Below is a compilation of what I regard as the most interesting list of manufacturers of single board computer (SBC) equipment. Keep in mind that I am a DOS man and a Zilog addict. So I will always favor design over street value.

For that reason, I do not see the Basic Stamp as an SBC. It's a ready to run microcontroller but it's not a real computer. But the DOS stamp, made by Bagotronix, is one. The Am188 ES is based on the 80186 and V25 chips and these are real processors. They can run big tasks if decently programmed. A Basic Stamp is more for controlling the aquarium. The DOS stamp will coordinate all the smaller controllers. As far as I want to see things... ;0)

Single Board Computers: a personal list

The DOS Stamp Am 188 ES 40
586 Engine AMD SC 520 133
Z-World Many Many
Copeland Electronics Am188 ES 40
JK Micro i 386 EX
MPC 555 PowerPC
Steroid Stamp Motorola
PHYcore modules Several
MicroMint V25 and Z80
TS-2800 i 386 EX 25
Turn key boards Many
LogicFlex i 386 EX 25
RabbitCore Rabbit 2000  
Arcom i 386 EX  
TS-2200 i 386 EX 25
JackRabbit Rabbit 2000 30
TD 86 tern Am 186 ES  
pico Flash jkmicro 186 clone 40
SAB 80535 Ben's hobbycorner 80C535 20
Various Linux controllers Various --

SBC Operating systems

Name URL Type
General Software DOS
Micro Digital Inc protected mode DOS

If you need control without an expensive controller, consider a Parino card! They're cheap to build. All in all the price is around EUR 70.

Coinel Tech

The other day I received one more email from Coinel Tech. They offered a lot of nice sbc's for reasonable prices. So I paid a visit to their website and decided to order a few small boards. The website is painstakingly slow. As if it is hosted on an old Pentium I computer down in a basement, using dyndns forwarding.
Still, I managed to fill a shopping basket and proceed to checkout. During the gathering of gadgets I swapped currency from INR to Euro. € 1 = INR 68..... This may have been stupid, as turned out later. I managed to proceed until the PayPal site. There, the Coinel Tech software suddenly changed a sum of €60 into € 3800... I hope it was a bug in the Coinel Tech software, or it was a scam. Either way, I canceled the PayPal transaction. And if you want to order something there, be very careful.

I reported the problem to Coinel Tech. They offered to make a special offer for me. And tbey asked me if it would not be better to use UPS as shipment. But a courier would cost me over € 120 which is a bit ridiculous when ordering € 30 worth of equipment, of unknown quality. I might be better off with Embedded Artists. They may be a lot cheaper in the end.

And let's face it: Coinel is just too expensive

The only alternative

So I went for the only good sbc of the time: I ordered a Raspberry Pi 2, version B+, plus some tools (SD card, light-circle toy, WLAN dongle, transparent case) and all in all was cheaper that the Coinel Tech controllers. Now, the Pi runs Linux and it is possible to run Slackware ARM v14.1 on it. Now this is very interesting since the Pi is a true SBC micro controller with lots of I/O's exposed to the world. And it runs Linux. And there is an obc version for the Pi...

So now I can do lots of small experiments with a standalone microcontroller that is programmed with a high level language and do things over the internet etc etc. And the Pi cost me €36 which is a steal compared to the lowtech Coinel controllers.

Page created early 2004,