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Posts Tagged ‘bluetooth’

$32 Bluetooth 4.1 Audio Transmitter and Receiver Comes with S/PDIF Ports, a 3.5mm Audio Jack

March 20th, 2017 7 comments

As I browsed through DealExtreme new arrivals, I found a type of device I had not noticed in the past: a Bluetooth Audio transmitter and receiver that come with optical SPDIF input and output, as well as 3.5mm AUX port, and sells for $31.99 shipped on DX.

Let’s have a look at the hardware first

  • Audio In & Out – 3.5mm AUX port, SPDIF IN, SPDIF OUT
  • Buttons – Tx/Rx mode selection, SPDIF/AUX selection, multifunction button
  • Connectivity – Bluetooth 4.1 with 10 meters range; use aptX low latency audio
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port
  • Battery – 350mAh rechargeable battery good for 15 hours on a charge; Charging time: 2 hours
  • Dimensions – 6 cm x 6 cm x 1.84 cm

The little device ships with a micro USB Cable for charging, a 3.5mm AUX cable, an optical TOSLINK cable, an RCA Cable, and a user manual.

TX mode allows you to connect your devices without Bluetooth such as older TVs, computers without Bluetooth, MP3 players, etc… to Bluetooth speakers using one of the three provided cables.

RX mode allows you to play audio from your smartphone or tablet to your audio systems lacking Bluetooth or WiFi connectivity such as wired headphones, car stereo, or home stereo system.

There aren’t any reviews on DX yet, but the product is also sold on Amazon US, with users’ reviews generally positive, except one person complaining that

Description states “continuous use” with cable and directions state “Do not leave charging cable connected “

So you can’t leave the micro USB cable attached all the time, which can be a pain. However, another reviewer claims that “it also supports working while charging; you can plug in or unplug the external USB power charger any time you want“, so go figure.

If you only care about a specific use case, there are cheaper options. For example, I’ve been using a Bluetooth FM transmitter in my car, which I bought for about $10 in order to listen music from a micro SD card or my smartphone. I’ve been using for several months, and it works well enough provided you are happy with “FM radio” audio quality.

Categories: Audio, Hardware Tags: audio, bluetooth, spdif

Samsung Introduces Artik 530 IoT Module & Development Kit with WiFi, BLE, and Zigbee/Thread

February 9th, 2017 No comments

Samsung unveiled Artik 1, Artik 5, and Artik 10 IoT modules & development board families in 2015, but since then they dropped the Artik 1 family, and instead launched Artik 0, Artik 5, and Artik  7 modules and boards late last year. More recently the company canceled the more powerful Artik 1020 development board, but the Artik project is still going on, as they’ve just added Artik 530 module & development kit to their Artik 5 family.

Artik 530 Module – Click to Enlarge

Samsung ARTIK 530 module specifications:

  • SoC – Unnamed Quad core ARM Cortex A9 processor @ 1.2 GHz with a 3D graphics accelerator
  • System Memory – 512 MB DDR3
  • Storage – 4GB eMMC v4.5 flash
  • Connectivity – Dual band SISO 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2 LE + Classic, 802.15.4/Zigbee/Thread, 10/100/1000M MAC (external PHY required)
  • Other Interfaces and peripherals
    • Camera – 4-lane MIPI CSI up to 5MP (1920×1080 @ 30fps)
    • Display – 4-lane MIPI DSI and HDMI 1.4a (1920×1080 @ 60fps), or LVDS (1280×720 @ 60 fps)
    • Audio – 2x I2S audio input/output
    • Analog & digital I/O – GPIO, UART, I2C, SPI, USB host, USB OTG, HSIC, ADC, PWM, I2S, JTAG
  • Security – Secure point to point authentication and data transfer
  • Power Supply – PMIC with on-board bucks and LDO
  • Dimensions – 49x36mm

Artik 530 module block diagram – Click to enlarge

Samsung did not make it easy to find which operating system is running on their modules, but after reading a few pages in the getting started guide, I found out the module should be running Fedora. The Wiki shows Fedora 22 with Linux 3.10.93, but they have upgraded to Fedora 24 since then. The product brief however includes more details about the BSP which including drivers for wireless community, multimedia, and other systems peripherals and interface, as well as power management code and security with secure boot, Artik cloud authentication API, and a crypto library based on OpenSSL.

Click to Enlarge

Since the module is not exactly convenient to use without baseboard, most people will likely start with Artik 530 developer kit with the “Interposer board” with an ARTIK 530 module, a “Platform board” that attached under the Interposer board with extra interfaces (MPI DSI/CSI, audio jack), an “Interface Board” with two female header to easily connect external hardware, and two wireless communication antennas.

Artik 530 Development Kit

You can optionally also get a MIPI camera board and/or a sensor board. The boards are described on details in what’s in the box part of the documentation.

Artik 530 module can be purchased for as low as $42.35 in quantities on Digikey or Arrow, while the developer kit goes for $189 and up, also on Digikey or Arrow.

Via Tizen Experts

Embedded Linux Conference & OpenIoT Summit 2017 Schedule

February 4th, 2017 1 comment

The Embedded Linux Conference 2017 and the OpenIoT Summit 2017 will take place earlier than last year, on February  20 – 23, 2017 in Portland, Oregon, USA. This will be the 12th year for ELC, where kernel & system developers, userspace developers, and product vendors meet and collaborate. The schedule has been posted on the Linux Foundation website, and whether you’re going to attend or not, it’s always informative to check out the topics.

So as usual, I’ll make a virtual schedule for all 5 days.

Monday, February 20

For the first day, the selection is easy, as choices are limited, and the official first day it actually on Tuesday. You can either attend a full-day paid training sessions entitled “Building A Low Powered Smart Appliance Workshop“, and the only session that day:

  • 14:30 – 15:20 – Over-the-air (OTA) Software Updates without Downtime or Service Disruption, by Alfred Bratterud, IncludeOS

Millions of consumers are at risk from security vulnerabilities caused by out-of-date software. In theory all devices should update automatically, but in practice, updating is often complicated, time-consuming and requires manual intervention from users. IncludeOS is a unikernel operating system that enables over-the-air (OTA) software updates of connected devices without downtime or service disruption.

