Posts Tagged ‘open source’

RabbitMax Flex IoT & Home Automation Board and Kit for Raspberry Pi

October 7th, 2016 4 comments

RabbitMax Flex is an add-on board for the Raspberry Pi boards with 40-pin headers, namely Raspberry Pi Model A+ and B+, Raspberry Pi 2, Raspberry Pi 3 and Raspberry Pi 0, destined to be used for Internet of Things (IoT) and home automation applications thanks to 5x I2C headers, a relay, an LCD interface and more.

I’ve received a small kit with RabbitMax Flex boards, a BMP180 temperature & barometric pressure I2C sensor, and a 16×2 LCD display.

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RabbitMax Flex specifications:

  • Relay – Songle SRD-05VDC-SL-C supporting 125V/250VAC up to 10A, 30VDC up to 10A
  • Storage – EEPROM with some system information for identification
  • IR – IR LED, IR receiver
  • Misc – Buzzer, Button, RGB LED
  • Expansion
    • Header for LCD character display + potentiometer for backlight adjustment
    • 5x 4-pin headers for I2C sensors
  • Dimensions – Raspberry Pi HAT compliant
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The assembly of the kit is child’s play as you don’t even need tools. First insert the HAT board on top of your Raspberry Pi board, add the LCD display, and whatever I2C sensors you please.

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I’ve done so on my Raspberry Pi 2 board and battery kit. I have not tried the software part yet, but the platform has been tested on Raspbian, with a custom Linux OS built with the Yocto Project coming soon. Currently three sensors are supported including a temperature and barometric pressure sensor (BPM180), a temperature and humidity sensor (HTU21) and a light sensor (BH1750), but you could also connect any other I2C sensors provided you work on the code to enable support.

You’ll find documentation, software, example projects, tools, and soon KiCAD files on RabbitMax github’s account, and some extra info on website. RabbitMax Flex board is now sold for $49.90 on, but if you are patient enough, you should be able to buy it for a significantly lower price via an upcoming crowdfunding campaign.

BeagleBone Black Wireless Board Gets WiFi and Bluetooth 4.1 LE, Drops Ethernet

September 27th, 2016 No comments

The BeagleBone Black is still one of the most popular development boards around, but in a world going more and more wireless, it only comes with a wired Ethernet interface. Seeed Studio BeagleBone Green Wireless and Neuromeka BeagleBone Air already provided BeagleBone compatible boards with WiFi and Bluetooth LE, as well as Zigbee for the latter, but now themselves have launched BeagleBone Black Wireless with WiFi and Bluetooth 4.1 LE based on Octavo Systems OSD3358 System-in-Package with Texas Instrument Sitara AM3358 processor, 512 MB RAM, TI LDO and PMIC, and many passive components.

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BeagleBone Black Wireless specifications:

  • SoC – Texas Instruments Sitara AM3358 Cortex A8 @ 1 GHz with PowerVR SGX530 GPU
  • System Memory – 512 MB DDR3L
  • Storage – 4GB eMMC flash + micro SD slot
  • USB – 1x mini USB client port for power & communication, 1x USB host port
  • Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n WiFi + Bluetooth 4.1 LE with 2x u.FL antenna connectors
  • Video & Audio Output – micro HDMI up to 1280×1024 resolution.
  • Expansion Connectors – 2x 46-pin headers
  • Misc – LEDs for WiFi, Bluetooth, Power, and 4x user LEDs; Reset, boot, and power buttons
  • Debugging – JTAG header, serial console
  • Power – mini USB, DC Jack, or 5VDC via expansion header
  • Dimensions – 86.4 x 53.4 mm

The board is preloaded with Debian with Cloud9 IDE on Node.js with BoneScript.js library, and also support other Android and Linux based operating systems support by other BeagleBone boards. Cadsoft Eagle schematics and PCB layout have already been released on github. BeagleBone Black Wireless drops the Ethernet port just like BeagleBone Green Wireless, but keeps the micro HDMI port, which on Seeed Studio’s port is replaced by 4x USB ports and Grove connectors.

You’ll find some more details on Black Wireless page, and can purchase the board on Mouser (Part #: BBBWL-SC-562) for $68.75.

