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Posts Tagged ‘debian’

BPI-M64 Development Board is the first 64-bit Banana Pi Board

July 12th, 2016 17 comments

Sinovoip has gone on the Allwinner A64 and 64-bit ARM bandwagon, announcing a Pine A64+ competitor, with Banana Pi BPI-M64 (or just Banana Pi M64) with 2GB RAM, 8GB eMMC flash, Gigabit Ethernet, and more.

Banana_Pi_BPI-M64Banana Pi BPI-M64 board specifications:

  • SoC – Allwinner A64 quad core ARM Cortex A53 processor @ 1.2 GHz with Mali-400MP2 GPU
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3
  • Storage – 8GB eMMC flash (16, 32 and 64GB options), micro SD slot up to 256 GB
  • Video Output / Display interface – HDMI 1.4 up to 4K resolution @ 30 Hz, MIPI DSI interface
  • Audio – HDMI, 3.5 mm headphone jack, built-in microphone
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet + 802.11 b/g/n WiFi & Bluetooth 4.0 (AP6212)
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB OTG port
  • Camera – MIPI CSI interface (which I guess you support parallel cameras via some kind of bridge)
  • Security – Hardware security enables ARM TrustZone, Digital Rights Management (DRM), information encryption/decryption, secure boot, secure JTAG and secure efuse
  • Expansion – 40-pin Raspberry Pi 2 somewhat-compatible header
  • Debugging – 3-pin UART header
  • Misc – IR receiver; U-boot, reset and power buttons;
  • Power – 5V via power barrel; 3.7V Lithium battery header; AXP803 PMIC
  • Dimensions – N/A
The board is said to run Android 5.1/6.0, Debian Linux, Ubuntu Linux, Raspbian image (obviously not the Raspberry Pi image), and other operating systems. Usually, when companies provide multiple operating systems like that, none of them work properly, except possibly Android. If you want to use any of the security features listed in the specs, better check with the company, as while the hardware can handle this, the required software is often not available, or requires some licenses.

Banana_Pi_M64There’s some technical information on the Wiki, but currently limited to hardware (PDF schematics are coming soon), and Linux and Android software documentation links only being placeholders. So far, OS images have not been uploaded to the download page either.

BPI-M64 is still work in progress, and I don’t know when it will be availability, but the company told me it would cost around $35.

Thanks to tkaiser for the tip.

Open Source, Modular and Upgradeable EOMA68 CPU Card, Laptop and Micro Desktop Launched (Crowdfunding)

June 30th, 2016 23 comments

Rhombus Tech has been working on EOMA68 standard for CPU modules based on PCMCIA at least since 2012, and after previous difficulties, they showcased a laptop prototype taking OEMA68 CPU cards at the beginning of the year, and they’ve now launched a CrowdSupply campaign selling an EOMA68 CPU card based on Allwinner A20 processor, as well as corresponding laptop and micro desktop housings that are both open source, and upgradeable with faster EOMA68 CPU card once/if they become available.

EOMA68_CPU_Card_Laptop_DesktopCurrent EOMA68 CPU card specifications:

 

  • SoC –  Allwinner A20 dual core ARM Cortex A7 processor @ 1.2 GHz with Mali-400MP2 GPU
  • System Memory – 2GB RAM
  • Storage – 8GB NAND flash + micro SD slot
  • Video Output – micro HDMI Interface (for 2nd monitor)
  • USB – micro USB OTG port
  • Compliant with EOMA68 standard

EOMA68_CPU_CardTwo versions of the CPU card are offered with different pre-installed firmware:

EOMA68_Micro_DesktopWhile you could use the CPU card by itself by powering it via micro USB port, connecting it an HDMI display, and adding USB keyboard and mouse through a USB hub, you may still want to get a housing such as the micro desktop:

  • EOMA68 Computer Card slot (user-upgradeable)
  • Video Output – VGA port (micro HDMI is also available on CPU card)
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 ports
  • Storage – One extra micro SD slot on board
  • Power – 7 – 21 V DC via 5.5 power barrel
  • Dimensions – 11.43 x 11.43 x 1.27 cm (laser-cut wooden case)

EOMA68_LaptopThe 3D printed laptop housing is also another option:

  • EOMA68 Computer Card slot (user-upgradeable)
  • Display – 15.6” 1366 x 768 LCD
  • Full-sized QWERTY Keyboard including numberpad
  • 4.3” capacitive touch panel and backlit LCD
  • Storage – 1x micro SD slot up to 256GB (on top of the one in the CPU card)
  • USB – 3x USB 2.0 ports (2 internal, 1 external)
  • Audio – 1W Stereo speakers, built-in Mic, CM108AH USB Audio with stereo headphone jack
  • MCU – STM32F072 Embedded Controller with firmware under GPLv3 license
  • Battery – 10,000 mAh good for 6 to 8 hours
  • Weight –  1.1 kg weight

The full schematics, and 3D printer design files will be made available. There’s are also plywood panels on both sides of the capacitive touch screen.

The project appears to have two main goals which are not met by most products today: First providing a fully open source system without any closed-source binary blobs, and make computer systems that both earth-friendly as the user-serviceable CPU cards are supposed to reduce e-waste, and cost-saving to the end user as they only need to change the CPU card to get a faster device.

While both ideas are noble, but there are challenges. With Allwinner A20 processor going fully open source using Parabola Linux means that although hardware video decoding should work with the open source Cedrus implementation, you’ll lose 3D GPU acceleration at least, and most WiFi dongles will probably not work either.  The Debian image won’t have this problem, but it’s not 100% open source. The idea of keeping the housing for main years, and only changing the CPU card is good, but hard to implement, as what may be acceptable today, may not be in the future. For example the display for the laptop is limited to 1366×768 resolution, and I already know many people who would not this resolution for a laptop, and in a few years the perception is likely to be worse. EOMA68 standards supports USB 1.x to USB 3.x, but both laptop and micro desktop housings appear to be limited to USB 2.0 connectors, so even if you purchase a more powerful CPU card with USB 3.0 interface in a few years, you won’t be able to enjoy the full capabilities of the new card. One solution would be to provide spare parts to repair or upgrade the laptop case, and that’s certainly possibly since the laptop is also designed to be easy assembled by yourself.

Rhombus Tech aims to raise at least $150,000 to fund mass-production for the project. The CPU card goes for $65, the micro desktop housing for $55, and the laptop housing for $500 with other various DIY or full kit rewards also offered. Shipping is free to the US, and adds $10 to $80 to the rest of the world depending on the chosen rewards.

Review of PocketCHIP Hackable Handheld Linux Computer

June 25th, 2016 12 comments

It’s not that easy to describe PocketC.H.I.P in a couple of words, as it’s so versatile. It’s a Debian based portable Linux computer with a resistive touchscreen and battery, but also a retro gaming console thanks to PICO-8, as well as a hardware development platform for IoT application with expansion header providing access to I/Os including GPIOs, I2C, SPI, UART…, and WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity. Furthermore you can easily dismantle the device, in order to use the CHIP board, based on Allwinner R8 Cortex A8 processor, for a different project.

So when Next Thing asked me if I was interested in reviewing Pocket CHIP, I was pretty excited, but when I received it, I scratched my head as there are so many ways to review the item, and it works out of the box with the firmware pre-loaded inside the internal flash, so a getting starting guide would have been too short: “press the power button, and have fun”. So finally, I decided to take a few pictures of hardware, show most of the features, and then go through the different options in the user’s interface.

PocketC.H.I.P Unboxing

I’ve received the device in a black retail package plus a micro USB to USB cable for charging.

PocketCHIP_PackageThe other side of the package has a quick start guide, including a link to PocketCHIP documentation.

PocketCHIP_Quick_Start_GuideBut if you can’t wait, you can most likely jump to step 2, as the device’s battery already has some charge, at least it was the case for me.

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The QWERTY keyboard is quite standard, except the number keys are on two rows, and the arrow keys are located on the top left corner.  The display is using resistive touch, so can use both your finger or a stylus for better accurate. You’ll go through a short tutorial during the first boot. The top has through holes for the I/Os, and at first, they look to be arranged in an undulated way, but I had no problem inserting headers, so that’s just a visual effect. The hole on the top right is likely use to add a necklace, although you could use it as a huge keyring too 🙂

PocketCHIP_PencilThe two holes on each side on the bottom can be used to keep the display straight with the left hole for pens (I also use an old USB WiFi dongle with antenna), and the right hole for pencils. I also ended up using mine as the stylus for the screen.

