Posts Tagged ‘development board’

Webduino Smart ESP8266 Board is Designed to be Programmed via Websocket and Blockly Editor

October 22nd, 2016 No comments

Webduino Smart board reminds me of Witty ESP8266 board with its RGB LED and photocell sensor, but the design is a little different, and does not come with an extra USB to TTL board, as it’s designed to be programmed over the air using Blockly Editor.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Webduino Smart specifications:

  • WiFi Module – AI Thinker ESP-12F module with Espressif ESP8266 WiSoC
  • Connectivity – WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
  • 2x 8-pin headers with GPIOs,  ADC (Connected to Photocell), UART, VCC, 3.3V, GND, and Reset.
  • USB – 1x micro USB port for power
  • Misc – Photo resistor, RGB LED, micro switch button for firmware upgrade (connected to GPIO 4)
  • Dimensions – 3 x 2.5 cm (See comparison to AA and AAA batteries below)

webduino-esp8266-aa-aaa-batteryWhile Witty board was mostly targeting mainland China market with all documentation in Chinese, Webduino Smart does have some documentation in English, and is made by Banana Pi team (SinoVoIP). The default firmware allows you to program the board through WebSocket and a web-based graphical interface by accessing the board using Webduino Blockly Editor.


You’ll find some Webduino Smart JavaScript samples on github too.

I could not find information about price and availability yet, but eventually the information should be shown in website, where they sell their older Webduino boards, shields, and kit in Taiwan. Banana Pi also have a dedicated forum page, and we should expect them to sell the board worldwide once it’s launched.

Alorium XLR8 Arduino Compatible Altera MAX 10 FPGA Board Sells for $75

October 21st, 2016 3 comments

We already have a fair choice of boards with Arduino compatible headers powered by an FPGA with options such as $99 Digilent Arty (Xilinx Artix-7 FPGA), FleaFPGA (Lattice FPGA), Papillio DUO (Xilinx Spartan 6), or Snickerdoodle + shieldBuddy (Xilinx Zynq-7010/20). There’s no yet another choice with Alorium Technology XLR8 Arduino UNO like board powered by Altera MAX10 FPGA.


XLR8 board specifications:

  • FPGA – Altera MAX 10 FPGA
  • MCU – Atmel/Microchip ATmega328 8-bit MCU
  • Digital I/Os
    • 5V inputs, 3.3V outputs
    • 14x Digital I/O Pins
    • 6x PWM Digital I/O Pins
    • 6x Analog Pins
  • Analog Inputs
    • 5V tolerant
    • Op-amp circuit emulates 0-5V behavior of the ADCs on the Arduino UNO
    • Performance: 1 MHz;
    • Resolution: 12-bit sustained
    • Sample Rate: 154k samples/second
  • Power Supply – 5V via USB or barrel connector
  • Dimensions – Arduino UNO form factor

The board is supported by Altera Quartus Prime Lite Edition, and programmable either via JTAG though a USB blaster, or USB with OpenXLR8 and Arduino IDE without additional hardware as shown in the diagram below.


The FPGA can be programmed with what the company called Xcelerator Blocks (XB), an optimized hardware implementation of a specific processor intensive function, with functions such as  Floating-point math, servo control, or NeoPixel shields, strips, and arrays control currently available. Future implementations likely to be worked on include: Proportional-Integral-Derivative (PID) control,  event counters  and timers, quadrature encoders/decoders, PWM, multiple UARTs, and enhanced Analog-to-Digital  (ADC) functionality.

Alorium XLR8 board can be purchased on Mouser for $75. More details, including a wiki, a user forum, videos, and various getting started resources are available on Alorium Technology website.

Thanks to Nanik for the tip

TOPEET iTOP4412 Exynos 4412 Boards Support Up to 3 LCD Displays, GPS, 3G, 4x UARTs, etc…

October 20th, 2016 No comments

Beijing TOPEET Electronics iTOP4412 board based on Samsung Exynos 4412 quad core Cortex A9 processor, and a developer has very recently committed patchsets to mainline Linux kernel to add support for the board. Exynos 4412 is not quite the latest and most powerful processor, but the board is still interesting due to mainline Linux support, and some hardware features like interfaces for up to 3 LCD displays plus HDMI, two DB9 serial interfaces, two camera interfaces, and more.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

iTOP4412 is comprised of the company’s Exynos 4412 SoM and a baseboard with the following specifications:

