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Posts Tagged ‘pine64’

Banana Pi BPI-M64 Board Gets Allwinner R18 Processor with Google Cloud IoT Core Support

May 18th, 2017 28 comments

Banana Pi BPI-M64 board was launched with Allwinner A64 processor, but a few days ago, I noticed the board got an option for Allwinner R18. Both processors are likely very similar since they are pin-to-pin compatible, and Pine64 was first seen with Allwinner R18, so I did not really feel it was newsworthy. But today, Google announced Google Cloud IoT Core cloud service working with a few app partners such as Helium and Losant, as well as several device partners including ARM, Marvell, Microchip, Mongoose OS, NXP… and Allwinner, having just announced the release of an Allwinner R18 SDK with libraries supporting Google Cloud IoT Core.

Let’s go through the board specifications first which are exactly the same as for the original BPI-M64 board, except for the processor:

  • SoC – Allwinner R18 quad core ARM Cortex A53 processor with Mali-400MP2 GPU
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3
  • Storage – 8GB eMMC flash (16, 32 and 64GB options), micro SD slot up to 256 GB
  • Video Output / Display interface – HDMI 1.4 up to 4K resolution @ 30 Hz, MIPI DSI interface
  • Audio – HDMI, 3.5 mm headphone jack, built-in microphone
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet + 802.11 b/g/n WiFi & Bluetooth 4.0 (AP6212)
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB OTG port
  • Camera – MIPI CSI interface (which I guess you support parallel cameras via some kind of bridge)
  • Security – Hardware security enables ARM TrustZone, Digital Rights Management (DRM), information encryption/decryption, secure boot, secure JTAG and secure efuse
  • Expansion – 40-pin Raspberry Pi 2 somewhat-compatible header
  • Debugging – 3-pin UART header
  • Misc – IR receiver; U-boot, reset and power buttons;
  • Power – 5V via power barrel; 3.7V Lithium battery header; AXP803 PMIC

So from hardware perspective, there’s no advantage of getting the board with the new R18 processor. But the SDKs are somehow different, and based on Allwinner’s press release, only R18 processor gets Google Cloud IoT Core support.

Cloud IoT Core Overview

Some of the key benefits of Cloud IoT Core include:

  • End-to-end security – Enable end-to-end security using certificate-based authentication and TLS; devices running Android Things or ones supporting the Cloud IoT Core security requirements can deliver full stack security.
  • Out-of-box data Insights – Use downstream analytic systems by integrating with Google Big Data Analytics and ML services.
  • Serverless infrastructure: Scale instantly without limits using horizontal scaling on Google’s serverless platform.
  • Role-level data control – Apply IAM roles to devices to control access to devices and data.
  • Automatic device deployment – Use REST APIs to automatically manage the registration, deployment and operation of devices at scale.

Both Foxconn/SinoVoIP and Pine64 can offer Allwinner R18 platforms compatible with Google Cloud IoT Core via their Banana Pi BPI-M64 and Pine A64+ boards respectively.

PINE64 Introduces SOPINE A64 Allwinner A64 SoM and SOPINE “Model A” Baseboard

January 17th, 2017 29 comments

Following yesterday’s Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3 launch, we have a new development board turned into system-on-module (SoM) today with PINE64 launching SOPINE A64 SO-DIMM module based on Allwinner A64 processor with 2GB RAM together with SOPINE “Model A” baseboard.

SOPINE A64 CPU module specifications:

  • SoC – Allwinner A64 quad core Cortex A53 processor @ 1.2 GHz with Mali-400MP2 GPU
  • System Memory – 2GB LPDDR3
  • Storage – 128 Mbit SPI flash, micro SD slot (on the back)
  • I/Os via 204-pin SO-DIMM edge connector
    • Video Output / Display – HDMI + CEC, MIPI DSI
    • Audio – I2S, HP, headphone, microphone
    • 2x USB
    • 1x Gigabit Ethernet (RGMII)
    • UART, I2C, PWM, GPIOs, etc…
  • Power Supply – AXP803 PMIC
  • Dimensions – 67.9 x 31.0 mm (DDR3 SO-DIMM form factor)

SOPINE A64 will basically run the same firmware as used for PINE A64+ development board, except for some modifications for LPDDR3 RAM support. Support operating systems should include Android, Ubuntu, and other Linux distributions. In order to get started while you design your own baseboard for the module or if you simply want to evaluate the solution, the company also released SOPINE “Model A” baseboard.

