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Posts Tagged ‘firmware’

STMicro SensorTile is a Tiny STM32 Module with Bluetooth 4.1 LE and Four Sensor Chips

December 8th, 2016 No comments

STMicroelectronics SensorTile is a 13.5 x 13.5mm sensor board based on STM32L4 ARM Cortex-M4 microcontroller, a MEMS accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, pressure sensor, a MEMS microphone, as well as a 2.4Ghz radio chip for Bluetooth 4.1 Low Energy connectivity for wearables, smart home, and IoT projects.

stmicro-sensortile

SensorTile hardware specifications:

  • MCU – STMicro STM32L476 ARM Cortex-M4 microcontroller@ up to 80 MHz with 128 KB RAM, 1MB flash
  • Connectivity – Bluetooth 4.1 Smart/LE via BlueNRG-MS network processor with integrated 2.4GHz radio compliant with
  • Sensors
    • LSM6DSM 3D accelerometer + 3D gyroscope
    • LSM303AGR 3D Magnetometer + 3D accelerometer
    • LPS22HB pressure sensor/barometer
    • MP34DT04 digital MEMS microphone
  • I/Os – 2x 9 half holes with access to UART, SPI, SAI (Serial Audio Interface), I2C, DFSDM, USB, OTG, ADC, and GPIOs signals
  • Debugging – SWD interface (multiplexed with GPIOs)
  • Power Supply Range – 2V to 5.5 V
  • Dimensions – 13.5 x 13.5 mm
SensorTile's Functional Block Diagram - Click to Enlarge

SensorTile’s Functional Block Diagram – Click to Enlarge

Software development can be done through a sets of APIs based on the STM32Cube Hardware Abstraction Layer and middleware components, including the STM32 Open Development Environment. The module is supported by Open Software eXpansion Libraries, namely Open.MEMS, Open.RF, and Open.AUDIO, with various example programs allowing you to get started. Several third-party embedded sensing and voice-processing projects also support the module. The module also comes pre-loaded with BLUEMICROSYSTEM2 firmware, and can be controlled with “ST BlueMS” app found on Apple Store and Google Play.

sensortile-kit

But the best way to get started is with SensorTile kit including SensorTile core module and:

  • STLCR01V1 cradle board with a footprint for SensorTile core board, HTS221 humidity and temperature sensor, a micro-SD card socket, a micro USB port, a lithium-polymer battery (LiPo) charger, and a SWD header.
  • A LiPo rechargeable battery and a plastic case for the cradle board, SensorTile module, and battery
  • STLCX01V1 Arduino UNO R3 compatible cradle expansion board with analog stereo audio output, a micro-USB connector for power and communication, a reset button and a SWD header.
  • A programming cable

I could not find a price for SensorTile core module, but STEVAL-STLKT01V1 SensorTile kit can be purchased for $80.85 directly on STMicro website or their distributors. Visit SensorTile kit’s product page for further information include hardware design files, quick start guide, software and firmware downloads, purchase links, and more.

Himedia Q5 Pro & Q10 Pro TV Boxes Get Android 7.0 Nougat Firmware

November 24th, 2016 10 comments

The majority of TV boxes sold today are running Android 4.4 to Android 6.0, but with the release of Android 7.0 for smartphones and tablets earlier this year, it was just a question of time before the OS got ported to TV boxes. Himedia appears to be the first company to have released Android 7.0 for their Hisilicon Hi3798CV200 based TV boxes, namely Q5 Pro and Q10 Pro.

tv-box-android-7-0The changelog for the new firmware includes:

  1. Android N OS running stable and smooth
  2. Support for Android N Google Play version
  3. Support for Samba UPnP
  4. System function perfectly upgraded from 5.1 to Android N with compatibility
  5. Youtube updated to 4.10.7 and Netflix to 1.3.11
  6. Homepage, Application Management, Media Center optimized, focus movement are more swift and smooth
  7. Media Player upgraded and support mouse operation
  8. Local Media Playback Improved; Certain rare videos black screen, display ratio of 3D to 2D abnormal, and occasional subtitle defect issues fixed
  9. Blu-ray video slow loading conditions improved and speed up
  10. Local Audio output improved and certain audio tracks unable to decode and output issue fixed
  11. Revised some UI language
  12. Support for Widevine L3

