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Posts Tagged ‘4g’

Videostrong VS-RD-RK3399 Development Board Review – Part 1: Unboxing, Kit Assembly, SDK and Documentation

August 18th, 2017 6 comments

Videostrong VS-RD-RK3399 development board is a full-featured development based on Rockchip RK3399 hexa-core processor with up to 4GB RAM, and 32GB eMMC flash, and plenty of I/Os. The company has sent me a sample, and after getting some trouble going through customs with questions like “what is a development board?” and “is it a board for TV boxes or computers?”, I finally got hold of the parcel. Today, I’ll check out the board and its accessories, show how to assemble it, and since the company shared more info about documentation and software, quickly go over what’s available.

Videostrong VS-RD-RK3399 Development Kit Unboxing

The board was in a bland carton box, which is fine since it’s not a consumer product, with a stick showing I got the 4GB LPDDR3 / 32GB eMMC flash version. There’s also a board using 2GB/16GB configuration.


The package includes the board, bottom and top acrylic plates for the “case”, some spacers, WiFi and Bluetooth antenna, USB 3.0 type A to USB type C cable, a user’s manual detailing the board’s specifications and pinout diagram…

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… and a 12V/2A power adapter and EU, US, and UK plug adapters.

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I also took some closer photos of the development board, and it will only report new information that I have not already written in the announcement post.  First, the eMMC flash is Samsung KLMBG4WEBD-B031, the cheapest 32GB eMMC flash from the company, but still with acceptable performance: 246/46 MB/s R/W speed, and 6K/5K R/W IOPS.

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There are many USB ports in the board’s design, and this is done via Genesys Logic GL850G USB 2.0 hub chip, while the audio codec is Realtek ALC5640.

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The back of the board includes an mPCIe slot for a 4G LTE card, and a MIPI DSI connector.

VS-RD-RK3399 Kit Assembly

The assembly of the kit is mostly straightforward for may be a little confusing at the beginning. First, we’ll need to remove the protection on the acrylic plates, and use the bottom one with the 6 ventilation lines, and tighten the small and medium spacers around the base, with the small ones facing down. I thought it was a good idea to connect the u.FL to SMA cable for the antenna at this stage, but they come off those easily, it’s better to do it later.

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Then we’ll place the main board on top of the medium spacer, and tighten the longer spacers on top. Once it’s done we can remove nuts from the SMA connector, insert the antenna cables on the right and middle hole in the top acrylic, and screw the nuts back to keep the cables in place.

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We can now connect the antenna cables the ANT0 (for Bluetooth), and ANT1 (for WiFi) u.FL connectors on the board, place the top cover with the two opening aligned over the MIPI CSI connectors, and tighten it with the four remaining nuts we have, before completing the assembly by installing the two antennas.

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VS-RD-RK3399 Board SDK and Documentation

When I asked about Android/Linux software development kit, and documentation last week, the company had nothing to offer, saying the SDK will be provided via a link… Today, they gave me that link on MEGA with most of what is needed for development.

The download is too big for a free MEGA account, unless you are really patient, but you should be able to download everything using megaupload tools in a terminal.

I haven’t completed the download yet, and I’ll look into details during the next part of the review, but we can see 6 main directories:

  • VS-RD-RK3399-linuxSDK – The Linux SDK
  • VS-RD-android7.1-SDK – Android Nougat SDK
  • VS-RD Software image – Android firmware, apparently no Linux OS (yet)
  • VS-RD Software datasheet – Linux, Android, Dual OS documentation
  • VS-RD Hardware – Parts datasheet, RK3399 TRM, LCD datasheet (No schematics apparently)
  • DevelopmentTool – Various tools for development like AndroidTool, DriverAssistant, etc…

If you are interesting in the platform, you can purchase it by contacting Videostrong via Alibaba.

