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Posts Tagged ‘Linux’

Hardkernel Unveils $30 Raspberry Pi Compatible Module with RTC, ADC, and LiPo Battery Support

July 29th, 2014 No comments

Hardkernel is better know for its ODROID boards powered by Samsung Exynos SoC. So I was surprised to discover ODROID-W, “a miniature computing module which is fully compatible with all software available for the Raspberry-Pi”.  Software compatible, really? Yes, because they used the same Broadcom BCM2835 SoC found in the Raspberry Pi, packaged it in a smaller form factor, while keeping HDMI, USB, and CSI interface, and expansion headers, and all that for $30, plus just $9 for shipping.

ODROID-W Board (Click to Enlarge)

ODROID-W Board (Click to Enlarge)

Let’s go through ODROID-W specifications first:

  • SoC – Broadcom BCM2835 ARM1176JZ-F processor @ 700 Mhz with VideoCore IV GPU
  • System Memory – 512MB LPDDR2 (Samsung K4P4G324EB PoP)
  • Storage – microSD slot + eMMC socket (bottom of the board)
  • Raspberry Pi vs ODROID-W

    Raspberry Pi vs ODROID-W

    Video Output – micro HDMI (with NXP IP4791CZ12 protection IC)

  • USB – micro USB connector, and USB host (not soldered)
  • Expansion Headers:
    • R-Pi compatible 26-pin expansion header (through holes)
    • R-Pi compatible 15-pin CSI connector
    • 20+6 -pin header for extra GPIO/ADC/Power and USB connection
    • RTC backup battery connector (1.25mm pitch Header)
    • Li-Po battery connector (1.25mm pitch Header)
  • Misc – RTC
  • Power
    • Supply – Via micro USB or LiPo battery
    • PMIC – Ricoh RT5T619 Power Management IC with step-down DC/DC Converters, low-dropout regulators, Real Time Clock, Li-ion Battery Charger, I2C-Bus Interface, Voltage detections, Thermal shut-down, and 12bit Analog-Digital Converter. (0 to 2.5V)
    • Step-up DC/DC converter – TI TPS61259 . For battery-powered portable applications. Supports up to 1000-mA load current from a battery discharged as low as 3.4V. The 5 Volt output is used for USB host and HDMI circuitry.
    • Voltage detector IC – Torex XC61FN2412MR for stable system start (Auto-power on) It includes Voltage detector and Delay circuit
  • Dimensions – 60 x 36 x 7mm
ODROID-W Block Diagram (Click to Enlarge)

ODROID-W Block Diagram (Click to Enlarge)

Hardkernel created this board thanks to a request from a customer for a wearable platform. ODROID-U3 consumes too much power, and the Raspberry Pi was just too big. So they created a software compatible module for this purpose, which explains why we lose Ethernet, composite output, the audio jack, one USB port, and the DSI connector, and the SD card slot has been replaced by a micro SD slot, but keep everything else, and gain RTC, 2x ADC, LiPo, and eMMC socket, a few more GPIOs (32 in total), all into a much smaller form factor. Current documentation and resources include the schematics (PDF), the mechanical drawing files (DXF), Linux 3.12 source code with RTC, ADC, etc.. drivers, and ODROID-W Wiki.

The video below shows how you can solder the USB connector to the top or bottom of the boards, and boot the battery-powered board with Raspbian installed on the micro SD card. Nothat if you want network connectivity as well, you’ll need to add a hub. Alternatively, you could also use their $20 W Docking Board for the module which adds 4 USB ports, 10/100M Ethernet, a 3.5mm stereo audio jack, and a UART port for the serial console.

There’s also another interesting video showing how to make your own smartwatch with ODROID-W.

Hardkernel ODROID-W can be pre-ordered now for $30 + $9 for shipping payable by Paypal, with shipping starting on August 26. There are also various accessories such as the W docking board with or without a TFT LCD display, a connector pack (USB + headers), RTC backup battery, a 750 mAh battery, and more.

Thanks to Nanik for the tip.