I assume most users are running Android 5.1.1 right now, but for those who are using an Android N beta version, a different firmware file is required

The update procedure is basically the same as most others Android TV boxes on the market:

  • Download a new firmware and copy the file update.zip) to the root directory of a USB drive.
  • Plug the USB drive into the TV box
  • Go to Settings→System→System upgrade to select/click the letter of the USB drive.
  • The TV box will then begin upgrading the firmware from the USB drive.
  • Wait for the TV box to complete the upgrade. Please be patient, as it may take around 5 minutes to complete.
  • The TV box will then automatically reboot, and boot to Android N Final

Just bear in mind that changing Android version often leads to some new bugs, even though the company claims “perfect compatibility” and that everything is running “stable and smooth”.

If you are interested in either devices Himedia Q5 Pro is sold for $199.99, and Q10 Pro for $299.99 on sites such as GeekBuying, Aliexpress, and W2comp.

Via AndroidPC.es

How to Create a Bootable Recovery SD Card for Amlogic TV Boxes

November 19th, 2016 13 comments

I reviewed Rikomagic MK22 TV box about two weeks ago, and with the firmware I had, online firmware update was not enabled, and the company only released .IMG firmware for Amlogic USB Burning Tool, a windows only tools that’s not well designed, and requires some procedure that vary slightly from boxes to boxes which in some cases forces to buy a male to male USB cable.

I’ve now started reviewing R-Box Pro TV box also based on Amlogic S912 processor, online firmware update is not working either, and again I only managed to find .IMG firmware for the box on GeekBuying. However, I’ve been informed that “USB Burning Tool” firmware can now be flashed through a micro SD card, or USB flash drive with all recent Amlogic TV boxes, so I’ve tried this method instead of R-Box Pro, and decided to report my experience in this post following some instructions on Freaktab made by user Calc. I’ll show instructions in Linux (which could be further streamlined), and then Windows.

Linux Method

After downloading and extracting the rar’ed firmware file (twice), I ended up with a single img firmware files (aml_s912_q6330-R-BOX-PRO-3gddr-mac-20161015.img).

First we’ll need to have a tool to extract some files from the firmware. Create aml-upgrade-package-extract.c with the code below which I found on Freaktab too and slightly modified it to parse the firmware filename:

Now compile the tool with gcc:

and run the thing on the firmware file:

It will extract a bunch of files:

You’ll just need aml_sdc_burn.ini and aml_sdc_burn.UBOOT, plus the IMG file itself to create a bootable mass storage device.

Now find the device for your micro SD card (formatted with FAT32) with lsblk:

In my case it’s /dev/sdd, but I’ll use /dev/sdX in the instructions below, just change the command with yours.

and finally re-mount the SD card/flash drive, copy the firmware file and aml_sdc_burn.ini to the root of the device, and rename the firmware to aml_upgrade_package.img to match the string in aml_sdc_burn.ini:

Now make sure no other USB devices or SD card are inserted in the TV box, and insert your bootable (micro) SD card or USB flash drive into the TV box. If your TV box is fully bricked, you have nothing to do, and the update should start straightaway, but if it is partially bricked or just working fine, you still need to press the recovery button, apply power, and release the button in order to enter recovery mode. The upgrade should then start automatically as shown below.

micro-sd-card-firmware-update

Patiently wait for the update to complete and you should be all good. Please note that I first tried with a USB flash drive, and the method did not work. Once the update is complete, you’ll see the “Android success” logo.

amlogic-firmware-update-successAt this point, remove the micro SD card, and power cycle the board to complete the final steps of the update, and within one or two minutes you should get the Android launcher. If instead the firmware ends with “Android failure” logo showing a red cross, verify your firmware MD5 (e.g. with md5sum in Linux) to make sure it’s not corrupted. If it is, re-download the file and/or re-copy the file to the micro SD card.

Windows Method

If you are a Windows user it’s much easier as you just need to use Burn_Card_Marker tool, which you can download here. The documentation show the interface as shown below.

burn_card-maker-english

But after starting the program in Windows 7, and changing language with the top menu, second option to English, it stayed in Chinese language and looked like the screenshot below instead.

burn_card_maker_v2-0-2

[Update: After changing the Language to English, select the third option in the top menu to apply the change…amlogic-card-maker-menu

…restart the app, and it will be in English.]

