Funding for this project was canceled by the project creator on December 26, 2013.
About this project
Introducing Crystal Board
Crystal Board is the all-in-one development board you’ll ever need. It’s got:
- Speedy Quad Core ARM Processor
- FPGA (Field-Programmable Gate Array)
- BlueTooth®, WiFi, Ethernet, GPS
- Tons of connections and sensors
- Maximum flexibility
- All the possibilities of the DIY Dreamer and Doer
Our goal is simple: We provide the most powerful, multi-platform development environment with great performance and high practicability at low cost.
With Crystal Board, you will be able to learn and apply everything you know to improve your skill and knowledge:
- Embedded System Programming
- Field-programmable gate array (FPGA) design
- Communication between ARM SoC and Microcontroller/FPGA
- I2C/SPI/UART/GPIO for external device programming
- Sensor fusion: GPS, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, and Motion Detection
- Android and Ubuntu software programming
- Tutorials, examples and APIs are available
- Diverse Programming Languages: Java, C, C++, QT, QML, PHP, Wiring, Python and many more
But why have all-in-one?
At Chemnitz University of Technology, we had several projects related to FPGA and Microcontroller. Some of these special projects required us to have an extra ARM development board running Linux to perform and execute complicated tasks. At first, we thought of Raspberry PI because of our limited budget. However, it did not meet all our requirements because of weak CPU and insufficient RAM. Then by adding peripherals such as Wi-Fi and a USB hub, the cost effectiveness went out the window. Next, we decided to try a Samsung development board that did have a better processor and memory, however we found that each device required a different power supply and that actually created a mess due to massive wires. In the end, we still had to pay over $500 to complete the project, not to mention it was very complicated to make these boards communicate with each other.
As you can see, it is not feasible with current boards and peripherals to create a decent system and have it meet a budget for college students or anyone who loves DIY projects. Thus we created one which includes Quad-core ARM cortex A9 with 2GB Ram, FPGA Spartan-6 LX9, Microcontroller Atmega328, dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 plus GPS and sensors. We also decided to make it Arduino compatible because it helps users save a huge amount of time and money by utilizing available Arduino shields on the market. In addition, the board only requires one power supply and can be powered through an external battery or laptop USB port, allowing you to bring and demonstrate your project anywhere.
Why we need your help?
Volume as you know is the key to pricing. Crystal Board is a sophisticated development board that consists of 600+ components. We have spent much time working with suppliers and manufactures to get the best price and quality. In order to make Crystal Board possible, we are in need of your help to produce at least 2,000 units to drive down the price. Once we have accomplished this with your assistance then everyone will have access to the Crystal Board - Lite/Pro at incredible price: $149/$179. (See technical specification section)
What’s inside Crystal Board?
Without a doubt, Crystal Board is a highly integrated system at academic price. As your project becomes more complicated day by day, you will need more software and hardware resources. Adding Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Ethernet, USB hub or more desired I/O pins to your project is very expensive without the guarantee of compatibility.
Crystal Board is a perfect combination!!
Powerful ARM System-on-Chip (SoC) with high speed RAM
The heart of Crystal Board is a Quad-core ARM Cortex A9 processor with 2GB of DDR3 RAM. You can install Android and Ubuntu and have access to many available software programs. You can also play most of the recent 3D games, listen to music, stream movies, check email, etc. You also have JTAG pins to debug, GPIO, I2C, SPI headers for developing. The power is estimated to be 7-10 Raspberry Pi all together, combined with extra USBs, connections and sensors.
Microcontroller / Arduino Compatible
The high compatibility is a great strength of Crystal Board. With Atmega328 and Arduino UNO compatible pins, you can use any Arduino shields on the market at ease. You will save much time and money than trying to develop something similar on your own. In addition, we make the Microcontroller Atmega328 communicate with the ARM SoC via UART. Thus you will able enjoy many features between them, such as programming Arduino on the board itself and collaborating with partners via VNC server, which can be achieved easily through Ubuntu.
High flexibility with Field-programmable Gate Array
Unlike Microcontroller, FPGA allows you to design custom hardware, which is specified by using Hardware Description Language (HDL). You can define your desired pins, such as making more than 20 PWMs to control massive servos. In addition, FPGA can handle parallel tasks much faster than a CPU or microcontroller can. Spartan-6 LX9 also integrates DSP, which will support mathematical manipulation quite effectively. If you are new to FPGA, don’t worry, we have you covered. We will provide tutorials and examples to teach you how to control simple to complicated tasks, such as LEDs, servos, motors, and robot arms with visual interface which would allow you to design your own hardware one day! You will find that it is more fun and a faster way to learn when you have powerful tools.
