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Posts Tagged ‘review’

MAXOAK K2 is a 50,000 mAh Power Bank Designed for Laptops, Cameras and Mobile Devices

March 28th, 2017 4 comments

Most of the time I receive samples by courier 3 or 4 days after the company sends it, but sometimes I’m being sent devices over airmail which may take 2 to 3 weeks, or even more. Today, I received such a parcel with no clear description on the package, and a relatively heavy blank carton box.

But I remembered somebody told me they’d send a large power bank for laptops. Could it be it? Sure enough. The power bank is called MAXOAK K2, and claims to offer a 50,000 mAh capacity using a Polymer Li-on battery.

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All connectors and buttons can be found on one side with the DC jack, four charging/capacity LEDs, the power button, 20V/3A and 12/2.5A barrel outputs, and four USB ports with 5V/2.1A or 5V.1.0A output. Most of the laptops I’ve used were powered by 19V or 19.5V adapters, so I’m not sure it’s safe to use with all laptops, but we’ll find out a bit more info about that below.

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The power bank ships with a 100~240V AC to 16.8V DC/2.5A power supply, a power cord, a cable to connect to the 12V or 20V power barrel, 10 default adapters for various brands of laptops, 4 extra adapters for other laptops, K2 user manual, and an extra piece of paper explaining the extra adapters are used for Dell, Lenovo and Asus laptops, as well as providing some info on overcurrent and low current protection. There’s also a pouch bag to transport the power bank with an extra pocket for accessories.

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We can learn a lot more by checking out the user manual like it takes 6 to 8 hours to fully, the battery is good for 1,000 charging cycles, and we cannot use 12V and 20V outputs at the same time. The power bank will automatically turn off after 30 seconds if there is no load or a load under the minimal current. It can also be used while charging.

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The other side of the user manual explains more about the usage to charge smartphones, 12V cameras, and laptops. Al lyou have to do it to connect the cable, and press the power button. It also describes which adapter is suitable for a given laptops. It appears the power bank can be used for laptops with 16V to 20V, I’m not sure how different voltage levels are handled since there’s no selection.

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The power bank weight around 1.3 kg in its pouch, accessories and power supply not included, so it’s like you carry an extra laptop with you.

I’ll report charging and discharging numbers with various devices in a separate post, and also quickly check if it can be used as a UPS or backup battery for batteryless devices, but it’s not advertised as such, so it may not work for that purpose.

MAXOAK K2 laptop power bank is sold for $135.99 on Amazon US, as well as eBay. You may also be able to find more info on maxoak’s website.

Categories: Hardware, Testing Tags: battery, laptop, review

Rikomagic R1 Android Projector Review – Part 1: Unboxing and Teardown

March 27th, 2017 5 comments

Rikomagic R1 Android mini projector runs Android 4.4 on Rockchip RK3128 quad core processor, and the company sent me a sample for review, so today I’ll first do an unboxing, and partial teardown, before testing the projector in more details in the second part of the review.

Rikomagic R1 Projector Unboxing

The projector comes with a white package marked RKM R1.

The bottom of the package indicated its unsurprisingly based on Texas Instruments DLP technology with a LED light, and is equipped with a touch panel and a battery.

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More importantly, there’s a QR code that links to R1 Setup Guide, which for once will be useful, as this device has some unique features.

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The projector ships with a 5V/2.5A power supply, an IR remote control, a HDMI cable, a tripod, and an adapter to make the interface between the projector box and the tripod.

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The top of the device has a touch area, the front comes with the projector and plenty of ventilation holes. One of the sides features opening for speakers, and the other the power button, a reset pinhole likely use for firmware recovery, and a wheel to manually adjust focus. The rear panel includes a micro SD slot, the IR receiver window, a 3.5mm headphone jack, HDMI input, two USB ports, and the power jack.

The tripod and adapter feels a little flimsy, but it does the job. It’s easy to assemble, and to adjust to your needs.

There are two locations to screw the tripod to the adapter, and it’s also possible to mount the projector on the tripod to project the image on the ceiling.

Rikomagic R1 Projector Teardown

RKM R1 is the second Android projector I review, and with the first one I miserably failed to teardown Doogee P1, so I was quite motivated to succeed with R1 projector. The problem is that it was not easy. There are four rubber pad on the bottom of the case, but no screws underneath. I eventually figured out I had to take the top cover using a sharp to lift it up at at least two of the corners, and work my way under the cover with an old credit card to peel it off.

At this stage, we can see the touch panel board is called JSX-TP15 and comes with two chips: Elan Micro EM78F611 USB Flash MCU, and eKTF2135EAW which should be a Touch Sensor IC from Elan. We can also see the projector comes with a fan to cool the projector.

