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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 bestinshow ( 985111 ) on Friday September 26, 2008 @10:05AM (#25165397)

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

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 26, 2008 @10:06AM (#25165417)

    Now if this could serve up pages wirelessly: hello future!

  • by iamwhoiamtoday ( 1177507 ) on Friday September 26, 2008 @10:10AM (#25165465)
    but what's the real point? Anyone with a website that has any real traffic to it is going to need a more powerful server then that... this device is more of a "hey look guys, this is so cool" instead of a "hey boss, I found a way to cut spending on our new web server"
  • by Alioth ( 221270 ) <no@spam> on Friday September 26, 2008 @10:16AM (#25165545) Journal

    The real point is an embedded webserver can be used to provide easy, simple access to some embedded device using software that is shipped as standard on any PC or any smart phone. There are other uses for things that can speak HTTP than serving huge content-rich web pages. This particular device might not be terribly useful on its own but that's not to say similar devices aren't. There are lots and lots of applications for embedded devices that can host a tiny server of some kind.

  • by Mister Whirly ( 964219 ) on Friday September 26, 2008 @10:45AM (#25166037) Homepage
    Which makes one wonder - what would I ever need a web server the size of a business card? I appreciate efficiency and all, but honestly...
  • by KGIII ( 973947 ) * <uninvolved@outlook.com> on Friday September 26, 2008 @10:46AM (#25166049) Journal

    You know... I realize we're a bunch of geeks here but, really...

    This is the reason that I enjoy being geeky and, well, is why I am considered geeky. I hadn't seen that before and when I just read about it I was pretty much smiling like a little kid on Christmas morning. I have absolutely no need for something like that at this time. I probably don't have the patience to build it unless I had a need.

    That doesn't matter to me.

    It still made me smile, read the article, and imagine a small email gateway or something trivial for home use.

    I suppose it is like that for most of us here on /. though so anything more and I'd be preaching to the choir which would be even sillier considering the percentage of people here who are even geekier than I and probably will build one.

  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Friday September 26, 2008 @10:57AM (#25166223) Homepage

    Which makes one wonder - what would I ever need a web server the size of a business card? I appreciate efficiency and all, but honestly...

    Why? Because he could, obviously. He really needs no better reason than that.

    Projects like this don't get done because the world is clamoring for a web server that has a foot print which is comparable to a business card. They get done because someone with the necessary skillset (or, who is developing the skillset) did it for practice/experience/fun. This is no different that the vast majority of open source projects -- someone did it because they wanted to.

    Sure, it's not something which is likely sale-able. But, if you were interviewing someone to do work in a related area, and their "resume" included a little wee web server like this, you'd have no doubt but that he knows what the hell he's doing. In some ways (likely that you and I can't quite imagine) he likely has advanced the state of the art.

    I know for a fact that I (and likely 90% or more of all Slashdotters) couldn't ever hope to do this. This isn't cool because of its utility, it's cool because it's novel, and, well, it's just plain old cool. That's the point.


  • by sryx ( 34524 ) on Friday September 26, 2008 @11:19AM (#25166547) Homepage
    The web servers you linked to all require an intervening computer to actual connect them to a network (the first one seems to be WAMP on a USB drive, as it requires a copy of Windows to run). They are "web servers" in the same way that Apache is a "web server". This device is totally self contained, requiring only power and a Ethernet cable. And damn impressive. It might be clearer to refer to this as a really small "web serving computer", the Sun article would still take the cake as the smallest web server in my book, but then this one wins because of it's ease of implementation. As a side scary note, image a tiny bit more power and a second Ethernet jack on this thing. Yo cold set it up to sit as a proxy for a real production web server adding a few lines of malicious JavaScript to any outgoing HTML page. A device that small, with that purpose, would likely go undetected by most competent server administrators. Kinda makes those keyboard loggers seem tame.
  • by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Friday September 26, 2008 @11:24AM (#25166629)

    I have a programmable thermostat. It has 1 temp sensor located in the main hallway. This is no way indicative of temperature in my back bedroom or in the basement. There is no controls output for commercial HVAC duct flaps to direct flow.

    The PID controller in it is on the 'safe' side. I'm sure the gain and phase margins are huge because you never know where it's going to be installed. They probably have quite a large hysteresis band to keep from always burning fuel. I could design a controller that was specific to my house. That kept the wife's study +5 degrees warmer than other rooms without burning too much extra fuel.

    Again, I have a controls concentration BSME. I do this for my job (although on much much different types of systems, with response times in the milliseconds not minutes range).

  • by Smidge204 ( 605297 ) on Friday September 26, 2008 @11:30AM (#25166729) Journal

    How about embedded or remote applications? HTTP is a very simple and widely implemented data exchange protocol that would be useful for a variety of tasks.

    For example, the microcontroller could do other things such as data logging, save them to the SD card, and cough up the data on HTTP request. Many network attached devices (especially routers, printers and plotters) contain embedded web servers... why not something of your own creation?

    I've considered installing a microcontroller in my car (which predates real onboard computers) to monitor things like speeds, pressures and temperatures. An HTTP interface would be a handy way to display the data on nearly any device and/or download raw data files without putting my own data protocol together.

  • by FiveDozenWhales ( 1360717 ) on Friday September 26, 2008 @11:37AM (#25166827)
    I can imagine lots of situations in which I'd like to be able to take a web server in my pocket. Making a variety of files quickly available on a LAN without having to muck around with whatever file sharing is on the machines there, for one.
  • by torkus ( 1133985 ) on Friday September 26, 2008 @12:38PM (#25167749)

    It's also $700 for the whole package. Even just the mini-module is $250.

    The board in the article is small and cheap enough that you could put them in out-of-the-way places and abandon them.

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