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Posts Tagged ‘hack’

No Case for Orange Pi Zero or Other Tiny Development Boards? No problem: Use an Old Mouse

April 11th, 2017 1 comment

There now plenty of tiny ARM Linux boards, which are normally sold without case, but usually it’s not to hard to find a 3D printed case. But if you have small board, and don’t feel to purchase a case for it, there’s an other solution: use an old mouse. That’s exactly what Slider2732 has done with his Orange Pi Zero board to convert it to a mini PC running Armbian, or a game console running RetroOrangePi. So after the keyboard PC, here comes the mouse PC!

So what did he exactly use for the mouse PC?

  1. Orange Pi Zero board
  2. An old Logitech mouse for the case and cable
  3. An 8GB micro SD card to flash the operating system
  4. A 4.3″ car reversing monitor (optional) acting as the display with composite input
  5. An Rii wireless keyboard/mouse, as the mouse function is not included with the mouse PC…
  6. A PAM8403 based 3W audio amplifier
  7. A 0.25W speaker
  8. Salvaged fan from an ATI graphics card + 32 Ohm resistor

You’ll have to find an old mouse with sufficient height, and cut plastic parts that get in the way. The mouse cable is used to carry power, audio and composite video in his setup, but you could customize it as you see fit. Note that you should get 6 wires in a PS/2 mouse, and only 4 wires in a USB mouse, so the older the better 🙂

You can find more details about the build in the video.

Via Hackaday.

NVIDIA Shield Android TV Gets Unofficial USB Tuner (ATSC/DVB) Support

March 9th, 2017 3 comments

NVIDIA Shield Android TV may only be available in a limited number of countries, but if you happen to live in a country where it’s officially sold, it can be one of the best options due its hard-to-beat price to performance ratio, and official Android TV software support from Google & Nvidia. One features it does not support out of the box  is support for digital TV tuner, but linux4all has released an unofficial firmware image adding USB TV tuner support to Android TV (7.0) on Nvidia Shield Android TV 2015 and 2017 models.

You’ll first need a supported tuner either Hauppauge WinTV-dualHD (DVB-C, DVB-T and DVB-T2), Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-850 (ATSC), Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-955Q (ATSC, QAM, Analog), or Sony PlayTV dual tuner (DVB-T). More tuners may be supported in the future. One you’ve got your tuner connected to Nvidia Shield Android TV, make sure you have the latest Android TV 7.0 OTA update, unlock the bootloader, and flash the specific bootloader as explained in the aforelinked forum post. Upon reboot you should see “USB TV Tuner Setup” in the interface. Go through it and scan channels.

Finally, connected a USB 3.0 hard drive or micro SD card with at least 50GB and select format as device storage, and you should be able to watch free-to-air TV and record it as needed using Live channels.

If you are interested in adding more tuners, fix bugs, or possibly implemented this for another Android TV TV box, you’ll find the Linux source code with change history on github.

Note that it’s not the first hack to use USB tuners on Shield, as last year somebody used Kodi + TVheadend, so the real news is here probably integration into Android TV’s Live Channels.

Via AndroidTv.News, and thanks to Harley for the tip.

$12 AI Light ESP8266 based WiFi RGB Light Bulb Supports MQTT via ESPurna Open Source Firmware

March 3rd, 2017 20 comments

AI-Thinker is famous in the maker world for their ESP8266 modules, but they’ve also recently launched a WiFi RGB light bulb that sells for about $12.5 and up on Ebay and Aliexpress (here and there). Some people noticed, and bought samples online, including Xose Pérez (aka Tinkerman), ESPurna open source firmware developer, who could confirm ESP8266 was used in the light bulb, did some investigations, and eventually added the light bulb into ESPurna, which means it can be managed using MQTT or a web interface.

