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In this article by Onur Dundar, author of the book Home Automation with Intel Galileo, we will see how to develop home automation examples using the Intel Galileo development board along with the existing home automation sensors and devices. In the book, a good review of Intel Galileo will be provided, which will teach you to develop native C/C++ applications for Intel Galileo.

(For more resources related to this topic, see here.)

After a good introduction to Intel Galileo, we will review home automation’s history, concepts, technology, and current trends. When we have an understanding of home automation and the supporting technologies, we will develop some examples on two main concepts of home automation: energy management and security.

We will build some examples under energy management using electrical switches, light bulbs and switches, as well as temperature sensors. For security, we will use motion, water leak sensors, and a camera to create some examples. For all the examples, we will develop simple applications with C and C++.

Finally, when we are done building good and working examples, we will work on supporting software and technologies to create more user friendly home automation software.

In this article, we will take a look at the Intel Galileo development board, which will be the device that we will use to build all our applications; also, we will configure our host PC environment for software development.

The following are the prerequisites for this article:

  • A Linux PC for development purposes. All our work has been done on an Ubuntu 12.04 host computer, for this article and others as well. (If you use newer versions of Ubuntu, you might encounter problems with some things in this article.)
  • An Intel Galileo (Gen 2) development board with its power adapter.
  • A USB-to-TTL serial UART converter cable; the suggested cable is TTL-232R-3V3 to connect to the Intel Galileo Gen 2 board and your host system. You can see an example of a USB-to-TTL serial UART cable at http://www.amazon.com/GearMo%C2%AE-3-3v-Header-like-TTL-232R-3V3/dp/B004LBXO2A. If you are going to use Intel Galileo Gen 1, you will need a 3.5 mm jack-to-UART cable. You can see the mentioned cable at http://www.amazon.com/Intel-Galileo-Gen-Serial-cable/dp/B00O170JKY/.
  • An Ethernet cable connected to your modem or switch in order to connect Intel Galileo to the local network of your workplace.
  • A microSD card. Intel Galileo supports microSD cards up to 32 GB storage.

Introducing Intel Galileo

The Intel Galileo board is the first in a line of Arduino-certified development boards based on Intel x86 architecture. It is designed to be hardware and software pin-compatible with Arduino shields designed for the UNOR3.

Arduino is an open source physical computing platform based on a simple microcontroller board, and it is a development environment for writing software for the board. Arduino can be used to develop interactive objects, by taking inputs from a variety of switches or sensors and controlling a variety of lights, motors, and other physical outputs.

The Intel Galileo board is based on the Intel Quark X1000 SoC, a 32-bit Intel Pentium processor-class system on a chip (SoC). In addition to Arduino compatible I/O pins, Intel Galileo inherited mini PCI Express slots, a 10/100 Mbps Ethernet RJ45 port, USB 2.0 host, and client I/O ports from the PC world.

The Intel Galileo Gen 1 USB host is a micro USB slot. In order to use a generation 1 USB host with USB 2.0 cables, you will need an OTG (On-the-go) cable. You can see an example cable at http://www.amazon.com/Cable-Matters-2-Pack-Micro-USB-Adapter/dp/B00GM0OZ4O.

Another good feature of the Intel Galileo board is that it has open source hardware designed together with its software. Hardware design schematics and the bill of materials (BOM) are distributed on the Intel website. Intel Galileo runs on a custom embedded Linux operating system, and its firmware, bootloader, as well as kernel source code can be downloaded from https://downloadcenter.intel.com/Detail_Desc.aspx?DwnldID=23171.

Another helpful URL to identify, locate, and ask questions about the latest changes in the software and hardware is the open source community at https://communities.intel.com/community/makers.

Intel delivered two versions of the Intel Galileo development board called Gen 1 and Gen 2. At the moment, only Gen 2 versions are available. There are some hardware changes in Gen 2, as compared to Gen 1. You can see both versions in the following image:

Home Automation with Intel Galileo

The first board (on the left-hand side) is the Intel Galileo Gen 1 version and the second one (on the right-hand side) is Intel Galileo Gen 2.