The talk starts with a brief introduction to unikernels, their capabilities and how they can be very beneficial for IoT products from security, performance and operational perspectives. Then we give an overview of the IncludeOS Live Update functionality, which we use to demonstrate an atomic update of a device using Mender.io.

Tuesday, February 21

  • 10:30 – 11:20 – Bluetooth 5 is here, by Marcel Holtmann, Open Source Technology Center, Intel

The next version of Bluetooth has been released just a few month ago. This presentation gives an introduction to Bluetooth 5 and its impacts on the ecosystem. It shows new and exciting use cases for low energy devices and IoT with the focus on Linux and Zephyr operating systems.

With Bluetooth 5, the wireless technology continues to evolve to meet the needs of the industry as the global wireless standard for simple and secure connectivity. With 4x range, 2x speed and 8x broadcasting message capacity, the enhancements of Bluetooth 5 focus on increasing the functionality of Bluetooth for the IoT. These features, along with improved interoperability and coexistence with other wireless technologies, continue to advance the IoT experience by enabling simple and effortless interactions across the vast range of connected devices.

  • 11:30 – 12:20 – Embedded Linux Size Reduction Techniques, by Michael Opdenacker, Free Electrons

Are you interested in running Linux in a system with very small RAM and storage resources? Or are you just trying to make the Linux kernel and its filesystem as small as possible, typically to boot faster?

This talk will detail approaches for reducing the size of the kernel, of individual applications and of the whole filesystem. Benchmarks will you show how much you can expect to save with each approach.

  • 14:00 – 14:50 – Moving from IoT to IIoT with Maker Boards, Linux, and Open-Source Software Tools, by Matt Newton, Opto 22

In this session, developers will learn how to use the open-source tools, maker boards, and technology they’re already familiar with to develop applications that have the potential to deliver a massive positive impact on society. There are billions of devices–sensors, I/O, control systems, motors, pumps, drives–siloed behind proprietary control and information systems, waiting to be tapped into. This workshop is geared towards teaching the developer community how to use the tools they’re already familiar with to access, monitor, and manage these assets to create a potentially huge positive impact on our way of life.

  • 15:00 – 15:50 – Debugging Usually Slightly Broken (USB) Devices and Drivers, by Krzysztof Opasiak, Samsung R&D Institute Poland

USB is definitely the most common external interface. Millions of people are using it every day and thousands of them have problems with it. Driver not found, incorrect driver bound, kernel oops are just examples of common problems which we are all facing. How to solve them or at least debug? If you’d like to find out, then this talk is exactly for you!

We will start with a gentle introduction to the USB protocol itself. Then standard Linux host side infrastructure will be discussed. How drivers are chosen? How can we modify matching rules of a particular driver? That’s only couple of questions which will be answered in this part. Final part will be an introduction to USB communication sniffing. Krzysztof will show how to monitor and analyze USB traffic without expensive USB analyzers.

  • 16:20 – 17:10 – SDK in the Browser for Zephyr Project, by Sakari Poussa, Intel

Starting a development for embedded IoT system can be a tedious task, starting with the tools and SDK installations. You also need to have proper operating system, cables and environment variables set up correctly in order to do anything. This can take hours if not days. In this tutorial, we present an alternative, fast and easy way to start IoT development. All you need is your Zephyr board, USB cable and Web Browser. The Zephyr will be running JavaScript Runtime for Zephyr including a “shell” developer mode and Web USB. The Browser has the IDE where you can edit and download code to your board. No compiling, flashing or rebooting is required. During the tutorial, we have few boards available and participants can start developing applications for zephyr in 5 minutes.

  • 17:20 – 18:10 – Fun with Zephyr Project and BBC micro:bit, by Marcel Holtmann, Open Source Technology Center, Intel

This presentation shows how Zephyr empowers the BBC micro:bit devices and its Bluetooth chip to do fun things.

  • 18:15 – 19:00 – Yocto Project & OpenEmbedded BoF, by Sean Hudson, Mentor

Got a comment, question, gripe, praise, or other communication for the Yocto Project and/or OpenEmbedded technical leaders? Or maybe you just want to learn more about these projects and their influence on the world of embedded Linux? Feel free to join us for an informal BoF.

Wednesday, February 22

  • 10:40 – 11:30 – Journey to an Intelligent Industrial IOT Network, by Giuseppe (Pino) de Candia, Midokura

There are 66 million networked cameras capturing terabytes of data. How did factories in Japan improve physical security at the facilities and improve employee productivity? With the use of open systems, open networking, open IOT platforms of course!

Edge Computing reduces possible kilobytes of data collected per second to only a few kilobytes of data transmitted to the public cloud every day. Data is aggregated and analyzed close to sensors so only intelligent results need to be transmitted to the cloud while non-essential data is recycled. The system captures all flow information, current and historical.

Pino will draw from real IIOT use cases and discuss the variety of operations and maintenance tool to support proactive policy-based flow analysis for edge computing or fog nodes enabling IT and OT end to end visibility from a network perspective.

  • 11:40 – 12:30 – SecurityPI: IronClad your Raspberry Pi, by Rabimba Karanjai

Raspberry Pi has garnered huge interest in last few years and is now one of the most popular Linux boards out there sparking all kinds of DIY projects. But most of these function with the default settings and connect to the Internet. How secure is your Pi? How easy is it for someone to take over and make it part of a botnet or sneak peek on your privacy?

In this talk Rabimba Karanjai will show how to harden the security of a Raspberry Pi 3. He will showcase different techniques with code examples along with a toolkit made specifically to do that. This cookbook will harden the device and also provide a way to audit and analyze the behavior of the device constantly. After all, protecting the device finally protects us all, by preventing another dyndns DDOS attack.

  • 14:00 – 14:50 – IoTivity-Constrained: IoT for Tiny Devices, by Kishen Maloor, Intel Corporation

The IoT will be connected by tiny edge devices with resource constraints. The IoTivity-Constrained project is a small-footprint implementation of the Open Connectivity Foundation’s (OCF) IoT standards with a design that caters to resource-constrained environments. It is lightweight, maintainable and quickly customizable to run on any hardware-software deployment.

This talk will present IoTivity-Constrained’s architecture, features, APIs, and its current integration with a few popular real-time operating systems. It will end with a discussion of IoTivity-Constrained’s adaptation for the Zephyr RTOS.