AI Light looks very similar to Philips Hue, but comes with WiFi instead of Zigbee. AI Light “M1636” key features:

  • RGBW LED E27 bulb with 16.7M colors
  • Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n WiFi
  • Encryption – AES
  • Voltage Range – 110-240V
  • LED Power – 5 watts
  • WiFi Power Consumption – ≤0.3W
  • Temperature Range – -5~45degree
  • Humidity – ≤80%
  • Certifications – FCC, CE, ROHS

If you’re going to use the stock firmware, you can control the LED with Tuyasmart Android app. You’ll find the user’s manual and more photos on the FCC page for the light bulb. But there are already plenty of Wifi light bulbs on the market,  and what makes this light bulb interesting is that it’s based on ESP8266, and you can have full control over it using open source firmware.

The bulb cap is allegedly very easy to pop out, as it’s not glued to the board.A close up on the board itself reveals it’s indeed powered by Espressif ESP8266EX WiSoC connected to a 1MB Winbond 25Q80BVSIG flash, and MY-Semi MY9291QD LED driver.

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If you look from the bottom left to middle left of the inner circle, you’ll see 3V3, GND, RX, TX and IOO pads, which we can use after soldering some wires, and connect a USB to TTL board in order to flash the firmware. Note that IOO must be connected the GND to enter flash mode, you can remove the wire after flashing, in order to check the serial output during a normal boot.

After further investigation, Xose found out that there’s already some software implementation for MY9291 driver in Noduino OpenLight project, made by the developers who designed Noduino ESP8266/ ESP32 boards, and are likely the developers of AI Light. All needed source code can be found in Noduino-SDK released under a GPLv3 license, and includes a driver written in C language for MY9291 LED driver chip. Xose wrote a wrapper to make the driver work with Arduino ESP8266, and released the code on Github.

The code sample below shows how to set the LEDs to RED color at 100% duty cycle:

Ai-Thinker Ai Light / Noduino OpenLight have now been added to ESPurna 1.6.8 firmware, and you can turn the light on and off, select the color from the web interface, and/or control it via MQTT.

ESPurna installed on AI Thinker Light Bulb – Click to Enlarge

RetroArch Game Emulator Can Now Run on Nintendo NES Classic Mini and Famicom Mini

February 22nd, 2017 12 comments

Nintendo NES Classic Mini is a smaller replica of Nintendo NES with an HDMI output, and powered by an Allwinner R16 SoC. Nintendo has released a model with the same or similar hardware, but a different case for the Japanese market called Famicom Mini. Those two consoles are pre-loaded with about 30 games, and in theory you can’t add any more games. But as everything with an Allwinner processor, it can be hacked to match your needs, and people have already managed to add games using the micro USB connection and Hakchi2 script. What’s new is that you can now run RetroArch on the consoles, and probably on other Allwinner R16 platform such as the upcoming Banana Pi BPI-M2 Magic board, provided it’s connected to an LCD display.

Nintendo NES Classic Edition (Left) and Famicom Mini (Right)

To achieve that, first you’ll need to install the latest Hakchi 2.12 tool with the procedure, clearly explained (with an older version) on this YouTube video, involving getting a micro USB to USB cable connected between your game console and your computer.

Once this is done, you can go to the next step with the installation of RetroArch mod for hakchi, based on LibreRetro work, and that comes with the following cores:

  • fceumm (NES, many mappers, UNIF support)
  • nestopia (NES, FDS)
  • snes9x2010 (SNES)
  • gambatte_libretro (GB, GBC)
  • mednafen_gba (GBA)
  • genesis_plus_gx (SMS/Genesis/MD)
  • mupen64plus (N64)

Watch the video below, if you want to check out how it performs on NES Mini Classic Edition console before trying it on your own device.

Thanks to Harley for the tip.

