec and would enable networking and remote desktop with my laptop etc (although theres always VNC) I should think they would be ideal in schools though, with the Linux OS it should put off most people playing with settings / installing programs etc.

Al.


http://www.ramboautotools.com - Motorsports suppliers
http://www.alsrobotics.co.uk - Robotics Site
http://www.qtronics.net - Electronics and Firmware Design Consultants
http://www.bajabeetle.co.uk - The Place for Aircooled addicts
http://www.robux.co.uk - Open Source Robotics
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suzo
Serious Geek!

Australia
1360 Posts

Posted - 19 Mar 2008 :  02:54:32  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I have the 4 Gb version of the ASUS Eee. I notice that your link is to a 2Gb version, I didn't know it came in that size, I had only seen 4 and 8 Gb mentioned.

The 4Gb version has little space for storing data, 8 Gb would be good but I haven't seen it for sale down here. I assume that the 2Gb version has less software on it, so it depends upon what is missing. 4Gb may well be enough once I have managed to remove the useless software that it installed by default.

I found the computer excellent for lectures, and it would be perfect for taking notes in meetings. The size makes it not only truly portable for me, but also less of an intrusion in meetings. The screen is a bit small for browsing the internet, however could still be useful when out and about. Some of the loaded software didn't take account of the small screen making it a bit of a problem.

My biggest disappointment is that there is no C/C++ nor Java compiler, either installed or available. The only comment that I found about the issue said that installing a version from another flavour of Linux was likely to break the machine. I haven't got any further than that. There are other programming languages available, Python is there and I remember seeing something else but have forgotten what it was.

So far I haven't used it enough to justify its price tag, but I do like it.

My suggestion is that you be sure you are happy with what it can do, try it out first. If you are thinking of robotics uses are either happy to reconfigure it with lots of fiddling, or to program in something like Python. Oh yes the keys are very small, so take some getting used to, this could be a problem if you have large fingers.

sue
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Bob
Serious Geek!

United Kingdom
1263 Posts

Posted - 19 Mar 2008 :  11:14:02  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by suzo

I have the 4 Gb version of the ASUS Eee. I notice that your link is to a 2Gb version, I didn't know it came in that size, I had only seen 4 and 8 Gb mentioned.

The 4Gb version has little space for storing data, 8 Gb would be good but I haven't seen it for sale down here. I assume that the 2Gb version has less software on it, so it depends upon what is missing. 4Gb may well be enough once I have managed to remove the useless software that it installed by default.

I found the computer excellent for lectures, and it would be perfect for taking notes in meetings. The size makes it not only truly portable for me, but also less of an intrusion in meetings. The screen is a bit small for browsing the internet, however could still be useful when out and about. Some of the loaded software didn't take account of the small screen making it a bit of a problem.

My biggest disappointment is that there is no C/C++ nor Java compiler, either installed or available. The only comment that I found about the issue said that installing a version from another flavour of Linux was likely to break the machine. I haven't got any further than that. There are other programming languages available, Python is there and I remember seeing something else but have forgotten what it was.

So far I haven't used it enough to justify its price tag, but I do like it.

My suggestion is that you be sure you are happy with what it can do, try it out first. If you are thinking of robotics uses are either happy to reconfigure it with lots of fiddling, or to program in something like Python. Oh yes the keys are very small, so take some getting used to, this could be a problem if you have large fingers.

sue




Hi Sue

2 GB not enough storage??? My first laptop (luggable) just had two 3.5 FDDs for storage and that seemed plenty at the time!

In the school situation I think we would run Open Office and Firefox. Users would save their work on their network drive so as long as there was enough local storage to cope with the applications and work in progress then things should be OK.

My two concerns are robustness and battery life, especially the long term maintanance of battery performance.

Bob
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AlsRobotics
Geek!

United Kingdom
399 Posts

Posted - 19 Mar 2008 :  16:18:06  Show Profile  Visit AlsRobotics's Homepage  Click to see AlsRobotics's MSN Messenger address  Reply with Quote
Good review there Sue,

It will be more of a toy if i do get one (and saves giving money to the tax man, not that i dont like doing that!).

