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Posts Tagged ‘openwrt’

$98 Geek Force Mediatek MT7623 Router Board Features 6 GbE Ports, 3 mPCIe Slots for WiFi, 3G, or LTE (Crowdfunding)

February 8th, 2016 18 comments

We’ve seen a few interesting and relatively powerful router board launched last year, with the likes of MQMaker WiTi or Turris Omnia, AsiaRF has now designed Geek Force board powered by Mediatek MT7623N/MT7623A quad core network processor combined with 2GB RAM, six Gigabit Ethernet ports, and optional 802.11ac and 3G connectivity via the three mPCIe slots available on the board. The board also features two HDMI ports, and supports multimedia capabilities such as H.264, MPEG-2, or VC-1 hardware video decoding.

Geek_Force_Board

Click to Enlarge

Geek Force board preliminary specifications:

  • SoC – MediaTek MT7623A or MT7623N quad-core ARM Cotex-A7 @ 1.3GHz with Mali-450MP GPU (MT7623N only)
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3
  • Storage – 2GB eMMC or NAND Flash + SD card slot up to 128 GB, and maybe SATA via the mPCIe slots
  • Connectivity – 6 Gigabit Ethernet ports (WAN / LAN behavior defined by firmware), 802.11 b/g/n WiFi & Bluetooth 4.0 via MT6625L with IPEX antenna connector for WiFi and Bluetooth, and optional 802.11ac WiFi and/or 3G via mPCIe slots.
  • Video – 2x HDMI, 1x RCA video, MIPI DSI
  • Audio – HDMI, and optical S/PDIF input and output ports
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0 port, 1x USB 2.0 host port, 1x micro USB OTG port
  • Expansion
    • 3x mini PCIe
    • 26-pin “Raspberry Pi” header,
    • 10-pin PCM header
    • 10-pin SPI0 header
    • 6-pin Apple Auth CP (I2C) connector
    • 10-pin I2C + I2S header
    • Power header
  • Debugging – 1x 20-pin JTAG connector, 4-pin UART1 connector for serial console
  • Misc – IR receiver, power switch, 1x user switch
  • Power – 12V
  • Dimensions – N/A

The board will support OpenWrt, Android, and Ubuntu Snappy operating systems, likely on top of Linux 3.10 kernel. The SoC also features hardware NAT, hardware QoS, and hard crypto engine, which should all be supported by the board. While the specs indicates either MT7623A or M7623N processor might be used, the pictures shows MT7623N used in combination with MT7530B Ethernet switch. MT7623A embeds the Ethernet switch on-chip, but lacks a GPU, and has less video interfaces.

Geek_Force_Board_BottomApart from the specifications however, the company has not shared much technical information so far, not shown any demos, but I’ve been told a video should come after Chinese New Year holidays. Some parts of the specs are also unclear, for example whether the video interfaces are only output, or if some are input, and it’s not 100% clear the mPCIe slots also support SATA.Potential applications include Internet router, enterprise access point, home security system, home automation gateway, NAS, switch control processor, etc…

AsiaRF has launched a flexible funding Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for production. A $98 pledge should get you a Geek Force board with a power adapter and a “pigtail plus” antenna. There are also various other rewards for 802.11ac, 3G or 4G LTE mini PCie cards add-ons, up to $192 for a Geek Force board with 4G LTE worldwide, and 802.11ac WiFi. Shipping added $30 to the destinations I tried, and delivery is scheduled for June 2016.

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Zsun Wifi Card Reader Can Now Run OpenWrt

January 25th, 2016 12 comments

Zsun Wifi card reader is a tiny micro SD card reader with WiFi connectivity, and while people managed to access the device serial console a few months ago, the plan was to eventually run OpenWrt since it’s based on the popular Atheros AR9331 WiSoC combined with 64MB RAM and 16MB SPI Flash. It would also be one the smallest OpenWrt capable device with dimensions of 30 x 33 mm.

Zsun_Wi-FI_Card_ReaderA team of Polish managed this feat, and have now posted instructions to install OpenWrt, as well as other documentation, for example a description of the board’s GPIOs.