Add a 2.5″ Hard Drive to Voyo VMac Mini mini PC with a $20 Custom SATA Cable

January 27th, 2017 7 comments

When I tore down Voyo VMac Mini mini PC, I noticed a 2.5″ mounting mechanism, and some weird 9-pin SATA connector, but since the hard drive would be so close to the components I assumed this specific case was not designed for a drive, but the board would be compatible. However, it’s now possible to purchase a $20 custom SATA cable from “Voyo Official Store” on Aliexpress to do just that.All you have to do is to open the case, connect the cable to the motherboard, and the hard drive, and mounting the hard drive to the mechanism with four screws. I’m not sure whether you should also use some kind of insulation between the drive and motherboard, as it will be really close, but the company does not mention anything about that. Cooling might also be an issue even though there’s a fan in the mini PC.

It’s not difficult to do, but should probably be attempted by the most adventurous. I’d also expect the cable to become cheaper overtime if this little hack become common among VMac mini owners, or maybe even offered for free with the mini PCs during promotions.

Thanks to Jake for the tip.

Xiaomi WiFi IP Cameras Hacked to Run RTSP Server, Disable Cloud Service

January 13th, 2017 16 comments

Xiaomi 720p and 1080p IP cameras include night vision, motion detection, WiFi connectivity, and can save videos locally, and send them to a cloud server in China for you to check your camera from anywhere. The 720p camera sells for about $50, while the 1080p camera goes for around $30 on GearBest and other websites, but comes with less IR LEDs and no optical zoom. [Update: The black version of the 720p camera goes for $29.99 on Amazon US]

Xiaomi-IP-CamerasThey works fine, but you need a specific mobile app to configure and control the camera, and if you’d rather not have the videos streamed to some server outside of your local network, github user “Fritz” has developed a set of scripts for the camera to disable cloud service, run a standard RTSP server, as well as HTTP and FTP servers on the camera.

He did his work on Yi Ants Camera (720p), but other members of the community have been helping, and some are currently working on supporting the cheaper 1080p model. The RSTP server is now working on the 1080p. However, everything is still working in progress, and you may want to join the fun on github, but if you want an easy to use SD card image this will take a little longer. The camera and corresponding hack are also being discussed on HotUKDeals.com.

Thanks to Rob for the tip.

YokaTV KB2 Review – Amlogic S912 TV Box with 32 GB Flash

December 15th, 2016 16 comments

CNXSoft: This is another review by Karl about Amlogic S912 based YokaTV KB2 TV box.

Introduction

Today we will be looking at Videostrong YokaTV KB2. Below are the specs from Videostrong website.

yokatv-kb2-specifications

This is my first S912 device so I had high expectation. I have been using it for quite some time now with no major issues. I received approximately 6 OTA updates since I started testing and some welcome updates have come.

yokatv-kb2-package

yokatv-kb2-remote-control-power-supply

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Build

When I receive a box first thing I do is take it apart and check out the inside. I was excited when I found out it had 32 gig of storage. It is not too common.

yokatv-kb2-bottom-case

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Then when I opened the box I was really happy to see an antenna that wasn’t soldered on. Makes it easy to add a different one. +1 for KB2. Then I noticed the heat sink. It seemed a little small. I was right, it runs warm.

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Simple Mod

First thing to do: get this baby running cooler. When stressing the box, the temperature got over 80+°C a couple times. It ran between 70 and 75 °C on average before the mod. The case is mostly plastic except the bottom cover. Bingo! A couple squares of 5mm thermal pads between the board and the bottom of the case and thermal issues are gone.

yokatv-kb2-thermal-hack

I started SetCPU and ran the built-in stress test, it tops out around 72 °C, and quickly cools after stopping the test. I put a square approximately where the CPU is and while I had it open, where the memory is although I don’t think it is necessary. After the mod, the box runs about 60 deg Celsius.

Antutu

For this test I use SetCPU to set the Min and Max frequency for the CPU to 1.5 GHz which is the max for this processor. It will give the best score.

yokatv-kb2-antutu

Network Test

I am not sure why my WiFi was slow on the tests below. I don’t have an AC access point yet. The best I have is N, maybe that is the cause. Some friends over on Freaktab are getting some really good speeds on AC with this box. I might have damaged something when I opened the box.

