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WIB: Web Server In A Box, Part 1

We're very excited about this project. It will let you house your own website with possibly hundreds or even thousands of pages, all in a little box connected to the internet via your modem/router. You don't need a computer to operate and house a website - this little box does it for you and it can be accessed from anywhere around the world, at any time, even from a mobile phone which has a web browser. In fact, it is a complete web server in a box - so we've called it WIB (Web server In a Box).

Pt.1: By Mauro Grassi

Main Features

• Highly customisable. Most settings including IP address, port numbers and servers can be arbitrarily set.

• MMC/SD/SDHC memory card for storage of web pages and other files (FAT/FAT32 file system).

• HTTP (web) server with changeable file permissions, dynamic pages, modified CGI commands and HTTP basic authentication.

• SMTP (email) client for automatic email notifications with dynamic content.

• FTP (file transfer protocol) server for uploading web site.

• Dynamic DNS client (DDNS) to allow server to be contacted using a hostname.

• Network time (SNTP) client to gather Internet time for logging, etc.

• Four analog inputs. These can be: (a) monitored remotely using a web browser; (b) logged with periodic log files automatically emailed to a chosen email address; (c) assigned set limits, with automatic email notification when limits are exceeded.

• Four digital outputs for controlling devices over the Internet.

• 12 user defined file extensions, file permissions and file content for the HTTP server.

• A serial port output that’s controllable via the Internet.

• System logging of special events.

Everyone knows that web servers normally involve big, expensive, powerful computers with large memory, large hard disks and exotic software, don’t they? Well, that is the normal approach but now it doesn’t have to be. In fact, you don’t even need a computer!

WIB can do it all. Even better, it does not have a hard disk, uses practically no power and costs not much at all. WIB is just a small PC board (single-sided, no less) with a microcontroller, an SD/MMC card reader and not much else. In fact, it involves a total of just three ICs and a 3-terminal regulator.

Why have a memory card? This is the “Eureka!” feature: SD/MMC cards are used in the majority of digital cameras and they can pack a huge amount of memory for very little cash; we’ve seen them for as little as $8 for four gigs and going down all the time! So for not a lot more money WIB can use an SD/MMC memory card which can be 16 or even 32 gigabytes and that means it can store many thousands of pages of data, pictures or whatever and all of these can be accessed as a website via the internet.

Want to change the content? Well you could upload new data remotely via the internet or you could simply whip out the SD card, plug it into your computer and away you go. Or you could have several such SD cards, all with different web formats, presentations or whatever.

Maybe you would like to have a large picture library or whatever, accessible via the internet. Of course, you could take the conventional web server approach, as outlined above. Or you could do it with our WIB.

In fact, the applications are unlimited. Think of an application involving a website and WIB can probably do it. For example, do you have a small business, perhaps selling goods via the Internet? Maybe WIB could house your website. We’re sure there a lots of applications that have just been waiting for this simple hardware solution.

It only requires a modem or a modem/router to connect it to the internet. And while it and the modem will need to be hooked up permanently, its energy use rates as flea power compared to a desktop computer or even a laptop when permanently powered up.

Furthermore, WIB can monitor the temperature or any other parameter (just connect a suitable sensor) and it can also be used to control four digital outputs and an RS232 serial port.

Down to earth

OK, we’ll come clean. While we are very excited about this project, it didn’t start out with such ambitious targets. The original intention was to produce a simple project which could monitor temperature or any other parameter in a home or remote location and display the resultant data on a website. At the same time it could control a few outputs – perhaps switch on a heater or air-conditioner or a few other prosaic functions.

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