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Raspberry Pi Gertboard In Action 191

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the would-you-like-some-gpio-with-that dept.
An anonymous reader writes with news from Geek.com on an expansion board for the Raspberry Pi. Quoting: "In the middle of December last year the Raspberry Pi Foundation made a surprising announcement that not only would we see the $25 PC released in 2012, it would also be getting an expansion board ... called the Gertboard, and is being developed by Broadcom employee Gert van Loo in his spare time. When completed, it will allow Raspberry Pi owners to play around with flashing LEDs, electric motors, and a range of different sensors. It effectively takes the $25 Raspberry Pi beyond just being a very cheap PC. There's a video of the Gertboard already working which demonstrates the 12 LEDs being lit up and the board powering an electric motor more than capable of lifting something like your garage door."

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Raspberry Pi Gertboard In Action

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  • Excellent! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by homb (82455) on Monday January 09, 2012 @09:38AM (#38637110)

    I'm very excited about this.
    Especially as a learning tool for my kids, I think that by seeing what is happening they'll get very excited about learning to program.
    I already have arduino boards, but it's not the same thing. Here we have a completely self-contained computer with great practical I/O interfaces.

  • Re:Neat! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday January 09, 2012 @10:54AM (#38637886) Journal
    I suspect that(while they will probably be of assistance to geeks brewing their own) this will suffer the same fate as all the prior 'automated house' widgetry(a market at which they've been hammering for bloody ages now, with comparatively little success).

    Suitably motivated geeks, with some major time and pains, and more money than they initially expected to shell out, will indeed hammer out home automation systems. Fundamentally, home automation is a series of really-not-all-that-ghastly problems in AC wiring, switching, sensors, and logic. It will be utterly non-inter-operable with anything else(save perhaps the geek's cellphone of choice, for which he will build a website/app, and possibly an appliance or two into which he will hack directly. Nothing else.)

    Joe User, on the other hand, will discover that specific home automation products(eg. cheap programmable thermostats) can be purchased at any hardware store; but more sophisticated systems either pretty much suck, enough that they are really just starting parts for dedicated geeks(eg. X10), or can be purchased, from an installer, in one big, shiny, expensive, bespoke, proprietary package. It'll start at $10,000, be really slick, and interoperate with absolutely nothing that isn't itself.

    The various utility companies attempting to deploy "smart meters" for some combination of PR, easier meter reading, and customer behavior metrics will utterly ignore this, since it doesn't comply with their alphabet soup of semi-open-for-interoperability's-sake-but-not-at-all-talked-about-outside-the-industry-or-intended-for-you-to-know-anything-about wireline and wireless protocols(their status seems rather analogous to the state of various 'standards' in the wireless telco wars. Some of them are just totally proprietary, dreamed up by some company large enough that its service area qualifies as a large scale deployment. Others, GSM-like, are standardized cross-industry things; but are really not intended to be fiddled with by end users.

    All in all, no difference:

    There will still be nothing resembling manufacturer support for appliances that can report and control intelligently(as opposed to just having an external relay cut them on and off, with the exception of a few horrible manufacturer gimmicks that will probably be badly broken and tied to some manufacturer 'portal'. Geeks will continue to homebrew functional, if slightly rough, systems; and it will still be possible to buy very shiny, tightly integrated, totally proprietary widgets for large buildings and custom installs of various sorts.

    What dogs 'the automated house' seems not to be a lack of cheap computing power(wireless and fast CPUs certainly helps; but ASM coded PICs communicating over some primitive serial bus through your house's telephone wiring back in the late 80's could have handled it, with some sort of frontend/master-control widget similar to the x86/DOS based CNC machine control systems that persist to this day. Expensive? Yeah. Doable? Yeah.) It seems to be a combination of limited incremental benefit(power just doesn't cost that much, in many locations, doing it manually works OK, for most tasks, setup is currently complex, many locations charge residential customers the same for on and off peak power, so who cares?), complete lack of anything resembling standardization(minimal standardization of even simple things like remote control switches, never mind any sort of direct intelligence built into appliances that can be exposed. PCs have it, in a somewhat clusterfucked way, with ACPI; and some individual devices, like higher end furnaces, might have a manufacturer specific control panel on an HTTP server somewhere; but everything else is largely silent), and some degree of sinister intent by certain entities(the intentions of the power-rationing, 'consumer-metric'-gathering, and similar 'smart-meter' entities are largely not in your interest...)

    It's a pity: If it were a primarily technological problem, technology would have curb-stomped it by now. It isn't.
  • Re:Excellent! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Osgeld (1900440) on Monday January 09, 2012 @11:03AM (#38638000)

    counterargument:

    Why do you expect this thing will be any better or easier for your kids to program over any other linux on a box?

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