Posts Tagged ‘bluetooth’

Get an Early ESP32 Board by Contributing to Luanode for ESP8266 & ESP32 Project (Crowdfunding)

June 22nd, 2016 4 comments

Development boards and module based on Espressif ESP32 dual core processor with WiFi and Bluetooth LE connectivity are due for Q3 or Q4 2016, but you could get an early sample as early as July if you contribute to Jimmy Wu’s (of crowdfunding campaign to develop Luanode (Lua SDK) for ESP8266 and ESP32 processors, as ESP32 boards are part of the rewards.


Luanode is a Lua SDK for ESP32 and ESP8266 that supports multi-tasking through FreeRTOS, and includes support for peripherals. The source code and documentation can be already be found on Github, and the main differences against something like NodeMCU appear to be multi-tasking and (for now) ESP32 support. Interestingly the SDK contains a tools called WiFi-Killer uses for Denial of Service (DoS) attacks using ESP8266 or ESP32 modules…


One hardware project is called WiFi tank comprised of one T300 Tank Chassis, ESP8266 Development Kit, 720p HD Camera, WR703N Wireless Router, and controlled by an Android or iOS smartphone. The company behind the project is DOIT (Doctors of Intelligence and Technology) and the funds would be used for hardware, software, and documentation.

With less than 3 days to go, the campaign has not reached its goal yet however. ESP32 development kit rewards is $19, while a pack with 6 ESP32 devkit only costs $39 (maybe baseboard + 6 modules?), and the WiFi tank “video car” is also offered for $219. Shipping appears to be included, and delivery is scheduled for July 2016 for all three rewards.

Thanks to Harley for the tip.

EBox T8-4 TV Box and Ipega Bluetooth Game Controller Unboxing and Teardown

June 20th, 2016 6 comments is a UK based shop specializing in TV box, and the company sent me their latest Amlogic S905 TV Box running Android 5.1 with EBMC based on Kodi 16.1, featuring an internal 2.5″ SATA bay, as well as an interesting and different design. I’ll write a two part review as usual, starting with specifications, and photos of the device, accessories, and internals, before actually testing the device in the second part of the review in a few weeks.

EBox T8-4 specifications

The TV box, also called Ebox T8 V4, has the following specifications:

  • SoC –  Amlogic S905 quad core ARM Cortex-A53 @ up to 2.0GHz with penta-core Mali-450MP GPU @ 750 MHz
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3
  • Storage – 16GB eMMC 5.0 flash + SD card slot + internal 2.5″ SATA bay for HDD or SSD
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0 up to 4K @ 60 Hz with HDMI CEC support + AV RCA port
  • Audio – HDMI, optical S/PDIF, and stereo audio RCA ports
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – 3x USB 2.0 host ports including one OTG port, 1x micro USB port
  • Misc – Power button, IR receiver, restore pinhole button, front panel LED display
  • Power Supply –  5V/3A
  • Dimensions – 166 x 116 x 53 mm

Overall the hardware specifications are fairly similar to a product like MINIX NEO U1, except for the SATA bay and some different for audio ports.

The device runs Android 5.1.1 with a custom launcher, Google Play Store, EBMC (aka EBOX MC) based on Kodi 16.1, as well as EBox App for support, EBox Apps (with an “s) app store, EBox Play Box to emulate different retro gaming consoles, as well as OTA firmware updates.

Ebox T8 V4 & Ipeda Bluetooth Controller Unboxing

The company sells their device with various recommended input devices such as air mice, gamepads, and wireless keyboards, and I received the device with an air mouse (in the main package), and Ipeda Bluetooth game controller.

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The box ships with a standard IR remote control, S77 pro air mouse with QWERTY keyboard together with USB RF dongle and manual, a HDMI cable, a 5V/3A power supply plus a UK to EU plug adapter, and a user manual in English.

The air mouse are both a remote side, and a QWERTY keyboard side, and this type is one of my favorite input device for Android TV boxes.
The box itself is made of a metal cover with a plastic body, and the metal cover also serves has feet for the box. The build quality also feels higher than most TV boxes on the market.

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The front panel feature an LED display (hardly visible on the pic), a power LED, an IR receiver, and the power button. We’ve got an SD card slot, two USB 2.0 port, and a restore pinhole for recovery firmware updates, with all remaining ports on the rear panel: USB 2.0 OTG port, micro USB port labelled USB-HDD,  optical S/PDIF output, video composite RCA output, stereo audio RCA outputs, HDMI 2.0 port, Gigabit Ethernet, and the power jack.