  • 15:00 – 15:50 – RIOT: The Friendly Operating System for the IoT (If Linux Won’t Work, Try RIOT), by Thomas Eichinger, RIOT-OS

This presentation will start with RIOT’s perspective on the IoT, focusing on CPU- and memory-constrained hardware communicating with low-power radios. In this context, similarly to the rest of the Internet, a community-driven, free and open source operating system such as RIOT is key to software evolution, scalability and robustness. After giving an overview to RIOT’s overall architecture and its modular building blocks, the speaker will describe in more detail selected design decisions concerning RIOT’s kernel, hardware abstraction and network stack. Furthermore, the talk will overview the development and organizational processes put in place to help streamline the efforts of RIOT’s heterogeneous community. The presentation will end with an outlook on upcoming features in RIOT’s next releases and longer-term vision.

  • 16:20 – 17:10 – Graphs + Sensors = The Internet of Connected Things, by William Lyon, Neo4j

There is no question that the proliferation of connected devices has increased the volume, velocity, and variety of data available. Deriving value and business insight from this data is an ever evolving challenge for the enterprise. Moving beyond analyzing just discrete data points is when the real value of streaming sensor data begins to emerge. Graph databases allow for working with data in the context of the overall network, not just a stream of values from a sensor. This talk with cover an architecture for working with streaming data and graph databases, use-cases that make sense for graphs and IoT data, and how graphs can enable better real-time decisions from sensor data. Use cases covered will include data from oil and gas pipelines and the transportation industry.

Thursday, February 23

  • 9:00 – 9:50 – Android Things: High Level Introduction, by Anisha Dattatraya & Geeta Krishna, Intel Corporation

An overview of the basic concepts behind Android things and its structure and components is presented. Upon completion of this session, you should have a good overview of how Android Things brings simplicity to IoT software and hardware development by providing a simple and secure deployment and update model. This presentation provides the context needed for the Android Things Tutorial and other deep dive sessions for Android Things.

  • 10:00 – 10:50 – 2017 is the Year of the Linux Video Codec Drivers, by Laurent Pinchart, Ideas on Board

Codecs have long been the poor relation of embedded video devices in the Linux kernel. With the embedded world moving from stateful to stateless codecs, Linux developers were left without any standard solution, forcing vendors and users to resort to proprietary APIs such as OpenMAX.

Despair no more! Very recent additions to V4L2 make it possible to support video codecs with standard Linux kernel APIs. The ChromeOS team has proved that viable solutions exist for codecs without resorting to the proprietary options. This presentation will explain why video codecs took so long to properly support, and how the can be implemented and used with free software and open APIs.

  • 11:10 – 12:00 – Embedded Linux – Then and Now at iRobot, by Patrick Doyle, iRobot

Mr. Doyle will review the history of the use of embedded Linux at a commercial company (iRobot) and discuss the challenges faced (and overcome) then and now. While home routers and WiFi Access Point developers have enjoyed the benefits (and risks) of deploying Linux based products, that has not always been the case for other products. With the advent of low cost cell phone processors and vendor support for Linux, it is now possible to embed a Linux based solution in a consumer retail product such as a vacuum cleaner, minimizing risk and development time in the process.

  • 12:10 – 13:00 – Mainline Linux on AmLogic SoCs, by Neil Armstrong, BayLibre

Inexpensive set-top boxes are everywhere and many of them are powered by AmLogic SoCs. These chips provide 4K H.265/VP9 video decoding and have fully open source Linux kernel and U-boot releases. Unfortunately most of the products based on these devices are running an ancient 3.10 Android kernel. Thankfully AmLogic has put a priority on supporting their chips in the mainline Linux kernel.

Neil will present the challenges and benefits to pushing support for these SoCs upstream, as well as the overall hardware architecture in order to understand the Linux upstreaming decisions and constraints. He will also detail the future development plans aiming to offer a complete experience running an Upstream Linux kernel.

  • 14:30 – 15:20 – OpenWrt/LEDE: When Two become One, by Florian Fainelli, Broadcom Ltd

OpenWrt is a popular Linux distribution and build system primarily targeting the Wi-Fi router/gateway space. The project has been around for more than 12 years, but has recently experienced a schism amongst the developers over various issues.  This resulted in the formation of the LEDE project.  This split has caused confusion among the community and users. This presentation will cover what OpenWrt/LEDE projects are, what problems they are solving in the embedded Linux space, and how they do it differently than the competition. We will specifically focus on key features and strengths: build system, package management, ubus/ubox based user space and web interface (LuCI). We will demonstrate a few typical use cases for the audience. Finally, the conclusion will focus on the anticipated reunification of the two projects into one and what this means for the community and the user base.

  • 15:30 – 16:20 – Unifying Android and Mainline Kernel Graphics Stack, by Gustavo Padovan, Collabora Ltd.

The Android ecosystem has tons of out-of-tree patches and a good part of them are to support Graphics drivers. This happened because the Upstream Kernel didn’t support everything that is needed by Android. However the Mainline Graphics Stack has evolved in the last few years and features like Atomic Modesetting and Explicit Fencing support are making the dream of running Android on top of it possible. In other words, we will have Android and Mainline Kernels sharing the same Graphics stack!

This talk will cover what has been happening both on Android and Mainline Graphics Stacks in order to get Android to use the Upstream Kernel by default, going from what Android have developed to workaround the lack of upstream support to the latest improvements on the Mainline Graphics Stack and how they will fit together.

  • 16:30 – 17:20 – Developing Audio Products with Cortex-M3/NuttX/C++11, by Masayuki Ishikawa, Sony

Sony released audio products with Cortex-M3 in late 2015. Considering development efficiency, code reusability, feature enhancements and training costs, we decided to port POSIX-based open source RTOS named NuttX to ON Semiconductor’s LC823450 by ourselves, modified the NuttX for fast ELF loading, implemented minimum adb (Android debug bridge) protocols for testing purpose, DVFS in autonomous mode with a simple CPU idle calculation, wake_lock and stack trace which are popular in Linux/Android worlds. Middleware and Applications were developed in C++11 with LLVM’s libc++ which are also popular for large software systems. To debug the software, we implemented NuttX support for OpenOCD so that we can debug multi threaded applications with gdb. In addition, we used QEMU with the NuttX to port bluetooth stack and in-house GUI toolkit and finally got them work before we received LC823450 FPGA.


