£11,271
pledged of £15,000pledged of £15,000 goal
85
backers
0seconds to go
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Sat, July 23 2016 3:50 PM UTC +00:00
£11,271
pledged of £15,000pledged of £15,000 goal
85
backers
0seconds to go
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Sat, July 23 2016 3:50 PM UTC +00:00

About


This product will be available from September 2016

For all enquiries please visit : www.embeddedpi.com


 

A Project Born Out Of Need 

We started our journey looking for something we couldn't find, an affordable industrial style single board computer complete with IO suitable for remote sensor-to-cloud data logging applications.

We were frustrated by the lack of options available. Off-the-shelf solutions tended to be either expensive, tied into propitiatory cloud platforms, or just lacking in the core features we needed.

Faced with building a solution around multiple cards (with the knock on increase in expense and complexity), we decided to building our own board, initially as a side project, working with a clearly defined set of key requirements to keep the project focused:

  • 3G Modem for wireless Internet connectivity
  • Ethernet for local connectivity
  • Bulk storage for data logging
  • Serial ports for RS232 and RS485
  • Easily expandable IO
  • Cost effective enclosure design
  • Wide input DC power supply range
  • Industrial style connectors for IO and power

Choosing the Raspberry Pi Compute Module as a starting point was an easy decision as it removed a lot of development hurdles and comes with huge product support from the Pi community. This choice allowed us to go from prototype to finished version in record time.

Best of all, as the platform is fully Raspberry Pi compatible we are able to leverage the seemingly endless libraries of code, application notes and peripherals available.

In Raspberry Pi terms, instead of having multiple HAT boards stacked together like this :

"Leaning Tower of Pi" - Photo Courtesy of Philip Howard
"Leaning Tower of Pi" - Photo Courtesy of Philip Howard

 

Everything is much more manageable like this:

As you can see that's quite a feature set without even adding application IO, the highlights being:

  • mPCIe socket for 3G/4G modems (some even with GPS function)
  • High speed uSD card for bulk storage using hinged type socket for reliability.
  • Dual HD Raspberry Pi compatible camera interfaces
  • 10/100 Ethernet + Dual USB 2.0 Ports
  • USB RS232 / RTC / HDMI Video Out / User Status LEDs
  • Wide 9-23V DC power input

 

Solving The IO Expansion Problem

Past experience dealing with expensive custom metal fabrications taught us that if we brought as much connectivity as possible out of a single face of the PCB we would be able to make use of lower cost off-the-shelf metal enclosures.

But how to do this whilst still retaining flexibility for many different IO configurations?

The solution was a result of a collective brainwave...

We figured let's build an IO connector in, just not the actual IO.

Exactly how does that work?

Rather than have a plug in HAT card with IO signal connectors poking out on all sides, instead we take these same IO signals back down a second output connector which is directly connected to the green industrial connector.

8 Pin Industrial Connector Function Changes Depending On IO Card Used
8 Pin Industrial Connector Function Changes Depending On IO Card Used

As you can see this is similar to the way the Raspberry Pi HAT boards work, but with a change of IO card we also change the functionality of the green industrial edge connector.

The added bonus here is that by simply using extended length interface pins on the card (raising it up) you can expand the IO set further - all without using any cable assemblies!

 

We thought it would be neat to make a series of hardened plug in cards for dealing common applications like CAN-Bus, 4-20mA transducer signals, RS485, Narrow Band RF and others. This way you spend less time dealing with hardware and more time focusing on software development

 

Pre-Designed IO Cards Available
Pre-Designed IO Cards Available

 

Enclosure Design

Before tracking out the board we set the PCB size to exactly fit into a particular range of extruded aluminium enclosures from Hammond, an international casing manufacturer. These are available world-wide from a network of distributors (including Amazon!) and so are a stable long term source.

Enclosure Types Available From Hammond
Enclosure Types Available From Hammond

 

The best thing about this enclosure type is that they require only the end plates to be punched to match the board connectors, which reduces the design and manufacturing costs involved significantly.

Different End Plate Styles Available
Different End Plate Styles Available

All the single function IO cards we have designed have been built with the lowest profile enclosure type in mind allowing for a neat solution.


This enclosure type comes in two sizes, a low profile version (as shown above) and a larger double height model allowing extra room.

Both of these enclosure sizes are available in multiple colours, with different mounting options and are easily customisable with silk-screen printing.

 

 

 

The PCB features 4 mounting holes, making it easy to install inside a larger or custom enclosure design if required. For example we recently fabricated a metal mounting plate to allow easy use of a weatherproof IP65 rated enclosure from RF Elements for outdoor usage.

RF Elements StationBox IP65 Enclosure
RF Elements StationBox IP65 Enclosure

 

Power, Power, Power

One of the great things about ARM processors is their low power consumption, relative to x86 processors, so we've investigated what we can do to address on-board power management.

We found that we could gain the most significant power savings by providing control over reset/disable signals for the LAN, SD Card and mPCIe interfaces. These have been made available via software controllable GPIO lines allowing each device to be effectively powered down/up at the command line.

As a result we were able to bring the total board power consumption down to around 1.5W, whilst keeping the board running, improving the scope for battery or solar powered operation.

Given the launch of the newer, higher performance Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3 is due soon we've also looked at the flip side of this and have built the on board power supplies with enough spare capacity to allow usage of both compute module types.

 

HAT Compatible

Because we have included a standard HAT connector it's also backwards compatible with RPi HAT boards you may already have or want to use, even allowing you to bring HAT IO connectivity out of the front using the industrial connector.

HAT Compatible
HAT Compatible

Documentation

The most overlooked part of a project is often documentation. Thanks to industrial supply levels of coffee and Kit-Kats we've documented not only the basics of what connector does what, but also created examples on how to drive just about every feature of the board as well as the different IO cards available.

To make things easy on the hardware side we've created a basic IO PCB template for the popular Eagle PCB CAD package that that you can download to help get you going on your own IO card.

I Want To Know More!

We though you might so we've put together a website with more information :

www.embeddedpi.com

Who is this intended for?

We designed this card for both makers and industrial users alike, so whether you're looking for a platform to build your next product around, or perhaps you just want the convenience of having all these features packed on to one handy sized board we think you'll appreciate the value in the feature set MyPi delivers.

So Where Are We With The Project?

We've made some final touches to the MyPi motherboard PCB the most noticeable of which is changing the PSU IN connector from a 2pin to a 3pin version, the extra pin providing a GPIO line to allow the external PSU to be controlled, but other than that we're set to go.

All the IO boards we've designed have been tested and documented, and any "cleaning up" work on PCB artwork has been done.

RPi CM Development Board, MyPi Rev1 Prototype, My Pi Rev 2
RPi CM Development Board, MyPi Rev1 Prototype, My Pi Rev 2

Why KickStarter?

We love the community that can be built through crowd-funding on Kickstarter and we want to get you talking about the technology, sharing the campaign on social media and engaging with us via our messaging systems.

This is great exposure for us as a business and we hope to raise the funds and momentum we need to trade globally with the product.

Reward Levels

 

Risks and challenges

We have produced prototypes and pre-production test batches of the Motherboard and the ASIO cards. These have been tested and documented by us and have spent time in Beta with commercial customers.

There are of course commercial and timeframe delay risks with any project.

However, although this is a new venture, this isn’t our first time building electronics hardware. We have accurate cost projections, control over budgets, tooling, design and manufacturing, we are ready for production.

We expect delivery to be 6-8 weeks from the close of the campaign.

As you would expect, we will use the KickStarter updates page to keep you informed with progress.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

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Funding period

- (45 days)