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Posts Tagged ‘raspberry pi’

How to Use Your Old Laptop Screen with Raspberry Pi or Your Computer

February 5th, 2016 11 comments

After reading an article on Liliputing about using Raspberry Pi Zero with Motorola Lapdock, I decided to look for clones for the device since Motorola Lapdock is now hard to buy at a decent price, if at all, since the product has been discontinued for a while. I did not find anything similar, but instead I came across M.NT68676.2A LCD driver HDMI kit selling for $37.99 on eBay that allows you to re-use your old laptop screen with any development board or computer that comes with HDMI, DVI, or VGA output.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The kit is comprised of a monitor control board (M.NT68676.2A), an “inverter” board which depends on your LCD panel model number, a keypad board, an LVDS cable, and a cable to connect all three boards together.

M.NT68676.2A monitor control board specifications:

  • Chipset –  NT68676 (UFG)
  • Supported Panel – LED/LCD, Single/Dual LVDS (8bit) up to 2048×1152 resolution
  • Video Input
    • “PC-RGB “, i.e. VGA, up to 2048×1152@60 Hz
    • HDMI – 480i, 480p, 576i, 576p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p
  • Audio Input – Earphone Input; 0.2 ~ 2.0 V RMS
  • Audio Output
    • Frequency Response – 100Hz~15KHz @±3dB (1KHz, 0dB reference signal)
    • Max Output Power –  2×1W(8Ω) THD+N<10%@1KHz (Power Supply: 12V, Audio Input: 0.5V RMS )
  • Power
    • Requirements – 12V DC/12V(built-in)/12V,5V(built in)/12V,5V,5VSB(built in)
    • To Panel – 3.3V/5V/12V
    • Standby Power Consumption < 0.5W(Board Only)
  • Keypad – Power, Menu, Volume +/-, and Adjust/Exit
  • Dimensions – 139 x 58 x 17 mm

You can get a more complete technical description on the spec sheet (PDF), including each connector’s pinout description, and schematics for IR and keypad board.

Sample Project: Source: https://www.raspberrypi.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=40&t=67312

Sample Project –  Source: Raspberry Pi Forums

The sellers says it “supports most of the LCD panel from 12.1″ to 55″ with a LVDS interface and a resolution lower than 2048X1152, plug&play kit, no need soldering”, but you need to give the LCD Model number, before purchasing the kit, so that they can check they can give you an inverter board that works with your LCD panel. If you scroll down on the eBay page they have a list of known to work panels such as B170PW03 V.9 or LP171WE2-TL01.

Sample Project - Fully Assembled and Powered by USB Power Bank - More Pics

Sample Project – Fully Assembled and Powered by USB Power Bank – More Pics

Beside the kit, you’ll also need you provide your own HDMI or VGA cable, and power adapter. They also have a kit that include a 12V/4A power adapter for $51.19 in total. It’s clearly a little more challenging than simply using the Lapdock, but that’s an option.

Other sellers and sites are also selling kits, for example Aliexpress, simply look for M.NT68676.2A,. If you think you can manage with the control board only, and somehow already have an inverter board that should work, Banggood sells it for $13.33.

You could also watch a review showing one of the kits used as a monitor for an XBOX.

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This is What a 16 Raspberry Pi Zero Cluster Board Looks Like

January 22nd, 2016 19 comments

Idein, a Japanese startup, has been working with a Raspberry Pi compute module to create Actbulb, a multi-functional device for applications using computational sensing and data analysis, and that fits in a regular light bulb socket. But for their internal testing, they’ve decided to create a cluster for 16 Raspberry Pi Zero boards.

Raspberry_Pi_Zero_ClusterPiZero Cluster board has 32 micro USB ports for power and data, two for each Raspberry Pi Zero board, 16 USB type A ports, and 16 Ethernet interfaces. They’ve likely done this board for testing their ActBulb, as Koichi Nakamura, Idein CEO & founder mentioned that:

We are making a sensing device that uses Raspberry Pi compute module. So we need many Pi’s for the development and tests. Since we will use Pi’s GPU for image processing, deep learning, etc. We need real Pis but not just Linux machines. Another reason. It can be used for flashing eMMCs of our devices via USB ports when we have to do that by ourselves.