That’s all. I had to make choice, and did not include some sessions I found interested due to scheduling conflicts such as “Comparing Messaging Techniques for the IoT” by Michael E Anderson, The PTR Group, inc, and “Improving the Bootup Speed of AOSP” by Bernhard Rosenkränzer, Linaro.

You’ll need to register and pay an entry fee if you want to attend the Embedded Linux Conference & OpenIoT Summit:

  • Early Registration Fee: US$550 (through January 15, 2017)
  • Standard Registration Fee: US$700 (January 16, 2017 – February 5, 2017)
  • Late Registration Fee: US$850 (February 6, 2017 – Event)
  • Academic Registration Fee: US$175 (Student/Faculty attendees will be required to show a valid student/faculty ID at registration.)
  • Hobbyist Registration Fee: US$175 (only if you are paying for yourself to attend this event and are currently active in the community)

Orange Pi 2G-IOT Board Based on RDA8810PL Cortex A5 Processor to Support Bluetooth and GSM

January 8th, 2017 55 comments

[Update: The board featured below was initially announced as Orange Pi Zero Plus, but considering it may have confused people as it is not at all compatible with Orange Pi Zero, it has been renamed to Orange Pi 2G-IoT]

Linaro mentioned Orange Pi i96 board last fall at Linaro Connect US. It was supposed to be a $9.99 board powered by an RDA Micro Cortex A5 processor with 2Gbit RAM and 4Gbit NAND flash on-chip. There has not been any news since then, but Shenzhen Xunlong has apparently gone ahead with an RDA Micro Cortex A5 board since they’ve posted some pictures of Orange Pi Zero Plus (Note: very slow server) with an RDA Micro ARM Cortex A5 processor.

orange-pi-zero-plusOrange Pi 2G-IoT preliminary specifications:

  • SoC – RDA Micro 8810PL ARM Cortex A5 processor @ up to 1.0 GHz with 2Gbit (256 MB) on-chip LPDDR2 RAM, 4Gbit (512 MB) on-chip SLC NAND flash , 256KB L2 cache, Vivante GC860 3D GPU, and GSM/GPRS/EDGE Modem (Download datasheet)
  • External Storage – micro SD slot
  • Display I/F – LCD connector up to qHD resolution
  • Video – Decoding up to 1080p30, encoding up to 1080p30 H.264
  • Audio I/F – 3.5mm audio jack, one built-in micorphone?
  • Connectivity – Bluetooth and GSM/GPRS/EDGE with SIM card slot
  • Camera – MIPI CSI-2 connector for camera sensor up to 2MP
  • USB – 1x USB host port, 1x micro USB port (for power?)
  • Expansion – 40-pin GPIO header with SPI, I2C, ADC, GPIOs, PWM, etc…
  • Misc – 8 selection jumpers, button
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port; maybe one pin on header
  • Dimensions – ~70 x 44 mm(estimated)
  • Certifications – CE and FCC based on PCB silkscreen

rda-8810pl-development-boardWe don’t have much more info about the board, but since the processor is used in a few Android phones such as Aqua G2 or Challenger V40LD, so Android 4.4 Kitkat should be available for the board. Linaro, although they might not be involved, also mentioned an Ubuntu Linux for Orange Pi i96 board, so an Ubuntu Linux image is very likely to be provided. If Linaro has been involved in the kernel/software development, then you should expect somewhat OK support, but if they haven’t, I’m expecting a world of pain at the beginning, at least compared to the relatively well community supported Allwinner H3 based Orange Pi boards. If you intend to use the SIM card, you may want to check if your country has any plans to phase out of 2G, as several have already done so, and many others will shutdown 2G networks in the next few years.

The board is scheduled to be launched right after Chinese New Year in the first half of February. We don’t have pricing info, but I’d expect it to costs less than $10 + shipping as it was the price announced for Orange Pi i96 board, and you can get a complete Android RDA8810PL phone for around $25.

Qorvo GP695 “Smart Home” SoC Integrates 802.15.4, Zigbee 3.0, Thread, and Bluetooth LE

January 4th, 2017 No comments

GreenPeak Technologies ultra-low power, short range RF communication technology company was acquired by Qorvo last year, and Qorvo has recently announced a GP695 system on chip (SoC) for smart home devices part of GreenPeak’s previous family of devices, and supporting multiple short range RF protocols.

qorvo-gp695GP695 key features:

  • MCU Core – ARM Cortex M4
  • Connectivity
    • IEEE 802.15.4
    • ZigBee 3.0
    • Thread
    • Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)
    • Qorvo Wi-Fi interference mitigation technology

GP695 has been designed to be used in device such as a door locks, smart HVAC, smart security systems, connected video doorbells and intercoms, lightbulbs, smoke alarms, and leak detectors, and complements GP712 multi-protocol SoC designed for smart home gateways.

Qorvo will feature live demonstrations of its smart home and IoT solutions at its booth during CES 2017, at Sands Expo, Halls A-D Booth #42114. There’s very limited public information, and no product page could be found in their website.

ESP32-WROVER-KIT Devkit Supports Espressif ESP32 Modules, Includes a 3.2″ LCD Display

December 30th, 2016 5 comments

Yesterday Olimex wrote a blog post informing us that ESP32-CoreBoard was back in stock, one the many ESP32 boards launched late this year, but still hard to get. The company also mentioned they’d have limited quantity of the new ESP32-WROVER with JTAG and LCD display together with the picture below.

esp32-wrover-esp32-lcd-kit

ESP32 is quite more powerful than ESP8266 so it makes sense to have an ESP32 development kit with an LCD display. A quick DuckDuckGo search led me to ESP-WROVER-KIT Getting Started Guide, where we can find more details including the overall specifications:

  • Compatible with ESP-WROOM-32 and ESP32-WROVER modules based on ESP32 dual core Tensilica L108 processor clocked at up to 240 MHz with WiFi and Bluetooth LE connectivity
  • Storage – Micro SD slot
  • Display – 3.2″ LCD display connected via SPI
  • USB – 1x micro USB port
  • Expansion
    • 8-pin UART header
    • 6-pin SPI header
    • 48-pin header for I/Os and camera interface (standard OV7670 camera module supported)
  • Debugging – JTAG through USB interface (FTDI FT2232HL) or 14-pin header
  • Misc – CTS/RTS jumper; power selection (EXT or USB); RGB LED; boot & reset (EN) buttons
  • Power Supply – 5V DC input; 5V to 3.3V LDO chip
  • Dimensions – 85.2 x 79.0 mm
ESP-WROVER-KIT Block Diagram - Click to Enlarge

ESP-WROVER-KIT Block Diagram – Click to Enlarge

The rest of the getting started guide explains how to configure jumpers to set the power source, serial flow control, and JTAG. It also shows how to access the serial console with a typical 115200 8N1 connection, as well as compile and load a simple hello program with ESP-IDF SDK in Windows and Linux.

