A while ago we developed a simple AT91SAM7-based board, which was to be used to make smart peripherals to off-load processing in a system with a vast array of different inputs. This worked well at the time, and as it was so simple, we have tended to pick it up for all kinds of small prototype tasks. The availability of a platform, which has a good amount of peripheral control, but which can be easily prototyped into all manner of different situations has been of great advantage to us. It can be plugged into standard 2.54mm headers, and thus easily attached to various headers. In particular, we have modified it to work in the following situations:

  • RF link controller - translating from a standard RS232 port to the bit-wise signal required to transmit over a 2.4GHz RF link
  • Auxiliary test controller - under control of a PC (via its USB device port), we've used the EKit module to test other modules - checking voltages, driving inputs, communicating over peripheral buses etc... This allows for automated testing of our various modules.
  • Comms controller - We used it as the central CPU in an RS422 industrial communications unit, controlling a variety of audio amplifiers, input switches and display LEDs.
The re-use advantages are quite apparent to us when picking up a new system, as we already have the infrastructure, software base and peripheral drivers in place, and can really hit the ground running for a new design. Especially given its ability to be prototyped onto a simple solder-less breadboard, this means we can quickly mock-up our system in both software & hardware.