PiZero_Cluster_BoardYou may have noticed that there’s only one Raspberry Pi Zero in the cluster board, simply because they don’t have more, and the boards are not available for sale. The Raspberry Pi foundation is making more , but they will only allow one per customer for now due to the high demand, so it may take some time until they get their 15 other boards, although I guess friends and family could help…

[Update: Since they had quite a lot of feedback, the company has now plans to integrate an Ethernet switch, add GPIO headers, etc.. and likely sell it. See new tweet]

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FOSDEM 2016 Schedule – Open Source Hardware and Software Event in Europe

January 13th, 2016 3 comments

FOSDEM (Free and Open Source Software Developers’ European Meeting) is a 2-day event that usually takes place on the first week-end of February in Brussels, but this year it will be on January 30-31. The event brings thousands of developers, hackers, and other person interested in open source technology who present their projects and share ideas. FOSDEM 2016 schedule is now available, and There will be 557 speakers, 612 events, and 50 tracks this year including 7 main tracks: Distros, Enterprise, Hardware, Communications, Miscellaneous, Office, Systems Administration, and Virtualization.

FOSDEM_2016

So I’ve had a look at some of the talks, especially out of  “Embedded, Mobile and Automotive” and “IoT” devrooms, and prepared my own virtual schedule although I won’t be able to attend.

Saturday

For many years MIPS processors have been involved in the embedded market, particularly in areas related to networks and storage. With the success of the mobile market, and the great evolution of the world linked to the “makers”, other architectures (such as ARM), they have reached very large levels of diffusion.

Meanwhile, the MIPS architecture has evolved, introducing innovations and improvements to adapt to both the processor market from performance, both to the world of micro-controllers. The future of MIPS is a new family divided into several generations evolving.

During the presentation, after a brief and simplified introduction to architecture, will be shown the technologies available at the time and what will be the future developments.

The presentation will also show some reference platforms (ex. Imagination Creator CI20), and how to work to integrate and port on these platforms. Application examples with Yocto and buildroot, to switch to a full distribution (Debian). Finally it will also present a perspective on the use of MIPS in embedded designs.

AsteroidOS is a free and open-source smartwatch platform based on OpenEmbedded, libhybris, BlueZ5 and Qt5. The OS currently offers a basic user experience on the LG G Watch. This technical talk will briefly introduce the philosophical background of the project and more deeply its architecture’s details in order to attract developers, porters and curious.

This talk will successively be focused on how to boot an Android Wear watch, on how to gain hardware acceleration on that kind of hardware, on how Qt5 and OpenEmbedded are used and on the future of AsteroidOS.

AsteroidOS uses similar technological choices as those of projects like SailfishOS, NemoMobile, Mer, WebOS-Ports or Ubuntu Touch but adapted to the needs of smartwatches. The architecture of those project will briefly be compared during the presentation.

Based on Migen, MiSoC is a library of cores and a system-on-chip integration system to build gateware for various applications. MiSoC is lightweight (runs on FPGA devices as small as Spartan-6 LX9 with 32-bit RISC CPU and SDRAM), portable (demonstrated on Xilinx, Altera and Lattice devices) and high performance (e.g. contains the fastest open source DDR3 solution we are aware of). Designing and integrating cores is facilitated by Python and Migen features. Current MiSoC applications include LTE base stations, video processing (Numato Opsis) and experiment control system (ARTIQ).

Nemo Mobile is a long time FOSS operating system. Created in 2012 as continuation to Meego Community Edition, it has been actively developed since then. The newest iteration of it is to use Glacier UI as its renewed User Interface, along with its Qt Components. These components are now used in the NemoTablet adaptation using Raspberry Pi2 as underlying hardware and its plethora of possible peripherals to create a true DIY tablet derived from SailPi project.