Use together when needed or as a standalone device
Microcontroller/FPGA on Crystal Board is able to run as an independent device. Therefore, you can enjoy playing games while letting your friends use Arduino shields all on one board, at the same time. In addition, the FT2232D allows you to flash Microcontroller or FPGA via USB port without using external equipment, which costs you over $200 bucks (http://www.xilinx.com/products/boards-and-kits/HW-USB-II-G.htm)
Premium Software Pack
Crystal Web Server
Imagine how awesome it would be if you could control external devices in real time with stunning graphic anytime, anywhere. With Crystal Web Server, you have a perfect tool to do that. Our software allows Crystal Board to become a web server in just a few seconds and provides an amazing graphical user interface. With APIs, tutorials and examples, you can create your desired controller, send signal to Arduino/FPGA, and control anything in a beautiful way. In addition, by setup port forwarding or using DDNS through router, you will be able to access Crystal Board or share your project from anywhere in the world.
Check out this video!!
We are also developing a "Cloud-Based" software that helps you manage and control multiple boards effectively and efficiently.What makes it different is that Crystal Cloud is now a server and other connected devices are clients. Therefore, you do not have to worry about time-consuming stuff like DDNS and port forwarding.
Crystal Web Server and Crystal Cloud are based on “Smart Control” mechanism, which is a software we developed especially for FPGA. We created the diagram above so you can see how it works. The ARM SoC will receive signal or data, then transfer to FPGA via SPI.
For example, in the main video, I controlled robot arm in real time with the web browser. First I have to create 3D robot arm figure based on WebGL. When I rotate the arm, Crystal Web Server will receive signal then send relative command to “Smart Control” in FPGA. Subsequently, robot arm will be controlled accordingly.
More awesome features:
- FPGA reconfiguration over internet
- Arduino Flash over internet
- File transferring via cloud
- More will be announced soon
Exclusive price for KickStarter
Get the Premium Software Pack now at only $20 [or $50 with source code] and receive lifetime upgrade.
Retail price will be $50 [or $100 with source code]. If you are a software developer, you may understand that the cost of developing and maintaining such software is very high. By pledging now, you not only help us hire more software engineers to complete this awesome project but also receive a great platform at incredible price.
Special: Source code access is for advanced users who want to dig deep into our mechanism and customize source code for their system. We promise what you see is what you get. You will definitely learn a lot and create awesome project!!
What can you build?
When ARM SoC, FPGA, Arduino and sensors are placed together, the potential is boundless. Here are some suggested projects you may want to try:
- Home entertainment
- Home automation
- Security system
**AC Adapter Type: positive center, ID=2.1mm, OD=2.5mm
We have been working on this project since January 2013. There are more people and companies involved but our core technical members are:
Anh Tran – Founder of Red Crystal, is also our project leader who brought ideas and people together. Graduated from Chemnitz University of Technology (Germany), he has strong knowledge in both hardware and software design. Has worked directly to manufacture (QSIC) to bring the awesome prototype to the table.
Thien Nguyen – UI designer. The current Crystal Webserver UI is his creation. It is responsive and beautiful.
Technology partner - Alok Sinha – CEO at Globus Eight Inc is a technology, Linux, ARM, M2M, Home Automation freak. Educated at Harvard Business School and with more than two decades of various global leadership role. When he is not tinkering with gadgets, he is traveling to exotic places shooting wildlife pictures.
Special thanks to Prof. Dr. Wolfram Hadt, an amazing professor who supported and gave us a lot of advices to make this project possible. He teaches Computer Engineering at Chemnitz University of Technology and is well known for his publications.
From sketch to prototype, it was the most challenging time in our lives. We are happy to share some of our core development processes photos so you can see how Crystal Board was designed and prototyped.
December - January 2013 – KickStarter Campaign
January 2014– PCB and components order
February 2014– Pilot and Testing
March 2014– Full Production and Quality Control
April 2014– Delivery
Risks and challenges
Like any hardware project, Crystal Board has hardware design, production and shipping challenges. Mass manufacturing requires a lot of processes, and we understand that. We have planed carefully since the beginning of project. To minimize the unexpected delays, we have been cooperating with suppliers in Taiwan, China and Singapore to prepare for mass manufacturing after KickStarter. The prototypes we used in video and article were real working prototypes and they were assembled by QSIC (www.qsic.com). We left them run Android and Ubuntu for 5 straight days without single problem.
The final product requires a little change to design if any stretch goal is reached. Before mass production, we will produce a pilot run, test carefully, and fix immediately if any error occurs. To ensure the quality of each board, we will perform electrical and functionality test before shipping.
We appreciate your support and we are excited to see your creativity shining with Crystal BoardLearn about accountability on Kickstarter
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.
- (34 days)