This is an introduction to my current project, to design and program a system that will activate a mechanical relays from Android.  More will be posted on this topic as I progress and get the screen shots and pix organized.  I also will keep a post open for updates on tweaks and solutions that I come across for the BeagleBoard xM.

Remembering KISS (keep it simple stupid,)  for this development project I used components from previous projects before diving into the deeper end of the pool of design work.  This project uses a BeagleBoard xM running Gingerbread (Android 2.3.4 Rowboat,) a  FTDI TTL-232R  USB to TTL serial conversion cable, a Seetron BPI-216 2 line serial display, and a simple connector for the FTDI cable to the Seetron display.

The Seetron display requires that the FTDI conversion cable be reconfigured in order to properly read the data sent to it.  The TTL-232R cable can be reconfigured from a PC using FT_PROG to reprogram the internal flash memory.  Unfortunately the program is only available as a Windows program.  Those running Linux, you wish you setup your PC as a dual boot system?  Also, I used VB.Net to write a quick test program to confirm that the reconfigured TTL-232R cable worked properly.  This also allowed me to quickly test various commands that the Seetron uses for text positioning, screen clearing and so on.

For those considering running a dual-boot system, I don’t recommend running Ubuntu along aside Windows.  That Ubuntu install is designed as a demo and has a hard drive ceiling of 30GB which is useless for any serious programming.  If you are planning to develop Android you will need a 64bit machine with a quad core at minimum and the 64bit Ubuntu install, (Android kernel and platform development requires 64bit) .  With a quad core you will cut development time by 75% at least.  What took an hour or more on my single processor machine at work took minutes on my Acer Aspire with quad core.

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