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The back of the device has a clear cover revealing CHIP board and the battery (11.1Wh @ 3.7V). You can completely disassemble the unit if you want, but I only pulled out the board with my little green tool. You can watch the video review at the end of this review in case you are unsure how to do.

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The top of the board has the USB port, a 3.5mm audio jack, a micro USB port, a battery connector, a 4GB NAND flash, Realtek RTL8723BS WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 LE module, AXP209 PMIC, and the expansion headers. The power button is located on the top left. Note that if you want to output to HDMI you’ll need to purchase an extra HDMI adapter. You may also have to reflash the board with a different firmware (TBC).

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The back of the board is protected with a plastic cover tightened with a single screw, and features Allwinner R8 Cortex A8 processor @ 1 GHz, as well as 512MB Samsung DDR3 memory.

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The CHIP board is sold for $9 + reasonable shipping, and should be about twice as fast as the original Raspberry Pi Model B board CPU wise. I wrote a comparison of ultra cheap boards’ features pitting CHIP with Raspberry Pi Zero and Orange Pi One if you want to find more details.

CHIP_Pin_MarkingsI also appreciate the markings written on the side of the headers, which makes life a little easier when wiring, as you don’t need to consult the pinout diagram.

What can you do with PocketC.H.I.P?

So after going through the hardware, I’ll show some of the things you do with the pre-installed firmware. Let’s get started by pressing the power button for one or two seconds. The boot will take a little less than one minute during which you’ll be shown several boot logos, and eventually you’ll be greeted by a short tutorial.

PocketCHIP_Tour

Screen resolution: 480×272

SunVox_Music_PocketCHIP_Tour

You can browse the tour with the left and right arrow key, it’s simply explains you can use the touchscheen with your fingers or a stylus, and the various tings you can do such as playing games, making music. Once we are done with the tour, we get into the main menu with four icons: Terminal, PICO-8 games, Make Music (SunVox), Get Help, Write, and Browse Files.

PocketCHIP_Main_Menu

There are also four icons on the edges of the screen showing battery life and WiFi connectivity, setup and power options.PocketCHIP_Settings

Let’s go inside the setup options since it’s one of the first things you’ll want to do if you plan to access the Internet, as this is where you can connect to your WiFi router, and I had no problem doing so, but note that only 2.4 GHz WiFi is supported, and 5GHz access points won’t be shown. You can also adjust brightness and volume for the audio jack, since there aren’t any speakers.

If you wonder how I took the screenshot for this review, I ran the following command in the terminal which gives me five second to go to what ever menu:

but eventually I did so in an SSH sessions with:

…and found the pictures inside ~/Pictures directory despite the following error showing each time as gnome is not install:

The company latter told me they used “xfce4-screenshooter” for their screenshots, so it should be a better option.

Anyway, time to play with the command line:

PocketCHIP_Terminal

Some command to see system info first:

So the device runs Debian 8 with recent Linux kernel (4.3), the rootfs partition is 3.6GB with 3.0GB free (after installing a few apps), there’s 496MB RAM available to Linux, and the processor is indeed a single core Cortex A8 processor made by Allwinner.

Linux 4.6 will start to support lsgpio to list all GPIOs, but in the meantime, we can still check this with sysfs:

With Linux 3.4 legacy kernel, all the GPIOs would show after loading gpio-sunxi module, but since we are using a more recent kernel, the instructions have changed, and you need to export the GPIOs you want to use as explained on linux-sunxi wiki.

The other good news is that apt is working fine, so you install most of the program that work on Debian. One of the first thing I did was to install openssh-server, because while typing on the device might be fun, it’s also slow, so I found it more convenient to access it via an SSH session from my main computer with the username / password combination being both “chip” (without quotes). I also found instructions to install doom on Adafruit, so I tried it:

It worked flawlessly, and I tried the game by simply typing doom,… and success!

