I want to create a "control panel" to control some electrical devices, specifically two 240V electric pumps and 1 motorized valve. There will also be two temperature sensors.
Initially I was thinking of doing this with a Netduino and an LCD panel, plus assorted electronic components (relays, power supply, etc). However I then started looking around for LCD touch panels, but these are pretty expensive and I'd still need the Netduino.
Next I started looking for "Panel PCs" running Windows CE. You can find those but they are also a bit pricy and a bit large for my needs. I don't need more than about a 6 inch display.
Then I realized that there are tons of cheap GPS systems with touch screens running Windows CE, some with HD screens, for as little as $40 to $70 on eBay. That is cheaper than the monochrome touch LCD panels alone I was looking at earlier! It will feel weird converting a GPS to a simple control panel, but for that price how can you go wrong given that I don't need to worry about the assorted electronic components, case, power supply (a simple USB power supply will do) etc?
Now my questions are:
- How do I unlock such a device and develop a Windows CE application for it?
- I'd need to get to the USB port so that I can somehow control the electrical devices, and also read the temperature sensors. Am I correct in thinking that once I can get to the Windows CE desktop that the USB port will look like any other USB port in Windows?
- My understanding is that I'll need to use Visual Studio 2008 to develop the app, since VS 2010 no longer supports Windows CE? This seems to have some interesting info regarding that.
One would think that if you can get a GPS that runs Windows CE and has an HD touch screen for less than $100, why can't one get just a simple Windows CE touch screen PC (sans GPS hardware) that is designed to run applications, or create embedded solutions with?
Any help appreciated...