T8_TV_Box_Case_BottomIf we check the back of the device we’ll find a cover with two clips, as well as a sticker with some info including a MAC address starting with 00:11:6C. We can easily open the bottom cover to access the SATA bay…

EBOX_T8-4_TV_Box_SATA_Bay… and insert a 2.5″ SSD or HDD. I’ve done so and it does not require any screwdrivers. The bay looks deep enough not to have to worry about your drive’s thickness.

I’ll complete the unboxing with a look at Ipega PG-9028 game controller, which comes with a user’s manual and micro USB to USB cable for charging. It’s compatible with Android, Windows XP to Window 8 (and probably Windows 10).Entertainment_Box_Ipega_Bluetooth_ControllerThe controller includes a touchpad area, left and right joysticks, a D-pad, left and right buttons on the top, ABXY buttons, some multimedia buttons on the bottom, as well as select, start and home buttons.


The back has two more R1 and L1 buttons, as well as a reset pinhole. The Qr Code at the back points to a drivers directory with two apks. Those are probably already installed in Ebox T8-4, but if you want to use it with another Android TV box, it will be useful. The user’s manual also recommends to download BitGames to have access to many compatible games.
The gamepad can also be used with smartphones up to 6″ in size.

Ebox T8-4 Teardown


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I had to loosen four screws on the bottom of the case, before sliding the main body. It did not come that easily, but I finally managed.There’s no form of cooling on Amlogic S905 processor, so we’ll have to see how well it performs under load. A 16GB FORESEE NCEFBS98-16G eMMC flash is used for storage, and four NANYA NT5CB256M16DP-EK DDR3 chips for the RAM. WiFi and Bluetooth are implemented through a hard-to-read “179CGR DGP0C8” module… Genesys Logic GL830  USB 2.0 to SATA bridge controller allows for the connection of the internal hard drive, so you can’t expect amazing performance, but it will be good enough to play videos supported by Amlogic S905 processor. Other ICs include HS2401 and Realtek RTL8211E for Gigabit Ethernet, GL850G USB hub controller, and Titan Micro TM1628 LED controller. The four pin header on the bottom left corner of the picture above is likely for serial console, and the board is named T8U v1.1.


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The bottom of the board features the two other RAM chips, the SATA connector, power button and  LED.

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The WiFi antenna also looks a little different than usual.

If you are interested in purchasing Ebox T8-4, you can do so via T8-4 product page, with prices ranging from 99.99 GBP (~$146) to 189.99 GBP (~$278) depending on options with prices including shipping to UK and Europe, as well as VAT. The kit I received with S77 Pro air mouse and Ipega Bluetooth controller sells for 135 GBP inv VAT ($197).

Apache Mynewt RTOS for IoT Includes an Open Source Bluetooth 4.2 LE Stack for MCUs

June 15th, 2016 5 comments

The Apache Software Foundation has recently released version 0.9 Apache Mynewt open source real-time operating systems for micro-controllers under… an Apache 2.0 license. The RTOS works on STMicro STM32 Cortex-M4, and Arduino Zero / M0 Cortex-M0 boards, but they’ve also implemented the  first open source Bluetooth Low Energy stack for MCUs, starting with support for Nordic Semi nRF52 Cortex-M4 and nRF51 Cortex-M1 evaluation boards, and acting as a replacement for Nordic SoftDevice Bluetooth Smart / LE solution.

Apache_Mynewt_System_Block_DiagramThe operating system competes with ARM mbed, the Zephyr Project, and RIoT, but the foundation claims it is the only one that’s both community driven and permissively licensed (Apache 2.0) project in the embedded space.

The OS is modular and can be configured with a Go-like build and package management tool with components such as secure boot loader, flash file system and TLV storage mechanism, rich logging infrastructure, circular buffering schemes, and Bluetooth 4.2 Low Energy. WiFi, Thread, and Bluetooth 5 are also part of the roadmap, and support for Javascript and Python is currently being worked on.

You can find more information and/or get started with the project on Apache Mynewt microsite.

Bluetooth 5 Promises Four times the Speed, Twice the range of Bluetooth 4.0 LE Transmissions

June 10th, 2016 5 comments

The Bluetooth SIG is about to officially unveil Bluetooth 5 on June 16 during a media event in London. One change on the marketing side is that they dropped the point number, so it won’t be called Bluetooth 5.0 like in Bluetooth 4.0, but just Bluetooth 5. The decision has been made allegedly to “simplifying marketing, and communicating user benefits more effectively”.

Bluetooth_5On the technical side, Bluetooth 5 will double the range and quadruple the speed of low energy Bluetooth transmissions compared to Bluetooth 4.x, which could be important for IoT applications where nodes are connected throughout the house.

Bluetooth 5 will also allow connectionless services to add location-relevant information and navigation. The specifications have not been publicly released yet, and made they will be on June 16. Eventually, you’ll be able to download them on Bluetooth “adopted specifications” page.