NutsBoard Pistachio 3.5″ Embedded SBC is Powered by NXP i.MX 6Dual/Quad Processor

August 17th, 2017 2 comments

I don’t write about i.MX6 solutions much anymore, since there are so many options available on the market, but Pistachio SBC has been designed by a company I had never heard of before: NutsBoard, and they’ve released documentation and software publicly, which does not always happen in the industrial/embedded space.

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Pistachio single board computer specifications:

  • SoC – NXP ARM Cortex-A9 IMX6 Quad/Dual @ 800MHz
  • System Memory –  Up to 2GB LPDDR3
  • Storage – 4GB eMMC flash, 1x SATA interface, 1x micro SD card slot
  • Display I/F / Video Output

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    • 2x LVDS (6 or 8 bit)
    • 1x 24-bit VGA output
    • 1x HDMI port up to 1920×1080 (FHD)
    • 1x I2C AR1021 touch controller
  • Audio – SGTL5000 audio codec with class D amplifier; 1x audio header for speaker and microphone
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet (Qualcomm AR8035), industrial grade wireless module  (Jorjin WG7833) with dual band WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.2
  • USB – 4x USB 2.0 host interfaces with two USB type A ports, and two internal headers
  • Serial – 1x RS232/422/485 DB9 port, 3x RS232 headers including one for debugging
  • Other I/Os
    • 1x CAN bus
    • 1x I2C, 1x GPIO’s (5 V)
    • 1x PWM
  • Expansion – 1x mPCIE, 1x SIM card slot
  • Misc – RTC with batter slot (no battery by default)
  • Power Supply – 9 to 36V DC input; PMIC NXP PFUZE100
  • Dimensions – 148 x 102mm (3.5″ embedded SBC form factor)
  • Temperature Range – -30 to 70°C
  • Certifications – CE, FCC, RoHS, EMI, ESD and Surge for pre-testing

The company provides Linux 4.1.15, and support for Debian, Buildroot, Yocto Project, and Android 7.1 Nougat. You’ll find source code on pistachio-android-7 github account, software development tools and Android 7.1 firmware for HDMI/VGA or LCD panel in the download page, and documentation such as product brief, hardware manual, and getting started guide in the product page.

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The board will officially launch tomorrow (Friday), with the quad core version selling for $164, and the dual core version for $153 for quantities less than 100 pieces, and Pistachio development toolkits with 7″ (1024×600) LVDS touchscreen display or 10″ (1024×600) LVDS touchscreen display for respectively $284 and $291. The company will accept orders by email for samples or larger quantities first, before listing the boards and kits in their online shop by the end of the month.

CrazyPi Board Runs Ubuntu and ROS on Rockchip RK3128 SoC for Robotics & IoT Projects (Crowdfunding)

August 10th, 2017 4 comments

CrazyPi is a maker board powered by Rockchip RK3128 quad core Cortex A7 processor that can take various magnetically connected modules such as LIDAR, gimbal, 4G LTE, etc.., and runs both Ubuntu and ROS (Robot Operating System) for DIY robotics & IoT projects.

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CrazyPi main board specifications:

  • SoC – Rockchip RK3128 quad core Cortex A7 processor @ 1.2 GHz with ARM Mali GPU
  • MCU – ARM Cortex-M3 @ 72 MHz
  • System Memory – 1GB DDR3L @ 1066 MHz
  • Storage – 16GB eMMC flash pre-loaded with Ubuntu and ROS
  • Connectivity – 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi @ 150 Mbps, Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 host port
  • Expansion Headers – Two headers with a total of 36-pin exposing 1x HDMI, 1x speaker, 1x microphone, 3x PWM, 1x I2C, 1x UART, 1x SPDIF, 1x SPI, 1x USB
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port ?
  • Dimensions – Smaller than credit card

The full details are not available yet, but the company claims CrazyPi is “completely open source and DIY”, so I’d assume more details will eventually show up on CrazyPi github repo (now empty). A cloud service also allows you to stream the webcam output from anywhere in the world.

