The Raspberry Pi, which is a 700 Mhz ARM-based single board computer targeted at providing computing hardware to poor countries is going to be going into production soon. Two models called “A” and “B” are being offered, at approximately $25 and $35 (US). Options to purchase boards and donate money to provide units to needy folks around the world will be available.
The concept of single board computers isn’t new, but the horsepower and price point of these units are. At this price range it puts the boards squarely in Arduino territory, but unlike the Arduino and other microcontrollers it will run a full blown OS. Several Linux distributions will be supported immediately and presumably BSD variants won’t be far behind. It will not run Windows or Windows emulation, like WINE. (Yes, I know WINE is not an emulator).
The board is equipped with a USB port that obviously can be used to interface with a multitude of devices, however it also includes a General Purpose I/O port or GPIO that supports, PWM, Serial UART and I2C capability. This will open the board up to hardware hackers like us. Sweet!
I’m pondering what amateur radio applications this could run. It has enough horsepower to do DSP. It would make a nice logging and contest appliance, with some well-designed software. How about an EchoLink or digimode appliance? Considering the low price it’s almost disposable and could make a powerful hot air balloon radio payload system controller. I may port my keyer code over to it for giggles. It will be interesting to see what uses radio artisans come up with.