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Kankun KK-SP3 Wi-Fi Smart Socket Hacked, Based on Atheros AR9331, Running OpenWRT

July 28th, 2014 No comments

Kankun KK-SP3 is a $20 Wi-Fi smart socket that can be controlled via iOS and Android app. But one person created a Kankun community on Google+ to try to hack the device and control it from a PC, or from outside the home network for example. Up to now, the device has been opened, found to run OpenWRT, and one the member wrote a Windows app to control the socket from a PC. It is a basic smart socket, without power monitoring capabilities, and unless you start hacking the hardware, all you can do is basically turn it on and off.

Kaunkun KK-SP3 Board (Click to Enlarge)

Kankun KK-SP3 Board (Click to Enlarge)

The device is based on Qualcomm Atheros AR9931, found in many low cost routers supporting OpenWRT, and the socket indeed runs OpenWRT, which you can access via SSH or Telnet (username/password: root/admin). There’s 32MB RAM (Winbond W9425G6JH), and a 10A OMRON relay.

SmartPlug_App

SmartPlug Windows App

The smart socket actually communicates with the mobile app using the UDP protocol, but communication appears to be encrypted. So instead of trying to reverse-engineer the protocol, one member (Konstantin) found the relay was controlled by one of the LED GPIO, and provided instructions to access the device from the outside using a CGI file he built (relay.cgi) to control the relay.

Building up on relay.cgi, another member released SmartPlug.exe, a Windows program to control the socket from a PC. There are also more tips on the community such as instructions to access it from the Internet. Since routers based on Atheros AR9331 are quite popular, there are many instructions on the web, and you can find various way to improve the functionality of the device, for example by adding a USB port.

If you want to play around, you can purchase the plug on it can also be found on Aliexpress for as low as $19.99 including shipping, and If you live in China or use forwarding services, it’s available on Taobao for 99 RMB ($16). A new version, Smart Plug 2 (K2), appears to be in the works, with Wi-Fi and RF support, and two USB ports for motion sensing, camera, weather, and light sensor modules. I’ll cover it in another post, if I can find more information.

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MPL CEC10 Compact Embedded Computers Feature Bay Trail SoCs, 5 Gigabit Ports, Rugged Enclosures

July 28th, 2014 No comments

MPL, a company specializing in industrial PCs based in Switzerland, has recently announced their CEC10 series “Compact Embedded Computer” featuring Intel Bay Trail-I E3800 processors, with 5 Gigabit Ethernet ports using RJ45, M12, or SFP connectors, and supporting industrial and extended temperature ranges, and as well as various rugged housings.

MPL_CEC10_Industrial_PC

Specifications for MPL CEC10:

  • SoC – Intel Atom E3800 series single, dual, or quad processor @ up to 1.91GHz with Intel HD graphics.
  • System Memory – up to 4GB DDR3L ECC-RAM
  • Storage:
    • mSATA interface
    • Optional 2.5-inch SATA HDD/SSD
    • Optional eMMC flash (soldered)
  • Video Output- DisplayPort, optional eDP / VGA
  • Connectivity – 5x gigabit Ethernet ports. RJ45 connectors by default, but the system also supports M12 connectors or SFP cages.
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0 host port, 1x USB 3.0 device port, 2x USB 2.0 ports
  • Serial – 1x RS-232 port, optional RS-232/422/485 or extra RS-232 port
  • Expansion Slots:
    • Mini-PCIe slot (full size) with mSATA support
    • Optional PCie/PC104 board interface with 2x PCIe, 2x HSIC, 2x UART, SATA, SDIO, LPC and I2C.
  • Misc – Watchdog
  • MPL_CEC10_Military_Outdoor_Enclosure

    Military / Outdoor Enclosure

    Power:

    • 8–36V DC supply
    • Reverse polarity voltage, overvoltage, surge and burst voltages protection
    • Electromagnetic discharge protection compliant with MIL-STD-461E, IEC60945, EN50155
    • 8 to 18W power consumption
    • Sleep currents down to 100μA with support for wake capabilities (Ignition/RI) from ignition signal, RS232 ring indicator, or LAN (Wake-on-LAN).
  • Dimensions – 162 x 118 x 62mm
  • Operating Temperature Range – -20 to 60°C or -40 to 85°C (Extended temp. range)
  • Certifications (In progess) – EN 50155 (railway) and IEC 60945 (maritime) certifications

The company can provide various modules compatible with the optional board interface namely UPS LiPo, UPS Supercap, CAN, GPS, RS-232, RS-422/485, and Rugged WLAN modules. Four rugged enclosures are available for the system: DIN-Rail. Flange, Open Frame, and MIL/Outdoor. This industrial PC is said to support Debian Linux and various version of Windows.