The baseboard has the same layout as PINE A64/A64+ boards and roughly exposed the same ports for some extra like an eMMC slot:

  • SoM Connector – 204-pin SO-DIMM slot
  • External Storage – Optional eMMC module
  • Video Output / Display I/F – HDMI, MIPI DSI + Touch Panel connector
  • Audio – HDMI, 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Camera – 1x MIPI CSI connector
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, header for WiFi & Bluetooth module
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 ports
  • Expansion – Pi-2-Bus, Euler bus, and EXP 10 headers
  • Misc – RTC header
  • Power Supply – 5V via power barrel, or 3-pin battery header

SOPINE A64 module and baseboard will be available next month after Chinese New Year, and sell for $29, while SOPINE Model A baseboard will go for $14.99, and a complete kit with the SOM and baseboard for just $34.99.

You’ll find more details on SOPINE A64 product page including schematics, and some development tools.

Ten Most Popular Posts of 2016 on CNX Software and Some Stats

December 31st, 2016 13 comments

The last day of the year is a good time to look back at what the year brought us, and I have to say it has been a fun and interesting year on CNX Software. The TV boxes news cycle has been dominated by Amlogic products, but most products have now switched to 64-bit ARM SoC, with 4K and HDMI 2.0 support, and price have kept going down, so you can now get a 4K TV box for as low as $20, although many people will prefer spending a bit more for extra memory and support. Intel based Bay Trail & Cherry Trail mini PCs have continued to be released with Windows, and in some cases Ubuntu, but the excitement seems to have died off a bit, maybe with the expectation of upcoming Apollo Lake mini PCs that should be more powerful. The year have been especially fruitful in the IoT space with a dramatic reduction in costs and sizes from ESP8266 boards to GPS modules and microwave radar modules, and we’ve also seen LPWAN modules & boards, mostly based on LoRa, but also Sigfox, being brought to market, as well as an alternative to ESP8266 with Realtek RTL8710AF, and of course the launch of Espressif ESP32 SoC with WiFi and Bluetooth LE. We’ve also been spoiled with development boards this year with the launch of 64-bit boards such as Raspberry Pi 3, ODROID-C2, and Pine A64+, as well as more dirt cheap Orange Pi boards, joined by NanoPi boards later in the year, and made all the more useful thanks to armbian community.

I’ve compiled a list of the most popular posts of 2016 using the page views count from Google Analytics:

  1. Amlogic S905 vs S812 Benchmarks Comparison (January 2016) – Amlogic S905 was probably the most popular SoC for TV boxes in 2016, thanks to a decent set of features, and aggressive pricing from manufacturers. So people wanted to find out if it was worth upgrading from S812 to S905, or maybe had to decide between purchasing a S905 or S812 TV box.
  2. Raspberry Pi 3, ODROID-C2 and Pine A64+ Development Boards Comparison (February 2016) – 2016 was also the year of cheap 64-bit development board with the launch of Raspberry Pi 3, ODROID-C2 and Pine A64+ boards, more or less at the same time, so again people want have wanted to look at which one to buy through this comparison.
  3. This is What a 16 Raspberry Pi Zero Cluster Board Looks Like (January 2016) – What can generated more buzz than the Raspberry Pi Zero? A cluster of Raspberry Pi Zero boards, as this post went viral the day after being posted. There was some talk about a crowdfunding campaign at one point, but it never happened.
  4. Review of K1 Plus Android TV Box with Combo DVB-S2/DVB-T2 Tuner (February 2016) – My review of K1 PLus T2 S2 might not be the most viewed post on CNX Software, but it sure generated a lot of comments, as while the product offers a unique combination of DVB-T2 and DVB-S2 tuners in an Android TV box at an attractive price, the documentation and software may need some improvements. Unofficial OpenELEC firmware images later surfaced from the community.
  5. How to Change Language to English and Install Apps Remotely on Xiaomi Mi Box 3 Enhanced (April 2016) – Xiaomi Mi Box 3 Enhanced is probably the most powerful TV box that can easily be purchased worldwide, but the caveat is that it has only been designed for the Chinese market. That post explains how to work around that limitation.
  6. Amlogic S905 vs Amlogic S912 Benchmarks Comparison (September 2016) – Quad core vs octa core, yeah twice the performance! Well not quite, but people were still curious to find out how the latest octa-core Amlogic S912 SoC would perform against Amlogic S905, and the truth is that the performance difference is rather minor, except for 3D graphics.
  7. NEXBOX A95X (Amlogic S905X) TV Box Review – Part 2: Android 6.0 and Kodi 16.1 (August 2016) – NEXBOX A95X was one of the first TV boxes based on Amlogic S905X processor, and my second review. The device is tiny an relatively cheap, so the review attracted some eyeballs.
  8. Mini M8S II TV Box (Amlogic S905X) Review – Part 2: Android 6.0 Firmware (July 2016) – My first review of an Amlogic S905X TV box nearly had the same number of views as NEXBOX A95X post, and many of the same features, just in a different package.
  9. Getting Started with Wemos D1 mini ESP8266 Board, DHT & Relay Shield (March 2016) – Wemos D1 mini is a great little ESP8266 board. It’s small, cheap ($4), and easy to use. The optional shields, just as cheap, make it a very attractive option for your IoT projects. Other people noticed it too, and then visited my review to get started.
  10. Raspberry Pi 3 Model B Board Features a 64-Bit ARM Processor, Adds WiFi and Bluetooth Connectivity (February 2016) – The last post is the list if a Raspberry Pi 3 leak just one day before the actual announcement.

Stats

Traffic has been rather steady in 2016 over the months.

cnx-software-traffic-2016The blog got around 9.8 millions pageviews in 2016 compared to about 7.2 millions pageviews in 2015, a 36% growth in traffic that was likely helped by my not going on a 3 months trip this year…

“openwrt” and scoop.it, respectively the top keyword and referral in 2015, were replaced by “amlogic s912” and Facebook in 2016.  Google Analytics only shows the last three months for keywords, and the full year for referrals, with referrals excluding search engines such as Google where CNX Software gets most of its traffic.

Top 10 Keywords Top 10 Referrals
amlogic s912 facebook.com
rk3399 flipboard.com
s905 vs s905x scoop.it
s905x vs s912 t.co
mxq box m.facebook.com
amlogic s905 4pda.ru
orange pi vs raspberry pi com.google.android.googlequicksearchbox
s905 vs s912 duckduckgo.com
s912 vs s905x plus.google.com
amlogic freaktab.com

The visitor mix of the blog per country as not changed much, with the top 10 countries of 2015 still there in 2016, and the top five order unchanged with United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, and France.

cnx-software-visitors-2016London still hold the top city spot, but Hong Kong and Moscow dropped of the list to be replaced by New York and Melbourne.

cnx-software-2016-browser-operating-systems

Windows is still the main operating system of CNX Software visitors, but its share, as well as the share of other desktop operating ssystems including Linux and “Macintosh”, keeps dropping, while Android and iOS are having a stronger and stronger presence. In the “browser war”, Chrome lead extended further from 52.93% in 2015 to 59.41% in 2016, and Firefox dropping from 23.54% to 18.90%. Microsoft Edge probably had the best growth going from 0.56% last year to 1.86% this year.

Some of the 2016 review samples and I wish all my readers a very happy, prosperous, and healthy new year 2017.

