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Hardware Hacking Build Hardware

Web Server On a Business Card 169

mollyhackit writes "We've seen tiny Web servers in the past, but rarely ones that are home-built. Here's a guide to building your own tiny web server with a footprint no larger than a business card. The design uses two major chips. One handles the SPI to MAC/PHY translation for the ethernet jack. The other chip is a PIC24F, which hosts a simple web server and reads files stored on a microSD card. All components run at a low 3.3 volts. Part of the compactness of the design comes from the PIC24F having programmable pins; only four jumper wires were needed. The single-sided SMD design is easy to manufacture at home. Part 1 covered many of the 24F's features and both posts have full code available."
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Web Server On a Business Card

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  • by houghi ( 78078 ) on Friday September 26, 2008 @10:19AM (#25165579)

    There have been smaller webservers made. Just a few
    http://www.webservusb.com/ [webservusb.com]
    https://research.sun.com/spotlight/2004-12-20_vgupta.html [sun.com]
    http://linuxmafia.com/wearables/ [linuxmafia.com]
    http://d116.com/ace/ [d116.com]
    http://tzywen.com/photos/smallservers/sfarm2.jpg [tzywen.com]

    This after 3 seconds of typing in the search "smallest web server" in google and waiting for 0.11 seconds. So what does this one make it so special?

  • by Dr_Barnowl ( 709838 ) on Friday September 26, 2008 @10:28AM (#25165745)

    So what does this one make it so special?

    You can etch the board yourself and make it at home from parts.

  • by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Friday September 26, 2008 @10:29AM (#25165763)

    Add an RS-232 line or some Digital IO and you can now control your thermostat on your iPhone. Everything in your house could have a webserver. Setup a central polling computer using cURL and a MySQL database and track temperatures in every room of the house, or your refrigerator or ... anything in your house.

    Get a digital or serial water meter and monitor water usage from the road. Toss in a valve and be able to remotely shut off the water to your house if you know you're going to be out of town for business longer than expected.

    Smart Home devices are quite expensive and not very "open". A tinkerer could create their own smart home at the fraction of the cost.

    As a controls engineer I can just imagine tracking the temp in every room of my house with respect to outside temp and setting up a sweet PID controller on my thermostat to control temps much better than a single temp sensor in a central location in the house. Toss some flappers into the air ducts and you could probably set up a house to keep a temp +-5 degrees throughout the entire house.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 26, 2008 @10:29AM (#25165775)

    Indeed, that is exactly the point. Use this device to embed a web server in a larger device.

    Here is another device that can serve web pages but is arguably even more useful [avnet.com] (and it is smaller). Instead of a PIC, it's a Virtex 4 FPGA with integrated PowerPC core. Obviously it runs Linux [jwhitham.org.uk], but more importantly, you can put extra hardware in the FPGA, connecting Linux software to whatever other hardware you wish to use. This is very flexible, since you probably won't need any other electronics to make your embedded system.

  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Friday September 26, 2008 @10:32AM (#25165823) Homepage

    I'm glad I don't have any 1cm thick business cards in my wallet.

    In fairness, he did say in the footprint of a business card.

    Yes, it's not the overall dimensions of a business card, but it's a pretty damned tiny thing for a web server.


  • by compumike ( 454538 ) on Friday September 26, 2008 @10:39AM (#25165921) Homepage

    There's a lot going on here and it sounds like a neat project, but I just hope that beginners aren't misled. This is a complicated project and there's a lot of separate skills which would all have to be learned at once: masking/etching PCBs, fine-pitch SMT soldering, lots of pieces of code that all have to play together right.

    Just hoping that newbies will realize that there are simpler electronics projects [nerdkits.com] (relevant shameless plug) with much more instructional guidance they should start with before taking on something like this.

    Hey code monkey... learn electronics! Powerful microcontroller kits for the digital generation. [nerdkits.com]

  • by Alioth ( 221270 ) <no@spam> on Friday September 26, 2008 @11:22AM (#25166609) Journal

    I would say start out simpler than you did. I started a self-directed Learn Electronics course - i.e what I did is get a pile of components and some breadboard, and do stuff with them to learn.

    I started with transistors, resistors, diodes etc. - building logic gates and latches with bipolar transistors, building LED flashers from discrete components rather than a uC and code, then building simple switch mode power supplies to investigate inductors. I then started doing things with 74 series and 4000 series logic. I then combined this knowledge to design and build a 7 tube nixie display of my own design, that took its data via RS232 - all implemented in 'little logic' with not a microcontroller in sight. I didn't do it because it was the BEST way to do it, but because it would provide lots of learning. I had to build an SMPS to make the 170 volts. I had to, with 4000 series logic and a 555, make a UART (it's bidirectional), with all that implies. The nixie display has buttons I can push to send stuff back. (My second nixie project did use a microcontroller, an Atmel ATtiny2313).

    I found doing it this way (not jumping straight in with microcontrollers) extremely valuable. The nixie project in particular taught me about all sorts of things, including glitches, timing issues, fan out and all the rest, as well as resulting in a really cool looking piece of strip board encrusted in chips. (The display now happily sits showing NTP synchronized time on top of my computer desk and has been in continuous use for about 18 months). The trouble with jumping straight in with microcontrollers is (from what I've seen on electronics forums) is quite a few hobbyists get into quite a complex software design and get confused by the electronics issues, and end up spending ages debugging the software when it was a hardware problem all along - a hardware problem that would have been more obvious if they'd played around a bit with discrete MOSFETs and 74 series logic.

    My extensive experimentation with making stuff from 74-series and 4000-series also helped me a lot when I got into using programmable logic.

  • by petermgreen ( 876956 ) <plugwash@p10linTOKYOk.net minus city> on Friday September 26, 2008 @12:14PM (#25167401) Homepage

    Does it run on an hearing aid batteries?
    I doubt it would run on hearing aid batteries. AA's would probablly work though. (this is just gut feeling though, check datasheets for more detailed info)

    If not, what's the size of the power brick?
    That probablly depends on what the person who built it had hanging arround.

  • by Locutus ( 9039 ) on Friday September 26, 2008 @12:55PM (#25167951)

    that's ~$200 bucks and unless you need it to be pretty small, there are other Linux capable boards which can do more/easier. Think Gumstix for small or even eBox for larger but x86 based.

    I think this /. thread is mostly about DIY, small, inexpensive, etc.


  • that explains it (Score:3, Informative)

    by commodoresloat ( 172735 ) * on Friday September 26, 2008 @05:57PM (#25172135)

    That explains why I never get laid. I guess I need to get me one of these web servers right away!

Would you people stop playing these stupid games?!?!?!!!!