Using Intel Galileo for home automation

As mentioned in the previous section, Intel Galileo supports various sets of I/O peripherals. Arduino sensor shields and USB and mini PCI-E devices can be used to develop and create applications. Intel Galileo can be expanded with the help of I/O peripherals, so we can manage the sensors needed to automate our home.

When we take a look at the existing home automation modules in the market, we can see that preconfigured hubs or gateways manage these modules to automate homes. A hub or a gateway is programmed to send and receive data to/from home automation devices. Similarly, with the help of a Linux operating system running on Intel Galileo and the support of multiple I/O ports on the board, we will be able to manage home automation devices.

We will implement new applications or will port existing Linux applications to connect home automation devices. Connecting to the devices will enable us to collect data as well as receive and send commands to these devices. Being able to send and receive commands to and from these devices will make Intel Galileo a gateway or a hub for home automation.

It is also possible to develop simple home automation devices with the help of the existing sensors. Pinout helps us to connect sensors on the board and read/write data to sensors and come up with a device.

Finally, the power of open source and Linux on Intel Galileo will enable you to reuse the developed libraries for your projects. It can also be used to run existing open source projects on technologies such as Node.js and Python on the board together with our C application. This will help you to add more features and extend the board’s capability, for example, serving a web user interface easily from Intel Galileo with Node.js.

Intel Galileo – hardware specifications

The Intel Galileo board is an open source hardware design. The schematics, Cadence Allegro board files, and BOM can be downloaded from the Intel Galileo web page.

In this section, we will just take a look at some key hardware features for feature references to understand the hardware capability of Intel Galileo in order to make better decisions on software design.

Intel Galileo is an embedded system with the required RAM and flash storages included on the board to boot it and run without any additional hardware.

The following table shows the features of Intel Galileo:

Processor features

  • 1 Core 32-bit Intel Pentium processor-compatible ISA Intel Quark SoC X1000
  • 400 MHz
  • 16 KB L1 Cache
  • 512 KB SRAM
  • Integrated real-time clock (RTC)


  • 8 MB NOR Flash for firmware and bootloader
  • 256 MB DDR3; 800 MT/s
  • SD card, up to 32 GB


  • 7 V to 15 V
  • Power over Ethernet (PoE) requires you to install the PoE module

Ports and connectors

  • USB 2.0 host (standard type A), client (micro USB type B)
  • RJ45 Ethernet
  • 10-pin JTAG for debugging
  • 6-pin UART
  • 6-pin ICSP
  • 1 mini-PCI Express slot
  • 1 SDIO

Arduino compatible headers

  • 20 digital I/O pins
  • 6 analog inputs
  • 6 PWMs with 12-bit resolution
  • 1 SPI master
  • 2 UARTs (one shared with the console UART)
  • 1 I2C master

Intel Galileo – software specifications

Intel delivers prebuilt images and binaries along with its board support package (BSP) to download the source code and build all related software with your development system.

The running operating system on Intel Galileo is Linux; sometimes, it is called Yocto Linux because of the Linux filesystem, cross-compiled toolchain, and kernel images created by the Yocto Project’s build mechanism.

The Yocto Project is an open source collaboration project that provides templates, tools, and methods to help you create custom Linux-based systems for embedded products, regardless of the hardware architecture.

The following diagram shows the layers of the Intel Galileo development board:

Home Automation with Intel Galileo

Intel Galileo is an embedded Linux product; this means you need to compile your software on your development machine with the help of a cross-compiled toolchain or software development kit (SDK).

A cross-compiled toolchain/SDK can be created using the Yocto project; we will go over the instructions in the following sections. The toolchain includes the necessary compiler and linker for Intel Galileo to compile and build C/C++ applications for the Intel Galileo board. The binary created on your host with the Intel Galileo SDK will not work on the host machine since it is created for a different architecture.