There are four methods to flash OpenWrt:

  1. Solder on an Ethernet jack and flash from the original uboot (hard but safe)
  2. Reflash the bootloader from the original firmware to one that supports upload over serial (less soldering but fatal if you mess up)
  3. Reflash the firmware from the original firmware using mtd_write (easy but you have to do it right on the first try)
  4. Attach a programmer to the flash chip (impossible to mess up)

I’ll reproduce the method with mtd_write here, as although you may potentially brick your device, it’s the easiest (no hardware hack):

  1. Download OpenWrt for Zsun binary images
  2. Start a TFTP server on your computer. If you use a Linux computer, you can use dnsmasq as follows:
  3. Login to the board, and download the necessary files to zsun’s /tmp directory:

    You may also want to copy mtd_write to /tmp, and kill all unnecessary process to be extra safe.
  4. Now you can flash the firmware to “uImage” and “rootfs” partitions:

    Bus error” looks like an error, but in this case it just indicates flashing is complete.
  5. Restart the device, and after a longer than usual very first boot, you should have access to OpenWrt. Have fun :)

Zsun_WiFi_Card_Reader_Pin_DescriptionsSo once you’re done what you can do with the device. Some ideas of the developers include just serving files over WiFi, using it as a WiFi AP/client/repeater, as the brain for an IoT project, mesh networking, PirateBox, mini Tor server, and more.

Zsun WiFi card reader can be purchased for as low as $10.99 on Banggood, and can be found on others shops for $11+ to about $15 such as DealExtreme, GearBest or Aliexpress.

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Ten Most Popular Posts of 2015 and Statistics on CNX Software

December 31st, 2015 18 comments

In the second part of 2014, we saw a big jump in performance thanks to Cortex A15 and A17 based SoCs, and higher clocked Cortex A9 processors such as Rockchip RK3288 and Amlogic S812, but in 2015, TV box companies have focused on lowering the price and adding features such as HDMI 2.0, instead of looking for higher and higher CPU and GPU performance, and they’ve also moved to 64-bit ARM platform. Intel also continued its foray into low cost HDMI sticks and mini PCbased on Bay Trail, and later on Cherry Trail based devices.  The development boards story was also very much about lower cosst with the $15 Orange Pi PC, follow a few months later by the $5 Raspberry Pi Zero, although people looking for performance at any price still saw the release of Nvidia Jetson TX1 board. It’s was also a big year for IoT with the continued rise of ESP8266 with more and more options, and announcement of ESP32 Bluetooth and WiFi SoC, as well as various ever tinier boards featuring either WiFi and Bluetooth LE connectivity such as LinkIt Smart 7688 or WRTNode. We also started to see more and more wearables, and by the end of the year, I had reviewed 2 smartwatches, with one more in progress.

As every year,  I’ve compiled a list of the most popular post of 2015 using the pageviews count from Google Analytics:

  1. Raspberry Pi 2 / ODROID C1 Development Boards Comparison (February 2015) – The big story at the beginning of the year was the release of Raspberry Pi 2 with a quad core processor., and the most popular post on CNX Software in 2015 was a comparison table against ODROID-C1 (now ODROID-C1+) board with similar features, and price, and released at the end of 2014.
  2. New FCC Rules May Prevent Installing OpenWRT on WiFi Routers (July 2015) – The second story went viral in social network, as some new rules at the FCC were unclear, and were worded in a few that made people believe the ability to install alternative firmware such as OpenWRT or DD-WRT was going to become impossible, or at least much more difficult. The FCC consulted with the public and a few months later, it was made clear they had no intention to prevent people from installing OpenWRT.
  3. Antutu Benchmark – Rockchip RK3288 (ARM) vs Intel Atom Z3735F (January 2015) – While some posts go viral, some other bring traffic in a steady manner, as is the case of this comparison between RK3288 and Z3735F processor, which got a little help from Google when several Rockchip RK3288 chromebooks were released, and people wondered about RK3288 performance.
  4. Raspberry Pi 2 Model B Features Broadcom BCM2836 Quad Core Processor (February 2015) – When blogging about technology, speed matters, and I was quick enough to write about Raspberry Pi 2 when I discovered one reputable website was a little early on their embargo… which brought a burst of traffic in the next few days.
  5.  Xiaomi Mi Box Mini Review (April 2015) – Over the long term, reviews are what bring traffic to a site like this, but I have to admit I was surprised to find many people interested in Xiaomi Mi Box Mini, a device designed for mainland China, and with an interface in Chinese only. I assume people saw a cute device from a knwon company, and decided to buy it, until they released they had to find out to change the user interface to English.
  6. Intel Atom Z3735F vs Atom x5-Z8300 Benchmarks Comparison (August 2015) – So it looks like people are interested in performance comparison between different processor, and with the release of Atom X5-Z8300 Cherry Trail processor, some people wondered how it would perform again the previous generation Atom Z3735F Bay Trail processor. It turns out there’s not that much difference, except for 3D graphics.
  7.  Kodi 14 Video Playback on Intel Atom Z3735F Computers Running Windows 8.1 (January 2015) – Intel Atom Z3735F was definitely a star on CNX in 2015, as it got featured in five of the 10 most popular posts this year. Specifically, people wanted to know how Kodi would run on the platform. Answer: excellent for 1080p videos.
  8. Getting Started with Orange Pi PC, Pi 2 and Pi Plus Development Boards (September 2015) – Orange Pi PC is probably the board that provide the most performance and features for the buck hardware-wise, but its poor and confusing documentation meant that people were looking for way to get started on the board.
  9. Understanding Windows 8.1 Licenses with MeegoPad T01 (and Other Intel Atom Bay Trail mini PCs (January 2015) – Chinese companies are not really well-known for their respect of licenses, and Microsoft made it confusing by offering free Windows 8.1/10 license for smaller tablets, but a different $15 to $25 license for mini PCs. The results that many Intel Bay Trail (Z3735F/Z3736F) mini PC and sticks shipped with Windows Pro trail version, a few with a free and apparently legal (but actually not) Tablet license, or the proper Windows with Bing NTE license.
  10. Wintel W8 Review – Dual Boot Android & Windows TV Box (April 2015) –  This Intel Atom Z3735F mini PC reviewe likely got relatively popular because of the device name: Wintel.

While traffic on CNX Software in 2014 was a steady rise, it was more like a not-so-steep roller coaster in 2015 due to a long 3 month trip during which I posted less frequently.

CNX_Software_2015_TrafficHowever, the overall traffic progressed from around 4.8 million pageviews in 2014 to about 7.2 millions pageviews in 2015, or a 50% increase. Not too bad.

“M8 Android TV box” and Google+ (aka the Ghost Town) were respectively the top keyword and referral site of 2014, but in 2015 “openwrt” and scoop.it took the lead. Google Analytics only shows the last three months for keywords, and the full year for referrals, but referrals exclude search engines such as Google or Bing that bring in a vast majority of the traffic.

Top 10 Keywords Top 10 Referrals
openwrt scoop.it
pine64 plus.url.google.com
ott tv box facebook.com
mini pc windows t.co
mxq box feedly.com
banana pi m3 forum.kodi.org
esp32 reddit.com
mxq tv box freaktab.com 
wetek core 4pda.ru
shiftwear shoes m.facebook.com

As usual I’ve also looked at the visitors origin, operating systems, and browsers.
CNX_Software_2015_Visitors_Country_CityThe US still claims the top spot, with the United Kingdom moving up to overtake Germany, but London has remained the city with the most sessions for the 3 years I actively tracked traffic.

CNX_Software_2015_OS_BrowserWindows share is still strong but dropped from 57.39% to 54.90%, while Android took the second spot at 17.02% (vs 13.01% in 2014), and relegated Linux to the third spot with 11.98% instead of 15.30% in 2014. Chrome lead has extended from 48.05% to 52.93%, while Firefox went down from 27.20% to 23.54%. As a Firefox user in Ubuntu 14.04, it makes me a little sad…

But I’ll conclude this post and 2015 with a positive note, by wishing you a very happy, prosperous, and healthy new year 2016, which should see more Cortex A57 and A72 designs and products hitting the stores, the rise of ESP32 Bluetooth+WiFi SoC, hopefully better working wearables, and innovations.