It’s not really a big issue, but you can still select your SD card device (F: drive in my case), load the file, and press “Make” button to start create a bootable recovery (micro) SD card.
amlogic-create-bootable-card

You’ll get a “Success!” pop-up window and the end, and the content of the SD card will show the firmware, and the two aml_sdc_burn files.

burn-card-maker-files

Now you can insert the micro SD card in the TV box, enter recovery menu with the pin hole or other method for your TV box, and firmware update will start automatically.

Good Luck!

Rikomagic MK22 Review – Part 2: Android Firmware, Video & Audio in Kodi, Benchmarks…

November 7th, 2016 4 comments

Rikomagic MK22 is one of the many Android TV boxes powered by Amlogic S912 octa-core processor with typical hardware specifications such as 2GB RAM, 16GB flash, Gigabit Ethernet and dual band WiFi. I’ve already taken the box apart to check out the hardware in the first part of the review, so I’ll focus on the firmware, but I’ll keep it short focusing on typical problem areas, as I’ve already reviewed a bunch of other Amlogic S912 TV boxes such as Qintaix Q912 or Beelink GT1.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

First Boot, Firmware Update, and First Impressions

After having connected all usual cables and  accessories include a 1TB USB hard drive, and RF dongles for my air mouse and wireless gamepad, I booted the device, and after around 45 seconds (typically), I got to the main launcher.

Click for Original Size

Click for Original Size

Since I received the device about a month ago, I decided to go to the UPDATE&BACKUP app to see if there was any OTA firmware update, and unfortunately, as you can see from the screenshot below online update was not enabled in the device with the error: “Check Failed! Check Your OTA Servier Argent” (sic).

update-backup-fail

So I went to Rikomagic download page, and I could find a new firmware, the latest USB burning tool, and instructions. It did not go very smoothly, but I still managed to flash the firmware, and I explained the issues I came across in details in the post entitled USB Burning Tool Still Sucks in 2016. Still that was a disappointment to have to go through this, as the vast majority of TV boxes now support OTA firmware update through the network or SD cards, a much more user-friendly way to upgrade the firmware. The company explained that my early sample did not support OTA firmware update, but it should now. I tried again UPDATE&BACKUP, and got the same error, until I found another firmware update app called WirelessUpdate.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

It won’t detect a new firmware since I have RKM MK22_161031 firmware released a week ago, but it did seem to properly check the status from the OTA server, telling that was not new update.

I won’t go into much details about the settings, as you can check my other S912 reviews for all options, for example M12N review. HDMI CEC, Playback settings (HDMI Adaptation), and Power key definition were all present in MK22 firmware. I had no troubles with settings Ethernet, WiFi, and the system automatically set my TV to 2160p @ 60 Hz and kept it that way throughout. I did not have the typical HDMI CEC issue turning on my AV receiver against my will. So it appears Rikomagic fixed some of the issues I encountered in early S912 TV boxes.

about-mediabox-rkm-mk22

I could also enter Android Marshmallow settings, and access all usual options. A single unified 11.38GB partition is used for both apps and storage from the 16GB eMMC flash, and the system runs Android 6.0.1 on top of Linux kernel 3.14.29. The firmware is rooted.

The provide remote control worked fine for up to 8 meters, as further away some keys would be missed. I reverted to MINIX NEO A2 Lite air mouse for most of the review because its mouse mode and QWERTY keyboard make it so much easier in most Android apps.

I could also power on and off (long press) the system with the remote, and make it enter standby (short press), with the following power consumption numbers when all accessories, include a USB hard drive, are connected:

  • Power off – 0 Watt
  • Standby – 5.1 Watts
  • Idle – 6.2 Watts

Temperature wise the box top and bottom temperatures reach 44 and 52 °C max after Antutu 6.x benchmark, and after 15 minutes playing Riptide GP2, they rise to about 47°C and 59°C respectively. I could not notice any performance degradation over time in the game, and performance was the same as on other Amlogic S912 TV boxes.

After my initial frustration with having to upgrade the firmware using Windows based Amlogic USB burning tool, the device actually performance well, just like other entry-level Amlogic S912 TV boxes, with the advantage of having several bugs fixed (HDMI CEC bug gone, HDMI video setting constant, …). Google Play also worked with any problems and could install all apps I normally use for reviews.