Image Source: HackerBoads

Image Source: HackerBoards

Beside the development kit itself, I also discovered the new ESP32-WROVER module with the same feature as ESP-WROOM-32 plus an extra 32Mbit pSRAM chip and an external antenna connector.

esp32-wrover

ESP32-WROVER Photo via ESP32 Twitter Account

The kit should be available in January based on Olimex’ blog post, but we don’t have any pricing info yet.

LG TONE Wireless Bluetooth Speakers & Earbuds Get Charged with a Neckband

December 29th, 2016 No comments

Battery powered Bluetooth speakers are very common, and Bluetooth earbuds even more, but both are normally designed for different use cases. Last year ZAGG decided to bring both into a single product that you wear around your neck: Flex Arc Wireless Bluetooth earbuds + speakers now selling for about $56. The obvious advantage is that it includes larger battery than you can fit in earbuds and most Bluetooth headsets.

LG TONE Studio

LG TONE Studio

ZAGG will soon be getting some competition as LG has designed two Bluetooth audio products leveraging your neck with LG TONE Studio (HBS-W120) equipped with a Hi-Fi DAC, 4 speakers, and two earbuds, and LG TONE Free (HBS-F110) with 2 “true wireless” earbuds that can be storage and charged in their neckband. The latter can also vibrate for incoming calls and text messages. An extra charging cradle is also provided for use cases when the neckband might not be convenient.

lg-tone-studio

LG TONE Free

LG will officially unveil both products at CES 2017, so we should learn more about them in a week time, possibly including how much they actually cost.

Via Liliputing

Categories: Audio, Hardware Tags: audio, bluetooth, ces 2017, lg

Eweat R9 Plus TV Box Review Part 2 – Android, OpenWrt, and HDMI Recording

December 24th, 2016 25 comments

Eweat R9 Plus is a device powered by Realtek RTD1295 SoC combining main functions: Android 6.0 TV box, OpenWrt NAS/router, and HDMI recorder thanks to its HDMI input port. It competes directly with Zidoo X9S which has the same features, except while Zidoo X9S has no internal SATA bay and your 2.5″ hard drive just hang outside the box, Eweat R9 Plus comes with an internal 3.5″ SATA bay that makes it much neater on your furniture… We’ve already seen that in the first part for review “Eweat R9 Plus unboxing and teardown“, and I was impressed by the hardware, but the software is even more important, and that’s what I’m going to check out in the second and final part of this review.

First Boot, First Impressions and Setup.

I’ve first inserted a 1TB 3.5″ SATA drive in the device, and then I connected an extra USB 3.0 hard drive, HDMI and Ethernet cables, two USB dongles for MINIX NEO A2 Lite air mouse and Tronsmart Mars G01 gamepad, and a USB keyboard to take screenshots, as well as U4 Quad Hybrid Android TV box to the HDMI input.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Connect the power, press the mechanical power switch on the back, and the device will boot, typically in about 40 seconds, to the main launcher. There’s no setup wizard like in Zidoo X9S, so you’d have to change configuration separately.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The top left corner includes status icons for USB, Ethernet, Bluetooth, and WiFi, and the top right corner shows the current date and time. The first time the time and date were not correctly update, and I did not get any IP address from my router… That’s because I connected the Ethernet cable to the WAN port, but once I connected it to the LAN port, everything worked fine. It’s just WAN and LAN markings are not quite correct…. Let’s go back to the launcher with 7 large icons, the “R9 Plus” icon is linked to Chrome browser (so we have two Chrome links), apps to the list of apps, EWMC links to Kodi 16.1, and 4K to the local file browser/media player. We also have 3 shortcuts on the botton that can be customized to your needs. Sadly, there’s no status nor notifications bars which can be a pain in some use cases. The small blue “rocket” on the of EWMC icon, is actually the mouse cursor (red in reality, but the screenshot app turns that blue).

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The system comes with a bunch of apps including Netflix, HDMIRecorder, and QuickSupport, and I could install my own without any issues using Google Play and Amazon Underground.

eweat-r9-plus-displayThe front panel display on the unit is a little more useful than most, as it will show the current time of the day when not playing videos or music, and instead display the current video time with 4K video player, but not Kodi, while playing media files.

If you are interested to find out more about the settings, I invite you to check the Settings section of Zidoo X9S review, as Eweat R9 Plus has basically the same settings, except only “Auto 1080p24” option is available in the Display section, Deep Color Mode (AUTO, 12-bit, 10-bit, OFF) is gone, and the Playback section is missing together with “Auto 29.97/59.94 Hz”, “Force SD audio”, “Enable low performance mode (less buffer for playback)”.

I could set the resolution (“TV System”) to 3840x2160P @ 60Hz without any issues, but I’ve noticed the video output will sometimes fall back to 720p or 1080p after a power cycle. I could not find any option to adjust overscan either, so I had some black zone on all edges of my TV. Those are issues, but the latter at least should be easy to fix via firmware upgrades.

Once I found that LAN is actually WAN, and WAN is LAN, I had no troubles at all with Ethernet and WiFi, and OpenWrt options are also exactly the same as on Zidoo X9S.

