OT: Robotics or embedded or hardware programming... what is this called?

Warren Block wblock at wonkity.com
Fri Jun 22 12:47:49 UTC 2012

On Fri, 22 Jun 2012, Ian Smith wrote:

> I thought I saw something somewhere (maybe just wishful thinking) about
> FreeBSD on the Arduino, which normally runs a sort of embedded Linux,
> that could be very interesting; the hardware is cheap (kits at Jaycar
> stores in Australia anyway), very modular design, and there are heaps of
> fascinating projects.  I want the quadricopter to follow me around the
> room at parties - at my age I need something really impressive :)

Well, there is devel/arduino.  It's not emdedded Linux, but an IDE for 
writing and downloading code.  The Arduino is a small embedded 
controller based on the Atmel AVR microcontrollers.  They are quite 
powerful, easy to program, and accessible for experimenters.  You can 
skip the Arduino environment if you like, using the same lower-level 
tools like avr-gcc directly.  And the Arduino board can be used as a 
programmer, downloading code to plain AVR chips and avoiding the need 
for more Arduino boards.  Talk about the Arduino on FreeBSD is generally 
on the freebsd-embedded mailing list.

The Microchip PIC microcontrollers compete with the AVR.  There are some 
FreeBSD ports for programming those, but there are many varying chips 
and the hardware needed to program some of them differs.  I don't know 
if there is anything directly comparable to the Arduino IDE.  ARM 
processors have become so cheap that they are starting to compete in 
this arena also.

> On the FreeBSD side there's advanced work, I gather, on ARM and Atmel
> MEGA 32-bit and MIPS platforms at least.  Personally I consider these
> 'big iron' and far prefer writing in macro assembler for little Atmel
> Tiny25s and such, but that's strictly "Look Ma, no OS!" programming.

Another option: the freebsd-wireless list has had some very interesting 
traffic about the TP-Link TL-WR1043ND, a $50 MIPS-based wireless router 
with Atheros 802.11n chipset, USB, and gigabit Ethernet which can run 
FreeBSD directly.  Not sure how usable it is at present.

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