PocketCHIP_doomYou’ll need to connect headphone or speaker to get audio, and playing the game with the keyboard is not that easy as beside the WASD keys, you also need to the left and right keys placed just above. So it might be better to connect a USB keyboard to the USB port of CHIP board, or re-assign the keys if possible. Apart from that, the games runs perfectly smoothly.

Let’s go back to the main menu to try PICO-8 retro games, and again you’ll go through a short tour explaining how to use the app to play or edit games with your own sprites.

PICO-8_Tour

PICO-8_Tour_CelesteAfter the tour, you’ll be presented by a selection of 4 “favorites” games: Celeste, Frog Home, Hug Arena, and Tower of Archeos, but you have access to many others games too. I tried Celeste, and no problem, except I need to practice more 🙂PICO-8_CelesteThe option to “edit this cart” will bring you to the games code, which you can edit as your wish.

PICO-8_Game_CodeThere’s also PICO-8 terminal to perform various actions such as loading files,  creating directories, and so on.

Next up the Make Music app (SunVox) will also take you through a tour first.

SunVox_Tour

After connecting headphone or speaker, you’ll be able to compose and play music on a MIDI keyboard.PocketCHIP_Sunvox

The application definitely requires a stylus – a pencil will do – especially the top menu options, and even kids’ fingers will be too big.Sunvox_Menu

The four icon in the main menu starts an help section with a scrolling bar. So much to say about this one.PocketCHIP_Help

The “Write” icon is a text edit, which turns out to be Leafpad 0.8.0.1. It could be your text editor to write Python or other languages programs, before running them in the command line.PocketCHIP_Leafpad

Finally the File Browser is the commonly used PCManFM 1.2.3, and allows to copy, delete, move, or create files or directories.

PocketCHIP_File_Manager

So I’ve gone through all options provided on the pre-loaded firmware, so it’s time to turn it off. You can click on the bottom right corner to select Shutdown, Sleep, or Reboot options, as well as “Flash firmware” to reboot into software flashing mode. You can then follow the firmware flashing instructions @ http://pcflash.getchip.com (Chrome browser required).PocketCHIP_Shutdown_OptionsIf you prefer a video review, and I’ve embedded mine below. I checkout the hardware until 3:05, before starting the device, and showing it action.

So overall, PocketC.H.I.P is a fun device to use, and should be particularly interesting for kids, as they can play games, compose music, and learn about Linux, programming and/or hardware hacking with this inexpensive all-in-one device. PocketC.H.I.P is currently available for pre-order for $49 + shipping for a limited time, after which it will sell for $69.

Orange Pi PC Plus Quad Core Development Board with 1GB RAM, 8GB eMMC flash Sells for $20

June 9th, 2016 25 comments

Most low cost development boards do not include internal storage in order to decrease costs, and instead require their users to flash their preferred operating system on (micro) SD card. This makes it easy to get started, but many micro SD cards often suffer from poor random I/O performance, even for Class 10 or greater card, leading to a poor user experience compared to what you’d get with an eMMC flash. Shenzhen Xunlong has released yet another Allwinner H3 board, namely Orange Pi PC Plus, similar to Orange Pi PC but adding WiFi, and 8GB eMMC flash.

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Orange Pi PC Plus specifications with main change with Orange Pi PC highlighted in bold:

  • SoC – Allwinner H3 quad core Cortex A7 @ 1.3 GHz with ARM Mali-400MP2 GPU up to 600 MHz
  • System Memory – 1GB DDR3
  • Storage – 8GB eMMC flash + micro SD card slot
  • Video Output – HDMI with CEC, AV port
  • Audio I/O – HDMI, AV port, on-board microphone
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n WiFi with external antenna
  • USB – 3x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB OTG port
  • Camera – CSI Interface
  • Expansions – 40-pin Raspberry Pi compatible header with 28 GPIOs, UART, I2C, SPI, PWM, CAN, I2S, SPDIF, LRADC, ADC, LINE-IN, FM-IN, and HP-IN
  • Debugging – 3-pin UART header for serial console
  • Misc – IR receiver; Power button; Power and status LEDs
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A via barrel jack (micro USB OTG cannot be used to power the board).
  • Dimensions – 85 x 55 mm

Orange_Pi_PC_Plus_Board_BackAs usual, the description states that the board supports “Android 4.4, Ubuntu, Debian, Raspberry Pi Image”, but most people who want to run Linux will now go with Armbian server or desktop image instead, using a Linux 3.4 legacy kernel. Mainline support for the server image is almost there for all Orange Pi H3 boards.