I have a few PICMG motherboards, so think i might stick one of those into the Robux project for now and see how it goes.

Al.

http://www.ramboautotools.com - Motorsports suppliers
http://www.alsrobotics.co.uk - Robotics Site
http://www.qtronics.net - Electronics and Firmware Design Consultants
http://www.bajabeetle.co.uk - The Place for Aircooled addicts
http://www.robux.co.uk - Open Source Robotics
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AlsRobotics
Geek!

United Kingdom
399 Posts

Posted - 03 Apr 2008 :  23:37:17  Show Profile  Visit AlsRobotics's Homepage  Click to see AlsRobotics's MSN Messenger address  Reply with Quote
Hi All,

Well i stuck one of the ASUS EEE on order, arrived today. for the price i must say it's a good bit of kit, unfortunately could not get the 8gb version at short notice so got stuck with the 2gb (going away on holiday so wanted be able to pick up mail without the need of a full blown laptop etc).

Looks like it will make a nice little robot controller, all in power draw of about 5watts, pretty good there. Very small size, and wow the solid state disc, why have we not gone over to these in desktops etc, it's speeds things up so much.

The so called "easy mode" is very simple to use however limited, you cant make any real systems changes etc, but then thats ideal for most people. However you can download and install the advanced mode (all free) which then really opens up the possibilities of and capabilities of the machine.

Not too sure where to start with this and robotics now, guess i need a good linux programming tool that can give me easy access to USB and network etc

Regards,
Al

http://www.ramboautotools.com - Motorsports suppliers
http://www.alsrobotics.co.uk - Robotics Site
http://www.qtronics.net - Electronics and Firmware Design Consultants
http://www.bajabeetle.co.uk - The Place for Aircooled addicts
http://www.robux.co.uk - Open Source Robotics
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suzo
Serious Geek!

Australia
1360 Posts

Posted - 04 Apr 2008 :  04:22:21  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I haven't caught on to the advanced mode ... just googled it. That's fantastic news. I will install it as soon as I finish this very overdue assignment!

sue
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Agog
Forum Admin

United Kingdom
775 Posts

Posted - 04 Apr 2008 :  08:03:14  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Dip into the Python Sue, ya know it makes sense. It's my new best friend, makes Java feel like a 110 year old man with dementia and a fondness for telling shaggy dog stories :)




Act now, keep IDiocy out of the classroom
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AlsRobotics
Geek!

United Kingdom
399 Posts

Posted - 04 Apr 2008 :  09:20:43  Show Profile  Visit AlsRobotics's Homepage  Click to see AlsRobotics's MSN Messenger address  Reply with Quote
Hi Sue,

You have to do it from a bash window, then type "sudo synaptic" which will bring up the downloader / installer program, search for advanced mode there. if it does not show up then a few further modifications are needed (i had to do this).

you have to add extra Software Repositories to Synaptic, do this by

bash: sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list (this will let you edit the resource list)

then add the following lines:

deb http://xnv4.xandros.com/xs2.0/upkg-srv2 etch main contrib non-free
deb http://dccamirror.xandros.com/dccri/ dccri-3.0 main
deb http://www.geekconnection.org/ xandros4 main
deb http://download.tuxfamily.org/eeepcrepos/ p701 main etch

save and close then reload synaptic, making sure you press reload once it's loaded so it finds the new software.

Al

http://www.ramboautotools.com - Motorsports suppliers
http://www.alsrobotics.co.uk - Robotics Site
http://www.qtronics.net - Electronics and Firmware Design Consultants
http://www.bajabeetle.co.uk - The Place for Aircooled addicts
http://www.robux.co.uk - Open Source Robotics
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suzo
Serious Geek!

Australia
1360 Posts

Posted - 04 Apr 2008 :  12:52:39  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Gwynne,

I think that Python is great fun, the whole concept of slices is brilliant, and it is reminiscent of languages like Prolog. But there are just times when I don't have control over the choice of language, or where something else makes more sense.