4K Video & Audio playback in Kodi 16.1, DRM Info

While some Amlogic S912 TV boxes are pre-loaded with Kodi 17.0 (alpha / beta), Rikomagic MK22 comes with the stable version of Kodi 16.1, possibly with some tweaks, as well as pre-installed add-ons.

mk22-kodi-16-1
Again, I’ll be quick in this review, as Amlogic S912 video playback performance is well known.  So I’ve only tested 4K videos, and checked whether automatic frame rate switching and HDMI audio pass-through are working. All videos were playing through the Gigabit Ethernet connection from a SAMBA share, unless otherwise noted (HDD = played from USB hard drive).

4K videos are playing reasonably well, although 2 had some unusual issues:

  • HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 (H.264, 30 fps) – OK
  • sintel-2010-4k.mkv (H.264, 24 fps, 4096×1744) –  OK
  • Beauty_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) –  OK
  • Bosphorus_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) – First time: Video exited early (after 2 to 3 seconds). Second time: OK
  • Jockey_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_TS.ts (H.265) – OK
  • MHD_2013_2160p_ShowReel_R_9000f_24fps_RMN_QP23_10b.mkv (10-bit HEVC) – OK
  • phfx_4KHD_VP9TestFootage.webm (VP9) – OK
  • BT.2020.20140602.ts (Rec.2020 compliant video; 36 Mbps; 59.97 Hz) – OK
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_30fps.mp4 – Started well, but after 30 seconds or so the image froze with the audio still playing in the background.
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_60fps.mp4 – Not smooth, and audio delay (hardware does not support this type of video)
  • Fifa_WorldCup2014_Uruguay-Colombia_4K-x265.mp4 (4K, H.265, 60 fps) – OK (although video did not seem as sharp as usual)
  • Samsung_UHD_Dubai_10-bit_HEVC_51.4Mbps.ts (10-bit HEVC / MPEG-4 AAC) – OK
  • Astra-11479_V_22000-Canal+ UHD Demo 42.6 Mbps bitrate.ts (10-bit H.265 from DVB-S2 stream) –  OK
  • Ducks Take Off [2160p a 243 Mbps].mkv (4K H.264 @ 29.97 fps; 243 Mbps; no audio) – HDD: Not smooth
  • tara-no9-vp9.webm (4K VP9 YouTube video @ 60 fps, Vorbis audio) – OK
  • The.Curvature.of.Earth.4K.60FPS-YT-UceRgEyfSsc.VP9.3840×2160.OPUS.160K.webm (4K VP9 @ 60 fps + opus audio) – Plays but could be smoother.

Automatic frame rate switching is not working just like on other Amlogic S912 devices, even after setting it in both Kodi and Android (HDMI Adaptation).

HDMI audio passthrough works for 5.1 channel audio, and I could not detect any audio cuts during testing contrary to what happens on some other devices:

  • AC3 / Dolby Digital 5.1 – Audio OK, but video not smooth
  • E-AC-3 / Dolby Digital+ 5.1 – OK
  • Dolby Digital+ 7.1 – PCM 2.0, no audio
  • TrueHD 5.1 – PCM 2.0, no audio
  • TrueHD 7.1 – PCM 2.0, no audio
  • Dolby Atmos 7.1 – PCM 2.0, no audio
  • DTS HD Master – DTS 5.1
  • DTS HD High Resolution – DTS 5.1
  • DTS:X (not supported by Onkyo TX-NR636) – DTS 5.1

So if all you really is Dolby and DTS 5.1, MK22 should be good enough, but TrueHD and DTS HD audio formats are not supported, at least in Kodi.

MK22 support Widevine Level 3 according to DRM Info, which may be useful for some premium video streaming app. This DRM level is only good enough for SD resolution on Widewine “protected” apps, as Level 1 would be required for HD and UHD resolution.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Networking and Storage

In order to evaluate WiFi performance, I copy a 278 MBfile between the internal storage and a SAMBA server using ES File Explorer in both direction. As with many recent boxes, MK22 also experience an asymmetric performance between download and upload, with the latter about twice as slow. On average Rikomagic MK22 achieves 1.6 MB/s throughput using 802.11n, not a very high performance even for 802.11n, but what’s surprising is that all Amlogic S912 TV boxes are very closely tied for 802.1n WiFi performance, so there may be an issue with Amlogic SDK, or some other limitations.