MPL CEC 10 appears to be available, and will be for at least 10 more years as the company commit to long term availability. Pricing information has not been disclosed publicly. Further information can be found on CEC product page.

Via LinuxGizmos

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Lemaker.org is Giving Away Banana Pi Development Boards to Developers and Fans

July 26th, 2014 1 comment

Banana Pi is a development board powered by AllWinner A20 dual core SoC with 1GB RAM, and with expansion headers and a form factor very similar to the Raspberry Pi. It can run Debian, Lubuntu, Android 4.2, Arch Linux ARM, Scratch OS, and OpenSuse, but Lemarker.org community would like more educational materials such as open source software or hardware projects, tutorials, etc.., so they’ve launched a program to give away boards to developers and people who can help writing and maintaining documentation.
Banana_Pi_Board

There are three categories of projects:

  • STEAM – “Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Mathematics” educational, open source projects running on the the Banana Pi
  • Hardware or Software Project -  Open source projects based on Banana Pi which could be helpful to the community, including open source hardware peripherals projects;
  • Banana Pi Fans – You don’t need to be as technical as for the two others categories, but you must be committed to write tutorials or user guides, participate to the Wiki, upload video guides, etc.., under CC BY-SA 3.0 license.

To apply, you just need to create a poll in the forums in the category that matches your project, describe the project, the licenses used, links to existing documentation if any, etc…Other members of the community can then comment or/and vote for your project for two weeks, and you’ll be send a board if accepted.Current projects include a Self-Managing Uninterruptible Power Supply for Banana Pi, and WTherm web connected thermostat.

Selected applicants will have to bear the cost of shipping via SF-Express, DHL (Priority), UPS, FedEx, or China Post depending on the applicant’s preference.

All details and conditions are available on Apply for Banana Pi page.

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Firefly-RK3288 Development Board To Support Android and Lubuntu

July 25th, 2014 16 comments

We’ve already got a long list of upcoming Rockchip RK3288 based Android media players, but no low cost development boards have been announced to date. We can certainly expect a Radxa Rock 2 board with the Cortex A17 processor, but it might not be the only one, as Firefly-RK3288 development board powered by Rockchip RK3288 is currently being developed by another Chinese team.

Firefly-RK3288 (Click to Enlarge... a bit)

Firefly-RK3288 Development Board (Click to Enlarge… a bit)

Current specifications for Firefly-RK3288 board:

  • SoC – Rockchip 3288 quad core ARM Cortex A17 up to 1.8 GHz with Mali-T764 GPU supporting OpenGL ES 1.1/2.0 /3.0, and OpenCL 1.1
  • System Memory – 2G DDR3
  • Storage – 8GB eMMC flash + micro SD slot
  • Video I/O
    • HDMI 2.0 up to 3840×2160@60p
    • VGA out (D-SUB connector)
    • VGA in is available via the expansion headers.
    • LCD, MIPI and LVDS
  • Audio Output / Input – HDMI, optical S/PDIF, microphone header, and built-in MIC
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, dual band 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi with external antenna, and Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB OTG
  • Expansion Headers – 2x 38-pin headers with access to SPI, UART, EDP, ADC, GPIO, I2C, VGA=IN, LVDS, MIPI, 3.3V, 5V, and GND signals.
  • Power Supply – TBC
  • Dimensions – 118 x 83 mm

Firefly-RK3288_connectorsThe developers told me it would be an open hardware project, but I’m not sure it will be 100% open source hardware, but at least they seem committed to release the hardware schematics, component’s placement file, and components’ datasheets. Hardware design and debugging have just been completed, and they have not reached the mass production stage just yet, which also means there’s no price information either. They will support Android 4.4 and Ubuntu for the board, and the SDKs, tutorial and hardware files will all be available from their website in August.

