The easy-phi standard includes:
- Hardware (electronics and mechanics): the rack and modules
- High speed signals that connect modules between each others
To be smart, the rack’s back-plane includes the open hardware embedded computer Cubieboard (we may produce a future version with the Beaglebone). It is used to configure the connected electronic modules as well as providing connectivity via Ethernet, Wifi or USB.
The user will therefore be able to adjust each module parameters through a simple web interface, but also via Matlab / Labview modules. A monitoring system checks the back-plane voltages, temperatures, and synchronization signals.
The web interface along with a Wifi connection allows all modules to be controlled from a tablet computer, so researchers can pilot their experience from anywhere.
The USB connection is used by the module to send its characteristics/resources to the back-plane computer while allowing the latter to configure it. Communications between the different electronics modules are made through their front panels. This allows better visibility of the overall wiring while minimizing the noise added to the signal if it was routed through the back-plane.
The standard includes hardware, software, mechanics and the format of the high speed signals that connect modules between each others. The high-speed interconnection signal standard allows for up to 1GHz signalling.
All modules can be used independently, in a stand-alone mode, however to use all the configurations possible , the modules are best used with the standardized racks that can connect 5 or 16 modules.
The easy-phi project is open software and hardware, as are the tools used for it.
The chosen schematics & layout software is Kicad and firmware development is done in Eclipse. Electronics enthusiasts are encouraged to develop their own modules. A template module is provided, which only contains the base components: an Arduino compatible ARM cortex-M3 Atmel microcontroller, a microsd card connector and diverse power-related components. The signals and power supplies on the connector are part of the easy-phi standard, so providing a template ensures that hobbyists will follow it.