You only get 9.31GB of the 16GB in Android because some part is reserved to OpenWrt, but it still more than the 8.91GB I had on X9S. In theory it should be plenty enough, but after a day or two of use, my internal storage was completely full, despite not installing that many apps.

android-storage-fullEventually I found that since my 1TV hard drive had millions of files, Android’s “Media Storage” activity had created two very large databases. Disabling Media Storage fixed the issue, and after clearing the data from “Media Storage” I had close to 8GB free. Alternatively you can add an empty .nomedia files in the directory you do not want to system to scan, for example the root of the harddrive if you don’t want it to scan anything.

Going into the About device section, we can see “R9Plus” model runs Android 6.0.1 on top of Linux 4.1.17.

about-device-r9plusThe firmware is rooted, and OTA firmware update is done with SystemUpdate app, and I could upgrade from R9PLUS_V1.1_20161130 version to R9PLUS_V1.02_20161217 version which I used in most of the review. I had to disconnect the USB drive, or the update will fail. You can leave the SATA drive inside the box during firmware upgrades.

eweat-r9-plus-firmware-updateThe update went well, and did not mess with my settings, apps, and media files.

The included IR remote worked fine up to 10 meters, but I’d really wish higher end devices such as R9 Plus would ship with an air mouse by default. I had to jungle between the IR remote control and MINIX NEO A2 Lite air mouse quite often depending on the app I used. Realtek apps such as HDMIRecorder, 4K media player, and File Manger may work better with the infrared remote control.

Eweat R9 Plus firmware is stable and responsive, but there are a few small bugs here and there that should be fixed, like the lack of screen scale option, video output resolution set by the user is not always used after a reboot, there’s no status nor notification bars, etc… I’d also wish such higher-end systems would come with an air mouse with keyboard by default to be able to fully control the TV box with a single remote.

Power Consumption and Temperature

Power control support is basic with only on or off, no standby or reboot, but the power consumption numbers are OK, albeit a little higher than Zidoo X9S, maybe because of the 3.5″ SATA drive instead of 2.5″ SATA drive:

  • Power off (SATA HDD) – 0.3 Watt
  • Idle (SATA HDD) – 9.2 Watts
  • Power off + SATA & USB HDD – 0.3 Watt
  • Idle + SATA & USB HDD –  11.2 to 12 Watts
  • SATA HDD (Copy file to SAMBA share) + Play 4K video from USB HDD + miniDLNA in the background – 18 to 19 Watts

If you has a drive with many files, miniDLNA – enabled in OpenWrt settings as DMS (Digital Media Server) – will take a lot of CPU and I/O resources, so if you don’t need it, make sure to disable it. Idle power consumption numbers are with DMS disabled.

While there’s no standby mode, we’ve seen with Zidoo X9S that standby mode is not that useful as networking and drives are all turned off. It’s just must faster to boot than from power off mode. Most cheap Android TV boxes cannot handle more than one USB hard drive, but Eweat R9 Plus had no troubles with a SATA hard drive and a USB 3.0 drive. It might be possible to add yet another USB 3.0 drive, as the power supply has a 30 Watts capacity.

It’s no surprise that with a large metal case, the device stays relatively cool at all times. The maximum temperatures measured with an IR thermometer on the top and bottom of the device were 35 and 37 °C respectively after Antutu benchmark, and 40 and 50 °C after playing Riptide GP2 for 15 minutes.

Video & Audio Playback with Kodi 16.1 and 4K App, Antutu Video Tester, and DRM Support

R9 Plus comes with Kodi 16.1 (EWMC) and 4K app to browse and play media files with the internal player. So I’ve started by testing 4K videos with both. Bear in mind that while Realtek RTD1295 supports 10-bit HEVC/H.265 up to 60 fps @ 4K, H.264 is limited to 24 Hz, which will be a problem with you shot 4K H.264 30 fps videos with a camera or your smartphone, and 4K VP9 @ 60 fps is supposed to be supported, and with DDR4 memory I had hope some progress may be made here, but unfortunately the limit is really 30 fps, which could be an issue with some (downloaded) YouTube videos. Out of Specs videos are prefixed with OoO.

Kodi 16.1 4K App
OoO – HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 (H.264, 30 fps) Not smooth Not smooth, although better than Kodi
sintel-2010-4k.mkv (H.264, 24 fps, 4096×1744) Not smooth OK
Beauty_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) 1st try: 1 second and exit
2nd try: OK
OK
Bosphorus_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) 1st try: 1 second and exit
2nd try: OK
OK
Jockey_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_TS.ts (H.265) 1st try: 1 second and exit
2nd try: OK
OK
MHD_2013_2160p_ShowReel_R_9000f_24fps_RMN_QP23_10b.mkv (10-bit HEVC) OK OK
phfx_4KHD_VP9TestFootage.webm (VP9) OK OK
BT.2020.20140602.ts (Rec.2020 compliant video; 36 Mbps; 59.97 Hz) Not perfectly smooth OK
OoO – big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_30fps.mp4 Not smooth at all Not smooth
OoO – big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_60fps.mp4 Not smooth at all, and artifacts Not smooth, audio delays
Fifa_WorldCup2014_Uruguay-Colombia_4K-x265.mp4 (4K, H.265, 60 fps) 1st try: Still image (first frame) + audio
2nd try: OK
OK
Samsung_UHD_Dubai_10-bit_HEVC_51.4Mbps.ts (10-bit HEVC / MPEG-4 AAC) OK OK
Astra-11479_V_22000-Canal+ UHD Demo 42.6 Mbps bitrate.ts (10-bit H.265 from DVB-S2 stream) 1st try:plays a few frame, then freezes, audio still playing
2nd try: OK
OK
OoO – 暗流涌动-4K.mp4 (10-bit H.264; 120 Mbps) 1fps, audio cuts Can’t play
OoO – Ducks Take Off [2160p a 243 Mbps].mkv (4K H.264 @ 29.97 fps; 243 Mbps; no audio) Not smooth Slow motion
tara-no9-vp9.webm (4K VP9 YouTube video @ 60 fps, Vorbis audio) Unwatchable, and many audio cuts Not smooth audio cuts
The.Curvature.of.Earth.4K.60FPS-YT-UceRgEyfSsc.VP9.3840×2160.OPUS.160K.webm (4K VP9 @ 60 fps + opus audio) Not smooth at all, some audio cuts Not smooth, no audio

For some reasons Kodi 16.1 will fail to start playing some videos the first time, but play them the second time. Just like on Zidoo X9S – but worse – Kodi 16.1 implementation is not as good as the internal player, so for best user experience you’d have to use the 4K player. Automatic refresh rate switching works with 4K app, with 23.975/24Hz, 25 Hz, 29.97 Hz and 59.94 Hz with the latest firmware. It does not work at all with Kodi.