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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

Getting Started with Pine64 PADI IoT Stamp – Part 2: Serial Console, GCC SDK, Flashing & Debugging Code

November 28th, 2016 6 comments

PADI IoT Stamp module powered by Realtek RTL8710AF ARM Cortex M3 WiFi SoC is a potential competitor to Espressif ESP8266 modules.  Pine64, the manufacturer of the module, sent me their kit with a $2 IoT stamp, a breakout board, a USB to TTL debug board and a J-Link debug board. In the first part of the review I’ve shown the hardware and how to assemble PADI IoT stamp kit. In the second part I’m going to write a tutorial / getting start guide showing how to control the board with AT commands, build the firmware with GCC SDK, and finally demonstrate how to flash and debug the firmware with the J-Link debugger.

The Quick Start Guide indicates you need to connect the USB to TTL debug board to UART2 instead of UART1 as I did on the very similar B&T RTL-00 RTL8710AF module, and set connection settings to 38400 8N1. This did not work for me, and I had indeed to connect the USB to TTL board to UART0 instead (GB0 & GB1 pins).

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I’ll be using a Ubuntu 16.04 (Linux) computer for this quick start guide, but you can work with Windows and Mac OS X too, as tools as available for all three operating systems. So in my case I configure minicom to 38400 8N1 using /dev/ttyUSB0 device, and the boot log is almost the same as B&T RTL-00 with the same ROM version and toolchain:

There are however some changes, and for example the firmware used on PADI IoT Stamp has slightly more heap available. The guide also mentions ATS? should show all command available, but it’s not working for me:

Typing “help” as I did with RTL-00 module does not work either, and that does not look since documentation appears to be wrong again, but that’s not a big deal since we have all AT commands listed in that document. I could configure it as “IoTSTAMP” access point:

and enable the HTTP server with ATSW AT command:

It rebooted the IoT stamp with the same WiFi setting, and I could connect to its demo web page for configuration.

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Since everything is so similar to B&T RTL-00 I’ll just point out to the post “Getting Started with B&T RTL-00 RTL8710 Module – Serial Console, AT Commands, and ESP8266 Pin-to-Pin Compatibility” for more tests with different AT commands. I still tried to turn on and off the a GPIO pin using the ATSG command since it’s something I did not do with RTL-00:

The first line pull GC0 pin to high level (3.3V), while the second command brings it down to low level (0V). Details about ATSG command:

I did not connect an LED, but instead measured the value with multimeter and could confirm the voltage level was right in both cases.

B&T provided an SDK which required a an unlicensed / pirated version of IAR ARM Workbench, but Pine64/Realtek have released a GCC SDK that do you require you to use pirated software. You can download sdk-ameba-rtl8710af-v3.5a_without_NDA_GCC_V1.0.0 (198 MB) directly from Pine64 website. After unzipped the SDK you can enter sdk-ameba-rtl8710af-v3.5a_without_NDA_GCC_V1.0.0 directory, and open readme.txt to have a look at RTL8710 GCC SDK structure:

Since I only aim to write a getting started guide I won’t go through all of it, but we can see the low level source code & binary, some documentation, an example project, and some tools include Android and iOS apps, OTA download server and more.

Nevertheless the readme.txt tells us to first read “UM0096 Realtek Ameba-1 build environment setup – gcc.pdf” in order to setup our development environment. The instructions are available with Windows and Linux, but again I’m only test them using Ubuntu 16.04. They’ll be very similar since you’ll rely on cygwin in Windows, and if you run the latest Windows 10 you should be able to install Windows subsystem for Linux, and use the Linux instructions.