Happy_New_Year_2016_CNX_Software

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WiTi Router Board Powered by Mediatek MT7621A SoC Now Sells for $79

December 14th, 2015 9 comments

MQmaker launched their WiTi router on Indiegogo in early August, and they raised close to $30,000, enough to go into production. However, some people are understandably wary of crowdfunding campaigns, and likely postponed their decision to see how the project would progress. The good news is that the AC1200 board is now available for $79 + shipping ($9.05 in my case) on Aliexpress.

WiTi_Router_BoardWiTi router specifications have not changed much:

  • Processor – Mediatek MT7621A dual core MIPS 1004Kc processor @ 880Mhz
  • System Memory – 256MB RAM
  • Storage – 16MB SPI NOR flash for firmware, 1x micro SD slot, and 2x SATA 3.0 ports supporting 3.5″ hard drives.
  • Connectivity
    • 2.4 GHz WiFi 802.11b/g/n up to 300Mbps
    • 5 GHz WiFi 802.11a/n/ac up to 867Mbps
    • 2x Gigabit Ethernet WAN ports
    • 4x Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports
    • 2x RF Antenna Connectors
  • USB – 1x USB3.0 port
  • Expansion – 30-pin header including USB, I2S, JTAG, UART, and GPIO signals
  • Debugging – 4-pins serial debug port
  • Misc – RTC battery slot, 1x WPS/GPIO key,  1x reset key, LEDs for power, SATA, WiFi (2x), and LAN (4x)
  • Power Supply – 12V/2A
  • Dimensions – 16 x 10 cm

The options for 512MB RAM, and four RF antenna connectors are not available right now. A version with 512MB is however sold on Taobao for 520 CNY (~$81). [Update: The 512MB version also shows for $89 on Aliexpress, for some reasons on mobile website only].

The board will ship with two SATA data & power cables, a serial-to-USB cable, one 2.4GHz antenna, one 5.8 GHz antenna, a 12V/2A power adapter, and an acrylic enclosure. The latter not shown in any pictures but it should probably look like the dual HDD NAS shown in the video below.

Documentation and software support is the most important for development boards, and resources can be found in MQmaker’s documentation page with instructions to build the kernel and make your own image, as well as a tutorial to create the NAS shown in the video above, and links to schematics (PDF) and datasheets and MQmaker’s github account including OpenWrt for WiTi board source code. WiTi board has also been mainlined to OpenWrt, although some more work remains for it to be working as well as the provided firmware.  You can ask questions and get support via the forums.

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$15 PINE64 64-Bit ARM Single Board Computer is Powered by Allwinner R18 Processor (Crowdfunding)

December 5th, 2015 30 comments

It looks like Next Things’ C.H.I.P computer with Allwinner R8 processor will soon have a big brother with PINE A64 board powered by Allwinner R18 / A64 quad core Cortex A53 processor, and made by a US start-up also called PINE 64.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

PINE A64 and PINE A64+, a version with more memory and features, will have the following specifications:

  • SoC – Allwinner R18 (based on Allwinner A64?) quad core ARM Cortex A53 processor @ 1.2 GHz with Mali-400MP2 GPU
  • System Memory
    • PINE64 –  512 MB DDR3
    • PINE64+ – 1 GB DDR3
  • Storage – micro SD slot supporting up to 256 GB
  • Video Output
    • HDMI 1.4 up to 4K resolution @ 30 Hz
    • PINE64+ only –  4-lane MIPI DSI connector and touch panel connector
  • Video Codecs – H.265 up to 4K
  • Audio – HDMI, 3.5 mm headphone jack
  • Connectivity
    • PINE64 – Fast Ethernet + optional WiFi & Bluetooth module
    • PINE64+ – Gigabit Ethernet + optional WiFi & Bluetooth module
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host ports
  • Camera (PINE64+ only) – MIPI CSI camera interface
  • Expansion – 40-pin Raspberry Pi 2 compatible header + 34-pin “Euler” header
  • Misc – RTC header
  • Power – 5V via micro USB port; 3.7V Lithium battery support
  • Dimensions – N/A
Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The platform will support Android 5.1, Ubuntu, and OpenWRT operating systems, as well as open source software like openHAB for automation or XBMC/Kodi. All pictures above show Allwinner R18 processor, which I’ve never heard of before, but it must be pin-to-pin compatible with Allwinner A64 as some pictures and parts of the promo video show the latter. So I assume Allwinner R18 must be a low cost version of Allwinner A64, similar to what R8 is to A13.