Below are the results but take them with a grain of salt. I do a simple file transfer test of a large movie with optimum conditions for WiFi then one in more real world scenario.  

5ghz 3ft from NAS to internal SD

kb2-5ghz-wifi-nas-to-flash

2.4ghz 3ft from NAS to internal SD

kb2-2-4ghz-wifi-nas-to-flash

Gigabit Ethernet from NAS to internal SD (This is as fast as my NAS can transfer)

kb2-gbe-nas-to-flash

Next is more real world where AP’s have more obstruction.

5ghz 30ft from NAS to internal SD

kb2-5ghz-wifi-nas-to-flash-30feet2.4ghz 30ft from NAS to internal SD

kb2-2-4ghz-wifi-nas-to-flash-30feetSome More Benchmarks and Info

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Apps

I’ve used several apps and only Netflix and Direct Now had some issues:

  • Sling TV
  • Netflix (SD) – Stopped working after updating the app
  • Kodi
  • Chrome – Chrome works really well. I open a bunch of heavy URL’s and it performs excellent. Nothing scientific here. Go to several sites that I visit daily and I felt no lag.
  • Plex
  • Emby
  • HDHomeRun
  • Crackle
  • DirectTV Now – Worked with some hacking
  • Player-MediaCenter App – I will admit it has been a while since I tested out this app. It acts as a DLNA receiver and Airplay receiver. I didn’t have much luck in the past but I tested on my one Apple device the screen mirroring worked.

At some point Netflix stopped working. Keep getting few seconds of video then error 0013 “Sorry, we could not reach the Netflix service….” Not sure if it is Netflix update or box update that caused the issue. I went back and did some more testing to narrow the issue down. If I reverted back to the Netflix that came pre-installed I had no issue.

DirectTV Now is a new service in the US. With some persistence I was able to get it running. Video wasn’t perfect but neither was it on any devices I tested. It was surprising that it plays better on KB2 then Nvidia Shield. It is mostly watchable but stutters some. It is new so hopefully ATT will get this fixed soon. I had to do a couple things to get it working. After Googleing and a lot of experimenting I used 2 apps from play store: Hide My Root and Fake GPS. I also had to make 2 build.prop changes: ro.build.type=userdebug to ro.build.type=user and ro.build.tags=test-keys to ro.build.tags=release-keys. I tried on a couple different boxes after figuring this out and seems to work universally.

Remote Control

The remote is big but there is a built in app that is pretty convenient. There are 4 color coded buttons on the remote that you can customize to launch the apps that you want through an app on the box. There is also a dedicated app button that brings up a listing of all the apps. Everything else is pretty standard. You can also program the remote to turn your TV on and off through a learning feature. But alas I still prefer either an air mouse or touchpad with full keyboard.

yokatv-kb2-remote-control-configuration

Status Bar

Thank the gods…there is an option to turn the navigation buttons at the bottom of the screen off and on in Android settings…It is about a 50/50 split for people that like them and those that don’t. This was the first box that I have tested that gives the user an option.

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Audio Passthrough

All the below tests worked. I set Android to SPDIF. I tested with latest SPMC 16.4.2 and Kodi 16.1. Turned on pass-through DTS and AC3 and all the videos below worked with no clipping. I have a 5.1 system. If I didn’t have the AC3 ticked I would get no audio on some. First box with 100% working that I have tested on stock firmware.

yokatv-kb2-kodi-audio-pass-through-settings audio-file-list-dts-dolby-truehd4K Video

4k testing went well. I was able to play all videos smoothly with one player or another that it was supposed to play. Below are the test results. This box does not play 4k H.264 video @ 60fps per sec, so stutter is expected. Kodi and derivatives play best with amcodec turned off. The box ships with Kodi 17 beta but since it is beta, it is not very stable. I uninstalled it, and tested with Kodi 16.1 from the Play Store instead. I am not sure why 4k 8bit H.265 works better with amcodec turned on. I found the same results on S905x boxes. For the testing, I wanted to find the best overall solution and that is Kodi with amcodec turned off.