  • SoC – Samsung Exynos 4412 quad-core Cortex A9 clocked at up to 1.4GHz-1.6GHz + ARM Mali-400MP4 GPU @ 440MHz
  • System Memory – 1 GB dual channel DDR3
  • Storage – 4GB eMMC flash and microSD slot
  • Video Output / Display IF – HDMI 1.4 port, 2x LVDS interfaces (including one via an HDMI connector?), 1x LCD RGB interface
  • Audio I/O – 3.5mm microphone and headphone jacks, and HDMI
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB 2.0 OTG port
  • Connectivity – 10/100Mbps Ethernet + WiFi header
  • Serial – 2x DB9 serial ports
  • Camera – Camera header (0.5 to 2.0MP camera) + MIPI CSI header
  • Other Expansion headers – A/D header, UART+Keypad+GPS header, 20-pin GPIO header, and JTAG header
  • Misc – Reset button, power switch, DIP switch, 5 user keys (Home, Back, Sleep, Vol+/-), RTC + battery, buzzer
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A via power barrel
  • PCB Dimension – 190 x 110 mm

The board is shipped with a power adapter, a serial cable, a USB cable, a HDMI cable, an Ethernet cable, and a CD ROM with schematic (PDF), the baseboard PCB (Allegro), source code for the drivers, chip and LCD data sheet, development environment tools and product manuals. There’s also a github account that’s not been updated for a over a year but include the Linux kernel used in the Android 4.4 image, u-boot, Linux rootfs, and Android SDK.

The hardware described above is iTOP4412 精英版 (Elite Edition), but there’s also iTOP4412 全能版 (Almighty Edition) with built-in GPS, 3G, WiFi and Bluetooth, four DB9 serial port, and more. That model apparently comes with an Exynos 4412 module with 2GB RAM and 16GB eMMC flash.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Bear in mind that Hardkernel phased out ODROD-U3 board because they could not source Exynos 4412 SoC last year or so, so long term availability of the boards are unclear. You can however purchase iTOP4412 Elite board on Banggood for $128.53. In case the company decided to phase out their iTOP4412 boards and SoM, you should be able to fallback on the company’s solutions based on Samsung S5P4418 and S5P6818 processors. More details can be fond on TOPEET website (Chinese only).

Thanks to Nobe for the tip.

MUSES-α & MUSES-β DVB-T/C, ISDB-T, DTMB & ATSC Modulator Boards Review – Part 1: The Hardware

October 19th, 2016 4 comments

V-Bridge Muses digital TV modulator boards launched on Kickstarter earlier this month, with the cheaper $200 MUSES-α board modulating video from a PC, and $600 MUSES-β turnkey solution capable of broadcasting HDMI or AV + stereo input to various digital TV standards including DVB-T/C, ATSC/QAM, DTMB, and ISDB-T/TB without the help of a computer. The company sent me the two hardware kits for evaluation and review on CNX Software, and today I’ll start by showing off the hardware I received.


I got 3 packages and a F-female to F-female cable, which means you can connect the board directly to your TV tuner without having to rely on actual RF signals, and potential legal issues that goes with it.pc-modulator-kit

The first package I open if for the PC modulator kit that include MUSES-α board, an “RF” board, as a USB cable to connect to your computer.

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Click to Enlarge

MUSES-α board features Vatek A1 chip, a USB port, an Ethernet port, a power jack, and  headers for UART, I2C, TS, JTAG, RF board and GPIOs.


The back of the board just has a Winbond flash.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The RF board is based on Texas Instruments TRF372017 IQ modulator PLL/VCO chip, and includes an F-male connector.


To get started you’d have to connect the USB cable, the coax cable to your TV’s tuner, as well as a 5V power supply.

The next package is the STM32 + LCD control board allowing to use MUSES-β board without PC.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

It’s made of off-the-shelf parts including DF Robots LCD keypad shield for Arduino, connected to an STM32 based board via jumper cables + some glue.

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Click to Enlarge

The “STM32F4xx” board is also an off-the-shelf STM32F407ZET6 ARM Cortex-M4 board found on Aliexpress for $15.50. So what you are paying for here, is not really hardware, but all the development work required for a niche product.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The third package includes the rest of the turnkey solution with an RF board, MUSES-β board based on Vatek B2 modulator and video encoding chip, and a video & audio input board with HDMI input, and 3 RCA connector for video composite and stereo audio input. All boards are already attached to an acrylic base, and the kit adds the top acrylic cover, some spacers and screws, and a 5V/2A power supply.

