Posts Tagged ‘raspberry pi’

Raspberry Pi 2 Gets an Upgrade to 64-Bit Broadcom BCM2837 Processor with PCB Version 1.2

November 21st, 2016 36 comments

With the launch of Raspberry Pi 3 based on Broadcom BCM2837 quad core Cortex A53 processor earlier this year, sales of Raspberry Pi 2 boards have suffering meaning the demand for Broadcom BCM2836 quad core Cortex A7 processor has also been reduced, and it appears the Raspberry Pi foundation has now launched Raspberry Pi 2 V1.2 with the faster BCM2837 processor.

raspberry-pi-2-v1-2-bcm2837The new Raspberry Pi 2 v1.2 runs BCM2837 CPU cores up to 900 MHz, instead of 1.2 GHz on RPi 3, and includes 1 GB RAM. The main difference with Raspberry Pi 3 is the lack of the WiFi and Bluetooth module, which may also prevent some UART issues if you want to access the serial console or use an add-on board with UART.

Since both boards cost the same ($35), most people should probably stick with Raspberry Pi 3, unless you’d rather not have any wireless module on board for security reasons. You can purchase Raspberry Pi 2 v1.2 on Farnell, CPC Farnell, Newark and others.

Via Raspi.TV

Orange Pi PC 2 Development Board based on Allwinner H5 SoC Launched for $20

November 5th, 2016 51 comments

Shenzhen Xunlong had already launched Orange Pi Zero, the cheapest ARM Linux board with networking you can find today, earlier this week, and I’ve just been informed the company has now listed the more powerful Orange Pi PC 2 board powered by Allwinner H5 quad core Cortex A53 processor on Aliexpress for $19.98 plus shipping.allwinner-h5-development-boardOrange Pi PC 2 specifications:

  • SoC – Allwinner H5 quad core Cortex A53 processor with an ARM Mali-450MP4 GPU
  • System Memory – 1GB DDR3
  • Storage – micro SD card slot up to 64GB, 8Mbit SPI NOR flash
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4 with CEC support, AV port
  • Audio I/O – HDMI, AV port, on-board microphone
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet
  • USB – 3x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB OTG port
  • Camera – MIPI CSI Interface
  • Expansions – 40-pin Raspberry Pi compatible header
  • Debugging – 3-pin UART header for serial console
  • Misc – IR receiver; Power button; Power and status LEDs
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A via barrel jack. N.B.: the micro USB OTG port cannot be used.
  • Dimensions – 85 x 55 mm
  • Weight – 38 grams

orange-pi-pc-2-boardThe board is basically an update of the popular Orange Pi PC board with a faster 64-bit ARM processor, an 8 Mbit SPI flash, and Gigabit Ethernet support. The company will be providing Android, Ubuntu, Debian, and “Raspberry Pi” images. As usual, the latter does not mean you can simply run Raspbian downloaded from Raspberry Pi website on the board, but that instead a Raspbian image with Alwinner H5 Linux kernel and bootloader will be provided. You should probably look out for an armbian images, since it’s the most popular image for Orange Pi boards. It may just take a little while to come out, since Allwinner H5 is a new processor.

You may also be interested in Orange Pi PC 2 Schematics (PDF), and visit Orange Pi PC 2 product page for more details, that is if it loads, and it does not here…

Outernet Introduces Standalone & DIY Internet Satellite Kits for C.H.I.P Board, Raspberry Pi 3 Board, and Laptops

November 3rd, 2016 14 comments

Outernet goal is to bring knowledge and/or emergency info to places without Internet either to remote places, or where Internet has been temporary shutdown due to natural disasters or political reasons through a satellite feed. In some ways, it works like a typical FM radio, but instead of receiving audio, you’ll get data. The first hardware was based on WeTek Play TV box, and called Lighthouse, but they now have a DIY kit that will work with Next Thing C.H.I.P, Raspberry Pi, or Laptops running Windows 7/10 or Linux, as well as a standalone Outernet Satellite kit including C.H.I.P Allwinner R8 development board.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Let’s first check out “Basic Outernet DIY Kit” comprised of three items:

  • L-Band Antenna
    • Frequency: 1525 – 1559 MHz (Center frequency: 1542 MHz)
    • 8dbi
    • 4″  SMA Male connector
    • Dimensions – 12 cm x 12 cm x 1.5 cm
    • Weight – ~100 grams
  • RTL-SDR Blog Software Defined Radio/Tuner USB dongle
    • Ultra-low phase noise 0.5PPM TCXO
    • RF-suitable voltage regulator and custom heatsink
    • SMA female connector
    • SDR frequency range of approximately 25MHz – 1700MHz
    • Bias tee (software enabled)
  • Outernet/Inmarsat Amplifier (LNA) board
    • Frequency: 1525 – 1559 MHz (Center Frequency: 1542 MHz)
    • Gain – 34 dB
    • Voltage – 3.0V – 5.5V
    • Current Draw – 25 mA
    • Dimensions – 6.5 cm x 1.5 cm x 2.5 cm
    • Weight – 8.5 grams

The kit costs $69, but it’s not usable standalone, and you’ll need to connect the USB dongle your own C.H.I.P or Raspberry Pi 3 board running rxOS operating system, or laptop and configure them as explained in the documentation to configure and run the system in order to access Outernet Library through your satellite (DVB-S). It should be possible to use other boards too, but you’d have to handle the software part yourself. It should not be too complicated since the only hardware interface is a USB port.

However, if you want something that mostly works out of the box, you should consider “Deluxe Outnert DIY receiver kit” with included all items from the basic kit, plus a pre-configured C.H.I.P board, and a battery pack for $99.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Once you’ve assembled the kit, pointed the L-band antenna to the right satellite, and completed the configuration through the web browser of a WiFi enabled device such as a smartphone. Outernet kit will freely download data (textbooks, health guides, courseware, weekly news, emergency info, disaster alerts, crop prices…) depending on your selected satellite, and anybody with a smartphone or computer will be able to access the data updated weekly/daily.

You’ll find the some details explaining how Outernet works and available data on my first post about Outernet, or for the complete details, visit directly

Orange Pi Zero Allwinner H2+ Board with WiFi and Ethernet is Up for Sale for $7 and Up

November 2nd, 2016 70 comments

Orange Pi Zero development board powered by Allwinner H2+ quad core Cortex A7 processor with 256 to 512MB RAM, Ethernet, and USB ports is now available for sale on Aliexpress for just $6.99, which shipping adding $3.39 in my case bringing the total to $10.38.


Orange Pi Zero specifications:

  • SoC – Allwinner H2(+) quad core Cortex A7 processor @ 1.2 GHz with Mali-400MP2 GPU @ 600 MHz
  • System Memory – 256 to 512 MB DDR3-1866 SDRAM
  • Storage – micro SD card slot
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet + 802.11 b/g/n WiFi (Allwinner XR819 WiFi module) with u.FL antenna connector and external antenna
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB OTG port
  • Expansion headers – Unpopulated 26-pin “Raspberry Pi B+” header + 13-pin header with headphone, 2x USB 2.0, TV out, microphone and IR receiver signals
  • Debugging – Unpopulated 3-pin header for serial console
  • Misc – 2x LEDs
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port or optional PoE
  • Dimensions – 52 x 46 mm
  • Weight – 26 grams

Based on the hardware features and likely good availability it’s a serious contender to Raspberry Pi Zero (and Nano Pi NEO) for headless applications, and provided Allwinner H2+ is close enough to Allwinner H3 software support should be fairly good, as I expect armbian support very soon. Allwinner XR819 is a completely new WiFi module, at least to me, so there may be driver issues, but if it is working in the firmware image provided by Orange Pi (none so far), it should be possible to add this to other Linux images too. [Update: Orange Pi Zero schematics are now available]

orange-pi-zero-descriptionThe Aliexpress page explains the default version has 256MB RAM, but it’s not really clear whether / how we can buy the 512MB version. [Update: The 512MB version now available on Aliexpress for $8.99 + shipping]

Thanks to OvCa77 for the tip.

