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--- PInBall Platform Description ---


PInBall Board is a low power, low cost embedded computer based on RaspBerry PI compute module (Broadcom BC2835 / ARM1176JZ-F + VideoCore IV) that targets professional developpers.

This platform offers a variety of interfaces commonly used in embedded systems such as HDMI, S/PDIF, Fast Ethernet, USB 2.0, Serial Ports, CAN Bus.

In addition two Mini PCIe slot (USB only), a KNX BAOS 820 module and industrial I/Os are supported to extend the functionnality of the base board.

The SODIMM 200 Compute module is placed on the solder side of the carrier board, making it easy to thermally connect the module to a metal enclosure and provide fanless heat dissipation.

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PInBALL and Raspberry PI compute module, a step further from Community to Production.  -  by PhGARNIER

PInBALL and Raspberry PI compute module, a step further from Community to Production.

Free Software and then Open Source is a social movement started in the 80’ with the goal of obtaining and guaranteeing certain freedoms for software developers. Today Free open source software is now widely recognized as a superior model for software development. Free Open Source Software (FOSS) has a community of software developers organized around it and thanks to the community spirit, open Source software offers more stable, adaptable, better in quality, more frequently revised and updated software. Bugs are quickly fixed providing better BSP SW, and typically lowering OPEX. Open Source developers can quickly maximize their design concepts by tapping into the expertise and support of some of the industry's top Linux programmers. With communities hosting the latest software developments, live forums and chats for easy collaboration, developers have easy access to support and exchange new ideas that come up with cool inventions.

A new approach to develop product has been born. Nevertheless some barrier was still existing for product development on a large scale.

In the embedded electronic, Semiconductor companies, first with some Texas Instruments engineers and OMAP, understand the benefit of providing the software community with Hardware tools aiming to enlarge and ease as much as possible the access to their technologies, enlarging the software community and by consequence maximizing his benefit on their software. For that purpose, the provided hardware was eval-boards designed only for evaluation and software development. Design are not robust,  most of the time the chipset is subsidized by the semiconductor company to lower the cost preventing to do commercial product without infringing anti-dumping rules and for which they don’t provide any legal warranty.

The best success is today by far the Raspberry PI with the Broadcom BCM2835 which becomes the largest community with around 3 M of Hobbyist and Software developers. With so many users hammering at new software updates, problems are quickly reported and the foundation has been aggressive about software development. The large community also means that when someone develops with the Pi, they can leverage the abundance of tutorials, support, code examples, programs, and circuit diagrams that are free online.

However the raspberry PI initiative aims was for education purpose and it suffered from similar limitations when it came for using a raspberry PI for a real commercial product.

To answer to this demand of the community that is not only hobbyist but also professional engineers, the Raspberry Foundation launched the Compute module that encompass the core devices of any processing system: the processor, the Dram and an eMMC memories. Of course the price point is not to compare with a B+ board that is cheaper with more feature. But this initiative open the possibility to design real Commercial product as the compute module is a professional hardware module and don’t suffer of the lack of quality and others legal limitation of any evaluation boards.

However a step was still missing from going to the software development phase to a real commercial product. 


Even with a compute module in hand, you have to design a carrier board compliant with your application. And here even if you get some money with a crowd-funding project or by a company budget, you still have to handle a complete product process for the carrier board and the end product. This proceed needs specialists for design architecture, schematic and PCB layout,  the selection and sourcing of components and accessories suppliers, system test, and BSP development. Then it will remain to interface with an EMS for production. This part is also a job of specialist and many projects are falling at this step for many reasons.

To help people for going easily and directly from Software to the market with a real commercial product without having to suffer all the uncertainty of the product development process: CALAO Systems has developed the PInBALL industrial solution.