That website is not online yet (and I don’t even know the domain name), but the board can be found on oschina, and the development followed on TeeFirefly’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.

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Imagination Technologies Unveils Low Power Low Footprint PowerVR GX5300 GPU for Wearables

July 22nd, 2014 No comments

Up to now most wearables are based on MCU solutions or derived from mobile platforms, which may either not provide the advanced features required by users, or consume too much power and take more space than needed. With Ineda Dhanush and Mediatek Aster, we’ve already seen silicon vendors design wearables SoCs, and now Imagination Technologies has just announced PowerVR GX5300 GPU targeting wearables with support for OpenGL ES 2.0, 480p to 720p resolution, and using 0.55mm2 silicon area based on 28nm process.

PowerVR GX5300 Block Diagram

PowerVR GX5300 Block Diagram

PowerVR GX5300 GPU will be support Android, Android Wear, and Linux based operation systems, and according to the company has the following key features:

  • Unified shaders – The TBDR graphics architecture offers unified shaders where vertex, pixel and GPU compute resources are scaled simultaneously.
  • Low power and high precision graphics – All PowerVR GPUs offer a mix of low (FP16) and high precision (FP32) rendering and implement the full OpenGL ES 2.0 specification.
  • Reduced memory footprint - PowerVR GX5300 supports PVRTC, a texture compression format which reduces memory bandwidth and decreases power consumption. It can help silicon vendors reduce memory costs.

Typical applications will be embedded Linux or Android-based connected home systems that require graphics rendering such as smart washing machines, and wearables running Android Wear such as smartwatches.

PowerVR GX5300 is available for licensing now, but it has not been announced in any wearable SoCs just yet, so it’s probably something we’ll see in products in 2015.

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Tronsmart Mars G01 Wireless Gamepad Review on Android

July 21st, 2014 5 comments

One way to play games in Android TV Box with a gamepad is to use a Sony Playstation 3 Controller with Sixaxis Controller app. It can work, but you need a device that supports Bluetooth, with the right drivers, and most games require you to do the mapping manually which is not that user-friendly. Now, they make Android compatible Bluetooth Gamepad such as G910 which seems really nice, but I’ve been told it’s rather hit or miss, and some people have problem with the Bluetooth connection. GeekBuying instead recommends Tronsmart Mars G01, based on 2.4 GHz technology, that requires an external USB RF dongle, but which alledgly does not  have connection problems. It works with Android, Windows, and Playstation 3. The company sent me a sample, so I’ve taken some pictures and tried a few games with Tronsmart Vega S89 Elite TV box.

Tronsmart Mars G01 Unboxing

I’ve received the box in the following package.

Tronsmart_Mars_G01_PackageAt the back, some of the technical specifications are listed:

  • Connecting Tech – 2.4 GHz Wireless
  • Battery Capacity – 600 mAh (Up to 20 hours working time)
  • Working Current – 11 – 20 mA
  • Standby Current – 33 uA
  • Charging Current – 300 mA
  • Vibration – Dual-motor vibration
  • Interface – USB 1.0/2.0/3.0
  • Plug-and-Play – Yes
  • Compatible System – PC/PS3/Android
Tronsmart Mars G01 Package Content (Click to Enlarge)

Tronsmart Mars G01 Package Content (Click to Enlarge)

Inside the package, we’ll find the game controller (very similar to an XBOX 360 Controller), a tiny RF dongle that I connected to the USB OTG adapter on the picture above, a USB to micro USB cable for charging from a power adapter or a computer’s USB port, and a user’s manual in English. The user’s manual provides details about the layout of the controller,. how to use it with Android, Windows or PS3, and the different connection modes:

  • X-input – Used in Windows, and alternative method for Android.
  • Direct-input – Alternative mode for Windows
  • Android – Default mode use for Android.
  • PS3
Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

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A closer look the device shows 10 buttons, on D-pad, two rockers, the micro USB port for charging, and a reset button. There’s also rubber on the sides of the gamepad to a better grip.