Via XDA developers

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ble, bluetooth, standard

Xiaomi Mi Band 2 Fitness Tracker Adds an OLED Display, Promises 20-day Battery Life

June 2nd, 2016 5 comments

I’m not a big fan of fitness trackers without display that require you to monitor your daily progress on your smartphone, and that’s probably why when Xiaomi released their first fitness band I was not quite as interested, but now the Chinese company has released Mi Band 2 with an OLED display, an heart rate monitor,  IP67 ingress protection rating, and a 20-day of battery life for just 149 RMB ($23).

Mi_Band_2Mi Band 2 key features:

  • Fitness, heart rate and sleep tracker
  • OLED display, view time, step count, heart rate
  • 20-day battery, IP67 water resistant
  • ADI accelerometer and optical heart rate sensor
  • Anodized 0.05mm ultra-thin button
  • Upgraded pedometer algorithm
  • Hypoallergenic silicone band
  • 2nd gen Bluetooth 4.0 for faster, stable connections

It’s still good to be able to gather your fitness data over time, and you can do so with Mi Fit app for Android or iOS.


The downside with an OLED display is that you normally have to press the button to turn it on, but Mi Band 2 display will also turn on when you lift your wrist. That will be great as long as it is properly implemented. I tried this feature on another smartwatch once, and simply typing on a keyboard would turn on the display, seriously limiting the battery life. Other features include sleep monitoring, and phone unlock.

Mi Band 2 is already up for pre-order on Tinydeal for $46.99. [Update: The device is now on GeekBuying for $39.99; Update 2: Up on GearBest for $33.91 with coupon GBMI2]

Via Xiaomi Facebook page.

Categories: Android, Hardware Tags: ble, bluetooth, health, hrm, oled, xiaomi

You can now buy BBC micro:bit board for $19

June 1st, 2016 12 comments

BBC recently distributed micro:bit boards to UK schools to get student interested in electronics and help them learn more about this subject, but so far it was not for sale to the general public, but this has now changed since the British broadcaster now launched the board for 13 GBP (~$19) via Element14/Farnell and others distributors.

Microbit_descriptionThe board is powered by Nordi Semi nRF51822 SoC with ARM Cortex M0 micro-controller and Bluetooth LE connectivity, features motion sensors, plenty of LEDS, a few buttons, a micro USB connector for power & programming, as well as a header for LiPo batteries.  There are various ways to program the board either interpreted languages such as Python or JavScript, or graphical drag and drop programs such as Microsoft Block Editor. All technical details and example projects available on Micro:bit official website.

Beside the board only, several kits are being offered included micro:bit Go with a USB cable, battery holder & 2x AAA batteries, and a Quick Start Guide, micro:bit Club with 10 “Go” kits, and each reseller seems to have its own kits.

Element14 only accept orders over 90 units, so if you just want to play around and pre-order one or two, you’ll have to go through smaller UK distributors such as Kitronic, Pimoroni, or Technology Will Save Us that also sell the board for 13 GBP ($19),  and kits for up to 37.50 GBP ($54).

Microbit on Pimoroni

Microbit on Pimoroni shipping to Thailand

Even though there are only British resellers, you can buy the board from anywhere in the world. For example, micro:bit will sale for 16.33 GBP ($23.70) shipped to Asia on Pimoroni. Shipping is scheduled for July.

Thanks to Zoobab for the tip.

Updating Star Cloud PCG02U to Ubuntu 16.04 with WiFi and HDMI Audio Support

May 26th, 2016 13 comments

I completed my review of PCG02U Ubuntu TV stick a few days ago, and I was quite satisfied with the device, but since Ubuntu 16.04 was released last month, I thought it might be fun to upgrade to the latest version of Ubuntu. I’m go through the complete steps including building a new kernel for HDMI audio, and the drivers for WiFi, but you should be able to install Ubuntu 16.04 for Bay Trail and Cherry Trail processor with the image made by Linuxium and a USB stick.

Star Cloud PCG02U OS Support and Warranty

Before I go through the instructions, you may want to read the conditions on MeLE’s Aliexpress PCG02U page.

PCG02U_Linux_OS_WarningThey meant Ubuntu 14.04 instead of 14.0.4, but the important part is that if something goes wrong trying alternative OS, you may lose your warranty.

Upgrade Ubuntu 14.04 to Ubuntu 16.04

Upgrading from one LTS version to the next should be easy using the update manager…

… or doing it through the terminal entirely:

However, it did not work for me, as it quickly ended with the message:

I noticed that PCG02U was still stuck on Ubuntu 14.04.3 LTS, despite running dist-upgrade:

After trying several solutions, I eventually changed the Ubuntu mirror, and the steps above completed successfully with Ubuntu 16.04 running.