WiFI throughput in MB/s - Click to Enlarge

WiFi throughput in MB/s – Click to Enlarge

Internal performance is also important for fast loading times and overall system performance, and the eMMC used in MK22 has very good performance with 63.65 MB/s read speed, and 20.23 MB/s write speed.

Click to Enlarge

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

That means there should not be visible slowdowns due to I/Os (provided random I/Os are fast too), and indeed during testing I did not experience any slowdowns, and found apps to load rapidly. Somehow boot time could be a bit faster with such performance.

I also tested file systems support and found FAT32, NTFS, and exFAT file systems to be supported by the device.

Rikomagic MK22 System Info and Antutu Benchmark

CPU-Z reports Amlogic S912 clocked at 1.51 GHz, so Kudos to Rikomagic here, as they are the first to report the real CPU frequency of that processor. The board name is q6330, framebuffer resolution is set to 1920 x 1080, and there’s indeed 2GB RAM (1807MB due to hardware buffers), and 11.38 GB storage available to the user.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

RKM-MK22 achieved 40,827 points in Antutu 6.x, a score in line with other Amlogic S912 Android TV boxes I’ve tested so far.

rkm-mk22-antutu-score

Conclusion

I found Rikomagic MK22 to be stable and working mostly as expected, with some bugs corrected compared to earlier S912 TV box models under reviews, but with limitations frequently found in entry-level Amlogic S912 TV boxes with lack of support for automatic frame rate switching and HD audio (TrueHD, DTS HD) pass-through in Kodi, as well as DRM limited to Widewine Level 3. WiFi 802.11n is reliable, but performance is a bit weak, although similar to what you get with other Amlogic S912 devices. Storage speed is very good which ensure fast loading times and a responsive system. A big let down was lack of OTA firmware update, as I had to run USB burning tool to upgrade the firmware, but the company told me that from now on OTA firmware will be provided.

Rikomagic MK22 TV box can be purchased on the company’s Aliexpress store for $93.90 including shipping, or quite higher than equivalent competitors products. The Android box is also listed on GearBest, but still shown as “out of stock”.

Amlogic USB Burning Tool Still Sucks in 2016

November 6th, 2016 18 comments

[Update November 2016: If you don’t like USB Burning Tool or don’t have the necessary USB cable, you can flash Amlogic IMG firmware to a micro SD card instead]

In the first few years when Android TV Boxes/mini PCs started to hit the markets, in the 2012-2014 period, online firmware update was inexistent for the vast majority of the boxes, and if you wanted to update your firmware you had to use some windows tools like USB Burning Tool for Amlogic, AndroidTool for Rockchip, or PhoenixUSBPro / PhonixSuite for Allwinner platforms. All those tools have poor design, for example the window is not resizable, so it’s impossible to your an old netbook (1024×600 resolution), and then you have to install drivers which is easy, for after detection of the box may be hit and miss, and you have to follow a procedure with the right power sequence with a USB cable connected to a USB OTG port (not always properly marked) and the recovery pin hole or button. It’s taken me close to 4 hours in the past to update firmware through that method switching between USB ports and computers to find out what may be wrong… Luckily in recent years, many devices are now supporting OTA firmware updates, or an easy offline update procedure using a micro SD card or USB flash drive. That means most people should not need to torture themselves using such terrible tools and procedure, unless your TV box is somehow bricked, in which case Windows tools, or their Linux equivalent, are required.

I’ve writing about this because Rikomagic must have been nostalgic and decided not to provide OTA firmware update, and only distribute MK22 TV box firmware as an IMG file for Amlogic USB Burning Tool, both of which can be downloaded on Rikomagic download page. Even though I must have had to use such tools for nearly two years, I was naively expecting it update the firmware in a few minutes, since I used such tools extensively in the past. I was wrong, and I did managed to flash the firmware after two hours, most of it due my own mistakes, as I forgot some of the caveat, and did not read the complete instructions. So I’ll report my experience in case it can help somebody.

