Josh Elijah's SwitchBlox, an ultra-compact five-port 10/100 Ethernet switch designed for the smallest of spaces, has officially launched — complete with full source availability under a Creative Commons license.
"There's currently no option for robot and drone builders looking for a small and robust Ethernet switch that's also open source," claims Elijah of the inspiration behind the design. "SwitchBlox means you can incorporate Ethernet into space, weight and power constrained applications easily.
"It's unique on the market. It's tiny and open source and works straight out the box. And I haven't closed off the design. I want this to help robot and drone developers and eventually build a suite of open source networking hardware for robots and drones."
Measuring just 1.75" by 1.75" (44.5mm by 44.5mm), the tiny SwitchBlox is powered by a 7-40V DC supply, and can be used out-of-the-box in unmanaged mode or controlled over an SPI bus in managed mode. The design even includes a 5V 2A power output connector, for passthrough power to additional hardware.
Given its small size, there's no surprise to find a lack of RJ45 ports on the SwitchBlox; instead, the board uses compact 1.25mm Molex five-way connectors which break out to RJ45 with bundled cables; additional cables are also provided with un-terminated ends for manual wiring and others for power input and output. The board even finds room for LED status readouts for each of its five ports.
The SwitchBlox is available from both Elijah's BotBlox store and Tindie, priced at $155 including cabling; the source files for the hardware, in KiCad format, can be found on the BotBlox GitHub repository with, Elijah promises, firmware and software sources to follow in the near future.