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At least two little problems though: I lost HDMI audio with only Dummy Output available, and while Ethernet was still working after the update, WiFi support was gone… But if you don’t need either you’re good to go.

Enabling HDMI audio in PCG02U

Luckily we already have the instructions to enable HDMI audio for Bay Trail and Cherry Trail processors, all we need is a Linux 4.5 kernel and patch it. I’ll do everything inside PCG02U, and I have not used a separate build machine, which would likely be faster. Tip: you’ll need gcc 4.9 or greater. I used the instruction here and there.

First let’s build the dependencies required to build the kernel in Ubuntu.

Now let’s get the patches in a working directory

as well as the Linux 4.5.1 kernel patched for Ubuntu and the Intel Atom HDMI audio support:

Now we can configure the build:

This will ask which config files to configure for AMD64, i386, ARM and so on. We only need to edit the first one (AMD64). Once you are in the config menu, use menuconfig search function to locate SUPPORT_HDMI option and enable it. Exit and save.

Before starting the build add something like “+some_string” to the end of the first version number in the debian.master/changelog> file. I added +hdmi_audio string:

You can now start the build with:

However, the build did not complete for me, with the error:

I followed the instructions on askubuntu, and disabled set do_zfs = false in debian.master/rules.d/, and completed the build with the same command line. It took around 2 to 3 to complete the build on PCG02U, and I had a bunch of deb packages…

.. and I installed the headers and image:

Rebooted the system, which booted successfully, and I could confirm HDMI audio was back. Yes!

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But still no WiFi… and space was running now, so I did some cleaning which gave me a few gigabytes to play with:

Building Realtek RTL8723BS WiFi Driver in Ubuntu/Linux

Star Cloud PCG02U uses  a WiFi and Bluetooth module with the common Realtek RTL8723BS chip, but the driver is not currently in mainline, so it needs to be compiled separately. That part is straightforward, and only take 2 minutes or less:

That’s all and now the Wireless network is enabled:

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I had no problems connecting to my wireless router, and the module is automatically loaded at boot time. So now we have the same level of support as in Ubuntu 14.04 with HDMI audio and WiFi.

Realtek RTL8732BS Bluetooth in Linux

However, the hardware also supports Bluetooth, so it would be nice to have this enabled too, and again RTL8723BS Linux Bluetooth driver is available thanks to one independent developer (lwfinger).

In theory, it’s pretty easy:

But this did not work for me, despite Bluetooth apparently being located on /dev/ttyS4:

But the log would show a connection timeout:

Sadly, I haven’t been able to find a solution in a reasonable amount of time, and changing the baudrate from 115200 in the script to 2764800 (as shown in dmesg) does not help.

Of course everything would be so much easier if HDMI audio Cherry Trial and Bay Trial and RTL8723BS drivers would be in mainline linux, as all you would have to do would be to install Mainline linux in Ubuntu, and everything would just work. This does require some work however, but if you are motivated, lwfinger is ready to submit the RTL8723BS WiFi code to mainline if somebody takes care of all the errors and warnings generated by

Shenzhen Alpha M009 Smartwatch is Powered by Mediatek MT2503 SoC with Integrated Bluetooth, GSM Modem, and GPS

May 26th, 2016 4 comments

Mediatek MT2502 “Aster” SoC for wearables and IoT was released in 2014 with an ARM7 MCU, built-in Bluetooth, PMIC, and GSM/GPRS modem, and support for external WiFi and GPS chips. The upcoming MT2503 integrates functionality even further as GPS is now embedded inside the SoC, and Shenzhen Alpha Telecom Technology demonstrated their  M009 smartwatch based on the latest Mediatek SoC at CES Asia 2016 in Shanghai.

Mediatek_MT2503_SmartwatchM009 smartwatch specifications:

  • SoC – Mediatek MT2503 ARM7 processor with GSM/GPRS modem, Bluetooth 3.0 + EDR 2.1, GPS (MT3333), PMIC
  • Display – 1.22″ or 1.3″ 240×240 resolution TFT display
  • Cellular Connectivity – SIM card
  • Sensors – HRM, pressure sensor
  • Misc – 2x buttons
  • Dimensions – 36 x 32 x 11 mm

There will be two version of the processor MT2503A and MT2503D with the former supporting external serial flash.


Mediatek MT2503 Block Diagram (Click to Enlarge)

If you’d like to integrate a ready to use module in your design, ATS Link provides W120 module with the processor and all required extra components.

The video in Italian below shows Shenzhen Alpha’s M009 smartwatch, as well as another model – H009 – based on Rockchip RK6321 processor, which I previously thought to be canceled, as it was born from the now defunct Intel and Rockchip partnership.

Via Notebook Italia