The boards will be launch on Kickstarter on December 9, 2015, with PINE A64 going for $15, and PINE A64+ for $19, excluding shipping and handling. You can find a few more details, and/or sign-up for the launch on pine64.com.

Thanks to Peter for the tip!

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Quick Start Guide for LinkIt Smart 7688 (Duo) Board

December 1st, 2015 No comments

Mediatek Labs has announced LinkIt Smart 7688 development boards powered by Mediatek MT7688 WiSoC earlier today, but I was selected for a close beta several weeks before the launch, and I’ve had time to play a little with the boards, so today I’ll report my experience getting started with LinkIt Smart 7688 amd 7688 Duo by writing a Quick Start Guide showing how to setup the boards, upgrade firmware, access the serial console, run “Blink LED” sample applications with Python and JavaScript, as well as the Arduino IDE, and connect to the Internet.

Initial Setup

You’ll only need a micro USB cable and a computer with WiFi and USB ports to get started with the board. The green LED (top) for the MCU will turn on immediately, while the red LED (bottom) for WiFI will blink once, and only turn on continuously after 5 seconds, and within 30 seconds after that you should get WiFi connectivity.

LinkIt_Smart_7688_USB_Power

Since you just need a web browser any operating system will do, and at first I used a desktop computer running Ubuntu 14.04 without WiFi (and not working WiFi dongle left), so I wondered if I could access the serial console via the USB connection, and ran dmesg:

The device is recognized as a USB modem, so it was not an option, and instead I fired up my Ubuntu laptop instead. You can still access the serial console over UART with your own USB to serial debug board by connecting TX and Rx to P8 and P9 pins of Smart Link 7688 (DUO) board. I’ll show that a little later in this guide.

The next step is to connect to LinkIt_Smart_7688_XXXXXX access point with your computer, where XXXXXX is your board’s MAC address suffix. Once you’ve connected to this open WiFi network, simply open a web browser, and type mylinkit.local to access LinkIt Smart 7688 webUI and input a root password of your choice.

linkit_smart_7688_setup

Click to Enlarge

This step will work out of the box with Linux, Windows 8.1/10 and Mac OS X operating systems, but you’ll need to install Bonjour Print Service in Windows 7. If you don’t want mDNS, you can also use the default address: 192.168.100.1.

SDK and Firmware Upgrade

Before upgrading the firmware, you’ll need to download the SDK, which Mediatek calls “LinkIt Smart 7688 SDT” from MediaTek Labs website which will contains the bootloader and firmware directories, documentation including a Getting Stated Guide and a developer’s guide, as well as the toolchain.

After signing to the web UI, you should find the “Software information” section where you can see the bootloader and firmware version, and an “Upgrade firmware” button.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Once you click Upgrade Firmware button, you’ll be able to browse for the lks7688.img file in firmware directory of the SDT, and click on Upgrade & Restart to complete the installation.

If for some reasons you can’t access your board anymore, you can also perform the upgrade by copying lks7688.img file to a USB flash drive and connect it via a USB OTG adapter.

LinkIt_Smart_7688_Serial_Console_USB_OTG

LinkIt Smart 7688 Board with USB Flash and USB to TTL Board (Click to Enlarge)

While the board is running, keep pressing the WiFi button, while pressing the MPU button for a short time, and only release the WiFi button after it becomes solid after around 5 seconds, and the firmware update should start with the red WiFi LED blinking slowly until the update is complete (2 to 3 minutes).