As usual with Shenzhen Xunlong boards, the price is very competitive, and Orange Pi PC Plus is sold for $19.99 + $3.43 for shipping on Aliexpress. As a side note, while Aliexpress used to be the only options to buy a Orange Pi boards, the little inexpensive boards have become a little more popular recently, and I’ve seen several models sell on other websites such as DealExtreme, eBay, GearBest and others…

Getting Started with Beaglebone Green Wireless Development Board

May 21st, 2016 5 comments

SeeedStudio introduced BeagleBone Green Wireless based on BeagleBone Green, but replacing the Ethernet port by a Wilink8 WiFi and Bluetooth module, and providing 4 USB ports in total. I’ve also ready taken some picture of the board, and Grove Base Cape to addition the company’s add-on boards via I2C, UART, analog, or digital interfaces. So today, I’ll report about my experience getting started with the board.

First Boot of BeagleBone Green Wireless

Since the board comes with a Debian image installed on the internal 4GB eMMC flash, checking out the board should be really easy. The Wiki may help, but for a first try to check the board is indeed working, you can simply connect it to a 5V power supply, or the USB port of your computer to port it up.

I’m using a development machine running Ubuntu 14.04 with both Ethernet connected to my router, and a WiFi USB dongle which I used to find and connect to BeagleBoneXXXXXX access point. You’ll get assigned an IP address (e.g. 192.168.8.138), and can access the board using 192.168.8.1.

BeagleBone_Green_Wireless_Access_PointAlternatively, you could use the micro USB to USB cable to connect the board over IP. In Linux, it just works, but in Windows or Mac OS X, you may need to following the instructions to install the drivers.
BeagleBone_Green_Wireless_USB_Ethernet

You should see a new ethX device in your computer in 192.168.7.x subnet

Now you can start your favorite web browser, and access the board using http://192.168.8.1 (WiFi), or http://192.168.7.2 (USB Ethernet gadget) to get access to some documentation in the board, and links to tools like Node-RED,  Cloud9 IDE, and BoneScript.

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Updating Firmware Image

Now that we’ve made sure we’ve received a working board, it might be a good idea to update the firmware. Bear in mind that the board will officially start shipping on May 30, 2016, and I got an early board, so the final image may differ.

I’ve open a terminal to download, extract, and flash the image to a 16GB micro SD card (4GB or greater required):

Replace sdX in the command line above, your own SD card device which you can check with lsblk.

This is an installer image designed to install Debian in the internal storage of the board. While the board is turned off, insert the micro SD card, hold the USER button (on board or Cape), connect the power supply, release the button, and the installation should start. The instructions mention that all 4 USRx LEDs will be lit solid when the update is complete and that it may take up to 45 minutes. So I went for dinner, and when I came back over one hour later, I did not see the LEDs were on, so I waited a little longer. But eventually, I decided to turn off the board, remove the micro SD card, and boot the board again.

After connecting to the BeagleBone SSID, I access the board with SSH successfully:

The date was 2016/05/16, so the update was successful.

BeagleBone Green Wireless Network Configuration

So far, everything went rather smoothly, but setting up networking was more of a challenge.

Since I now had two network interfaces on my computer with Ethernet to my router and WiFi to BeagleBone Green Wireless (BBGW), Internet traffic was routed to both, and since BBGW had no network connection I often had problems accessing the net to browse the web or send emails. So I had two options: change the routing table or connect the board to my router. I tried the routing table method first, which looked as follows initially:

After my attempt at changing metric to a high value did not work as expected, I changed the route from “link” to “host” for WiFi so that only the local traffic is routed there.

This did not work that well either, so I went with plan B to connect the board to my router. Network connections in BBGW:

So we wan t to configure wlan0 to connect to my router. Remember that only 2.4 GHz can work,  as the board does not support 5 GHz.