MinnowBoard Turbot SBC Gets a Quad Core Atom E3845 Processor, Better Ethernet, and a Fansink

September 6th, 2016 10 comments

MinnowBoard Turbot open source hardware SBC was released in 2015 with an Intel Atom E3826 dual core Bay Trail-I processor, 2GB RAM, SATA and Gigabit Ethernet support, and a new version – MinnowBoard Turbot Quad – with a more powerful quad core processor, an heatsink and fan, and better Ethernet connectivity will be launched in December.

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MinnowBoard Turbot Quad “MBT-4210” board specifications:

  • SoC – Intel Atom E3845 quad core Bay Trail-I processor @ 1.92 GHz with Intel HD graphics @ 542 / 792 MHz (10W TDP)
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3L 1067 MT/s (Soldered)
  • Storage – 1x SATA2 3Gbs, 1x micro SD card slot, , 8 MB SPI Flash for firmware (Tianocore UEFI, Coreboot, SeaBIOS)
  • Video & Audio Output – 1x micro HDMI connector
  • Connectivity – 10/100/1000M Ethernet RJ-45 connector (Intel i211 instead of Realtek NIC on first board)
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0 host, 1x USB 2.0 host
  • Debugging – Serial debug via FTDI cable, firmware flash port header
  • Expansion headers
    • Low-speed expansion (LSE) port – 2×13 (26-pin) male 0.1″ pin header with access to SPI, I2C, I2S Audio, 2x UARTs (TTL-level), 8x GPIO (including 2x supporting PWM), +5V, and GND
    • High-speed expansion (HSE) port –  60-pin high-density connector with access to 1x PCIe Gen 2.0 Lane, 1x SATA2, 1x USB 2.0 host, I2C, GPIO, JTAG, +5V, and GND
    • 8x buffered GPIO
  • Power Supply – 5V/4A DC input via 2.5mm center pin positive power jack; 5V DC output via  2-pin header
  • Dimensions – 99 x 74mm
  • Temperature Range –  Operating: TBD; Storage: -20 to +85 deg C
  • Certifications – FCC Class B, CE, IEC-60950, RoHS/WEEE

The company claims the new processor is 2.5 times faster than the dual core processor used in the first board, likely referring to multi-core performance at a higher clock speed, and the fansink should make it more suitable for higher temperature applications. Gigabit Ethernet is also supposed to benefit from replacing a Realtek GbE controller by Intel i211.

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MinnowBoard Case – Click to Enlarge

The board leverages MinnowBoard MAX ecosystem, with support for many different operating systems including Debian GNU/Linux, Brillo, Windows 8.1 / 10, Android 4.4, and Ubuntu. MinnowBoard Turbot (Quad) is also compatible with the Yocto Project, 64-bit Intel firmware, Coreboot and U-boot, and more with details available on Minnowboard Wiki. The board will be open source hardware with the files released under a Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0 license. The hardware should not be that different from MinnowBoard Turbot (dual core) whose schematics, PCB layout, gerber files, and BoM can be found on MinnowBoard Turbot Wiki.

The board can be pre-ordered for $189.95 on Netgate, but you may consider adding accessories like a metal case (+$19), 5V/2A or 4A power supply ($10.95/$12.95), and/or a HDMI cable ($9.995). Bear in mind that shipping is only scheduled for December 2016.

Thanks to Freire for the tip.

OpenRex Open Source Hardware NXP i.MX6 Board Launched for 199 Euros and Up

September 5th, 2016 3 comments

OpenRex is an open source hardware board powered by NXP i.MX6 Cortex A9 processor designed by Fedevel for their hardware design course, and manufactured by Voipac, both companies based on Slovakia. The schematics, PCB layout, gerber files and other manufacturing files were released in February, but the company has only started selling the board a few days ago with OpenRex Basic SBC and OpenRex Max SBC boards.

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OpenRex Basic and Max boards specifications:

  • SoC
    • OpenRex Basic – NXP i.MX 6Solo single core Cortex A9 processor @ 1 GHz with 2D and 3D GPU
    • OpenRex Max – NXP i.MX 6Quad quad core Cortex A9 processor @ 1 GHz with 2D and 3D GPU
  • MCU – NXP LPC1345FHN33 ARM Cortex-M3 micro-controller @ 72 MHz
  • System Memory
    • Basic – 512 MB DDR3-1066 (400MHz)
    • Max – 2GB DDR3-1066 (533 MHz)
  • Storage
    • Basic – micro SD slot, 1x 2Kbit I2C EEPROM, 1x 32Mbit SPI flash
    • Max – SATA, micro SD slot, 1x 16Kbit I2C EEPROM, 1x 32Mbit SPI flash
  • Video Output / Display I/F – 1x HDMI up to 2048×1536, LVDS, parallel RGB display output, touchscreen connector (Optional 4x Analog input)
  • Audio – HDMI output, 3.5mm stereo headphone jack
  • Camera – 1x Parallel CSI camera shared with RGB output, 1x differential camera input (compatible with Raspberry Pi)  shared with LVDS)
  • Connectivity – 1x 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host port, 1x micro USB OTG port
  • Debugging – 1x UART Debug console (FTDI compatible)
  • Expansion
    • 1x mini PCIe slot + micro SIM
    • 1x Arduino type header with CAN, 4x analog inputs,3x GPIO, I2C, USB
    • 1x Raspberry Pi somewhat compatible header with 2x I2C, 2x UART, 1x CAN Tx/Rx, 2x SPI, 3x GPIO/PWM
  • Sensors – Compass + accelerometer, gyroscope, humidity sensor, temperature sensor
  • Misc – IR receiver, 8+2 user LEDs, 1x power LED, 1x reset button, 3x user buttons
  • Power Supply – 5V DC through power jack or micro USB port
  • Dimensions – 95 x 70 mm
  • Temperature range – 0°C to +70°C

Both boards also ship with a 4GB micro-SDHC Class 4 memory card with pre-installed Yocto Project Linux build, and an aluminum heatsink (14x14x14mm). You’ll find software documentation for U-boot, Linux, Yocto, and NXP LPC MCU on OpenRex Software page.

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The boards can be purchased on Voipac Webshop for 199 Euros for i.MX6 OpenRex Basic SBC, and 229 Euros for i.MX6 OpenRex Max SBC, which lower prices for higher quantities. If you order more than 10 pieces, the boards can be customized to your requirements at no extra cost. More details can be found on OpenRex Basic and Max product pages.

C.H.I.P Board and Allwinner A13/R8 SoCs To Get VPU Support in Linux Mainline

August 30th, 2016 3 comments

Allwinner has mixed relationships with open source communities such as Kodi, especially due to issues with its closed-source CedarX VPU drivers, and some GPL violations. However to address the former, linux-sunxi community has been working on open source Cedrus library for the video processor unit on Allwinner processors, that’s been successfully tested on boards such as Orange Pi One. Free Electrons has gone  further, as they’ve made sure Cedrus now works with Linux mainline kernel, currently Linux 4.8, and tested it on Allwinner R8 based Pocket CHIP.

Pocketchip_Cedrus_Linux-4.8The work has been done by Florent Revest, a 19 years old intern at the company, who delivered a new sunxi-cedrus driver, a Video4Linux (V4L2) memory-to-memory decoder kernel driver, and corresponding VA-API backend, with the implementations currently available on Github here and there respectively. Currently only MPEG2 and MPEG4 are working, but adding other codecs such as H.264, and video encoding is possible using the current framework.

The short demo below shown VideoLAN playing an MPEG2 video using Cedrus on Linux 4.8 on PocketCHIP.

A patchset has already been sent to the Linux Kernel mailing list, so support should become available in one of the upcoming Linux releases, and they’ve also updated linux-sunxi Cedrus Wiki to explain how to reproduce this setup on other Allwinner A13 boards.

Learn the Basics of Humanoid Robots with InMoov Finger Starter Kit

August 22nd, 2016 2 comments

In a not so distant future, most humans will live off their government provided basic income, relaxing and drinking their robot brewed, drone delivered beer or soda, opened and served by their humanoid robot maid. Well, maybe… In the meantime, it might be interesting to learn how to make humanoid robots such as InMoov, but since it’s quite complicated, it might be better to start small… with a single finger.


That’s exactly what InMoov Finger Starter Kit offers you to do in order to understand the basics principles of the complete robot. The kit includes:

  • 1x 3D printed base support in ABS
  • 3D printed finger parts in ABS
  • 1 meter braided 200 LB tendon
  • 1x 5cm filament for peg/pin use to assemble finger joints
  • 1x wheel horn adapter (Servo Pulley)
  • 4x screws to fix the servo to the base support.

You’ll also need to provide your own Arduino Uno (or Leonardo or Duelaminove..) board, and servo such as HK15298 or the cheaper MG995. More details and assembly instructions are explained on the kit’s tutorial page. Once assembly is complete, you can run a simple sketch to see the finger moving, or a more advanced one to control it with your voice. It can also be interfaced with muscle or ultrasound sensors.