With the help of the C/C++ APIs and libraries provided with the Intel Galileo SDK, you can build any C/C++ native application for Intel Galileo as well as port any existing native application (without a graphical user interface) to run on Intel Galileo.

Intel Galileo doesn’t have a graphical processor unit. You can still use OpenCV-like libraries, but the performance of matrix operations is so poor on CPU compared to systems with GPU that it is not wise to perform complex image processing on Intel Galileo.

Connecting and booting Intel Galileo

We can now proceed to power up Intel Galileo and connect it to its terminal.

Before going forward with the board connection, you need to install a modem control program to your host system in order to connect Intel Galileo from its UART interface with minicom.

Minicom is a text-based modem control and terminal emulation program for Unix-like operating systems. If you are not comfortable with text-based applications, you can use graphical serial terminals such as CuteCom or GtkTerm.

To start with Intel Galileo, perform the following steps:

  1. Install minicom:
    $ sudo apt-get install minicom
  2. Attach the USB of your 6-pin TTL cable and start minicom for the first time with the –s option:
    $ sudo minicom –s
  3. Before going into the setup details, check the device is connected to your host. In our case, the serial device is /dev/ttyUSB0 on our host system. You can check it from your host’s device messages (dmesg) to see the connected USB.
  4. When you start minicom with the –s option, it will prompt you. From minicom’s Configuration menu, select Serial port setup to set the values, as follows:

  5. After setting up the serial device, select Exit to go to the terminal. This will prompt you with the booting sequence and launch the Linux console when the Intel Galileo serial device is connected and powered up.
  6. Next, complete connections on Intel Galileo. Connect the TTL-232R cable to your Intel Galileo board’s UART pins. UART pins are just next to the Ethernet port. Make sure that you have connected the cables correctly. The black-colored cable on TTL is the ground connection. It is written on TTL pins which one is ground on Intel Galileo.
  7. We are ready to power up Intel Galileo. After you plug the power cable into the board, you will see the Intel Galileo board’s boot sequence on the terminal. When the booting process is completed, it will prompt you to log in; log in with the root user, where no password is needed.
  8. The final prompt will be as follows; we are in the Intel Galileo Linux console, where you can just use basic Linux commands that already exist on the board to discover the Intel Galileo filesystem:
    Poky 9.0.2 (Yocto Project 1.4 Reference Distro) 1.4.2   clanton
    clanton login: root

Your board will now look like the following image:

Connecting to Intel Galileo via Telnet

If you have connected Intel Galileo to a local network with an Ethernet cable, you can use Telnet to connect it without using a serial connection, after performing some simple steps:

  1. Run the following commands on the Intel Galileo terminal:
    root@clanton:~# ifup eth0
    root@clanton:~# ifconfig
    root@clanton:~# telnetd
  2. The ifup command brings the Ethernet interface up, and the second command starts the Telnet daemon. You can check the assigned IP address with the ifconfig command.
  3. From your host system, run the following command with your Intel Galileo board’s IP address to start a Telnet session with Intel Galileo:
    $ telnet


In this article, we learned how to use the Intel Galileo development board, its software, and system development environment. It takes some time to get used to all the tools if you are not used to them. A little practice with Eclipse is very helpful to build applications and make remote connections or to write simple applications on the host console with a terminal and build them.

Let’s go through all the points we have covered in this article. First, we read some general information about Intel Galileo and why we chose Intel Galileo, with some good reasons being Linux and the existing I/O ports on the board.

Then, we saw some more details about Intel Galileo’s hardware and software specifications and understood how to work with them.

I believe understanding the internal working of Intel Galileo in building a Linux image and a kernel is a good practice, leading us to customize and run more tools on Intel Galileo.

Finally, we learned how to develop applications for Intel Galileo. First, we built an SDK and set up the development environment. There were more instructions about how to deploy the applications on Intel Galileo over a local network as well.

Then, we finished up by configuring the Eclipse IDE to quicken the development process for future development. In the next article, we will learn about home automation concepts and technologies.

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