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I have done a few projects on Arduinos. Now I want to step up my embedded skills.

I have found this SoC with embedded Linux and video encoding/decoding capabilities. I am interested on running OpenCV on it.

My question is how do I play around with something like this?

Do I have to make a PCB using Eagle? Do I have to buy an external programmer? Maybe use a converter PCB so I have DIP interface?

I know I will probably get downvoted for this question, but I want to buy it and start playing with it as soon as possible. That's why I ask.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Why do you think you'll be downvoted? \$\endgroup\$ – JYelton Sep 11 '14 at 21:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Because in my experience, the community is harsh with generic questions \$\endgroup\$ – user1584421 Sep 11 '14 at 21:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd say this one is borderline. The whole point of the Q&A is to ask specific questions, so try to focus on a couple of points. I think you've done that okay by asking whether you have to make a PCB or buy a programmer. (Also, you should capitalize "I" when referring to yourself.) \$\endgroup\$ – JYelton Sep 11 '14 at 21:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ Doing layout with this IC in Eagle would be a nightmare. You need to step up in using PCB design tools too. \$\endgroup\$ – venny Sep 11 '14 at 22:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ That link goes to the Module developed by Z3 Technology, based on TI's DSP. The module comes with Linux and everything already designed, its supposed to be one step below a turn-key solution. \$\endgroup\$ – Passerby Sep 11 '14 at 22:02
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If you're simply interested in using a SoC processor that can run OpenCV, I suggest the Raspberry Pi. There was just a new version released, B+.

It uses a Broadcom BCM2835 SoC which includes an ARM1176JZF-S 700 MHz processor, a VideoCore IV GPU and 512 MB RAM, and also four USB ports (so generally you don't need an external hub for a keyboard and mouse), HDMI in several resolutions, audio (so-so quality), Ethernet, and a microSD card.

Debian and Arch Linux ARM distributions are available for download from the main site.

All this for $40 (plus cables and power supply).

Here's the official page for Raspberry Pi and OpenCV.

And here's a OpenCV project on the Raspberry Pi that does facial recognition.

So forget about going to the trouble of making your own board. You could be running one of these tomorrow.

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For "playing around" with this specific chip, you go to Z3 Technology and purchase either the bare OEM module or the complete Rapid Product Design System. The link from the TI site was broken, but Googling the name of the company brought it right up.

Before you plunk down your money, make sure you understand exactly what you're getting in terms of software licenses for the chip. The chip is really intended for high-volume OEMs, and the development tools and other support is priced accordingly.

But if you're only just getting your feet wet, you might want to consider seeing what you can do with one of the hobbyist-oriented SoC boards, such as RaspberryPi or BeagleBone, first. You'll get a lot more community support.

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The easiest way is to buy an 'evaluation board', 'evaluation kit' or 'development board'. The Arduino is a popular development board for the Atmega328.

A quick search for 'DaVinci Digital Media Processor evaluation board' brings some up. What you need in terms of external programmers will vary with what board you get.

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To expand upon Petes answer, you will most likely need to get an evaluation board since laying out and paying for a PCB with this will be very expensive.

Normally I would explicitly recommend learning how to use ARM processors first but since this evaluation board comes with linux, you don't absolutely need to but it is still advisable. This thing runs on an ARM Cortex-A8 processor. Arduino runs off an 8-bit AVR core. Needless to say Arduino is much less complicated. Check out TI's range of lower powered ARM microprocessors. I'd advise starting with a Cortex-M processor to get the jist of 32-bit programming so you understand what is going on underneath the linux environment you'd be working in.

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