Webcam View and Map Generated from CrazyPi Robot Kit

What’s  quite interesting is that the board is designed to be connected to add-on boards, modules and accessories allowing you to build robots:

  • Robotic shield board to control motors / servos
  • Media shield board for HDMI output and use the board as a mini computer
  • 4G LTE module (maybe part of the robotic shield board?)
  • Crazyou 4K LIDAR sensor with SLAM (Simultaneous Localization And Mapping) function to automatically create map of your environment
  • 720p camera module
  • 2-degrees gimbal
  • 4-wheel robot chassis
  • 2x 18650 batteries and case

Again, we don’t have the exact details for each, but the promo video explains what can be done with the kits.

Crazyou – that’s the name of the company – has launched the project on Kickstarter to fund mass production with a 200,000 HKD goal (around $25,800). The board is supposed to cost $29, but is not offered standalone in the crowdfunding campaign, so instead you could start with a $59 CrazyPi Media Kit with the mainboard, camera and media board. If you want the complete robot shown above, you’d have to pledge $466 for the CrazyPi Advanced Kit reward with the camera module, the mainboard, the gimbal, the robotic shield board, battery case and charger, the chassis, and LIDAR. Various bundles are available to match different projects’ requirements. Shipping to most countries adds around $19, and delivery is scheduled for October 2017. There’s not much to see on Crazyou website, but eventually more details may emerge there.

Thanks to Freire for the tip.

Hologram LTE Software-Defined Global Network for Cellular IoT Projects Starts at $0.40 per Month per Device

July 26th, 2017 11 comments

Cellular connectivity can be rather expensive, and in the IoT realms, new LTE standards are still evolving and you may want to manage your own mini cellular network, so ideally we would need a provider that offers both low cost and flexibility. Hologram LTE network does both as it’s a software-defined network, and pricing starts at $5 for the SIM card and $0.40 per month per device.

Global IoT SIM Card

The company also just announced that their network was available for global deployment with the service available in more than 170 countries via partnerships through over 200 cellular carriers. The SIM card supports automatic roaming and carrier switching, and spacebridge inbound tunnel access allows for secure remote programming and device management.

The SIM card specifications are as follows:

  • 2G/GPRS, 3G HSPDA, 4G LTE
  • Read/Write Cycles: Min. 500,000
  • Operating Temperature: -25°C ~ 85°C
  • Data Retention: Min. 25 years at 25°C
  • Triple-cut for Mini, Micro, and Nano SIM formats
    • Mini: 15 x 25mm
    • Micro: 12 x 15mm
    • Nano: 8.8 x 12.3mm

Pricing is divided into zone 1 (cyan) and zone 2 (purple blue) depending in the country where the SIM card operates, with the latter being more expensive.

Within each zone there are two pricing methods, with pay-as-you-go plans with a fixed platform fee per month plus a charge per megabyte, or monthly  plans with a fixed amount of data. For example, a SIM card in zone 1 would cost a $0.40 platform fee per month plus $0.60 per megabyte (charged per KB), or $3.99 for 10MB of data, while a SIM card operating in zone 2 would be $0.40 platform fee per month plus $0.85 per MB, or $6.99 for a monthly 10MB plan. You can also choose monthly plans with less or more data up to 500MB per month, except in the US where the company offers high bandwidth monthly plans up to 5GB per month. Inbound SMS are free, and outbound SMS cost $0.19 per MB or $0.30 per MB depending on your zone. You’ll find all details on the pricing page.

While the SIM card costs $5, you can try the service for free by “purchasing” a developer SIM card that comes with 1MB data per month. I ordered one with DEVPLANBLASTOFF promo code for free shipping. I’ll see if I ever receive it, and whether I can use it where I live, since in theory all SIM cards must be registered with an ID card or passport to work, and mandatory fingerprinting is coming next year.

