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Customizable Alexa dev board runs Linux on i.MX7 module

Feb 27, 2018 — by Eric Brown — 434 views

The Gumstix “Chatterbox for the Colibri iMX7” is a Geppetto-customizable, Linux-driven Alexa Voice Service development board that features Toradex’s i.MX7 based module, and offers a 2.5-Watt speaker driver, mic and audio jacks, plus WiFi, BT, Ethernet, USB, and more.

Gumstix has partnered with Toradex to launch an Amazon Alexa Voice Service (AVS) development board with a SODIMM connector for Toradex’s Cortex-A7 based Colibri iMX7 module. The Gumstix Chatterbox for the Colibri iMX7 was built in the Gumstix Geppetto “Design-to-Order” Web development platform, and can be customized using the same service. In addition, the Colibri iMX7 SODIMM connector is available in Geppetto so developers can build their own iMX7 based boards independent of the Chatterbox.

Chatterbox, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

The Chatterbox targets wake-word or push-button activated AVS voice services on devices including smart speakers, smart home and IoT devices, router and gateway devices, sound bars, and set-top boxes. The board complies with Amazon’s AVS Functional Design Guide, and ships with a pre-loaded Linux image. The Chatterbox design is freely available with open schematics.

Chatterbox detail view
(click image to enlarge)

The Chatterbox includes a 2.5-Watt speaker driver based on an Adafruit PAM8302A amp, plus an on-board omnidirectional, electret condenser microphone and line-in and headset-out audio jacks. The board includes a 10/100 Ethernet port, as well as a TI WiLink 8 module with WiFi and Bluetooth 4.1/BLE. There’s also a U.FL antenna.

Chatterbox board architecture (left) and Colibri iMX7 block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

Other features include a microSD slot, USB 2.0 host port, micro-USB device port, micro-USB serial console, and a real-time clock with battery holder. The board provides a 5V jack, 5x pushbuttons, 4x LEDs, and a reset key.

The Chatterbox offers a connector for Toradex’s 67.6 x 36.7mm Colibri iMX7. It supports the 1GHz dual-core NXP i.MX7D SoC model instead of the 800MHz single-core model, which similarly integrates a 200MHz Cortex-M4 microcontroller.

Toradex Colibri IMX7
(click image to enlarge)

Gumstix is using a newer Colibri iMX7 model that was not available when we posted our Colibri iMX7 story in 2016. This Colibri iMX7D 1GB variant ships with up to 1GB of DDR3 and 4GB eMMC rather than 512MB DDR3 and 512MB NAND on the other models. The COM provides a 24-bit RGB display interface with 4-wire resistive touch. A wide variety of I/O includes I2C, SPI, PWM, and 123 GPIOs. More information may be found in the Colibri iMX7 datasheet (PDF).

The Chatterbox can be used by designers for prototyping, or it can be copied and modified in Geppetto D2O to create a custom design using the drag-and-drop GUI interface. You can add network connections or I/O, as well as create multiple projects and compare alternative designs for features and costs.

Chatterbox (left) and virtual version in Geppetto
(click images to enlarge)

Geppetto supplies free automated documentation on demand with all saved designs. The service lets you develop custom BSPs and “go straight from a design to an order in one session with no engineering required,” says Gumstix.

“Gumstix provides an excellent service, allowing our customers to get customized carrier boards in a fast and simple way,” stated Daniel Lang CMO of Toradex. “When using Toradex SoMs, customers profit from free Toradex support and lifetime maintenance for Software and Hardware of the SoM.”

Further information

The Chatterbox is available for $140, not including the BYO Colibri IMX7. More information may be found in the Gumstix Chatterbox announcement.


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