RabbitMax Flex IoT Board for Raspberry Pi Supporting up to Five I2C Sensors Launched on Indiegogo for 20 Euros and Up

November 2nd, 2016 No comments

RabbitMax Flex is an add-on board, compatible with HAT specifications, for Raspberry Pi 2 /3 boards and other Raspberry Pi models with a 40-pin GPIO header. It includes headers for up to 5 I2C sensors, as well as an RGB LED, a buzzer, a relay, a button, infrared receiver and transmitter, and an optional LCD display, and as we’ve seen in my RabbitMax Flex getting started guide, a nice way to learning about hardware programming using either C or Python, or to used in home automation or IoT projects. The project has just been launched on Indiegogo.

Click to Enlarge

RabbitMax Flex Board mounted on Raspberry Pi 2 Board with 16×2 LCD display and BMP180 Sensor – Click to Enlarge

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

The developer has released software and hardware documentation for the board, including KiCAD schematics & PCB layout, code samples, and more on Github. The board has been tested with Raspbian, and a pre-configured Linux built with Yocto running an MQTT “mosquito” server is also available. The video below explains how to assemble the board, and quickly get started.

You should also be able to use the add-on board on ODROID-C2 development board, but you’d have to handle software support by yourself.

You can pledge as low as 20 Euros (Early bird) to get RabbitMax Flex beta board, but you may also consider pledging for kits instead as they include the LCD and one or more sensors such as the 48 Euros IoT Kit with the board, LCD display, and the three officially supported sensors reporting temperature, pressure, humidity and light data. Shipping adds 8 to 10 Euros, is only possible to North America and Europe, and delivery is scheduled for December 2016 for the beta boards, March and April 2017 for other boards and full kits. You may also find more information on RabbitMax website.

Getting Started with RabbitMax Flex IoT and Automation Hat for Raspberry Pi

October 30th, 2016 No comments

At the beginning of the month I shows how to assemble RabbitMax Flex, a Raspberry Pi HAT compliant add-on board for Raspberry Pi boards with 40-pin header, that targets IoT and home automation project with its relay, IR transmitter and receiver, I2C headers for sensors, buzzer, RGB LED, and more.  Since I’ve already described the hardware, I’ve spend some time this week-end following the user’s guide to play around with the board using a Raspberry Pi 2 board, and try various features.


The user’s manual explains that you need the latest version of Raspbian, but I’d not played with my Raspberry Pi 2 board for a while, so the kernel and firmware were quite old:

So the first thing I had to do was to upgrade Raspbian. There are basically two options to upgrade, either downloading and dumping the latest Raspbian firmware image to your micro SD card, and update it from the command line, for example through SSH, and I went with the latter what :

This took several hours on my board, so in hindsight it may not have been the best options. In order to complete the update, I had to reboot the board, and could confirm the Linux kernel and Broadcom firmware had both been updated:

Now we can install I2C tools and vim in order to play with RabbitMax Flex sensors:

We also need to enable I2C though raspi-config:

and go to Advanced->A7 I2C to enable I2C.


We need to reboot the board again to make sure I2C drivers are automatically loaded at boot time.

RabbitMax Flex user’s manual recommends to use a USB to serial debug at this stage, but it’s just as simple, and IMHO more convenient, to execute command using an SSH terminal. So let’s carry on with software installation with some more dependencies and wiringPi library to control GPIOs:

The system configuration is now complete, and we can use some code samples provided by Leon Anavi, RabbitMax Flex’s developer:

There are eight samples in the directory available in C (using wiringPi library) and/or Python (using python-rpi.gpio):