Hologram Onboarding Kit – Click to Enlarge

You can certainly use the SIM card on your own hardware, but the company can also provide Hologram Dash board based on Ublox Sara-U260 2G/3G module, and kits such as the one above with components, sensors, cables, and other accessories. The documentation explains how to get started with Dash board, the SIM card, and cloud messaging and APIs.

Hologram is not the only company offering pay-as-you-go and monthly plans for cellular IoT, as Particle (previously Spark) has offered an inexpensive monthly plan for a little while, but it does not relies on an SDN implemtation. You’ll find further information and details on Hologram website.

MangOH Red Open Source Hardware Board Targets Cellular Industrial IoT Applications

June 14th, 2017 3 comments

Sierra Wireless has announced MangOH Red open source hardware platform designed for IIoT (Industrial IoT) applications with a snap-in socket for 2G to 4G & LTE-M/NB-IoT modules, built-in WiFi and Bluetooth, various sensors, a 26-pin expansion header, and more.

mangOH Red Board without CF3 / IoT Modules – Click to Enlarge

MangOH Red board specifications:

  • Snap-in socket to add any CF3-compatible modules, most of which based on Qualcomm MDM9215 ARM Cortex A5 processor including:
    • Airprime WP7502 LTE Cat 3, HSPA, WCDMA, EDGE/GPRS module
    • Airprime WP7504 LTE Cat 3, HSPA, WCDMA, CDMA module
    • Airprime WP7601 LTE Cat 4 module
    • Airprime WP7603 LTE Cat 4, WCDMA module
    • Airprime WP8548 HSPA, WCDMA, EDGE/GPRS, and GNSS module
    • AirPrime HL6528RD quad-band GSM/GPRS Embedded Wireless Module designed for the automotive market
    • And more….

      mangOH Red with CF3 Module, Shield, and IoT Module – Click to Enlarge

  • Storage – micro SD slot
  • Wireless MCU Module – Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.2 BLE module with an ARM Cortex-M4 core MCU (Mediatek MT7697) providing access to real-time I/Os
  • Wireless Connectivity “Accessories”
    • Micro SIM card holder; ESIM
    • Main, GNSS, & Diversity antennas connectors, and WiFi/Bluetooth chip antenna
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 host port
  • Audio – 3.5mm audio jack (unpopulated)
  • Sensors – Bosch Sensortec Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Temperature and Pressure sensors, Light sensors
  • Expansion
    • 26-pin Raspberry Pi compatible connector
    • IoT Expansion Card slot to plug in any technology based on the IoT Connector open standard
    • 6-pin real-time I/O header controlled by WiFi/BLE module.
    • 6-pin low power I/O header
  • Debugging – 1x micro USB port for serial console
  • Misc – LEDs; reset and user buttons;
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port; battery connector; power source jumpers

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mangOH Red hardware design is fully open source with BoM, schematics (PDF an Allegro/OrCAD), PCB Layout (Intercept Pantheon), Gerber, and mechanical files available for download in the resources section, where you’ll also find other documentation and getting started guides for users and developers.  The CF3 modules run Legato Linux developed by Sierra Wireless, and open source with the source code on Github. Code specific to MangOH Red + WP8548 was also upstreamed in Linux 4.10.

The company also offers Sierra Wireless Smart SIM with up to 100 MB free data, but you can use the board any commercially available SIM car. The board also supports AirVantage IoT Platform to create, deploy and manage solutions in the cloud.

MangOH Red board can be purchased as a bareboard, but most people will probably want to get a Starter Kit with MangOH Red plus Air Prime WP8548, WP7502 or WP7504 sold on Digikey. I’m very confused by the price list, as $99 is shown for both the bare board, and kits including the board and a CF3 module. So I’ll assume $99 is for mangOH board only, and you’d likely have to pay $200+ for a board plus a CF3 module with the total price depending on the selected module. You may find additional details on MangOH Red product page.