Serial Console on LinkIt Smart 7688 (DUO)

If you don’t get any issues, the easiest way to connect to the board is via SSH:

or

But in case you encounter some problems with the configuration, and want to find out what’s going on you’ll need to connect a USB to TTL board as shown in the picture above. You’ll need to connect GND, Tx to P9 pin and Tx to P8 pin, and configure you favorite console program be it minicom, screen or putty to 57600 8N1.

Here’s the full boot log in LinkIt Smart 7688 board:

Running Sample Code in LinkIt Smart 7688

So now that you should have access the terminal either via SSH or UART, you can run some pre-loaded JavaScripts or Python sample in /IOT/examples/ directory:

Let’s blink the WiFi LED with the Python script:

The red LED should blink around twice per second. Press Ctrl+C to interrupt the program. So what’s the code like?

If Python is not your thing, but you’re quite happy coding with JavaScript (node.js), you can blink the LED too:

The program takes a little longer to start, but it works, and the LED blinks once a second. Here’s the code:

Running Sample Code in LinkIt Smart 7688 DUO

If you have a LinkIt Smart 7688 DUO, you’ll have want to install Arduino IDE. I could not perform this step fully, as I had troubles to connect and upgrade the firmware to the beta board. But here are the main steps:

  1. Download and install Arduino 1.6.5
  2. Start Arduino, and go to File->Preferences and add http://download.labs.mediatek.com/package_mtk_linkit_smart_7688_test_index.json to Additional Boards Manager URLs.
    LinkIt_Smart_7688_DUO_Arduino_BSP
  3. Click OK, and go to Tools->Boards->Board Manager, and scroll down to install Mediatek LinkIT Smart Boards by Seeed Studio and MediaTek Labs.

    Click to Enlarge

    Click to Enlarge

  4. Now select LinkIt Smart 7688 Duo in Tools->Boards, and the serial interface for LinkIt Smart 7688 in Tools->Serial. (It was /dev/ttyACM0 with my old firmware)
  5. Write a short sketch to blink D13 LED on the board:
  6. Click on verify, click on upload, but it’s not done yet as you have to run a python program to send command over the serial interface between MediaTek MT7688 and the Atmel AVR MCU. So connect to the board and write blink_on_duo.py Python script using vi / vim:
  7. And now you can blink the LED with the script:

So LinkIt Smart 7688 Duo is more versatile thanks to its MCU, but it takes some efforts to blink a simple LED.

Connecting to the Internet and OpenWRT Configuration

So far we’ve done everything in the local network using the board as an access point, but many application will require some connection to the Internet. To connect your board to your WiFi router login to the webUI again, and select Network.

Mediatek_LinkIt_Smart_7688_AP_Configuration

Now switch to Station mode, and click refresh.Mediatek_LinkIt_Smart_7688_Station_ConfigurationNothing will happen, but if you click again on the zone right above the Refresh button a list of access point will show up. LinkIt_Smart_7688 is listed here, as I had a LinkIt Smart 7688 DUO running at the same time. Select the access point you want to use, input the password, and click on Configure & Restart.

Now make you sure computer is connected to the same access point or at least is one the same subnet, and go again to linkit.local in your browser to access the webUI, or SSH to the board. In my case I had changed the device name to CNXSoft_linkit and neither mylinkit.local or CNXSoft_linkit.local, or cnxsoft_linkit.local would work, so there may still be a bug here… So instead I check the new IP address via the serial terminal: 192.168.0.105 to make sure the connection was fine, but you can do so with your WiFi router client list too. I also pinged the Internet from the serial console:

Success!

If you want more control of your network configuration you can click on OpenWRT in the webUI, or go directly to http://IP_address/cgi-bin/luci to access LuCI’s web interface for OpenWRT.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

That concludes this getting started guide for LinkIt Smart 7688 and Linkit Smart 7688 Duo boards, to go further you may want to read LinkIt Smart 7688 Developer’s Guide, and tutorials found in the SDT, and build your own OpenWRT image from source code. You can purchase the LinkIt Smart 7688 and 7688 DUO boards for respectively $12.90 and $15.90 on Seeed Studio.