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Click to Enlarge

The RF board is exactly the same as the one used with MUSES-α board, and the AV input board features Explore Microelectronics EP9555E  for HDMI input and Intersil TW9912 for CVBS input.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

MUSES-β board comes with a USB port, a power jack, headers for the RF and AV input boards, I2C, MCU connect, and a TS port. I must have a received a prototype board, so there’s also some rework that should be gone once the kit ships to backers.

MUSES-β Kit Fully Assembled - Click to Enlarge

MUSES-β Kit Fully Assembled – Click to Enlarge

Assembly is quite straightforward:

  1. Connect the STM32 board to the “MCU connect” header
  2. Optionally add the top acrylic cover
  3. Connect the 5V/2A power supply
  4. Connect the coax cable to your TV, and add video and audio input(s) to the HDMI port or CVBS + stereo audio RCA jacks
  5. Scan the channel on your TV, and enjoy

That’s exactly what I’ll try in the second part of the review, once I receive some documentation from the company.

CHIP Pro is a $16 WiFi and Bluetooth 4.2 System-on-Module Powered by a $6 GR8 ARM Cortex A8 SIP

October 12th, 2016 24 comments

Next Thing CHIP board and corresponding PocketCHIP portable Linux computer have been relatively popular due to their inexpensive price for the feature set, as for $9, you’d get an Allwinner R8 ARM Cortex A8 processor, 512MB flash, 4GB NAND flash, WiFi & Bluetooth connectivity, and plenty of I/Os, which made it very attractive for IoT applications compared to other cheap boards such as Raspberry Pi Zero and Orange Pi One. The first board was mostly designed for hobbyists, but  company has now designed a new lower profile system-on-module called CHIP Pro based on Next Thing GR8 SIP combining Allwinner R8 SoC with 256MB DDR3 RAM that can be used for easy integration into your own hardware project.

chip-proWhile the original CHIP board exposed full USB ports and interface for video signal, the new CHIP Pro is specifically designed for IoT with the following specs:

  • SIP – Allwinner R8 ARM Cortex A8 processor @ up to 1.0 GHz with Mali-400 GPU + 256MB DDR3 RAM (14×14 mm package)
  • Storage – 512MB SLC NAND flash, 1x micro SD port
  • Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n WiFi + Bluetooth 4.2 with chip antenna and u.FL antenna connector
  • USB – 1x micro USB port for power and serial console access
  • Expansion – 2x 16-pin with 2x UART, parallel camera interface, I2C, SPI, 2x PWM, USB 2.0 OTG, USB 2.0 host, 2x microphone, 1x headphone
  • Power Supply – AXP209 PMU supporting USB power, Charge in, and 2.9 to 4.2V LiPo battery
  • Dimensions – 45 x 30 mm
  • Certifications – CE and FCC part 15
Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The module is pre-loaded with the company’s Linux based GadgetOS operating system, but custom firmware flashing is available for orders of 1,000 modules or more. Potential applications include physical computing, voice recognition, smart consumer devices, portable audio devices and so on. Software support should be identical to what you already get in CHIP board, and you can already find some hardware design files specific to CHIP Pro on Github including datasheets for the system-on-module and Allwinner GR8 SIP.

chip-pro-devkitIn order to help you getting started as fast as possible, a development kit is also available with a baseboard and two CHIP Pro modules. The baseboard include a 5V-23V power jack, a 3.5mm audio jack, a micro USB port, a USB host port, some LEDs, a power button, and female headers for easy access to all I/Os.

CHIP Pro SoM will start selling for $16 in December of this year without minimum order quantity, and no volume discount, e.g. if you buy 1 million SoMs, you’d have to pay 16 million dollars. One issue with CHIP board is that if you asked Allwinner for a quote for module used in the board, it would cost more or about the same as the board itself. Allwinner/Next Thing GR8 is completely different, as you can actually buy it for $6 (including AXP-209 PMIC) to integrate into your own project. The development kit is available now for $49. More technical details and purchase links can be found on the product page.

Thanks to Nanik for the tip.