For so the audio tests, I’ve stopped using Kodi, and only used 4K app with PCM 2.0 downmixing and audio pass-through via HDMI.

Audio Codec in Video PCM 2.0 Output HDMI Pass-through
AC3 / Dolby Digital 5.1 OK Audio OK (DD 5.1), but wrong aspect ratio
E-AC-3 / Dolby Digital+ 5.1 OK OK (DD 5.1)
Dolby Digital+ 7.1 OK OK (Dolby D+ 7.1)
TrueHD 5.1 OK OK (TrueHD 5.1)
TrueHD 7.1 OK OK (TrueHD 7.1)
Dolby Atmos 7.1 OK TrueHD 7.1
DTS HD Master OK OK (DTS-HD MSTR)
DTS HD High Resolution OK OK (DTS-HD HR)
DTS:X (not supported by Onkyo TX-NR636) OK DTS-HD MSTR

So HDMI audio pass-through is working very well, and I did not experience some of the audio cuts I had on Zidoo X9S with Onkyo TX-NR636 receiver. Those may have been fixed since Zidoo X9S review however.

Below are a few screenshots from 4K video app starting with the list of storage devices/partitions…

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… the menu available once you’ve selected a storage device…

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.. and subtitle options while playing a video.

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I’ve also quickly tested Blu-ray ISOs (Sintel and Amat videos) and both could play. Finally, I play a 2-hour 1080p video to make sure the system can play a full movie, which I does.

Antutu Video Tester score (820 points) is a little lower than on Zidoo X9S (888).

eweat-r9-plus-antutu-video-testerBut the videos that failed are exactly the same:

zidoo-x9s-antutu-video-tester-resultsDRM info crashed each time, just like on X9S, so there’s problably no DRM support at all.

HDMIRecorder App

Eweat R9 Plus HDMIRecorder, as its name implies, allows you to record video from an HDMI input source. It can record up to 1080p @ 30 fps using H.264 codec in TS or MP4 container format, with a bitrate up to 10Mbit/s.

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It will also record audio, and you can select the output with the “Path” field. It will create a new “hdmi” directory to store the recorded videos.

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Once recording has started, it will work in the background (see recording info in the top right corner below) and you can browse the web, watch other videos, and so on during recording.

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I could then connect to the device via SAMBA, and play with the recorded video with both Totem player ad VLC in my Ubuntu 16.04 computer.

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That part works fine, and looks similar to Zidoo HDMI In app, however it lacks some goodies like PiP support and UDP broadcasting found in Zidoo X9S. So if so those functions are important to you, Zidoo X9S clearly has an edge of Eweat device here.

OpenWrt and NAS functions

If you want to learn more about settings up OpenWrt on Eweat R9 Plus, I’ll redirect you to OpenWrt and NAS functions section of Zidoo X9S review as all features are identical.

You can control OpenWrt main functions in Android settings…

eweat-r9-plus-openwrt

… and fine tune OpenWrt settings through LuCi web interface.

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I tested SAMBA, FTP, and Bittorrent. Performance on Eweat R9 Plus was very good with FTP transfer at ~105 MB/s, and 40 MB/s for SAMBA file copy to the internal SATA, very similar to Zidoo X9S with respectively about 90 MB/s and 50 MB/s.

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Eweat R9 Plus FTP Transfer – Click to Enlarge

eweat-r9-plus-samba-transfer

Eweat R9 Plus SAMBA Transfer

Contrary to my experience with Zidoo X9S, BitTorrent worked just fine and the transfer quickly saturated my 20 Mbps Internet connection.

eweat-r9-plus-bittorrentBear in mind that firmware evolves overtime and it’s quite possible Zidoo has already fixed the issue.

This time I also tested OpenWrt opkg system manager to see if it would work. After connecting to the device through ssh, I tried to update the packages and it failed miserably:

So if you want to install packages, you’d probably have to build them yourself, or copy and install opkg packages built for ARM architecture manually.

WiFi Performance

We’ve already seen Gigabit Ethernet works perfectly above with transfers at 105 MB/s through FTP basically saturing the Gigabit Ethernet bandwidth, so I’ll only focus on WiFi in the network performance section. Eweat R9 Plus has excellent WiFi performance with both 802.11n @ 2.4 GHz, and 802.11ac (433 Mbps), roughly matching Zidoo X9S equally good performance.

Throughput in MB/s - Click to Enlarge

Throughput in MB/s – Click to Enlarge

All you need to know is that Eweat R9 Plus is one of the top devices for WiFi  for all devices I’ve tested over the year.

Miscellaneous Tests

Bluetooth

I could pair Vernee Apollo Lite Android smartphone with “Realtek Bluetooth”, however once I started transferring files from my phone to the device, I either got the message “Unfortunately Bluetooth has stopped”, and when lucky, the transfer was initiated with Eweat R9 Plus showing an overlay message reading “”Incoming file from another device, please confirm…”. That’s all good but since there’s no notification bar, and no pop-up window, I had no idea where to confirm the transfer, and it eventually time out. I could not test Bluetooth Low Energy, because all my device are either broken or lost.

Bluetooth is not completely useless however, as I could get Sixaxis to work with my PS3 BT gamepad clone, and I paired X1T Bluetooth earbuds successfully, and listen to a YouTube video.

Storage

Eweat R9 Plus could mount NTFS, EXT-4, and NTFS partitions on a 1 TB USB 3.0 Seagate expansion harddrive with only BTRFS failing to be recognized. A FAT32 micro SD could also be mounted in read/write mode, as well as my SATA drive formatted with NTFS.