So I edited /etc/network/interfaces with vi, and added the following four line at the end of the file:

I save the done, and brought down and up the interface:

Awesome! Only problem is that after reboot, wlan0 would not acquire an IP address, and I had to run ifdown and ifup manually again.

I switched to static IP address configuration:

But the same problem occurred, so I asked on the beta group mailing list, and was informed that I could configure that using my smartphone. Simply connect BBGW AP, go to the sign-in page (http://192.168.8.1/login), click the select SSID, and enter password. That method is also mention in the system reference manual.

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That’s supposed to be so easy, but sadly it did not work at all for me the first time as none of the ESSID were detected, but I tried the day after, and it eventually worked… I just don’t know why…

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I could connect to 192.168.0.111 on my local network, even after a reboot. Good.

Node-RED in BeagleBone Green Wireless

Node-RED is a tool for wiring together hardware devices, APIs and online services in new and interesting ways, and it’s one of the tools available in BBGW web interface. The link is actually hardcoded to http:192.168.7.2:1880, which is a bug, but you can easily access the page using your own IP and 1880 port. I found one example for BeagleBone Black to turn on and off user LEDs, which I imported into Node-RED, and Deployed to the board.

BeagleBone_Green_Wireless_Node-REDClick on the square on the left of the “on” / “off” injector with turn on or off LED 2 or 3. You can change settings of one block by double-clicking  on it, and I’ve done so for bbb-discrete-out: USR2. You can see it will let you select whatever output pin supported by the board, change the name, invert values and so on.

BeagleBone_Green_Wireless_Node-RED_GPIO_Selection
The Blue gray “injectors” will either “0” or “1” string to the bbb-discrete-out nodes to change the GPIO status.

One interesting part of the BeagleBone Green boards are Grove connectors for add-on modules with the same name.

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I’ve connected Grove LED strip (Digital I/O), Grove Button (Digital I/O), and a digital light sensor (I2C), but Node-RED does not list the LED strip , and only shows the analog Grove light sensor, so I was left with the Grove Button connected to GPIO 51 as marked on the silkscreen of the Grove connector on the cape. So I dragged and dropped Grove Button in Node-RED, and configured it to poll for GPIO_51 every 500 ms.

BeagleBone_Green_Node-RED_Button_ConfigurationI planned to turn on and off some user LEDs, but connecting directly to bbb-discrete-out node for USR2 LED did not work. The problem is that I could not find documentation for this, except something about GrovePi, which explains that the Grove Button sends a JSON object containing a ‘state’ key:

So I probably would have to use another block to convert that JSON objects into “0” or “1” strings to controlled the LED/GPIOs. I’m not quite familiar enough with Node-RED, so I switched to testing Cloud9 IDE. [Update: There’s a tutorial using Node-RED, WioLink and BBGW, but it currently lacks in details]

Cloud9 IDE on BeagleBone Green Wireless

Cloud9 is a cloud based development environment that you can access using http://<IP_address>:3000.

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The first neat thing I noticed is that you have access to the console as root from within the web browser, so SSH is not even needed with the board. I quickly checked the OS version (Debian GNU Linux 8) and kernel version (Linux 4.4.9-ti-r25) to test it out. We’ll also find several Python examples for BBG and Grove modules in the left panel.

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I’ve open grove_i2x_digital_light_sensor.py demo program.

Access the terminal in the board to install the missing module

Another error:

So I’ve checked the I2C interfaces in the board:

There’s no i2c-1, so I changed the code to try with I2C-2 used with the Grove connector on BBGW:

And it went a little further:

I stopped there as it’s clear the sample have not been ported to the board, and to compound the issue Seeed Studio Wiki is currently down.

So I’ve had my share of issues with BeagleBone Green Wireless, but remember that the board is not shipping yet, so they still have time to improve the firmware and especially documentation. Yet I was expecting an easier experience considering the board leverages code and documentation from BeagleBone Black (software compatible), and there’s only about 10 days left before the retail boards ship.

If you are interested in the board, you can purchase BeagleBone Green Wireless for $44.50, the Grove Base Cape for $9.90, and various Grove modules on Seeed Studio website.