SolidRun MACCHIATOBin is Another Marvell ARMADA 8040 Networking Mini-ITX Board

October 11th, 2016 29 comments

We’ve already seen SolidRun is working on a Marvell ARMADA 8040 quad core Cortex A72 community board for networking and storage applications, but based on a picture taken at Linaro Connect, the company is also working on a similar board with extra connectivity options called MACCHIATOBin.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Apart from the picture, there’s no info on the web about this board, so we’ll have to derive specs from the photo, the community board features, and info provided by Marcin Juszkiewicz, so all details are preliminary and subject to change:

  • SoC – ARMADA 8040 (88F8040) quad core Cortex A72 processor @ up to 2.0 GHz
  • System Memory – 1x DDR4 DIMM up to 16GB RAM
  • Storage – 3x SATA 3.0 port + micro SD slot
  • Connectivity – 1x Gigabit RJ45 port, 1x SFP SGMII @ 2.5Gbps, 2x 10Gbps copper (RJ45) with auto switchover to dual SFP+
  • Expansion – 1x PCIe-x4 3.0 slot, Marvell TDM module header
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0 port, 1x USB-C port
  • Debugging – 20-pin Connector for CPU JTAG debugger
  • Power Supply – 12V DC via power jack or ATX power supply
  • Dimensions – Mini-ITX form factor (170 mm x 170 mm)

That board is said to be SBSA compliant, meaning any ARM SBSA server distributions (like Red Hat) should work with mainlined kernel and bootloaders (U-Boot and UEFI). The price is said to be $350 with 4GB RAM, exactly what the community board is supposed to sell for, so MACCHIATOBin could also be the latest revision of the community board with a layout change, and most of the same features.

VoCore2 WiFi IoT Board Launched with Audio, PoE & “Ultimate” Docks (Crowdfunding)

October 6th, 2016 1 comment

Vocore WiFi IoT board was popular at its launch in 2014 because affordable WiFi boards with I/Os were not common at the time, and it came with an Ethernet dock making it a complete router within a tiny and cute cube. The developers have been working on VoCore2 (aka Vocore V2) with a faster processor, more memory, a lower power consumption, a better WiFi signal, and more I/Os for several months, and have now launched the board on Indiegogo aiming to raise at least $6,000 for mass production.


Vocore2 and Audio Dock

Vocore2 board specifications:

  • SoC – Mediatek MT7628AN MIPS processor @ 580 MHz
  • System Memory – 128 MB DDR2
  • Storage – 16MB NOR FLASH, 1x SDXC via I/O pins
  • Connectivity
    • WiFi 802.11n 2T2R up to 300 Mbps with either 2 u.FL connector or 1 u.FL connector + on-board chip antenna (Max signal output >19.5dbm peak)
    • 2x 10/100M Ethernet interfaces via I/O pins
  • I/Os – About 30 GPIOs multiplexed with 3x UARTs, 1x I2C, 1x I2S, 1x reference clock, 1x USB 2.0, 1x PCIe 1.1, 1x high speed SPI (40Mbps max), 1x SPI slave, 2x hardware PWM
  • Power Supply – Input: 3.6~6.0V; output: 1.8V, 3.3V.
  • Power Consumption – 74mA @ 5V (wifi on, no data transfer); 233mA @ 5V (max speed cpu and wireless)
  • Dimensions –  25.4 x 25.4 x 2.8 mm

The new board runs OpenWrt/LEDE based on Linux, and can be programmed in C, Java, Python, Ruby, Javascript, etc… The developers claim they’ll release the “full hardware design including schematic, circuit diagram(PCB); full source code including bootloader, system, applications”, something which they’ve already done with Vocore (v1).

Vocore2 + Ultimate Dock

Vocore2 + Ultimate Dock

Considering we have an embarrassment of choices of low cost Linux WiFi boards with easy to use platforms such as Mediatek LinkIt Smart 7688 or Onion Omega2, the main draw to the new Vocore V2 is mostly because of its three docks:

  1. AirPlay Dock – Adds a micro USB port for power, as well as an audio codec and 3.5mm audio jack to connect to speakers. Dimensions with Vocore2: 25.4 x 25.4 x 9.0 mm
  2. PoE Dock – To upgrade existing wall-mount Ethernet panel to a wireless hotspot
  3. Ultimate Dock – Combines audio jack, Ethernet (RJ45) port, micro SD slot, USB 2.0 host port, micro USB port for power and debugging, and a AD/DA converter to connect sensors. It can be used to store data in the SD card, as CCTV DVR system by adding a USB webcam, as a voice command system with a microphone, and so on. Dimensions with Covore2: 28 x 28 x 22 mm

Vocore2 and PoE Dock installed in a (not included) Wall-Mount Ethernet Panel

Some extra details about the docks, and some earlier firmware release would have been nice to have, but I could not find this information on their Indiegogo page.