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Mediatek LinkIt Smart 7688 and Smart 7688 DUO Boards Run OpenWRT for IoT Applications

December 1st, 2015 1 comment

MediaTek LinkIt is a collection of development platforms designed for the prototyping of wearables and Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and last year they started with LinkIt ONE board based on Mediatek MT2501 “Aster” micro-controller and featuring WiFi, Bluetooth, GPSD and GSM/GPRS connectivity. Mediatek Labs has now launched two new LinkIt board, namely LinkIt Smart 7688 and LinkIt Smart 7688 DUO, both powered by Mediatek MT7688 MIPS processor and running OpenWRT, with the latter also adding an Atmel ATmega32U4 for Arduino compatibility.

LinkIt_Smart_7688

LinkIt Smart 7688 (Left) and Smart 7688 DUO (Right) Boards are Breadboard-Friendly Too

LinkIt Smart 7688 Board

LinkIt Smart 7688 Board (Click to Enlarge)

LinkIt Smart 7688 Board (Click to Enlarge)

LinkIt Smart 7688 is then the simpler of the two with the following specifications:

  • Processor – Mediatek MT7688AN MIPS24KEc processor @ 580 MHz with WiFi
  • System Memory – 128MB DDR2 RAM.
  • Storage – 32MB flash + micro SD slot
  • Connectivity – 1T1R Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n with chip antenna and I-PEX conector
  • USB – 1x micro USB host port, 1x micro USB port for power
  • Expansion – 2x 18-pin headers with GPIOs, I2C, I2S, SPI, UART, PWM and Ethernet Port.
  • Misc – MPU reset and WiFi reset buttons, MPU EJTAG solder pads
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port, or 3.3V via header
  • Dimensions – 55.7 x 26 mm
Bottom of Smart 7688 Board (Click to Enlarge)

Bottom of Smart 7688 Board (Click to Enlarge)

CL245A on the back of the board is a switch IC to “bypass MT7688AN bootstrap behavior”.

LinkIt Smart 7688 DUO

LinkIt Smart 7688 Duo (Click to Enlarge)

LinkIt Smart 7688 Duo (Click to Enlarge)

The DUO board is pretty similar, and adds Atmel MCU and reset button, 4 more I/O pins, and is slightly longer:

  • Processor – Mediatek MT7688AN MIPS processor @ 580 MHz with 64 KB I-cache, 32 KB D-cache
  • System Memory – 128MB DDR2 RAM.
  • Storage – 32MB flash + micro SD slot
  • MCU – Atmel ATmega32U4 AVR @ 8 MHz
  • Connectivity – 1T1R Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n with chip antenna and I-PEX conector
  • USB – 1x micro USB host port, 1x micro USB port for power
  • Expansion – 2x 20-pin headers with GPIOs, I2C, I2S, SPI, UART, PWM and Ethernet Port.
  • Misc – MPU reset, MCU reset, and WiFi reset buttons, MPU EJTAG solder pads
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port, or 3.3V via header
  • Dimensions – 60.8 x 26 mm
Bottom of Duo Board (Click to Enlarge)

Bottom of Duo Board (Click to Enlarge)

The I/Os pin are however connected quite differently on 7688 and 7688 DUO, as the latter has most IOs connected to the AVR MCU, with only 3 GPIOs directly connected to the MIPS processor.

7688 DUO Pintout Chart (Click to Enlarge)

LinkIt Smart 7688 DUO Pinout Chart (Click to Enlarge)

7688 Pinout Chart (Click to Enlarge)

LinkIt Smart 7688 Pinout Chart (Click to Enlarge)

Documentation for both board is pretty extensive with Getting Started Guides, a developer’s guide, tutorials, and information about the HDK (Hardware Developer Kit) , which is simply call “board”, including schematics and PCB layout (PDF only). The company also released the bootloader and firmware binary files, as well as an OpenWRT SDK. The boards support both Linux and OS X for development with C/C++, while Python, and Node.js are also supported on Windows. Arduino IDE is also available for the DUO version, and by default MT7688 MPU and Atmel MCU communicate over UART with applications code on the former, and I/Os and sensors managed by the latter. You can access all these resources on LinkIt Smart 7688 page on MediaTek Labs, with some code also found on Mediatek Labs’ Github account, and Seeed Studio’s Wiki. You could also read my own little Linkit Smart 7688 Getting Started Guide.

