The [Beagle Board](http://beagleboard.org/) is getting a lot of [attention](http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2009/01/tis_beagleboard_and_dlp_pico_projector.html) lately. It should, it’s an awesome platform. How does it compare to the [Tin Can Tools Hammer](http://www.tincantools.com/) (discussed in a [previous blog post here](http://www.bearfruit.org/blog/2008/06/25/cheap-arm9-embedded-linux-platform))? Well, the Beagle is faster and cheaper for one thing, it also has excellent video and audio output capabilities. But that doesn’t necessarily make it better. It all depends on the application.
If I were wanting to do something like port Ubuntu to Arm and develop or test desktop apps on an ARM based computer, I’d chose a Beagle Board. However the Beagle just doesn’t have the i/o ports I’d want if I were doing embedded hardware/firmware development. The Hammer fits into a standard 40 pin dip socket and gives tons of i/o flexibility so I could do things like build a wifi connected robot or run a CNC.
As a matter of fact, imagine that: [Run EMC](http://www.linuxcnc.org/) on the CNC itself! I’ve not heard anyone discuss this but it would be a cool idea. Just plug a wifi usb card into your CNC machine and send jobs by email or the web. Or maybe it could appear as a network printer and you hit the print button from eagle and it spits out a circuit board (far fetched, I know). It would be entirely possible to use something like the Hammer and interface it to your FETs and a nice power supply and have it control your motors directly (assuming EMC ports cleanly to ARM). However a Beagle would need to use a serial port and a traditional microcontroller based motion controller to do the same.
Alas my hardware hacking free time is becoming quite infrequent. Therefore there’s no way I’m going to pull off anything like the above. You folks will have to try it and tell me how your hacking goes. I’d love to see what people are doing with clutter or android on the beagle or what kinds of cool hardware apps you’ve rigged up to the hammer.
By the way, for some reason I’m getting thousands of hits to my blog in the last couple weeks for the [Hammer Board blog post](http://www.bearfruit.org/blog/2008/06/25/cheap-arm9-embedded-linux-platform). I wonder why…