VoCore2 module starts at $12 (Early bird), Vocore2 + Airplay or PoE dock goes for $29, and you’d have to pledge $39 for Vocore2 with Ultimate dock (and case?). Bundle rewards are also available with 5 pieces for each kit.  Shipping is not included but only adds $3 to $10 depending on the selected reward, and delivery is scheduled for November 2016 for most rewards, except PoE rewards which should be shipped later in January 2017.

V-Bridge Muses Digital TV Modulator Boards Let You Broadcast Your Own TV Channel for $199 and Up (Crowdfunding)

October 5th, 2016 11 comments

I wrote about VATek VMB8202D Enmoder SoC handling both DVB, ATSC, DTMB and ISDB modulation and H.264 hardware encoding earlier this summer, and at the time, the company also planned to launch a crowdfunding campaign for two open source hardware DTV modulation boards in a couple of weeks. Weeks turned into months, but finally V-Bridge Muses boards and video input & RF daughterboards have now launched on Kickstarter where you can get your own live video broadcasting board for $199 and up.

MUSES-α board


Muses Alpha Board

MUSES-α board is the cheapest of the two boards, and features a header for the RF daughter board, and a USB port to connect to a computer.
MUSES-α board specifications:

  • SoC – VATek A1 32-bit RISC modulator chip
  • Storage – SPI flash (unclear whether it can be accessed/modified by user)
  • Modulation – DVB-T/C, ATSC/QAM, DTMB; RF header
  • Video Encoding – N/A (handled by PC via USB or another board via TS header)
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 port
  • Expansion – UART header, Master I2C header, TS header, GPIO header
  • Debugging – JTAG pin
  • Misc – License MCU
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A via power barrel

MUSES-α board is sold with the RF board, and allows you to broadcast video over your chosen modulation scheme, through a GUI and video encoded on your PC via the USB interface. Alternatively, you should also be able to input the video signal via the TS serial/parallel header with video encoded by your own board.

MUSES-β board

Muses Beta Board

Muses Beta Board

MUSES-β board combined with the RF daughterboard, video input board, and an optional STM32 kits with display and buttons, is a standalone solution taking video composite + stereo audio (RCA connectors) or HDMI input, encoding the video to MPEG2 or H.264, and broadcasting using your selected modulation scheme.

MUSES-β board specifications:

  • SoC – VATek B2 Enmoder 32-bit RISC chip
  • Storage – SPI flash (unclear whether it can be accessed/modified by user)
  • Modulation – DVB-T/C, ATSC/QAM, DTMB, ISDB-T/TB; RF header
  • Video Encoding – MPEG-2 in full HD resolution, H.264 in SD resolution
  • Video/Audio Input – 2x BT 601/605 header, 1x TS header, video input daughterboard header
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 port
  • Expansion – UART header, Master I2C header, GPIO header, Ethernet module header, MCU connect header
  • Misc – License MCU, audio switch MCU, reset and rescue buttons
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A via power barrel

You can also connected to a PC via the USB port to do the same task as you would with Muses-α board. You can more control with the more complete board, as it can be programmed via an host MCU if needed.

Video Input Board (Left) & RF module (Right) - Click to Enlarge

Video Input Board (Left) & RF module (Right) – Click to Enlarge


You’ll be given STM32 sample code, an MCU Porting Guide, operating tools, PCB layout & schematic, and a user’s manual  once the boards are shipping.

Three kits are available on Kickstarter:

  1. $199 Basic Package –  MUSES-α Board, RF Board, Power supply (Design complete)
  2. $399 Standard Package –  MUSES-β Board, Video Board, RF Board, Power supply (Work in progress)
  3. $559 (Early bird)/$599 Turnkey Package –  MUSES-β Board, Video Board, RF Board, STM32F4 MCU Board, Panel & Button, Power supply (Design complete)

While you’ll be paying $169 to $200 for a MCU board with LCD display with buttons for the turnkey package, it should be the easiest way to get started with MUSES-β board. The standard package requires you to connect and program your own MCU board to control the system. The basic package should also be straightforward to use then it just relies on the GUI program (no detailed info yet).

Shipping adds $25 (Taiwan) to $70 depending on the destination country, and delivery is scheduled for January 2017. You may also be able to get some more details on V-Bridge Tech website.