With Raspberry Pi 2 introduction in February 2015, it was then possible to create an adaptation for it. This enables the myriad of functionality it offers, with its hardware provided. Initial adaptation was done originally for SailfishOS, but Nemo Mobile had the first run and checking that everything worked, before a closed system was installed. Nemo Mobile, however, was then not tried until later. The idea came once the official touchscreen by Raspberry Pi Foundation was released, so that a FOSS tablet could be built by anyone and used. Raspberry Pi 2 has non-free hardware, but Nemo Mobile itself is FOSS completely. As with all other adaptations, the questions regarding hardware freedom limitations rise for a good reason.

Libreboot is a free software BIOS replacement (boot firmware), based on coreboot, for Intel, AMD and ARM based systems. Backed by the Free Software Foundation, the aim of the Libreboot project is to provide individuals and companies with an escape from proprietary firmware in their computing. Libreboot is also being reviewed for entry as an official component of the GNU system.

Boot firmware is the low-level software that runs when you turn your computer on, which initializes the hardware and starts a bootloader for your operating system. Libreboot currently supports laptops and servers, on x86 (Intel and AMD) and ARM (Rockchip RK3288), with more hardware support on the horizon. The purpose of this talk is to describe the history of the project, why it started, why it’s important, where it’s going and, most importantly, to tell people how they can get involved.

Francis also runs the Minifree (formerly Gluglug), a company that sells computers with libreboot and Trisquel GNU/Linux pre-installed.

No abstract, but it’s clear about Olimex’s Allwinner A64 A64-OlinuXino board to be used in the company’s open source hardware laptop.

A brief discussion about the stable release branch 4 of KiCad as well as goals for the next development cycle and beyond.

The WPANKit is a ptxdist based Open-Source 6LoWPAN Board Support Package (BSP). The main focus is to provide a software development kit for the linux-wpan project. The linux-wpan project aims to implement a 6LoWPAN inside the mainline Linux kernel.

This talk will present the WPANKit: An Open-Source Linux BSP to develop 6LoWPAN IoT applications. It contains support for various common platforms such Raspberry Pi’s and Beaglebones. Additional components like the openlabs 802.15.4 transceiver SPI transceiver or BTLE USB dongles gives you a getting started platform into the Linux 6LoWPAN world.

The WPANKit will directly build a current mainline 6LoWPAN kernel, which is the official bluetooth-next tree. This is important, because the mainline 6LoWPAN development is still much in development. Additional the WPANKit offers a large of userspace IoT software collection e.g. tshark for sniffing network traffic, libcoap, etc. On top of this BSP you can develop your IoT application, setting up a Border-Router or help at the current mainline 6LoWPAN Linux-kernel development.

Through the power of ptxdist you can easily add new own packages for cross-compiling. As well we accept patches to integrate new software into the official WPANKit repository, so we getting more and more new IoT capable software into the WPANKit which can be used by other ptxdist users.

An AdaCore intern has rewritten the CrazyFlie drone software, originally in C, into SPARK. In addition to fixing some bugs, this allowed to prove absence of runtime errors. Various techniques used to achieve that result will be presented, as well as a live demo of free fall detection.

This talk will take us through the available FOSS software stacks that are available for automotive. This last year has produced a lot of working software from fiber-optic networking drivers in the Linux kernel, complete In-Vehicle Infotainment stacks, to a newly released Qt Automotive. There has also been a change in available hardware to run this software on, new boards like the Minnowboard Max, Renesas’ Porter board, and even the Raspberry Pi 2. This talk will try and cover the entire software ecosystem and how it matches to hardware, how you can get involved today, and what the future holds.

Turris Omnia aims to bring to the market affordable, powerful and secure SOHO router which is completely open-source and open-hardware. As a operating system it uses our own fork of OpenWrt which has some additional features such as automatic security updates. This talk will cover few topics such as motivation for starting this project and developing of our own hardware and software.