$35 NanoPi M3 Octa Core 64-bit ARM Development Board is Powered by Samsung S5P6818 Processor

May 20th, 2016 24 comments

A few weeks after introducing NanoPC-T3 single board computer based on Samsung S5P6818 octa-core Cortex A53 processor, FriendlyARM is now launching a cost-down version called NanoPi M3 for just $35 with 1GB RAM, and booting from a micro SD card.

NanoPi_M3

NanoPi M3 board specifications:

  • SoC – Samsung S5P6818 octa core Cortex A53 processor @ up to 1.4GHz with Mali-400MP GPU
  • System Memory – 1 GB 32-bit DDR3
  • Storage – 1x micro SD card slot
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet (RTL8211E), 802.11 b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth LE 4.0 (Ampak AP6212) with on-board chip antenna and IPX antenna connector
  • Video Output / Display I/F – HDMI 1.4a up to 1080p60, LVDS, parallel RGB LCD
  • Audio I/O – HDMI, 3.5mm audio jack, 7-pin I2S header
  • Camera – 1x DVP interface
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 type A host ports; 1x micro USB 2.0 client port; 2x USB 2.0 host ports via 8-pin header
  • Expansions Headers – 40-pin header
  • Debugging – 4-pin header for serial console
  • Misc – Power & reset buttons; power status LEDs.
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A via micro USB port; AXP228 PMIC
  • Dimension – 64 x 60 mm (6-layer PCB)

Cheap_Octa_Core_BoardThe board supports Android and Debian running on top of Linux 3.4. More technical details can be found in the Wiki. Samsung S5P processors are actually made by Nexell, and not supported at all in mainline Linux, so don’t expect support for a more recent kernel. Arnd Bergmann, one of Linux ARM SoC maintainers, even referred the code to as “awful“:

Source code is available but awful.

Specifically, this is a Linux-3.4 kernel that looks more like a Linux-2.6.28 platform port that was forward-ported.

Nevertheless, at $35 plus shipping ($10 in my case),  NanoPi-M3 must be the cheapest octa-core board available on the market so far. Visit the product page for more details and/or purchase the board.

$44.90 BeagleBone Green Wireless Board Adds 802.11n WiFi & Bluetooth 4.1 LE and More USB Ports

May 16th, 2016 8 comments

After BeagleBone Air, there’s now another BeagleBone Black derived board with WiFi and Bluetooth, as BeagleBone Green gets a wireless version with WiFi 802.11n, Bluetooth 4.1 LE, and four USB ports.

BeagleBone Green Wireless Specifications

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The Ethernet port is also gone, but most of the other specifications remain the same as seen from the comparison table below.

BeagleBone Black BeagleBone Green BeagleBone Green Wireless
SoC Texas Instruments Sitara AM3358 ARM Cortex-A8 processor @ 1GHz with NEON, PowerVR SGX530 GPU, PRU…
System Memory 512MB DDR3 RAM
Storage 4GB eMMC flash + micro SD slot
USB 1x USB client, 1x USB 2.0 host 1 USB client, 4x USB 2.0 host ports
Network Connectivity 10/100M Ethernet Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n & Bluetooth 4.1 LE
Video Output HDMI N/A
Expansion Headers 2×46 pin headers 2×46-pin headers and 2x Grove connectors
Debugging 6-pin serial header and unpopulated 20-pin JTAG header
Dimensions 86.3 x 53.4 cm
Price $55.00 $39.00 $44.90

BeagleBone Green Wireless (BBGW) and Grove Base Cape for Beaglebone v2.0

The board is designed and manufactured by Seeed Studio, and the company send me an early sample for evaluation together with Grove Base Cape for Beaglebone v2.0 that supports up to 12 extra Grove modules. I’ve not had time to review both yet, so I’ll show what I’ve received first.

BeagleBone_Green_Wireless_PackageI got two unbranded packages for each board, but I understand BBGW board will be send in a retail package with two WiFi antennas, and a micro USB to USB cable for power.

