The Open Distributed Data Acquisition System

ODDAS is hosted at: SourceForge Logo

The ODDAS Source Forge page is right here. There are three mailing lists, one for announcements of new releases, one for developers and the other for users, which you will find here.


ICP Electronics Inc. contributed a free Wafer-4823 single board computer to help our development. It runs great!

Goal: To allow you to put together a distributed data acquisition/control system at minimal cost and with a reasonable amount of effort. And of course, to have it be open source, so that you maintain control of your destiny.

Description: ODDAS will consist of an inexpensive main board running embedded linux with a dedicated bus connecting it to smart sensor modules. The main board may connect to the rest of the world via ethernet or a wireless network, depending upon the application. This project will develop software to run on the main board, and will design hardware and software for an assortment of smart sensors modules. The following figure is an overview of what we want.

Applications: Industrial control, automotive, robotics, and others.

Main Board: We have not really arrived at a recommendation here. We are planning on it being a board capable of running Linux, with a serial port for a serial console or with an LCD driver for applications that want a fancier console. It should have the capability of hooking up to a CAN controller and a general-purpose network, such as ethernet. For now we are aiming at x86, but other processors are certainly a possibility. A system based upon PC-104 boards is an example.

Linux Software: There are a whole slew of embedded Linux choices out there. But we have our own, called ODDAS-Linux.

Sensor Bus: I gave it away in the description of the main board - we have chosen CAN. This is because it has excellent noise immunity, a fairly high data rate, high reliability and static priority based scheduling.

Sensor Modules: These will vary depending upon the requirements of the sensor hardware. But we hope to have a common microcontroller in them. Thus, we want a micro with a built-in CAN controller and with other peripherals built-in which would be useful for sensor interfaces. We are currently examining two, the Motorola 68HC705X32 and the Phillips P87C591. If you know of any other inexpensive 8-bit microcontrollers with CAN support and a variety of I/O, please let us know!

I have also started looking at the AVR microcontrollers. None of them has CAN built in, however. I'm afraid that the requirement to have CAN in the microcontroller itself limits our choices too much. The AVR is a modern RISC microcontroller, optimized for use with C code. It is fast and cheap. I'm going to check it out for a bit and maybe use a standalone CAN controller with it. We'll see.

Sensor Software: This will also vary depending upon the hardware that is required. However we will endeavor to make the software as common as possible between sensor modules.

Note that there are no dancing figures on this page. Guess I had better keep working as an embedded programmer, web design is not one of my talents!

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Want more information on embedded Linux? Here are some links:

Linux Devices Portal
Embedded Linux Consortium
Silicon Penguin

Author: Pete Buechler <>
Last updated: 11 March 2001.