FROSTED is an acronym for “FRee Operating System for Tiny Embedded Devices”. The goal of this project is to provide a free kernel for embedded systems based on ARM Cortex-M CPU family, which exposes a POSIX-compliant system call API. Even if it runs on small systems with no MMU and limited resources, Frosted has a VFS, UNIX command line tools and a HW abstraction layer which makes it easy to support new platforms and device drivers.

This talk will cover why the project was started, the approach taken to separate the kernel and user-space on ARM Cortex-M CPU’s without MMU, the collaboration with the libopencm3 project to provide a high quality hardware abstraction layer and the future goals of the project. Of course there will a demo showing the latest developments: dynamic loading of applications and possibly TCP/IP communication.

Sunday

Yocto project has been used at Open-RnD for building a number of IoT related products. The talk will go though the details of integration of Poky build system and OpenEmbedded layers into 3 projects carried out at Open-RnD:

  • an autonomous parking space monitoring system
  • a distributed 3D steroscopic image acquisition system
  • a gadget for acquisition of metabolic parameters of professional athletes

The presentation will approach to building software, automation and upstreaming of fixes. Only widely available hardware platforms such as BeagleBone Black, Raspberry Pi, Wandboard or Gateworks GW5400 (not as widely used as the previous ones, but still fully supported) were used in the project, hence all the points made during presentation are directly applicable by professionals and hobbyists alike.

Tizen is an open source GNU/Linux based software platform for mobile, wearable and embedded devices as well as Internet of Things. Tizen:Common provides a generic development environment for Tizen 3 which key features include, Wayland, Weston, EFL UI/UX toolkit, and a web runtime for safely running standalone HTML5 apps. Yocto Project offers tools to easily expends features of Tizen:Common by creating layers for new profiles. This talk will focus the Tizen architecture and it will provide guidelines for creating and building new Tizen profiles, based on Tizen:Common, using the Yocto Project for devices with Intel or ARM processors. It will also provide information about hidden gems in Tizen on Yocto and practical examples for packaging and deploying HTML5 applications through Yocto recipes for the open source hardware development boards like Raspberry PI2 or HummingBoard (Freescale I.MX6 ARM SoC) or MinnowBoard Max (Intel).

Finally, since Tizen aims to because the OS of everything, we will illustrate this by extending Tizen Distro with new connectivity features provided by IoTivity library, the open source implementation of OpenInterConnect’s standard.

This session will show you how to build your own retro hand-held console that is powered by Java, runs on a Raspberry Pi, and is printed on a 3D printer. Some of the topics covered include:

  • Hacking Java on the Raspberry Pi
  • Rigging input devices with Pi4J
  • Insane performance tuning on the JVM
  • Why your boss [or SO] needs to buy you a 3D printer!

And of course your retro gaming mettle will be put to the test, so make sure to dust off your old 8 and 16 bit consoles to prepare.

How to roll your own build and extend the Fairphone 2 hardware

The kernelci.org project is currently doing hundreds of build and boot tests for upstream kernels on a wide variety of hardware. This session will provide an introduction to the kernelci.org system, some live demos and how to start consuming its results, and be a forum for further discussions.

Distributed boards farms across the world are working together to deliver unified build, boot, and test results for every merge of an upstream Linux kernel tree. A community based architecture agnostic effort, kernelci.org aims to detect regressions in a timely manner and report back to kernel developers with a concise summary of the issues found. On every merge, all defconfigs for x86, arm, and arm64 are built, booted, and tested on over 300 real or virtual hardware platforms. Come join in the discussion and help make Linux better!

Hardware is funny stuff. It is often documented to work one way when it actually works a slightly different way. Different revisions of the hardware may have different bugs that require different sets of work-arounds. Programming it even slightly incorrectly can lead to software crashes or system hangs. Sometimes some versions of the hardware work fine, but the version not on the developer’s desk crashes. Failure modes are often opaque and give no clues for fixing the problem. Writing robust, reliable software to run directly on hardware is hard.