  • button – Sample to detect when the button is released
  • lcd – Displays “RabbitMax” on the LCD display (C language only)
  • rgb-led – Changes RGB LED color every two seconds in loop between red, green and blue
  • sensor-light – Displays BH1750 light sensor intensity in Lux (C language only)
  • buzzer – Turns on the on-board buzzer (beep sample), and plays Star Wars music (starwars sample).
  • relay – Turns on the relay for 3 seconds, and turn it off
  • sensor-humidity – Prints temperature & humidity values from HTU21D I2C sensor (C language only)
  • sensor-temperature – Prints temperature & pressure values from BMP180 I2C sensor (C language only)
RabbitMax Flex LCD Sample

RabbitMax Flex LCD Sample

The first sample I tried was the C code for the button:

WiringPi requires to run the code as root/sudo, but it might be to change some permissions to fix this. The Python sample is even easier to use:

It’s much more fun to use the board with some I2C sensors (up to 5 are supported through the headers on the add-on board), andLeon send me a BMP180 temperature and pressure sensor, and I also connected a Grove module (accelerometer) I got from Wio Link Starter Kit. i2cdetect had no problems detecting both:

0x77 address is used by BMP180 sensor, while 0x4c address is for the grove module.

So now that we’ve made sure the BMP180 sensor has been detected we can try the sample:

The reported temperature matches the actual temperature in my room.

I initially planned to write a sample demo control my aircon using the button and the temperature sensor, so I also had to configure LIRC both to capture my aircon remote control codes, and send back the codes though the IR transmitter.

Again this is very well explained in the user’s guide, and I started by installed LIRC.

There’s no support in raspi-config for LIRC, so we have to edit /etc/modules and add the IR pins by adding the following lines:

We also have to changed four lines in /etc/lirc/hardware.conf:

and finally I had to edit  /boot/config.txt to add lirc support to dtoverlay:

Configure is done, and we can restart the Raspberry Pi board to make sure the changes are applied:

Now I’m going to capture key code from my aircon remote. First, we need to stop the service, and list of available remote key names:

Now in theory I can assign remote codes to the actual output from my aircon remote, and the idea was to use KEY_POWER for the remote power button, and KEY_DOWN to set the temperature to 25 C with the command:

Sadly, maybe one out of 25 key presses from my remote control were detected. Maybe an issue with the protocol used or timing, but I found out that I had no such problem with my TV remote control, and could complete the setup:

I configured three keys:

That means that my test/demo project had now become rather silly, as instead of turning on my aircon when it gets hot, I’d turn on the TV 🙂 But I guess it’s good enough for a review, and as a learning experience.

Now we can backup the old lirc config, replace it with ours, and restart LIRC daemon:

I could also confirm I could turn on and off the TV with my Raspberry Pi 2 and RabbitMax Flex board using the following command:

From there, it was quite straightforward to write my “useless TV demo” based on code from the samples that turns on and off the TV whenever I release the push button, or when the temperature crosses 30 Celsius, and showing the power status and temperature on the LCD display:

It works pretty well, as you can see from the video.

You’ll also find the demo code on github.

Beside Raspbian, Leon is also working on “RabbitMax IoT GNU/Linux Distribution” built with the Yocto Project where all hardware configuration is done, running an MQTT server, as well as an GHTML8 web interface designed with jQuery Mobile and Node.js API.

You can get the source code for that, as well as the documentation, C & Python sample projects, tools, and later on KiCAD files on RabbitMax github’s account, as well as some extra info on website. You can purchase the board now for $49.90 on without the LCD nor sensors, but it might be a good idea to wait for the crowdfunding campaign that should start shortly, with the board offered for half the Tindie price, and probably some kits with LCD, and sensors.

Quirky Linux 8.1 Lightweight Linux Desktop Distribution Released for Raspberry Pi 2 and Pi 3

October 27th, 2016 3 comments

Barry Kauler, the creator of Puppy Linux, may have retired from maintaining Puppy Linux a few years ago, but he appears to be still active, as he’s just released Quirky Linux 8.1 for Raspberry Pi 2 and Pi 3 boards, a lightweight Linux desktop distribution based on Ubuntu Xenial Xerus 16.04, and including LibreOffice & Inkscape to have the same out of the box experience as Raspbian, but with a 360 MB download size instead of 1.3 GB for Raspbian. A build for ODROID-XU4 development board should also be coming soon.


