Review of Atmel SAMA5D34-EK Evaluation Kit

Table of contents

RoadTest: Atmel SAMA5D34-EK Evaluation Kit

Author: dwinhold

Creation date:

Evaluation Type: Independent Products

Did you receive all parts the manufacturer stated would be included in the package?: True

What other parts do you consider comparable to this product?: I bought the Zilog Z86C9116ASG motor controller for the CNC.

What were the biggest problems encountered?: The Ethernet connection didn`t work as well the lack of information available.

Detailed Review:

Being my first roadtest  I felt very honored to be part of this one. Most of my knowledge with computer programming and building is self tought. My specialty with computers are reverse engineering and hacking, this came in very handy for this particular roadtest. I have been part of diferrent groups in the past but nothing like this, there is so much information to be learned from everyone here.

 

I was quite excited when I received the SAMA5D34 and put the parts together. At start-up, the demo is very impressive and helpful; at first it made me wonder why I would use it as a CNC controller and not for home automation.

 

I was almost finished making my laser CNC when the SAMA arrived but I was still waiting for my motor controller to arrive. I found software for controlling the CNC on the Android OS, so I decided to load Android on the SAMA. Well this was a little more involved than I first figured; the first issue was getting my Windows 7 computer to recognise the SAMA. I finally downloaded Atmel SAM-BA and Atmel Studio 6 to see would solve the problem I was having. That had answered questions; this information would have been helpful if included in the bundle. Once the software was loaded, my computer recognised the SAMA quickly and made it easier to flash it with the Android OS. Being able to run android made it easy to operate but found it frustrating not having Ethernet use. The USB to J-tag and the micro SD slot was how I loaded programs. I now had to wait to try the CNC since the controller board didn`t arrive until the first week in July.

 

I decided to work on the Home Automation and see how it performed. Here again having network access would be good since most everything in my home is connected to the network. It finally hit me, wireless USB WiFi. I was more mad at myself for not thinking of this sooner, sometimes the simplest solutions are the ones you don`t think of. Setting this up in Android was straight forward since I have done extensive work with this OS. This worked but not as well as I hoped (I couldn't access my server), so I ended out making a RJ50 to usb cable so I could connect directly into my network (I use 10 pin RJ50 cables for my Storageworks EVA to communicate with my server). Since I couldn't find any conversion cable I had to make one. **Anyone wanting information on how to make one please let me know and I will explain how to do this**.

 

I loaded the home automation software back in to the SAMA and set it to run my security system, lights and media. I won't get into details about this as that is not the purpose of my review, I'm sure another tester will write about this. Short note is that this is what it's meant for.

 

Once my driver board arrived I finished putting together the CNC machine and did a test run from my laptop using Linux. I found Linux ran the CNC perfectly from my laptop so I decided to use this for my operating system with the SAMA. I took advantage of “linuxlink.timesys.com” web site. I found the website helpful but quite confusing on what to do at first. To decide exactly what I wanted to add into my build I had to read almost every detail for each add-on to know what they did. Once I received my Linux program from Linux Link I installed it on the SAMA. I found it didn't work at all for recognizing the CNC or anything on my network, I figure I must have missed something in the build I created.

 

Since time was running out for this review I loaded Android back on and connected to my Linux OS laptop. I loaded the Android app TinyG as a controller. I connected the SAMA via RS232 to my laptop since the Ethernet didn't work and the network didn’t recognize the CNC (there will be more work on this part). It would have been great to get the CNC system working on my network instead of cables everywhere. The whole system worked well together and the TinyG was a great controller. I now have a nice laser CNC for my home projects and in the end a great home automation system (this is what I have decided it will be best used for).

 

Conclusion

     All in all I have had the most fun being frustrated evaluating the SAMA5D34. The lack of information is the biggest drawback at this time but is a great computer for many different uses. I find the main use at this time will be for automation and that will be my final use. I recommend this product for everyone who wants an incredible automation or machinery controller. I know there will be more information available soon to make it more user friendly and easily programmed.

 

Thanks

     I want to thank everyone involved who made this roadtest possible. It was an incredible experience to be part of and hope everyone who gets to use this product will have as much fun as I did. Thank you again !!!

 

Dale W.

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