Return to TINI Board (thing)

The TINI Board is a small [web server] [design]ed and [manufacture]d by [Dallas Semiconductor]. The [circuit board] has the size and [form factor] of a 72 pin [SIMM]. The TINI Board is intended for embedding into all sorts of smart devices to give them a simple [web interface] allowing easy [configuration] and control from any [computer] on the [local area network].

Unlike some competing products (see: [picoweb]), the TINI Board is more of a general purpose computer disguised as a dedicated web server. Under the hood there is a fairly powerful microprocessor with a sufficiently powerful bus controller that hardware expansion is pretty flexible. The default firmware contains a [Java] [virtual machine], a simple [multi user] [multi tasking] [operating system] with [file permissions] and all the trimmings. All of the onboard hardware (see below) is supported through well documented [Java] [API]s.

The board has the following perepherals built in:

  • 10-baseT [Ethernet] controller (with all the appropriate [line driver]s)
  • 2 [RS-232] serial ports, one with RS-232 line drivers, and one at 5v [CMOS] levels.
  • Various [synchronous] serial interfaces ([CAN] bus, [I2C], and [SPI]).
  • Either 512KB or 1MB of [non-volatile] ([battery] backed) [SRAM] to hold [persistant] variables and the [file system].
  • Standard parallel bus for memory mapped perepherals, with programmable [chip select] generator on chip.

The board cost $50 (quantity one), and for large orders I imagine it comes down, so this is probably a viable board for all sorts of embedded projects, both commercial and hobby. I bought one just because it was [cheap] and looked like [fun], and it was. I never found a use for mine, but that's primarily due to lack of [free time], etc... The one issue to consider is that it's not exactly a [supercomputer], so if you use extremely [computationally intensive] control [algorithm]s they may not be able to run in real time. Remember, this is just a smarter than average [microcontroller]. The nice thing is that it requires minimal [support hardware], so it's easy to get up and running with a simple application.

One of the neatest things about this is they are friendly to all developers, even random basement [tinker]ers who are not likely to turn around and make a million piece [volume] order in 10 months. This is quite different from the recent trend of [chipmaker]s shutting out hobbyists.