Boardcon Introduces Rockchip RK3399 PICO3399 CPU Module and EM3399 Baseboard

May 31st, 2017 3 comments

There’s a limited number of boards based on Rockchip RK3399 processor, with the easiest to work with (for non-Chinese readers) probably being Firefly-RK3399. Shenzhen Xunlong is working on their own Orange Pi RK3399 board, 9Tripod released their X3399 SoM and devkit, Boardcon has also launched their own RK3399 SoM (system-on-module) and baseboard solution with respectively PICO3399 CPU module and EM3399 board.

PICO3399 SoM specifications:

  • SoC – Rockchip RK3399 hexa core processor with a dual ARM Cortex-A72 core cluster @ up to 2.0 GHz, quad ARM Cortex-A53 cluster, and ARM Mali-T860MP4 GPU
  • System Memory – 4GB LPDDR3
  • Storage – 8GB eMMC flash
  • 314-pin edge connector with 2x USB2.0 Host, 2x USB3.0 or 2x  Type-C, UART, MIPI, GbE, HDMI in&out, Audio, I2C, I2S, PCI-E, SD/MMC/SDIO, GPIO, eDP..
  • Power Supply – 5V
  • Dimensions – 82 x 50mm (8 layers)

The company provides support  for Android6.0.1 and Debian for the module. If the info provided in the website is correct, the Android BSP includes Linux 4.4.36 kernel, U-boot 2014-10, and drivers, while the Debian BSP includes Linux 4.4.41 kernel, U-boot 2016-12-03, and drivers.

You can get started quickly with the CPU module using EM3399 development board with the following specifications:

  • Socket for PICO3399 CPU module
  • External storage – 1x micro SD socket, PCIe connector for SSD
  • Display & Video Output
    • Output – 1x eDP LCD via 40-pin header, 2x MIPI DSI connector, 1x HDMI 1.4/2.0 port
    • Input – HDMI input via TC358749XBG
  • Audio – ALC5651 audio codec; 3.5mm audio jack
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet (RJ45) port, optional 802.11 b/g/n/ac WiFi & Bluetooth 4.1 (AP6354), SIM card slot, optional 3G/4G mini PCIe card
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host, 1x USB3.0 host, 1x USB Type-C
  • Camera I/F – 2x MIPI CSI with 3D capture support
  • Expansion
    • 1x PCIe x4 slot for graphics card
    • 1x PCIe connector for SSD or 3G module
    • 5 “GPIO” headers for a total of 122 I/Os
  • Debugging – 1x 3-pin UART header
  • Misc – RTC powered by external lithium battery; Recover, Power, Reset buttons;
  • Power Supply – 12V/2A via power barrel
  • Dimensions – 145 x 100 mm

The module is expected to be used in application such as  smart devices, digital signage, all-in-one machines, PoS systems, vehicle control terminals, etc…

The module and board appear to be available now, but price is not public since I understand the company focuses on the B2B market. You’ll find further details on the product page.

Thanks to Theguyuk for the tip.

OpenH PULSAR and QUASAR Boards Add 4G LTE Cat M1, or Cat 4/1 to Raspberry Pi Boards

May 31st, 2017 No comments

We’ve seen a bunch of IoT boards with 2G connectivity recently including Orange Pi 2G-IoT, Wio GPS, and Nadhat, but while in some countries 2G will still work for many years, those boards are already obsolete – or soon will be – in many other countries. However, finding low cost 3G / 4G  boards is more difficult, and while one solution is to use 3G or 4G USB dongles,  “OpenH – Open Hardware” – part of KLiP Industries – has designed two boards with 4G connectivity provided by Quectel modules.

OpenH PULSAR Board

PULSAR board is compatible with Arduino Zero and features the following specifications:

  • MCU – Atmel/Microchip SAMD21 ARM Cortex M0+ MCU (the as the one used in Arduino Zero)
  • Connectivity
  • Security – Dedicated management CPU with crypto engine
  • Power Supply 10W digital power supply and battery charger with direct solar input
  • FCC and Carrier certified

The board can work in standalone mode, but if needed, a Raspberry Pi Zero can optionally be mounted to the board. PULSAR is designed for low-bandwidth projects up to 200 kbps, support OTA firmware updates, and can work with the cloud provider of your choice.