Tronsmart Mars G01 Review

The controller was already charged, so I could use straightaway. I chose Tronsmart Vega S89 Elite, because it’s a recent devide and with a Mali-450MP6 GPU it should handle games pretty well. Getting started is very easy, as you just need to insert the RF dongle in a USB port of your Android, press the T (blue) button, and it will connect immediately. As a side note, I did try the USB OTG adapter with the RF dongle on ThL W200 smartphone, but it failed to work, as this Android phone does not support USB OTG.

Back to playing on Vega S89. The first good thing is that you can use the Gamepad to navigate the Android menu. I then decided to try 3 games: Beach Buggy Blitz, Riptide GP, and DeadZone: Shadowgun, and interestingly I had three different results:

  • Perfect support for Riptide GP. I could exclusively use the gamepad from Android Home screen until I quit the game, and Riptide GP automatically detected the game upon the first run, and took me through a short tutorial showing how to use the gamepad. I did notice some lag in the control,. but I think it’s just Tronsmart Vega S89 being not powerful enough to handle the games with full graphics quality at 1080p. Reducing the graphics settings improves playability.
  • Good support for Beach Buggy Blitz, but it requires another input device (mouse or air mouse) to navigate the menu. You have to go to the settings menu to select gamepad mode, and you can define your own keys. Once you start playing, the gamepad works as expected, you can turn, break, recover, pause, etc…
  • Failed to work for Deadzone Shadowgun. I was unable to pass the login screen. None of the gamepad buttons nor my air mouse click could let me enter the game. However, it is reported as working, but maybe you have to enter the game using a remote client (e.g. DroidMote, RKRemote, etc..), and then the gamepad works. I haven’t tried.

You can watch me play the three games with Mars G01 in the video below.


For games that do not support Android mode, you can also use X-Input mode (X mode), but it’s not something I had to try. You can find the documentation for X mode in Android, as well Windows XP 32- and 64-bit driver on Tronsmart download page. You’ll also find a list of supported games in the X mode document. I quickly tried to insert in my Ubuntu 14.04 computer, and it’s recognized as a X-Box 360 pad of you switch to X-mode by pressing the T button for a few seconds:

[16404.342437] usb 1-2.4.3: Product:  Gamepad For Windows
[16404.342441] usb 1-2.4.3: SerialNumber: 00000000
[16404.388390] input: Microsoft X-Box 360 pad as /devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:12.2/usb1/1-2/1-2.4/1-2.4.3/1-2.4.3:1.0/input/input19
[16404.388530] usbcore: registered new interface driver xpad

I haven’t tried to play games, but it looks like it might work in Linux too (TBC).

Inside Tronsmart Mars G01

You’re quite unlikely to feel the need to open a gamepad, unless you plan to convert it into a robot, or need spare parts, but I’ve tried anyway. There are just 7 screws to remove, including one hidden under the “QC Passed” sticker, and the back of the enclosure comes out very easily.

Mars G01 Board with Battery (Click to Enlarge)

Mars G01 Board with Battery (Click to Enlarge)

The blue battery (600 mAh) is predominant, but we can also see the two vibrating motors. By the way, the latter were not used in the Android games I tried, and it looks like it might only work with some PS3 games according the user’s manual.

Two Chips on Mars G01 (Click to Enlarge)

Two Chips on Mars G01 (Click to Enlarge)

Taking the battery out reveals two chips that must be an MCU and the 2.4GHz transceiver with its pretty on-board antenna.

LEDs, Button and Plastic Bits (Click to Enlarge)

LEDs, Button and Plastic Bits (Click to Enlarge)

We can take the board completely out by removing to more screws, but there are just LEDs and buttons to be seen on the other side.

Conclusion

Even though Android and games support for Gamepad is still not perfect, I feel products like Tronsmart Mars G01 are a big step forward in terms of simplicity of use compared to Sixaxis solution for example. It also connects instantly, and does not require separate app/drivers for most popular games, but still provides the tools for key mappings for advanced users.

Geekbuying sells Tronsmart Mars G01 for $29.99, but you can also find it on Aliexpress or Amazon US for the same price, or you can save about $2 by purchasing it on DealExtreme for $27.97.

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