Software simulation of hardware is a technique that, in many cases, can alleviate some of this pain. Teams that develop hardware will often create a simulator as a by-product of hardware synthesis. Not ever developer is fortunate to have access to such tools. Those who do have access often find them slow or difficult to use. After all, these simulators are generally created as an aid for the hardware developers themselves. Much of the benefit of a full hardware simulator can be attained by developing the simulator independently from the hardware development. When the correct techniques are applied, it’s not even that hard.

This talk will present a variety of techniques based on experience with several “home grown” simulation environments. Techniques for both developing and validating the simulator and techniques for integrating simulation in the regular development process will be described.

  • 16:00 – 17:00 – PHP7 by Derick Rethans

With PHP 7 having been released, it is time to show what’s in there. Speed, scalar type hints and spaceships.

These are just a few selection from the complete schedule. Last year, most FOSDEM 2015 videos were available in mid-March, so I’d expect FOSDEM 2016 videos to be available in about the same time frame.

As usual, the event will be free, and does not require registration, so you just need to show up at the Université libre de Bruxelles in order to attend.

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Ublox NEO-6M $10 GPS Module with Antenna Works with Arduino, Raspberry Pi, etc..

January 11th, 2016 3 comments

Last week, I wrote about NavSpark Mini a $6 GPS + Beidou module, that’s also available for “free” plus $10 shipping. However, if you don’t have an antenna, you’d also need to add a $9 antenna, bringing the total price to $19 for this low cost GPS solution. But there’s actually a cheaper alternative with Ublox NEO-6M GPS module, as it sells for $10 with a GPS antenna including shipping on either Aliexpress or eBay.

Ublox_NEO-6MUblox NEO-6M based GPS module specifications:

  • NEO-6M-0-001 module
  • Storage – EEPROM for configuration data
  • External interfaces – UART; default baudrate: 9600 bps
  • Misc – RTC battery (MS621FE)
  • Power Supply – 3 to 5V

The battery may not always be included due to transport regulations, so you may have to purchase it separately and solder it yourself.

Ublox_NEO-6M_Schematics

NEO 6M GPS Module Schematics

The module is not exactly new, and has been around at least since 2013, so there’s also some documentation, and it has been used with Arduino based ArduPilot APM2 and APM2.5. Others have also explained how to use it with a Raspberry Pi, and since it’s simply controlled via a UART interface, it should work with most micro-controllers. U-blox also provides U-Center for Windows and Android to test the module, and you can also find some hardware documentation in this ZIP file.

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Categories: Hardware Tags: arduino, gps, raspberry pi, ublox

Raspberry Pi Zero, C.H.I.P, and Orange Pi One Boards’ Features and Price Comparisons

January 3rd, 2016 31 comments

With Raspberry Pi Zero, Next Thing C.H.I.P, and Orange Pi One, we now have have three ARM Linux development boards selling (now or soon) for less than $10 excluding shipping and taxes. So I’d think it would be interesting to compare the features of the boards, and prices for different use cases.

Raspberry_Pi_Zero_vs_CHIP_vs_Orange_Pi_OneThe comparison table below shows the three boards features side-by-side with items highlighted in green for the best or extra features, and in red for the weakest. Some cells will have to be filled later as data is currently not available (marked TBD).

Raspberry Pi Zero C.H.I.P Orange Pi One
Processor Broadcom BCM2835 single core ARM11 processor @ 1GHz

(~1250 DMIPS)

Allwinner R8 Cortex A8 processor @ 1 GHz

(2000 DMIPS)

Allwinner H3 quad core Cortex A7 processor @ 1.2 GHz
(4x 2280 DMIPS)
GPU VideoCore IV ARM Mali-400 ARM Mali-400MP2
Video Decoding 1080p30 for H.264, MPEG2* and VC1*
1080p video encoding (H.264)* Extra licenses required

H.264, H.263, VC1, Mpeg1/2/4, VP6/8,  up to 1080p60

H.265/HEVC 4K@30fps video decoding. 1080p@60fps video decoding for H.264 BP/MP/HP, VP8, MPEGl/2, MPEG4 SP/ASP GMC, H.263, Sorenson Spark, WMV9/VC- l, JPEG/MJPEG, etc

Video Encoding “Full HD H.264 video encoding”

H.264 1280×720@30fps video encoding

H.264 1080p@30fps video encoding

RAM 512MB 512 MB 512 MB
Storage micro SD card slot 4GB NAND flash micro SD card slot
Ethernet

No

except via external USB to Ethernet adapter

No

except via external USB to Ethernet adapter

10/100M Ethernet
Wireless Connectivity

No.