BeagleBone Green Wireless with Antennas (Click to Enlarge)

BeagleBone Green Wireless with Antennas (Click to Enlarge)

I got the two antennas, but not the USB cable. There are two u.FL connectors where you can insert the antennas. The wireless module is Texas Instruments WiLink8 (model WG78V0) that supports WiFI 802.11 b/g/n @ 2.4 GHz 2×2 MIMO and Bluetooth 4.1 LE. The four USB ports are on the left, and two Grove connectors (I2C & UART) on the right.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The bottom of the board has the micro SD slot, micro USB port for power, and unpopulated 20-pin JTAG solder pads. The board can run Debian, Android, Ubuntu, Cloud9 IDE on Node, and all other operating systems supported by BeagleBone Black. The wireless module support AP+STA mode, as well as A2DP & MRAA Libraries. The board is shipped with a Debian based firmware, and you can easily access it by accessing http://192.168.8.1 from your computer web browser to get some documentation. Resources for the board can be found on the BeagleBone Green Wireless Wiki.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Grove Base Cape for Beaglebone v2.0 has 4x digital I/O headers, 2x analog input headers, 4x I2C headers, and 2x UART headers, as well as a I/O voltage selector (3.3V or 5V), a Cape address switch, and a user button. More details about the grove base cape can be found in the Wiki.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

I plan to write test the board, and the cape with some of the Grove module I got in Wio Link Starter Kit in the next few days.

BeagleBone Green Wireless pre-sells for $44.90 on Seeed Studio with shipping scheduled for May 21, 2016, while Grove Base Cape for Beaglebone v2.0 goes for $9.90.

Qualcomm DragonBoard 600c 96Boards Development Board Includes Ethernet and SATA

May 8th, 2016 10 comments

A few weeks ago, I was informed that some code about DB600c board powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor (APQ8064T) was making it into mainline Linux, and more recently I found a website listing DragonBoard 600c with a low resolution picture of the board. While we don’t have the complete specifications yet, the form factor of the board is quite interesting, as we’ll find the typical 96Boards CE form factor on the right, and some extra interfaces on the left with Ethernet and SATA. It turns out, as we’ll see below, it’s perfectly compliant (hardware wise) with 96Boards CE “Extended Version” specifications.

DragonBoard 600c vs DragonBoard 410c

DragonBoard 600c vs DragonBoard 410c

Preliminary specifications of DragonBoard 600c board:

  • SoC- Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 (APQ8064 Fusion 3) quad-core Krait processor  @ 1.7 GHz with Adreno 320 GPU @ 400MHz
  • System Memory – 1GB or more RAM (TBD)
  • Storage – eMMC Flash + micro SD slot + SATA port
  • Video Output – HDMI up to 1080p
  • Video Playback – [email protected] HD video playback
  • Connectivity – Gigabit? Ethernet via PCIe . I can’t see WiFi and Bluetooth on the board, but since “Wi-Fi 802.11g/n and Bluetooth 4.0 LE” are required by 96Boards the specs, it could be on the back of the board.
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB port
  • Expansion:
    • 1x 40 pin low speed expansion connector – UART, SPI, I2S, I2C x2, GPIO x12, DC power
    • 1x 60 pin high speed expansion connector – 4L-MIPI DSI, USB, I2C x2, 2L+4LMIPI CSI
    • 1x 16-pin analog expansion connector – Headset, Speaker, FM antenna
    • One extra high speed? connector on the extended part of the board
  • Sensor – On-board magnetometer
  • Misc – Power, reset and volume buttons. 6 LEDS (4x user, 1x Wifi, 1x Bluetooth), RTC battery slot
  • Power Supply – 6.5 – 18V DC input (based on 96Boards specs)
  • Dimensions – 100 x 85 mm

The board should support the latest version of Android as well as Debian 8, based on the work done by Linaro on DragonBoard 410c.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

I’ve included the mechanical drawing for 96Boards Consumer Edition Extended Version as it should that designer can pretty much do whatever they want in the extended area, except for the position of mounting holes and power jack, and the maximum height of components limited to 6.5mm for Extended A, and 15 mm for Extended B.

I’m not sure when the board will be formally introduced and available, but considering there are working samples for developers, and most features have been found to work, it might not be too far away. There’s also a DragonBoard 820c with APQ8096 processor in the works, but I could not find pictures, nor code commits about DB820c, so the launch is likely many months away, or possibly early next year.