The first challenge was to find which one of the USB ports is the OTG one, as there are three, and no specific markings. At first, none of the ports would be detected due the wrong recovery sequence as explained, but I eventually found out it was the lonely USB port on the side, on the left of the micro SD slot and recovery pinhole.

mk22-otg-port-recovery-button

I know that normally you need to insert a toothpick in the recovery button and apply power, before releasing the recovery button, and I did just that and could not get into recovery mode at anytime. My mistake was that I had also inserted the USB cable, and it took me a while to realize it would also power the power through USB, not enough to show anything on the TV, but enough to boot the processor, and prevent me from accessing recovery mode. So the correct procedure, is to enter recovery mode by pressing the recovery button, applying power, and a few second later release the recovery button, and only then you can insert the USB cable.

After that I fired up a Windows 7 virtual image through VirtualBox, and installed USB Burning Tool and drivers by clicking on setup_v2.0.5.15_build7.exe downloaded from Rikomagic website. The installation went smoothly, but after enabling “Amlogic” device in Virtual Box, it would report the device is not supported, so I removed the drivers and reinstalled them, and I could get “Worldcup Device” in the Device Manager.

Good, now I can start USB Burning Tool, change the language to English in the program, and the TV box is detected, so I loaded the firmware file (File->Import Image… RKM MK22_161031.img), hoping to get ready to flash the firmware, but I got another error message “Get key failed” with the mac = 0 on the right window when click on Start button… Very odd.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

But I’m not the only one with the issue, and for some reasons, Amlogic decided to add a license to their factory software… Hard to understand why, but I should definitely have read the provided “MK22.MK06 Software installation intructions-161013.doc” manual, as it explicitly states to

copy the folderlicense to the path when you set by this step. For example: I set C:\Program Files (x86)\Amlogic\USB_Burning_Tool

And there’s indeed a license folder in the downloaded file from Rikomagic, so I copied the directory to C:\Program Files (x86)\Amlogic\USB_Burning_Tool, overwriting the current license directory, and started USB burning tool again. Hmm… same “get key failed” error… Should I reboot? Let’s do it, but same error again after reboot.

So I decided to uninstall everything, and start from start with the drivers and USB Burning Tool, and made sure I copied the license directory before starting USB burning tool. After which I started the program, loaded the firmware file, click on Start button, and after just under 7 minutes I had managed to flash the firmware! Woohoo!

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

That was a painful experience. So while there’s a case (firmware recovery) for such tools and images, end users should not be asked to install the firmware through that method. It’s complicated, and the default settings wipe out your data and apps.

ESP32 Updates – ESP32-S Module Replaces ESP3212, ESP32 DevBoards for Sale, Arduino & NodeMCU Support

October 29th, 2016 6 comments

There have been some developments with regards to Espressif ESP32 in the last month since my post about upcoming ESP32 development boards. First ESP3212 module is no more, and has been replaced with ESP32-S module with about the same features, but it’s not pin-to-pin compatible, so the new module won’t work with older breakout boards made for ESP3212. ESP32-S is now out of stock on Seeed Studio, but you’ll find it on IC Station, Banggood, and others shops.

One good news is that it’s now easier to buy – or at least pre-order – ESP32 development boards, although stock may still be an issue, as the platform is very popular.

sparkfun-esp32-thingIf you live in the US, you can now backorder “Sparkfun ESP32 Thing” for $19.95. ESP32 board can be powered by either a micro USB power supply or a LiPo battery, and exposes close to 30 I/O pins. ESP32 developer board is still listed on Adafruit for $15, but you can’t pre-order it now, only asked to be notified once it becomes available.

Olimex ESP32-Coreboard

Olimex ESP32-Coreboard

Europeans may prefer purchasing from ESP32-Coreboard from Olimex for 17 Euros, but again it’s out of stock right now. Another option is Pycom WiPy 2.0 breadboard-friendly module going for 19.95 Euros, but you may consider getting the expansion board too for a total of 35.99 Euros if you want to easily power it through a USB power supply or a battery, and add storage via a micro SD slot. You’ll find both options in Pycom online store. WiPy 2.0 board also differs from competitors, as it’s designed to be programmed with (micro) Python.