Except via external USB / SPI / UART Wifi and/or Bluetooth module

WiFi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0
No.

Except via external USB / SPI / UART Wifi and/or Bluetooth module, or Orange Pi Lite board upgrade

USB 2x micro USB 2.0 ports (including one OTG). One port needed for power 1x USB 2.0 host port, 1x micro USB OTG port. One port needed for power  1x USB 2.0 host port, 1x micro USB OTG port. Power via power barrel.
Video mini HDMI with CEC, and unpopulated 2-pin header for composite

3.5mm jack for composite video

HDMI and VGA only available via add-on board

Full size HDMI
Audio Via mini HDMI Via 3.5mm jack Via HDMI
I/Os and other peripherals Unpopulated 40-pin header with 26 –GPIOs, 1x UART (debugging), 1x SPI, 1x I2C, PCM/I2S Two 40-pin expansion headers with GPIOs, 2x I2C, 1x UART, 1x SPI, LCD signals, CSI signals, PWM, etc… 40-pin header mostly compatible with RPI with GPIOs, 2x I2C, 3x UART, 1x SPI

1x CSI camera connector

Power 5V via micro USB
Typical power consumption: 0.1A to 0.14 @ 5V
5V via micro USB or LiPo battery
Typical power consumption: TBD
5V via power barrel
Typical power consumption: TBD
Dimensions  65 x 30mm  60 x 40 mm  70 x 50 mm (Estimated TBC)
Linux Support

Official: Raspbian,  OpenELEC, OSMC. Many other community supported distros.

Custom Linux distribution (No firmware download link yet) Lubuntu, Raspbian, Debian with XFCE, Fedora 22, Arch Linux ARM, etc…
Android Support

No

No Android 4.4
Community Largest community so far for a development board. Mostly on Raspberry Pi Forums. Relatively active forums on Next Things website thanks to ~40,000 Kickstarter backers, and other people who pre-ordered since then. Active (but at times slow) forums for Orange Pi boards.
Documentation, source code and hardware files. Documentation is available via eLinux RPI Wiki, but there does not seem to be much specific info for  Raspberry Pi Zero, so you’d need to use mix info from RPi2 and RPi Model B.

Linux mainline work in progress (See Wiki on github)

Schematics are not available, even in PDF format, and the board hardware is closed source.

Broadcom BCM2835 datasheet is however available.

Somewhat incomplete and outdated documentation can be found on the docs page on Next Things website.

U-boot, buildroot, and Linux source code, as well as hardware design files can be found on github. CHIP is open source hardware.

Linux mainline work in also progress (See free-electrons)

Documentation can be found on Orange Pi Wiki, but details are sometimes lacking, or information is wrong.

I had a pretty smooth experience with Orange Pi 2 mini board, but some others had more issues, so I’d expect more of the same with Orange Pi One.

The company usually releases the schematics of their boards in PDF format, but the board is not open source hardware per se.

Linux mainline work in progress (See sunxi-linux)

 Listed Price  $5  $9  $9.99
 Shipping (to my location)  $12.55 (via Adafruit)

At the time of launch, but cheaper options should be available later…

 $6.22  $3.43 (Estimated, based on Orange Pi PC shipping)
Distribution network and Availability Wide sales network, with most online retailers and some brick and mortar shops selling Raspberry Pi boards.

But Raspberry Pi Zero is now unavailable due to the high demand.

Only available via getchip.com for now.

Current pre-orders are expected to ship in June 2016.

Likely only available on Aliexpress once it is launched.

Availability date TBD.