The image has been designed for 8GB micro SD card, and needs to extracted and dumped onto the card with the usual Win32DiskImager or dd tools. There are three mirrors for quirky-pi2-sd-8gb-xerus-8.1.img.xz firmware:,, and

quirky-linux-8-1-xerusYou can read the full release notes if you want more details. In case you don’t have a spare micro SD card, you can also boot from a USB flash drive.

Thanks to Mary for the tip.

Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3 (CM3) and Compute Module 3 Lite (CM3L) Datasheet Released

October 17th, 2016 5 comments

Last week NEC announced they were going to use Raspberry Pi Compute 3 Module in some of their presentation and digital signage displays. This led to a longish discussion in the blog post, during which one commenter left a link to Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3 datasheet, so let’s have a look.

Raspberry Pi 3 Compute Module Block Diagram (Click to Enlarge)

Raspberry Pi 3 Compute Module Block Diagram (Click to Enlarge)

There will actually be two version of the Broadcom BCM2837 based Compute Module with CM3 with a 4GB eMMC, and CM3 Lite (CM3L) without eMMC, but SD card signal are available to the baseboard. Apart from storage differences, both modules shared the same specifications:

  • SoC – Broadcom BCM2837 quad core Cortex A53 processor @ 1.2 GHz with Videocore IV GPU
  • System Memory – 1GB LPDDR2
  • Storage
    • CM3 Lite – SD card signals through SO-DIMM connector
    • CM3 – 4GB eMMC flash
  • 200-pin edge connector with:
    • 48x GPIO
    • 2x I2C, 2x SPI, 2x UART
    • 2x SD/SDIO, 1x NAND interface (SMI)
    • 1x HDMI 1.3a
    • 1x USB 2.0 HOST/OTG
    • 1x DPI (Parallel RGB Display)
    • 1x 4-lane CSI Camera Interface (up to 1Gbps per lane), 1x 2-lane CSI Camera Interface (up to 1Gbps per lane)
    • 1x 4-lane DSI Display Interface (up to 1Gbps per lane), 1x 2-lane DSI Display Interface (up to 1Gbps per lane)
  • Power Supply – VBAT (2.5V to 5.0V) for BCM2837 processor core, 3.3V for PHYs, UI and eMMC flash, 1.8V for PHYs, IO, and SDRAM, VDAC (2.8V typ.) for video composite DAC, GPIO0-27_VREF & GPIO28-45_VREF (1.8 to 3.3V) for the two GPIO banks.
  • Dimensions – 67.6 x 31 mm; compliant with JEDEC MO-224 mechanical specification used in DDR2 SO-DIMM memory module
  • Temperature Range – -25 to +80 degrees Celsius

Compute Module 3 and 3 Lite are basically mechanically & electrically compatible with the original Raspberry Pi Compute Module (CM1), so if you have an existing design based CM1, CM3 should be a drop-in replacement, bearing in mind the following differences explained in the datasheet:

Apart from the CPU upgrade and increase in RAM the other significant hardware differences to be aware of are that CM3 has grown from 30mm to 31mm in height, the VBAT supply can now draw significantly more power under heavy CPU load, and the HDMI HPD N 1V8 (GPIO46 1V8 on CM1) and EMMC EN N 1V8 (GPIO47 1V8 on CM1) are now driven from an IO expander rather than the processor. If a designer of a CM1 product has a suitably specified VBAT, can accommodate the extra 1mm module height increase and has followed the design rules with respect to GPIO46 1V8 and GPIO47 1V8 then a CM3 should work fine in a board designed for a CM1.

The datasheet also includes detailed mechanical and electrical specifications necessary to build a baseboard for the Compute Module.

CM3 and CM3L Mechanical Dimensions

CM3 and CM3L Mechanical Dimensions

It should also be enough for people to design a compatible SoM based another processor, but so far I’m not aware of anybody having done so with Compute Module 1.

Raspberry Pi Trading guarantees availability of CM1, CM3 and CM3 Lite until at least January 2023.