Test File Name With Amcodec Without Amcodec MX Player
23.976fps (in MP4) GoPro Epic Russian Wingsuit in 4K good
24fps (in MP4) SPRING 4K (ULTRA HD) good
25fps (in MP4) Burj Khalifa Pinnacle BASE Jump – 4K good
29.970fps, 51Mbps (hdmkv’s iPhone 6S 4K clip) iphone6s_4k good
59.940fps (in MKV) samsung_seven_wonders_of_the_world_china_uhd-DWEU wont play stutter stutter
60fps (in MP4) COSTA RICA IN 4K 60fps (ULTRA HD) w Freefly Movi wont play good
H264, up to 30fps Sony_Alpha_7R_II_video-test-4K good
H264, 50-60fps linkin_park_ultra-hd wont play stutter stutter
H265 8bit, up to 30fps LG_4K_View-the-Feeling good stutter good
H265 10bit, up to 30fps Samsung_UHD_Dubai good
H265 10bit, 50-60fps Samsung_UHD_7Wonders_of_the_World_Italy good
UltraHD HDR 10bit HEVC, 24fps Exodus_UHD_HDR_Exodus_draft good
VP9 The Curvature of Earth 4K 60FPS good not as good best

Alternate Firmware

Super Celeron has put together a nice modification of the latest stock firmware from 11/23. He cleaned up the firmware and made some adjustments to boot to bring idle down to about 1% and got auto frame rate switch working. See full changelog.

So to get 100% working pass-through and auto frame rate switching after installing the firmware above, as well as SPMC version 16.5.2. Codec acceleration is a little muddy at times. 4K files work best with amcodec off, and anything less work best with amcodec on. Below are my settings.

yokatv-kb2-custom-firmware-automatic-frame-rate-switching yokatv-kb2-custom-firmware-audio-pass-through yokatv-kb2-custom-firmware-video-codecsConclusion

I had this box for a while now and used it as my main box and it has performed really well. Consistent updates from Videostrong is much needed in the box world. I hope it continues. Gigabit Ethernet performed really well. Pass-through working 100% is fantastic and will make a lot of people happy. Video support in Kodi is really good. VP9 support is not 100% but MX player gives everyone an option if they have movies in that format.

I would like to thank Videostrong for sending a review sample. YokaTV KB2 can be purchased on Gearbest, Geekbuying, and Aliexpress for about $68.

VGA Output Hack on $2 PADI IoT Stamp & Other Realtek RTL8710AF Modules

December 10th, 2016 3 comments

It’s pretty amazing what you can do with those cheap WiFi modules coming from Espressif and Realtek. You may remember CNLohr getting ESP8266 to broadcast video to your TV though NTSC, and that was impressive. But developer kissste, who has been very active since the announcement of a $2 Realtek RTL8710 module, has now developed a VGA driver demo for Realtek Ameba WiFi SoCs, and successfully tested it on Pine64 PADI IoT Stamp.

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Just like on ESP8266, there’s no hardware display block on RTL8710AF, RTL8711AF, and RTL8195AF SoCs, so instead he had to connect the signals to GPIOs with the video signal connected to GA1 via a resistor, H-Sync to GC2, and V-Sync to GA5. Video and H-Sync data is actually transfered over an SPI connection using DMA transfer for better performance. Normally the video signal for VGA is divided into red, green, and blue signal, so I understand he mixed all three into a single signal to output black or white on the display, and color is not possible at least not using 800×600 @ up to 63 Hz as possible in black & white.

Currently, the code just output some pre-defined characters once the board receives ATVG AT command, but you could modify the code – released on Github – to do whatever fancy stuff you want.

Categories: Hardware, Realtek RTD Tags: hack, IoT, pine64, rtl8710, vga, wifi