First you have to make sure some tools and libraries are installed:

then we can build the sample project:

If everything goes well the log should end showing “Image manipulating” as follows:

We can find the application in application/Debug/bin directory:

There’s also an ota.bin image which might be usable using OTA firmware update documentation, but for this guide I want to use the J-Link debugger that the company sent me instead. The GCC SDK is not for PADI IoT stamp, but instead for Realtek Ameba Arduino board, and you’ll be asked to connect the board through one of the micro USB port. That won’t work with IoT stamp since there’s no USB port at all, and instead you’ll need to go and back forth between multiple documentation, and connect the board as per the JTAG/SWD connections diagram shown below.

padi-iot-stamp-jlink-swd-connectionThat document also mentions that:

Required external power VCC 3.3V, JTAG/SWD didn’t supply power to the PADI IoT Stamp, VCC connection from PADI IoT Stamp is used by JTAG/SWD as voltage reference only.

At first, I did not see that, and used it without external power supply, but since I was not successful with the J-Link debugger (for another reason), so I ended up inserting PADI IoT stamp into a breadboard and added Ywrobot power board to provide an external 3.3V power source.

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I also soldered a 22uF capacitor, since I’ve read it’s not optional, as it may affect WiFi connection due to power issue. Once I complete the wiring, I connected the debugger to my computer:

There are two sets of instructions in UM96 document to download and flash the code: OpenOCD/CMSIS-DAP and JLink, so since I had a J-Link debugger, I went with that latter. First you have to download J-Link Software and Documentation pack and for my system I selected ” Linux, DEB Installer, 64-bit V6.12″. After accepting the EULA, I got JLink_Linux_V612_x86_64.deb file which I installed as follows:

Now we can start JLink GBD server for a Cortex-M3 as explained in the document:

So the JLink debugger is detected, but failed to connect to the target. Apart from the last error, everything looks exactly as in the documentation. That’s when I started to add an external power boar, solder the capacitor, and double check my connection. But finally after many trials and errors, I realized that I had to use a SWD connection (SWCLK/SWDIO signals) instead of JTAG…

Now keep the GDB server running, open a new terminal windows in the same directory (where you’ve built the code), and run make flash to download and flash the code to the board:

There will be a lot of message as above, and the GDB Server windows will show its own set of messages:

Now if you want to debug your code, you can run make debug to start the gdb console:

At this point, you’ll just need to use gdb command out of the scope of this post, but you can find tutorials online, for example this. You can also run make ramdebug in order to write ram_all.bin to RAM then enter gdb debug.

So that’s only the debug part, but if you want to create your own application, you’ll need to study the source code, and there are plenty of examples to help you in project/realtek_ameba1_va0_example/example_sources folder:

Note that this is only useful is you want to use PADI IoT stamp as a standalone module, and if you connect it to another board (e.g. Arduino) you can control it through the AT command set.

So while PADI IoT stamp is a usable platform with its GCC SDK, currently documentation is not always correct, and development should be reserved to experienced developers, as it’s not exactly as straightforward as Arduino, Lua or other firmware often used in ESP8266. Arduino will most likely never supported on IoT stamp due to memory constraints, but mbed support should come to the module in the first part of next year, which will make everything much easier.

If you want to go further, you can read the documentation on PADI IoT stamp resource page and the GCC SDK, checkout rebane’s openocd example, and/or read a forum post about controlling IoT stamp through Pine A64 board using Python.

If you want to play with your own, you can get PADI IoT stamp for $1.99, the breakout board kit for $0.5, the USB to serial debug board for $1.99, and the JLink (SWD) debugger is $7.99 on Pine64 online store. Please note that the two debug boards are standard components, so you may use your own, if you already have such hardware.