In South East Asia, Gravitech sells their NANO32 IoT development board for 690 Baht / $20. Like most (all?) other boards mentioned here, NANO32 is breadboard friendly, it includes two user buttons, and can be powered via its micro USB port.

All shops above will also ship all around the world, but if you want to pay less in shipping, and potentially avoid custom fees, it’s always good to check for local options.  If you live in other continents, or the board you want is out of stock, buying directly from China is also an option.

A.I. Thinker NodeMCU-32S

A.I. Thinker NodeMCU-32S

A.I Thinker has just listed their NodeMCU-32S on Aliexpress for $24.50 including shipping, with basically the same features as ESP8266 based NodeMCU 1.0, but upgraded to ESP32 providing both WiFi and Bluetooth LE connectivity.

Widora AIR is also up for sale for $14.88, but once shipping is included it adds up to $22.25. The board is also powered via its micro USB port, comes with two user buttons, and 2x 20-pin headers. It should be noted it’s quite cheaper on Taobao where the company offers it for 60 CNY ($8.88), so I think due to the mismatch between demand and supply, ESP32 boards are quite more expensive than they’d be in a few months, and I’m guessing price with shipping should eventually conerge towards $12 to $15 for NodeMCU types of boards.

If got most of the links to the boards through ESP32.net main page, where the community currently keeps tab of sellers of ESP32 modules and development boards.

One the software side, Espressif has now published Arduino core for ESP32 on their github account, which may not have all the new features of ESP32 yet, such as Bluetooth support, and it requires a “manual” installation, but you should be able to program ESP32 boards through Arduino IDE like you do on ESP8266 boards.

If you prefer NodeMCU / Lua programming, some progress has been made for NodeMCU firmware for ESP32, and while development is taking longer than expected since Espressif moved from RTOS- SDK used with ESP31B beta board to IDF SDKm you can get mostly working code through dev-esp32 branch, and follow the status on github.

Canonical Livepatch Service Automatically Updates Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (and later) with the Latest Kernel without Rebooting

October 25th, 2016 15 comments

Installing or upgrading packages in Linux distributions does not normally require rebooting your system, except for the Linux kernel and drivers. But since Linux 4.0 kernel, Live Kernel patching is possible, meaning Linux kernel updates can be performed without having to reboot your server or computer. Canonical is now taking advantage of this new feature with their Livepatch Service available for Ubuntu 16.04 LTS and greater.

canonical_livepatchIf you want to enable it on your machine, you’ll have to authenticate to Livepatch portal to get a key / token for the service as shown in the screenshot above.

Now you can install the service:

and enable it with your token:

That’s it. Your can check Livepatch service status with the command:

In my case, an update was not necessary, but if there’s one you should see something like:

That way you can make sure your system always have the latest security patchsets. This is mostly useful for servers, but it might not be a bad idea to enabled for your computer too, especially it’s free for end-users for up to 3 machines. Companies need to apply to Ubuntu Advantage for business to support more machines.

Ubuntu 16.10 Images Released for Intel Bay Trail and Cherry Trail Processors

October 14th, 2016 18 comments

Canonical formally released Ubuntu 16.10 “Yakkety Yak” yesterday with  a developer preview of Unity 8 including desktop, tablet and phone UX convergence, Hybrid cloud operations with Juju 2.0, Snapd 2.16 with more than 500 snaps, etc..  Ian Morrison (Linuxium) wasted no time, and put together a Ubuntu 16.10 image working on platforms powered by Intel Bay Trail and Cherry Trail processor with modifications to have audio, WiFi and Bluetooth working.

ubuntu-16-10-unity-8

If you want to try Ubuntu 16.04 on your device you can download ubuntu-16.10-desktop-linuxium.iso and prepare a bootable USB flash the usual way with rufus, or other utilities. If you’d like to try an alternative  Ubuntu flavor such as Lubuntu, Xubuntu, Kubuntu, Ubuntu GNOME, or Ubuntu MATE, Linuxium got you served too, and you’ll find the images on his blog.

Unity 7 is still running by default in Ubuntu 16.04, but if you are curious about Unity 8 convergence desktop/tablet/phone user interface, Canonical uploaded a video showing what you can expect.

You’ll also find more info about Unity 8’s window management, scopes, multimedia scopes, snappy apps and more on Ubuntu Insights.