If you already own a 3D printer, you could also print them yourself. Once you can confident enough, you could move to the next stage, and build the complete InMoov open source robot shown in the video below.

The starter kit was actually showcased in 2013, but I’ve only come across the kit via Tindie, where it is sold for $37. You can also buy it directly from InMoov website for 34 Euros.

Project OWL Open Source Hardware Ophthalmoscope is 25 Times Cheaper than Commercial Products

August 12th, 2016 3 comments

Medical grade equipments are usually very expensive, partly because of their complexity, but also because of certifications,   legal reasons, and low manufacturing volumes. That’s where open source hardware can make a big difference, and there has been several open source hardware prosthetic hands or arms such as Openbionics hand, but Ebin Philip and his team has tackled another issue with Project OWL, an open indirect ophthalmoscope (OIO) designed for screening retinal diseases, which normally costs between $10,000 to $25,000, but their open source hardware design can be put together for about $400.


The design features a Raspberry Pi 2 board connected to a WaveShare 5″ Touchscreen LCD, a Raspberry Pi Pi IR Camera (M12 lens mount) with 16mm FL M12 lens, a 3 Watt Luxeon LED, two 50x50mm mirrors, a linear polarizer sheet, a 20 Dioptre disposable lens, and various passive components.


OIO (OWL) Prototype development

While the Raspberry Pi board is not open source hardware itself, Ebin has shared the CAD files for the design, as well as the schematics and gerber files for the RPi shield used in the project on, where you’ll also find some details about the project log. Assembly instructions are currently missing however. One of the software side, the image are processed through OpenCV to remove background image and reflections.

The main goal of the project is to detect retina problems on diabetic patients in rural areas:

Currently there are over 422 million people worldwide suffering from diabetes. 28.5% of them suffer from Diabetic Retinopathy. 50% of diabetics are unaware about the risk of losing their vision. The number of cases of diabetic retinopathy increased from 4 million in 2000 to 7.69 million in 2010 in US alone. Early detection and Treatment can help prevent loss of vision in most cases.

Detection of Diabetic Retinopathy, requires expensive devices for Retinal Imaging , even the cheapest of them costing more than $9000 each. This makes good quality eyecare, expensive and inaccessible to the less privileged. The key idea in the development of OIO (code-named Project OWL) is to provide an affordable solution to help identify DR and hence prevent cases of “avoidable blindness”.

I’m unclear whether this tool is also appropriate for other tests such as dilated fundus examination, or to check the optical nerves for glaucoma patients, etc…. But if it can be used or adapted for such purposes the implications would even better greater.

Samsung JerryScript is a Lightweight Open Source JavaScript Engine for the Internet of Things

August 2nd, 2016 6 comments

In the old days, micro-controller programming was all done in assembly or C, but in recent years higher level languages, included interpreted ones such as Python and JavaScript, have made their ways into MCUs with projects such as MicroPython or Espruino (JS) often running on STMicro STM32 ARM Cortex M micro-controllers, but also other platforms such as ESP8266.

JerryScriptAs I browsed through the Embedded Linux Conference Europe 2016 schedule, I discovered that Samsung worked on it own implementation of a JavaScript engine for the Internet of Things: JerryScript. It is a full implementation of ECMAScript 5.1 standard written in C that can run on micro-controllers with less than 64KB RAM, and less than 200KB storage (160KB footprint with ARM Thumb-2 compilation).

JerryScript is comprised of two main components: Parser and Virtual Machine (VM), with the parser performing translation of input ECMAScript application into byte-code than is then executed by the Virtual Machine that performs interpretation.


JerryScript High Level Design

JerryScript High Level Design

Although JerryScript is designed for MCUs, and is said to be running on hundreds of thousands of smartwatches, you can easily build it and try in any machine running Linux:

You can also compile the code for full, compact or minimal implementation, use the C Api to integrate JavaScript support into your program, etc… Many more details can be found on JerryScript website and Github repository. JerryScript is also used in IoT.js framework for the Internet of Things that currently runs on Linux and NuttX RTOS platforms, as well as STM32F4-Discovery + “BB” (Beaglebone Black?) and Raspberry Pi 2, and will soon be ported to Samsung Artik 1 (MIPS), STM32F429-Discovery, STM32F411-Nucleo, and Intel Edison boards.