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Embedded Bits sponsors Aberystwyth Students for SailBot 2014 Competition

Embedded Bits is proud to be sponsoring a group of 6 British undergraduates from Aberystwyth University to enter their team ‘Aber SailBot‘ into the 2014 International Robotic Sailing Regatta held next month in San Francisco.

The ‘SailBot’ International Robotic Sailing Regatta is a robotic sailing competition in which teams of university and college students compete. The goal is to create an unmanned sail boat that navigates through a variety of challenges with limited, if any, human control. The event outline describes events such as fleet racing, station keeping, autonomous navigation, judges evaluation and a long distance run (10 km!). When you consider the hurdles that must be overcome to succeed in these challenges you’ll quickly see how the regatta provides a great opportunity for it’s participants to develop a broad range of multi-disciplinary skills.

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Hardware Environment for a BeagleBoard XM with JTAG

BeagleBoard XM

I recently decided to embark on writing my own C++ real-time operating system for embedded systems – I’ve so far made some progress using software emulation with QEMU but I feel it’s time to move on to real hardware. I’ve chosen to use the very popular BeagleBoard XM – mostly because it represents incredible value for money given but also due to it’s extensive user community.

This blog post provides an overview of the components required to get started with a BeagleBoard XM and JTAG emulator. I will also include my experience/rationale in selecting and buying the various components required (Board, JTAG Emulator, etc).

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Reverse GeoCache

My family and I have recently become interested in the ‘sport’ of GeoCaching – as it was coming up to Christmas I thought it would be a great idea to combine their interests with my need for a project to keep me busy. I therefore decided to build a ‘Reverse GeoCache’ as a Christmas present. As this was relatively successful I thought I’d share the details of my build.

GeoCaching is a bit like a treasure hunt – dotted across the globe are more than a million hidden containers (GeoCaches) waiting to be found by those who are aware of their GPS co-ordinates. A Reverse GeoCache however, is a box which will only open in one location. Therefore the (un)lucky recipient of such a device can only discover it’s contents if they are successful in taking the box to the correct location.

Typically with Reverse GeoCaches the location where the box will open is not known – instead the user is prompted to press a button to ‘attempt’ to open the device. If you’re not in the right place the box won’t open and instead the device will tell you how far away the secret location is. Using this method the user can use trial and error to get closer to the final destination. Whilst you can’t buy a Reverse GeoCache – the idea is not new and others have created such a device (see here, here, here and here). Though the fun is always in the making!

With this functionality in mind and the pressing schedule (it was already the first weekend of December) I came up with a rough design, ordered some components online (Maplin, SKPang, CoolComponents and ValueZone) and eventually produced the following:

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