PINEBOOK ARM Linux Laptop Powered by Allwinner A64 Processor to Sell for $89 and Up

November 24th, 2016 40 comments

Following up on Pine A64 board powered by Allwinner A64 quad core Cortex A53 processor, Pine64 has decided to work on a software compatible laptop based on the processor. PINEBOOK comes with 2GB RAM, 16 GB flash storage, a 11.6″ or 14″ display, and the usual ports you’d expect on such device.

pinebookPINEBOOK specifications:

  • SoC – Allwinner A64 quad core ARM Cortex A53 processor @ 1.2 GHz with Mali-400MP2 GPU
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3L
  • Storage – 16GB eMMC 5.0 flash and micro SD slot up to 256 GB
  • Display – 11.6″ or 14″ IPS LCD display with 1280 x 720 resolution (no touchscreen)
  • Video Output – mini HDMI port for external display
  • Audio – HDMI, 3.5 mm headphone jack, built-in microphone and stereo speakers
  • Connectivity – WiFi 802.11 b/g/n + Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host ports
  • Camera – 1.2 MP camera
  • User Input Devices – Full size QWERTY keyboard, 5″ touchpad
  • Power Supply – 5V/3A
  • Battery – 10,000 mAh LiPo battery
  • Dimensions – 352 x 233 x 18 mm
  • Weight – 1.2 kg

The laptop is not based on Pine A64+ board, nor the upcoming SOPINE A64 module, and instead they had to design a custom board to meet the thickness requirements.

pinebook-connectorsPINEBOOK should support most of the operating systems supported by PINE A64(+) boards including Android 5.1/7.0, Remix OS, Debian, Ubuntu, and others, but the firmware requires some (minor) modifications since the laptop is using LPDDR3 RAM.

The laptop is not available for sale right now, but we know the 11.6″ version will cost $89, the 14″ version $99, and you can register to get notified of the launch. You may also find a few more details on PINEBOOK product page.

Pine64 PADI IoT Stamp WiFi IoT Kit Review – Part 1: Hardware, Debuggers, and Soldering

October 26th, 2016 7 comments

Back in September, Pine64 unveiled their $2 PADI IoT Stamp based on Realtek RTL8710 ARM Cortex M3 WiFi SoC aiming to compete with Expressif ESP8266 solutions.  The company has now sent me their complete kit for review, which beside the module itself includes a breakout board kit, and some hardware debug tools. In the first part of the review, I’ll check out the hardware, and solder the kit.

I received a package with four antistatic bags.
padi-iot-stamp-package
From top left to bottom right, we have PADI IoT Stamp, JLINK-OB debugger based on an STM32 MCU with some jumper wires (aka Dupont cables) for SWD signals, and a USB cable to your computer in order to flash the firmware or do some bare metal programming, a breakout board kit including two headers, a RED LED, and a resistor, and finally a USB to Serial board based on CH340G with 4 jumper wires for Tx, Rx, GND and 3.3V to access the serial console.

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PADI IoT stamp looks very similar to B&T RTL-00 RTL8710AF board so I compared both board side-by-side.

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So it’s 100% clear the PCB is exactly the same, but I’ve been told the module has some differences which may make PADI IoT stamp firmware incompatible with other Realtek RTL8710 modules such as B&T RTL00. The bottom of PADI IoT stamp board indicates it’s the PCB antenna version, because a u.FL antenna version is also planned, and it should look like B&T RTL01. Pine64 RTL8710 module cover also has some more details like the amount of flash (1MB) and RAM (512KB), as well as the FCC-ID number: 2AJFN-RTL00-01 which has been applied by B&T (Zhongshan Boantong Communication Technology Co. , Ltd).

It’s not really fun to use the module standalone as you’d need to solder the wire one by one as I did for B&T RTL00, so unless you have already made your own custom board for the module, the first thing you’ll want to do is to solder PADI IoT module, headers, and passive components “Pine64 Padi Breadboard Adapter”.

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I’ve started by soldering PADI IoT Stamp, and used some sticky tape first to solder the first few points, then I went to solder the LED (make sure to use the right polarity) and the resistor, and finally I inserted the two headers into a breadboard, and inserted the module in order to complete the soldering. You can ignore C1 capacitor as it’s not provided, nor needed. You’ll need to solder your own C1 capacitor to prevent issues with WiFi.

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That’s fun to do, and not too hard to do, but I’d assume many people would rather just have everything already soldered, but it’s not available yet. Once it’s done you just need to provide 3.3V and GND to power the board.

