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iMX6 Rex Open Source Hardware SoM and Baseboard Designed to Teach Schematic and PCB Layout Design

November 19th, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

Voipac, a Slovakian manufacturing company, has recently unveiled iMX6 Rex module and iMX6 Rex development baseboard, which have mainly been developed in order to support FEDEVEL Academy Schematic Design and Advanced PCB Layout courses, but can also be used for other purposes. The module is powered by Freescale i.MX6 Dual (Solo and Quad also available on request), and comes with 512MB RAM (upgradeable to 4GB), and up to 32MB SPI flash. The complete hardware will be released under an open source hardware license, but with some caveats as I’ll explain later.

iMX6Rex Module (Click to Enlarge)

iMX6 Rex Module (Click to Enlarge)

iMX6 Rex module specifications (basic configuration):

  • SoC – Freescale iMX6 processor up to 1.2GHz / 2 cores (1 and 4 cores also available)
  • System Memory – 512MB DDR3-1066 (533MHz), up to 4GB
  • Storage – 2MB On board SPI Flash, up to 32MB
  • 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet PHY
  • 2 high speed board to board connectors (only one required) with signals for HDMI, LVDS, PCIE, SATA, SD, MMC, 2x USB,3x UART, 3x I2C, 1x SPI, digital audio, and JTAG
  • Misc – User LED, power LED
  • Input Power – 7 to 24 V (DC)
  • Dimensions – 70 x 40 mm (smaller than a credit card)

There’s currently no information about the software, apart that it will be hosted at https://github.com/FEDEVEL. Linux Gizmos reports the board will support Linux, which probably means, the board being powered by Freescale i.MX6, the usual suspects, Android and Ubuntu, will be officially supported.

Even though it’s possible to boot the board standalone, applications would be limited, so an iMX6 baseboard is currently under development.

iMX6Rex Baseboard Components Arrangement on Paper

iMX6 Rex Baseboard Components Arrangement on Paper

iMX6 Rex development baseboard specifications:

  • Back panel – Power 7-24 DC, 1GB Ethernet, HDMI with Audio, 2x USB, RS232
  • Front panel  – MIC IN, LINE IN, LINE OUT, Headphones, micro SD CARD, RESET Button, ON / OFF Button, User Button, User LED, Power LED
  • Side panels – access to 2x SIM, CFAST
  • Bottom  – 2x PCMCIA mini card socket
  • LVDS + backlight + touchscreen
  • Second SD socket with Activity LED (not accessible from panel – can be used for OS and can be sealed with a protection label)
  • Accessible on headers – 1x USB, Modem Speakers & Microphone, 1x TTL Serial port, 1x SPI, 8x GPIO (can be used for Buttons, LEDs, …)
  • On board RTC clock backed up with battery, EEPROM,
  • PCIE slot, SATA connector, micro USB OTG A/B
  • Debugging (Optional) – JTAG
  • ATX power support (optional)
  • Four additional holes for heatsink (if needed)
  • Dimensions – 135 x 110mm
IMX6Rex Development Baseboard Block Diagram (Click to Enlarge)

IMX6 Rex Development Baseboard Block Diagram (Click to Enlarge)

As I mentioned in the introduction, the hardware, and software will be open source, and designs files are even already available for the SoM (Altrium Schematics and PCB layout, gerber files, and manufacturing documents).  The baseboard will be released under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported which allows to copy and modify the design even for commercial projects, as long as you attribute the initial work to the original author. This is all good, especially since the vast majority of companies never release design files for their system-on-modules, but there are also bad, and ugly caveats attached to the SoM open source license: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported. This license means that it’s free to use the SoM design for personal projects, but Voipac may require a $4 to $9 license to allow commercial projects to use the design. That’s sort of bad, but the ugly part is that you are not allowed to modify the design of the SoM (No Derivative Works = You may not alter, transform, or build upon this work.), which seems to be useless for an open source hardware project, except maybe for education.

Both the SoM and the baseboard will be available in Q1 2014, and can be pre-ordered for respectively 169 Euros, and 199 Euros. iMX6 Rex Development kit comprised of the module and baseboard, as well as a serial port cable, an Ethernet cable, a power supply, and DVD with complete documentation will be sold for 399 Euros.

You can find more information on iMX6 Rex site, and pre-order the boards or kit on Voipac IMX6 Rex page.

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  1. Sean
    November 19th, 2013 at 19:43 | #1

    Keep us updated

  2. arcko
    November 19th, 2013 at 21:53 | #2

    looks great

  3. Tsvetan
    November 19th, 2013 at 22:15 | #3

    It would be interesting to see how they are going to control the SOM derivative work and licensing ;)

    when I saw this article I though: finally somebody else is not afraid to do OSHW at a bit higher level than blinking LEDs! but this SOM licensee Bullshit put a drop of poison in the honeypot, totally useless IMO, everytbody will use their CAD files for any purspose and will not give shit what they write as licensee anyway, if you want to gove something away just do it and don’ t make such half open steps which just make you to look funny

  4. RobertFeranec
    November 19th, 2013 at 22:47 | #4

    @Tsvetan Anyone who has an interesting project on the module can just write me an email and we can agree on a free license for the project – no problem. It is not our intention to control the derivative work. There is still a good chance, that the project will be fully open later. Once our investment is back, I will seriously consider it :)

  5. MomoKabbaj
    November 21st, 2013 at 04:53 | #5

    @RobertFeranec Hey Robert, i would be interested to discuss with you my project, i would be glad to receive your feedback. What way do you recommand to contact each other.
    Thank you

  6. February 5th, 2014 at 10:21 | #6

    There’s now a live demo of the board where you can login as a normal user and play around.
    http://www.imx6rex.com/demo/

  7. February 15th, 2014 at 20:24 | #7

    They’ve connected a PCIe Ethernet card to get an extra Ethernet port.
    http://www.imx6rex.com/2014/02/pci-express-and-second-ethernet-working/

  8. February 18th, 2014 at 09:49 | #8

    It’s now available for pre-order @ http://www.voipac.com/#Webshop

  1. November 20th, 2013 at 00:10 | #1