The hashlet, the simple BeagleBone and Raspberry Pi modules containing an Atmel ATSHA204 have inspired a re-mix for the VIA Springboard. The VIA Springboard is an impressive board containing an 800MHz VIA Cortex-A9, 1 GB RAM, 4 GB eMMC and the traditional slew of embedded protocols. However, it also has mini-PCIe connector, built-in SIM card slot (3G compatible), keypad and touch screen connectors, hardware video decoders for MPEG-2 and H.264 up to 1080p, and 10/100 Ethernet all-in a Pico-ITX form factor.
Gergely Imreh, created the ProtoSpring, which is a nice prototyping wing-like board that attaches to the Springboard. From his blog, he details the design (CERN Open Hardware License) and has posted the board on Tindie.
He then went and built a small hashlet-like board for the ATSH204A. He even improved on the board and added a small keychain drill hole, which I think is a very cool feature that allows you to use that device as a security token.
I’m also glad to see that the hashlet software worked on this platform out-of-the-box 🙂
Even though the hashlet hardware design is pretty simple, I’m tremendously happy to see Gergely’s design. First, even with this small board, he found a way to add a feature — one I had previously not considered with the keychain drill-hole. Second, he picked up the design, the software, and the knowledge of how to use this from open source software and hardware.
If you live in the Open Source Hardware world, then this experience may be routine, but sometimes this phenomenon still amazes me 🙂
If you are interested in the Springboard, you really should check out the Springboard Blog because there are many detailed posts about the design process of an embedded linux platform.
And if you are new to Open Source Hardware, check out Alicia Gibb’s new book: Building Open Source Hardware: DIY Manufacturing for Hackers and Makers. It is a deep-dive into how open source hardware works and how it enables this kind of collaboration. I also have a small contribution in the book but all proceeds of the book go to the Open Source Hardware Association so, I’m plugging the book for a good cause 😉