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That’s all I’ve done today. For the second part of the review, I’ll most probably skip the AT commands set since it should be very similar to that I did in my Realtek RTL8710 getting started guide, albeit possibly with some various to the exact command. So instead, I’ll likely try to play with the JLink debugger, and their RTL8710 GCC SDK, or mbed 5.0 SDK, if the latter is released at the time of the review.

Pine64 has kept everything very inexpensive, as beside the $1.99 PADI IoT stamp, the breakout board kit is only $0.5, the USB to serial debug board is $1.99, and the JLink debugger is $7.99. You may not even need the last two if you already have such tools. All items can be purchased on Pine64 online store, and shipping should add between $7 and $12.

Pine64 Unveils $2 PADI IoT Stamp WiFi IoT Module with FreeRTOS SDK, Upcoming ARM mbed 5.0 Support

September 12th, 2016 12 comments

Realtek RTL8710 WiFi IoT modules came out as potential competitors to ESP8266 modules last month, with similar features. an ARM Cortex M3, and a pricing as low as $2 in quantities. However, documentation is often in Chinese only, and based on my experience with an RTL8710AF module limited to AT commands set for now. Software and documentation are likely to improve a lot however, as Pine64, the makers of Pine A64 boards, are about to launch their own “PADI IoT Stamp” RTL8710AF module for just $1.99 in any quantities.

padi-iot-stampPADI IoT Stamp specifications:

  • SoC – Realtek RTL8710AF ARM Cortex-M3 @ 83 MHz with 1MB ROM, 512KB RAM, and 1MB flash
  • Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n WiFi @ 2.4 GHz – 2.5 GHz (2400 MHz – 2483.5 MHz) with PCB antenna; Station / SoftAP / SoftAP + Station modes;
  • Expansion headers – 22 half-holes with
    • Up to 1x SPI @ 41.5 Mbps max
    • Up to 3x UART with 2x up to 4Mbps, 1x @ 38400 bps
    • Up to 4x PWM
    • Up to 1x I2C @ 3.4 Mbps max
    • Up to 19 GPIOs including 10 supporting interrupts
  • Power Supply – 3.0 to 3.6V (3.3V recommended)
  • Power Consumption – 87 mA typ. @ 3.3V using 802.11b 11 Mbps, +17 dBm; 0.9 mA light sleep; 10 uA deep sleep; More details on Section 6 of the datasheet.
  • Dimensions – 24 x 16 mm
  • Temperature range – -20 ℃ ~ 85 ℃

If the hardware looks familiar, it’s because it also most the same as B&T RTL-00 module. However, I’ve been told it might not be 100% compatible, so mixing firmware for different modules may potentially brick them. The module can be programmed and debugged using IAR, openOCD, and/or J-Link, and it supports firmware updates via UART, OTA, and JTAG. Currently, the company provides a download link to Ameba Standard SDK based on FreeRTOS and LWIP, but ARM mbed 5.0 support is planned in the coming months. [Update:Ameba RTL8710AF SDK ver v3.5a GCC ver 1.0.0- without NDA has been uploaded recently] Configuration can be done through AT Commands, Cloud Server, or Android / iOS mobile app.

PADI IoT Stamp Pinout Diagram

PADI IoT Stamp Pinout Diagram – Click to Enlarge

You’ll find documentation in English and tools on PADI IoT Stamp product page, including the datasheet, a guide start guide with AT commands, Ameba SDK 3.4b3, and some tools and drivers for the serial console. The module will officially launch on September 14th, and you’ll be able to purchase it for $1.99 plus shipping. The company is also working on a breadboard-friendly NodeMCU like board featuring PADI IoT Stamp, but I don’t have further info about this board at this stage.

In somewhat other news, some people submitted both RTL8710AF and RTL8711AF processors to a X-Ray machine, and while the latter has more features such as NFC support, it appears both SoCs look exactly the same under X-Ray, so RTL8710AF might actually have the exact same features, but they are just disabled.