LinkIt Smart 7688 boards are distributed by Seeed Studio, and you can purchase Mediatek LinkIt Smart 7688 for $12.90 and LinkIt Smart 7688 DUO for $15.90.

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MIPS Creator Ci40 Development Board Powered by cXT200 SoC Launched for $53 on Kickstarter

November 23rd, 2015 20 comments

Last year, Imagination Technologies launched their first community development board with MIPS Creator CI20 powered by Ingenic JZ4780 dual core MIPS processor running both Android and Linux, and now supported by various projects. The company has been teasing about its MIPS Creatort Ci40 for a few weeks, and was already announced as the MIPS platform of choice for Google Brillo operating system, but the board has now officially been launched via a Kickstarter campaign where you can get the board for $53, as well as some add-on boards.

MIPS_Creator_CI40But instead of using a processor from one of their partner, Imagination just designed their own MIPS interAptiv SoC for the board.

Creator Ci40 board specifications:

  • SoC – Imagination Technologies Creator cXT200 with 2x MIPS interAptiv core @ 550MHz, 512KB L2 cache, and an Ensigma C4500 RPU (for 802.11ac/ BT 4.1 LE)
  • System Memory – 256 MB DDR3
  • Storage – 512 MB NAND flash, micro SD card slot
  • Connectivity – Ethernet, 802.11ac 2×2 WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1, 802.15.4 radio for 6LoWPAN
  • USB – 1x micro USB OTG port
  • Audio – 1 x 3.5mm input/output jack, 1 x S/PDIF input/output connector
  • Expansion Headers:
    • 40-pin Raspberry Pi compatible header
    • 2x mikroBus headers
    • Other undocumented headers
    • I/Os include: 32x GPIO, 4x PWM, 1x SPI, 2x UART, 2x I2C, and 5x ADC.
  • Debugging – JTAG/EJTAG, 1x micro USB port for serial console (TBC)
  • Security – TPM chip
  • Misc – 9x indicator LEDs
  • Power Supply – 9V via power barrel, or 5V via micro USB port
  • Dimensions – 100 mm x 106 mm
cXT200 Block Diagram

cXT200 Block Diagram

The board will support Linux (buildroot), Brillo OS, Debian, and OpenWRT. Optimized GNU tools and library will also be provided for the MIPS platform, and the board will have access to the cloud via the company’s FlowCloud IoT framework. Some code sample for the latter  have already been provided on github.

Creator Ci40 Open Source Software Stack (Click to Enlarge)

Creator Ci40 Open Source Software Stack (Click to Enlarge)

In Internet of Things projects you also need “things”, and not only a gateway, so the company is also offering Creator Ci40 IoT kit with Ci40 board, as well as two MikroElektronika’s 6LoWPAN Clicker boards  powered by 2 AAA batteries acting as nodes (i.e. things), and three Click boards fitting in mikroBus sockets.

Credtor Ci40 IoT Kit (Click to Enlarge)

Credtor Ci40 IoT Kit (Click to Enlarge)

The Clicker boards are powered by a MIPS based Pic32MX micro-controller, and run Contiki real-time operating system. As reported in my post about HummingBoard Gate board, there are over 150 Click (add-on) boards to both Ci40 and clickers board functionality can be augmented by any of these standard add-on boards by MikroElectronika.

While Creator Ci40 board itself is 35 GBP (~$53), you could consider getting the IoT kit instead for 70 GBP ($106). Shipping is not included, and they charge a flat fee to any destination ranging from 5 GBP for th board only to 12 GBP for the various kits. Delivery is scheduled for April 2016. You can also find more details on Imagination’s Creator Ci40 product page.

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