The small-sized PInBALL product solution, is powered by the RPI compute module based on the BCM 2835 chip and pre-loaded with a complete software package. It proposes amazing possibilities in term of features with an exhaustive set of interfaces such as Fast Ethernet, USB 2.0 interfaces, serial ports, CAN Bus, HDMI, S/PDIF,...and two Mini PCI Express extension slots allowing to get; the proper connectivity module such as WIFI, Bluetooth, LoRa, SIGFox, GPS, Zigbee, KNX-RF, or wireless Mbus; or the proper, 2G, 3G or LTE wireless connection; or dedicated extensions like storage or data acquisitions.

With PInBALL, Raspberry developers from start-up to big companies get at low cost and the lowest risk, a professional, industrial or commercial product solution, ready to go, equipped with ruggedized features for the harsh environment of industrial M2M and IoT applications. Developers have just to focus on their application, no need to set-up a manufacturing process, with PInBALL, Raspberry PI developers get directly a cost optimized product of high quality, which is customizable, scalable and can be delivered globally in high volume.

And for a start-up cross-funding process, PInBAll is the solution that put customers, backers and investors in confidence.

Now, developers have just to port their own application before testing the market.

Let’s have a look about cases studies:

Home and Building Automation

There is many applications which have already been developed for Building automation thanks to raspberry Pi community. Therefore it was obvious that a dedicated version of the PInBALL has been defined.

What a dream to have a professional quality central station that can be based on the open source software  developed by the community,  IoT.eclipse/smarthome, open Hab just as example.., with a web server running on it, to control every devices connected to it. You can connect a full LCD screen with touchscreen or not to the HDMI interface or just a serial LCD to the SPI interface, to display the essential information, a keyboard for configuration or control on one of the 2 USB interfaces, and a graphical HTML5 user interface to access it from anywhere in the world from a smartphone or a PC thanks to the Ethernet interface or thanks to the miniPCIe slot, you know the one with a supercap, on which you can insert the cellular modem of your choice. For simpler model you can just use a SIGFOX miniPCIe from CALAO Systems to send the information on the cloud if an intrusion is detected and that your siren is turn on. For such simple systems a serial display could be connected to one of the UARTs.


This unique Home and Building Automation solution integrates a build-in KNX modem,  the most popular open standard protocol, allowing to control all the devices for a KNX installation which are connected together by a two wire bus (the most common form of installation), thus allowing them to exchange data. In the same spirit an ENOCEAN miniPCIe option is proposed by CALAO Systems to have a wireless connectivity to connect sensors, measuring or detecting things like temperature, humidity, daylight or motion device, or to drive actuators such as motorized valves, light switches and motors.

PInBALL-HaBA solution offers a rich variety of interface providing the flexibility to adapt it to many others automation systems, with relay and optically isolated digital I/Os but also the RS232 DB9 or RS485 DB9 buses interfaces or with others miniPCIe modules supporting Zigbee or wireless-MBus for example that will support the protocols you wish to implement as BACnet, Modbus…That’s just an example of using PInBALL Haba.

Industrial Automation and Robotic

We can also develop with the PInBALL core access or the PInBALL IAaR which has been defined to address many Industrial Automation or Robotic applications. Why not use the isolated I/O, the relay and the R232 or R485 bus or the CAN Bus to control your equipment. Data storage could be done through USB or the miniPCIe, as well Ethernet could connect your equipment to a company private network with a dedicated industrial protocol (like GEM/sec...). PInBALL is designed with extended temperature range, it’s a ruggedized design reinforced in ESD and EMI. Its power supply accepts any wave form from 9V to 36 V. Produced by Eolane, it’s a guaranty for high quality and long life cycle product. It’s a real Industrial product.


You understand, the possibilities are amazing and almost endless. With the different versions of PInBALL you have the possibility to develop software for many professional applications and then have the industrial solution of a real product such as Digital signage, Smart Meter, Internet of things gateways, measure and test equipment…Product developers have just to unleash their business creativity.

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Published on 02/18/2015 : 4:32 PM  - none comment none comment - View ? Add yours ?   Preview   Print...   Top
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