File System Read Write
NTFS OK OK
EXT-4 OK OK
exFAT OK OK
BTRFS Not mounted Not mounted
FAT32 OK OK

A1SD bench app shows excellent sequential read and write for the SATA interface, a decent performance for all supported file systems through USB 3.0:

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  • USB 3.0 + NTFS – Read: 37.93 MB/s – Write: 39.28 MB/s
  • USB 3.0 + EXT-4 – Read: 37.67 MB/s – Write: 39.43 MB/s
  • USB 3.0 + exFAT – Read: 37.04 MB/s – Write: 39.28 MB/s
  • SATA + NTFS – Read: 140.78 MB/s – Write: 86.30 MB/s

Eweat R9 Plus looks faster than Zidoo X9S using SATA + NTFS, but bear in mind that the hard drive used was different, so it may explain the difference. However, Zidoo was quite better for USB 3.0 using EXT-4 and NTFS, but quite poor for exFAT, which R9 Plus appears to support well.

Read and Write Speed in MB/s - Click to Enlarge

Read and Write Speed in MB/s – Click to Enlarge

I also measured internal storage performance, but unfortunately A1SD bench reported “Cached Read”, so the read speed is not valid. The write speed of about 55 MB/s is valid, and this is quite good. The actual read speed in the chart below should be lower than 140+ MB/s, but usually read speed is faster than write speed, so performance should still be good.

Read and Write Speeds in MB/s - Click to Enlarge

Read and Write Speeds in MB/s – Click to Enlarge

Gaming

I played Candy Crush Saga with the air mouse, and Beach Buggy Racing (with max quality) using a gamepad, and both games played perfectly well. Then I switched to Riptide GP2, again with maximum resolution settings. It’s started begin playable – but not quite 60fps – just like on Amlogic S905/S912 TV boxes, and Zidoo X9S, but then I noticed the image would freeze from time to time, and after a race was completed,  it may have a 10 seconds black screen before going to the main menu. So I checked the CPU usage in OpenWrt (SSH terminal), and notice miniDLNA with a high CPU usage. So I disabled DMS in Android’s OpenWrt settings, miniDLNA stopped running, and I could play the game for 15 minutes more without issues, nor performance degradation over time.

Eweat R9 Plus Benchmarks

Let’s start with CPU-Z.. R9PLUS (rtk_kylin32) model with a quad core Cortex A53 processor @ 1.4 GHz and a Mali-T820 GPU, so no surprise here.

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The device reached 36,076 points in Antutu 6.2 against 34,976 points for Zidoo X9S Antutu score.
eweat-r10-plus-antutu

There are a few potential explanations for the small difference: 1. R9 Plus firmware is more recent, 2. it’s winter here (~ 22 °C), and 3. R9 Plus has DDR4 ram instead of DDR3 RAM. However the strange thing is that R9 Plus RAM score is 3,046 points, but Zidoo X9S got 3,960 points which does not make any sense.

eweat-r9-plus-vellamo
Vellamo 3.x scores are pretty similar with R9 Plus getting 1,430, 881 and 2,539 points for respectively multicore, metal, and Chrome Browser benchmarks, against 1,457, 831 and 2,638 points for Zidoo X9S. So it looks like DDR4 memory does not help for any benchmarks, including 3Dmark’s Ice Storm Extreme.

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4,359 points for Eweat R9 Plus against 4,574 for X9S.

Conclusion

Eweat R9 Plus is a solid device, and I really like the internal 3.5″ SATA bay, internal and external storage, as well as networking performance is really outstanding too. However I would have wished the firmware to have fewer bugs, and just like for Zidoo X9S, Realtek RTD1295 SoC has some limited 4K capabilities when it comes with H.264 and VP9. Getting the optimal performance may require some tweaks like disabling some server services.

PROS

  • Responsive and stable Android 6.0 firmware
  • 4K app plays 4K H.265 videos very well with automatic frame rate switching, and HDMI audio pass-through for Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD audio
  • Excellent Ethernet and WiFi performance
  • Excellent internal and SATA storage performance, and good USB 3.0 performance
  • NTFS, EXT-4, exFAT, and FAT32 file systems are well supported
  • HDMI Input (up to 4K60 input) with video recording up to 1080p30 (4K input is also supported but record at 1080p30 max)
  • OpenWrt NAS functions such as SAMBA, FTP, and BitTorrent running at the same time as Android, as well as router functions thanks to its two Gigabit Ethernet ports
  • Proper power handling with power off, standby, and reboot, and low power consumption in off/standby modes. The provided 36W power supply also allows the connection of multiple hard drives.
  • Dolby & DTS audio licenses are included, so audio will work in any apps
  • OTA Firmware update
  • Good hardware design with internal 3.5″ SATA bay

CONS (and bugs):

  • Realtek RTD1295 VPU limitations:
    • 4K H.264 up to 24 fps which will be an issue for 4K videos recorded with some actions cameras (GoPro/Xiaomi Yi) and smartphones
    • 4K VP9 up to 30 fps, as 60 fps is not well supported. This will be an issue for some 4K videos downloaded from YouTube
  • Kodi 16.1 (EWMC) is not really working that well with many 4K videos not playing smoothly (even those within specs) and automatic frame rate not working. So 4K app is recommended
  • No DRM support (DRM info app will crash)
  • HDMI input works, but does not include features like picture-in-picture and UDP broadcasting found in Zidoo X9S
  • You’ll probably have to use both the include IR remote control AND a air mouse or other input device to fully use the device. A air mouse specifically designed for the box would be a plus.
  • Scale screen option missing in firmware, so I had black edges on my TV the whole time (should be easy to fix with firmware update)
  • No option for status and notifications bars
  • Bluetooth file transfer is unreliable (crash) and there’s no way to confirm file transfer (related to notification bar above)
  • Tweaks may be needed (e.g. disable Media Storage and DMS) for optimal performance if you have a hard drive with many files.
  • The system will not always remember the video output set by the user (e.g. 4K 60 Hz set, but falls back to 1080p or 720p).

Eweat also lacks a community forum like Zidoo, but as long as they keep firmware updates rolling, it may or may not matter to you. Overall, Eweat R9 Plus is also a good device combining 4K TV box, OpenWrt NAS, and HDMI recording functions. Whether that’s right for you depends on your requirements and budget.

The manufacturer sent me the review sample directly. Distributors can inquire the company to purchase in quantities, but if you just need one or a few you can purchase it on Aliexpress for $175.99 plus shipping (about $200) on Aliexpress.

Merry Christmas to all!