OpenH QUASAR Raspberry Pi HAT Board

If your project needs more bandwidth, you can use QUASAR boards instead on a Raspberry Pi 2/3 board:

  • Connectivity
  • Expansion connectors
  • Security – Dedicated management CPU with crypto engine
  • Power Supply – 25W digital power supply and battery charger with direct solar input
  • FCC and Carrier certified

You’ll get up to 150 Mbps bandwidth using LTE Cat 4 module, and just like the other board is can support OTA firmware update, and popular cloud services like Amazon Web Service (AWS) IoT, Azure IoT Hub, IBM BlueMix, Google Cloud for IoT, ThingSpeak, etc…

Installation and IP67 Enclosure

OpenH explains Bluetooth and NFC are for installation and maintenance, and they appears to have a mobile to access the serial console, authorize access, reboot the board, check GPS coordinates…. over Bluetooth, as shown above using QUASAR board.

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Many such long range IoT projects are designed to be placed outdoor, so the company also offer Rubicon IP67 weatherproof enclosure that works with both 4G boards, as well as Raspberry Pi, Arduino, BeagleBone, etc.. and is high enough for one or more add-ons board thanks to a selection of shallow or deep covers. The photo above shows the case with a Raspberry Pi board (left) and Beaglebone Black + PRUDAQ cape (right).

The downside is that the board are not available yet, pricing is unknown, and documentation is very limited right now. If you are interested, you can register your email on openh.io website by clicking on Pre-order Now button. Rubicon IP67 enclosure is available now for $35 plus shipping.

SDMC DV8230-AP LTE is an Android 7.0 TV Box with a 4G LTE Router Module

April 25th, 2017 1 comment

Shenzhen SDMC Technology launched DV8219-LTE Android TV box with 4G modem powered by Amlogic S905X processor a while ago, and the company is back with a new model called DV8230-AP LTE with the same processor, but running Android 7.0, and what they call a “4G LTE router function”.

SDMC DV8230-AP LTE specifications:

  • SoC – Amlogic S905X quad core Cortex A53 processor @ up to 1.5 GHz with a Mali-450MP GPU
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3 RAM
  • Storage – 8GB eMMC flash (4 to 64GB as option) + micro SD card slot
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0a, 3.5mm AV port
  • Audio Output – HDMI, AV, optical S/PDIF
  • Connectivity
    • 10/100M Ethernet port
    • 802.11 b/g/n WiFi (Dual band optional)
    • Optional Bluetooth 4.0
    • Built-in 4G Module + SIM card slot
    • 2x dBi external antennas
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 ports
  • Misc – IR receiver; LEDs; standby key; reset button; WPS button
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A
  • Dimensions – 120 x 120 x 28 mm
  • Temperature Range – 0~40℃ (operating)

Apart from the extra RAM, the two external antennas, and WPS button, I could not see the difference with the previous model. Most Android TV boxes already support “portable hotspot” mode allowing to share an Ethernet connection over WiFi. So for example, if you are in a hotel room with Ethernet only, and happen to have a TV box with you, you could connect it to add a WiFi hotspot for your smartphone.

Since initially the company did not clearly explain that router function in their website, I tried to ask them for more details about the hardware and software related to that function, and after several email exchanges, I could find out there’s a “router module” inside the box, and that “you can still use the WiFi function when the box is in standby.” Later on, the company mentioned the box is using Topwell DXS-WRM50BC module powered by Mediatek MT7628NN CPU, and while I could not find details about that model, it’s probably a card like AsiaRF AP7620-MPE-1, but maybe not with an mPCie connector, that runs OpenWrt or an another Linux based OS.

You could visit the product page, but you’re unlikely to find many more details there. AFAIK, SDMC does not sell to individuals, only to resellers and distributors.