The P3-DX robots that I am using for a project have an operating system/IDE written in C++, and whilst there are both Java and Python wrappers for the thing, it makes sense to keep working in C++. However, I am using windows rather than Linux for that since I don't have a suitable Linux laptop to use.

Al, thanks for the links. I am still finishing my assignment so I will look into those tomorrow.

sue
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Agog
Forum Admin

United Kingdom
775 Posts

Posted - 04 Apr 2008 :  19:45:24  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I love it :) Reminds me of Smalltalk a bit. Best thing from my point of view is being able to cater for both Mac and Windows Modo users without having to write a single line of OS specific code. Oh plus generators and list comprehensions :D



Act now, keep IDiocy out of the classroom
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suzo
Serious Geek!

Australia
1360 Posts

Posted - 05 Apr 2008 :  04:07:21  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I have never used Smalltalk.

Have you tried Ruby?
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suzo
Serious Geek!

Australia
1360 Posts

Posted - 06 Apr 2008 :  13:27:28  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Al,

I used a much simpler method than you suggested, and got it loaded in no time. Then I read a bit more about it around the internet. It seems that even from the advanced mode removing things I don't want, like stuff for kids, doesn't free up any space at all. Also it seems that there are plenty of other distros ready to run on the EeePC. I am considering loading one of those instead. Not sure which yet.

These are the websites that I have found most useful so far ...

http://www.freesoftwaremagazine.com/columns/asus_eee_pc_part_three_alternative_distros
http://www.eeeuser.com/

the first one especially ... note he says that the solid state hard drives are "generally held to have a shorter lifespan than conventional IDE hard drives" which is no doubt why they are not used on desktops and most laptops.

BTW I saw somewhere that ASUS are bringing out a larger version, 12Gb with a large 8.5" screen very soon (to selected countries!)
sue
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AlsRobotics
Geek!

United Kingdom
399 Posts

Posted - 07 Apr 2008 :  20:14:43  Show Profile  Visit AlsRobotics's Homepage  Click to see AlsRobotics's MSN Messenger address  Reply with Quote
Hi Sue,

Yeah i think it's because the model i have is the base model, so they limited what it could download, so i had change that so it would download programs for the higher end models.

I have been looking at other distros, but for now it's being used to collect emails when i'm on the move, so once setup and working it's left well alone.

I have seen things mentioned about the life of solid state drives before too, but with ram at the price and size it is now there should not be any need to keep pulling on and off data from a drive, thus with the software written well then you should be able to make a drive last a long time.

I did once carry out an experiment with linux (can't remember which version now) pulling out the hard drive once the server had booted to see how long it would go for, to my surprise all the menu function and basic stuff carried on with out problems, it's only when i tried to load a program it got lost (but then thats no surprise). I would note though that was on a dell server with hotswap, so don't try it at home, lol.

Yes the new version does look good, i wonder how much they will be wanting for that one.
Regards,
Al

http://www.ramboautotools.com - Motorsports suppliers
http://www.alsrobotics.co.uk - Robotics Site
http://www.qtronics.net - Electronics and Firmware Design Consultants
http://www.bajabeetle.co.uk - The Place for Aircooled addicts
http://www.robux.co.uk - Open Source Robotics
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suzo
Serious Geek!

Australia
1360 Posts

Posted - 07 Apr 2008 :  20:48:34  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by AlsRobotics

I have been looking at other distros, but for now it's being used to collect emails when i'm on the move, so once setup and working it's left well alone.




Yep, I would agree with that. I don't really have a use for mine at the moment, so I haven't got much to loose. Although I don't know when I will have time to make the change. I guess I wanted to vote with my wallet (a) for a sub-notebook, and (b) for a linux laptop. Still, most of the time for me at the moment, an ultra-light would be more useful than a sub-notebook. (I put a bid in on e-bay the other day for something tagged as an ultra-light, only to discover it was over 2kg!)

sue

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