First, let’s go through the main bad news for all three boards: you can’t buy any of them right now, at least at the stated price (As of early Janaury 2016). Raspberry Pi Zero is out of stock, and eBay or relatively expensive kits are the only options, while C.H.I.P is slowly being sent to Kickstarter backers, and beside the price we don’t know exactly when the boards will start to ship.

The comparison makes Orange Pi One stands out in terms of performance thanks to a quad core processor, and 4K video support. It’s also the only platform that supports both HDMI video output and network connectivity out of the box, and if you need Android, it’s the only game in town for less than $10. The main advantages of the Raspberry Pi Zero are mainly its smaller size and community support, while C.H.I.P is the only one with built-in WiFi and Bluetooth, and on-board storage. It’s also the only platform of the three that is open source hardware. In terms of support, Raspberry Pi Zero should be the easiest to use, followed by C.H.I.P, and Orange Pi One, with the latter having a longer learning curve, but this will of course depend on your skills, and target applications.

I’m obviously open to suggestions and corrections for this table.

Price Comparison

I’ll have to make some assumptions to estimate the cost of ownership for the three boards. Since they are mainly country specific, I’ll consider shipping charges and charge are the same for all boards, and will not include them in the calculation. I’ll also assume a 5V power adapter with a micro USB connector is a spare part, so the price is considered to be free.

Offline computer system

In this use case we just need to connect a USB keyboard and mouse, and a display via HDMI. I’ve only included the extra accessories required in the table below.

Raspberry Pi Zero C.H.I.P Board Orange Pi One
Board $5 $9 $9.99
Power Supply $0 $0 $1.09 (USB to 4mm jack)
USB OTG Adapter $0.75 $0.75 $0.75
USB Hub $1 $0 $0
HDMI Adapter $0.75 $15 (HDMI add-on board) $0
Micro SD card (4GB) $3 $0 $3
Total $10.5 $24.75 $14.83

In this configuration the Raspberry Pi is clearly less expensive than it’s counterpart. There are variation of this configuration that would bring the cost down for the two other boards, such as composite output with C.H.I.P, or you already have a 4mm jack power adapter for Orange Pi One. Using wireless keyboard and mouse would also remove the need for the OTG adapter for the two Allwinner boards.

Networked computer system

Basically, the same configuration as above but with the need for connectivity either via Ethernet or WiFi.

Raspberry Pi Zero C.H.I.P Board Orange Pi One
Board $5 $9 $9.99
Power Supply $0 $0 $1.09
USB OTG Adapter $0.75 $0.75 $0.75
HDMI Adapter $0.75 $15 $0
USB Hub + Ethernet $5.5 $0 $0
Micro SD card (4GB) $3 $0 $3
Total $15 $24.75 $14.83

Both C.H.I.P and Orange Pi One have the exact same configuration as above, because the former has WiFi, and the latter Ethernet. For Raspberry Pi Zero I had to replace the USB Hub with a USB hub with Ethernet instead, bringing the price higher, and here the total price is slightly in favor of Orange Pi One over Raspberry Pi Zero.

Bluetooth LE IoT gateway

Now let’s say you need to have a Bluetooth to IP (Ethernet or WiFi) gateway, and once it is setup you don’t need any keyboard or mouse, nor video output.

Raspberry Pi Zero C.H.I.P Board Orange Pi One
Board $5 $9 $9.99
Power Supply $0 $0 $1.09
USB OTG Adapter $0.75 $0 $0
USB WiFi dongle $2.29 $0 $0
USB Bluetooth 4.0 dongle $3 $0 $3
USB Hub $1 $0 $0
Micro SD Card (4GB) $3 $0 $3
Total $15.04 $9 $17.08

This use case is very much favorable to the C.H.I.P “computer” since everything is already on-board including wireless connectivity and storage.

All three boards seems to have their place in the market place. If you want something easier to get started with, or the smallest ARM Linux board you can find, the Raspberry Pi Zero should be a better choice, but if you want a lot of processing power, nothing can beat Orange Pi One’s Allwinner H3 quad core processor for the price, while people mostly looking for Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity, and/or looking for an open hardware platform, should probably go with C.H.I.P instead.

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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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DietPi is Lightweight, Easy to Use Debian Based Distribution for Raspberry Pi, ODROID, and Orange Pi Boards

December 18th, 2015 9 comments

DietPi_LogoRaspberry Pi, Hardkernel ODROID, and Orange Pi are some of the most popular and cost effective development boards on the market today, and one British developer, going under Fourdee nickname, has released a lightweight distribution called DietPi working for all Rasbperry Pi boards, ODROID-C1(+), ODROID-XU3/XU4, and Orange Pi PC, with Orange Pi 2 and Orange Pi Plus support coming soon, as well as a VMWare virtual machine also available for evaluation.

The compressed downloads are about 80 to 100MB depending on the target, the image that can be dump with dd or Win32DiskImager requires a 1GB or greater micro SD card as the image itself is about 500MB large, Internet access (Ethernet or Wifi), and optionally a USB Drive to allow installation on a USB drive for better performance, which of course does not apply if you have an eMMC module with your ODROID board.

The image also contains some scripts to easily configure the system (DietPi-Config), or  install programs (DietPi-Software) such as LXDE desktop environment, Kodi, Transmission bitTorrent server and so on. Some options will be specific to some boards, as for example Kodi won’t run properly on Orange Pi boards for now.
DietPi-Software

Other notable scripts include DietPi-Backup, DietPi-Sync to duplicate directories, DietPi-Nice to assign priority levels to programs, and DietPi-Update System that automatically checks for updates, and install them from the network. You can also customize the level of logging with DietPi-Rramlog in order to optimize performance, and WiFi support is built-in in the image, and configurable with DietPi-Config.

DietPi-ConfigThe operating system has its own website, but to get started quickly you’d better go to Download DietPi image | Getting started forum thread. You can also visit DietPi Github repository to check out the Bash scripts used in DietPi images. You may also be interested in seeing how it compares to Raspbian Lite.

Via Peter Scargill

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UP Board Gets 2GB RAM and 32GB Storage Option, Linux Port in Progress

November 30th, 2015 14 comments

The UP Board is a Raspberry Pi like board with an Intel Atom processor that’s currently on Kickstarter with a few hours left, and it has just reached its 100,000 Euros stretch goal meaning that beside the 16GB storage / 1 GB version, a version with 32Gb storage and 2GB is now offered. The company also showed their progress with the implementation Debian based Ubilinux on the Intel Atom x5-Z8350 board.

Up_BoardThat means the specifications have now been updated:

  • SoC – Intel Atom x5-Z8350 “Cherry Trail” quad core processor @ 1.44 GHz (Burst frequency: 1.84 GHz) with Intel Gen8 HD graphics @ 500 MHz
  • System Memory –  1 GB or 2 GB DDR3L-1600
  • Storage – 16 or 32 GB eMMC
  • Video Output / Display – HDMI, DSI connector
  • Audio I/O – HDMI
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet
  • USB – 4x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x USB 2.0 pin header, 1x micro USB 3.0 port (under the board)
  • Camera – CSI connector for 4MP camera
  • Expansion – 40-pin Raspberry Pi compatible header with GPIOs, I2C, SPI, UART. etc…
  • Misc – Power button, RTC
  • Power Supply – 5V via power barrel
  • Dimensions – 85.60 x 56.50 mm
  • Temperature Range – Operating: 0 to 60 C
  • Certifications – FCC, CE, RoHS

The first 500 backers will get their 16GB/1GB board updated to 32GB/2GB configuration, but new backers can get the UP Board with 2GB RAM, 32 GB storage for 109 Euros plus shipping, while the first version still stays at 89 Euros.

In their latest update, Emutex Labs also showed their progress booting UbiLinux on the board.

There’s still some work to be done including support for GPIOs and I think audio, but the company also plans to port Ubuntu and Snappy to the board, and hopefully their work can be leveraged for other Intel Atom Cherry Trail based platforms.

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