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The next step is to cover the second cover. First I tried to do that on the corners but just damaged the box a bit doing so. So finally, I just pulled the cover with my hand using the rectangle area in the middle.

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We’ve got the project on the bottom left, right on the left of the fan. The Rockchip processor and memory (1GB) are covered by some sort of black heatsink, so we still have plenty to ICs to checkout starting with Ampak AP6330 module for 802.11 b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 LE connectivity. Sandisk SDTNSGAMA-016GM NAND flash gives us 16Gbit (2GB) storage a far cry from the 32GB flash promised, but more on that latter. Other ICs include GL850G USB hub, Texas Instruments DRV632 audio stereo line driver, MSTAR MST6M182VG-LF-Z1 “video processing IC”, Terawins T113AI visual processor with 24-bits TTL, single/dual LVDS, serial RGB output… and for the projector part: DLP DPP2607 DLP PICO processor combined with Winbond W948D6FBHX5E 256 Mbit SDRAM. So it appears that both T113A and the MSTAR IC are used to convert the video signal from the Rockchip processor to make it compatible with the DLP chip.

I loosened 6 screws to try to take out of the board completely, but the battery is firmly attached to the case, and it was also require disconnecting the DLP projector part, so I did not go further, especially there’s only one noticeable IC on the other side of the board: another Sandisk SDTNSGAMA-016GM NAND flash.


This brings to total storage to 32 Gbit, meaning there’s just 4GB storage, not 32GB as previously advertised. [Update: Android shows two partitions: one 1.91 GB, one 25.5 GB, so it seems the info on Internet about the NAND flash having 16Gbit capacity is wrong, and it’s 16GB, with a total of 32 GB (Gigabyte) as advertised]

Since time I was not entirely confident I could put everything together without issue, but finally it works fine.

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Brightness is not that strong so you’ll need a failry dark room to use. I quickly use the touch panel on the top, and it’s just fantastic, no need to connect a mouse or install an Android app like I had to do with Doogee P1. But we’ll find out a bit more about the details in the second part of the review.

I’d like to thank Rikomagic for sending a review sample. Resellers can inquire the company to purchase in quantities via the product page, while individuals can purchase the projector for around $246 shipped with DHL on Aliexpress.

NanoPi NEO 2 Board, NanoHats, and BakeBit Starter Kit Review – Part 1: Hardware Overview & Assembly

March 26th, 2017 23 comments

NanoPi NEO 2 development board is an update of NanoPi NEO with a quad core 64-bit Allwinner H5 processor + 512 MB RAM, Gigabit Ethernet, and an extra audio header, which can be a great little board for headless application since there’s no video output. FriendlyELEC ask me whether I wanted to review to board with some of their NanoHATs add-on boards, and while I asked for NanoHat PCM5102A audio board and NEO Hub which I intended to use with Grove modules from my Wio Link Started Kit, I get a bit more than expected, as the company included sets of NEO 2 boards and accessories, NanoHATs, two serial debug board, and their BakeBit Starter Kit with several Grove modules to play with.

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Since I have so many things to look at in this first post, I’ll just describe the hardware, assemble it, quickly check the paper documentation, and give some of my impressions about the kit I receive.

Let’s start with NanoPi NEO 2. It’s super tiny, as exactly the same forum factor as NanoPi NEO, except for the low profile Ethernet jack.

The bottom side comes with Allwinner H5 processor SoC, and Samsung K4B4G1646E-BYK0 DDR3L memory (512MB), while the top of the board features Realtek RTL8211E Gigabit Ethernet Transceiver. The board just has four ports/connectors: a micro SD slot, a micro USB port for power, a USB 2.0 host port, and an RJ45 connector.

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There are also two headers (2x 12 pin + 12x pin) for I/O just like for the first NEO board, as well as an extra 5-pin header for audio on the right of the 4-pin UART header. The audio header is also present on NanoPi NEO v1.3 board, but not the older boards. See pinout table for details.

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Each package with the board also includes a Quick Start Guide describing the board, and explaining how to use the company’ Ubuntu Core + Qt image. As you can see from the photo above, the boards also make great paper weights, but I’m sure you’ll find something more interesting to do with them… 🙂

I also get a heatsink + thermal pads + screws and nuts kit, not included by default. Installation is very easy. First remove the two protective plastic sheets on the blue thermal pad, place it on Allwinner H5 processor, and then add the heatsink on top and secure it with the screws and nuts. Just make sure you orientate properly without covering the IO pins.

I did that for both, and checked possible combinations for those who want to build NanoPi NEO (2) farms. The first combination is to place the boards in opposite direction, and then use some spacers (mine were not suitable) to hold both boards in place as shown here.

The configuration above takes the less space, however, you may want to have all Ethernet ports on the same side, and the low profile Ethernet jack allows for a more compact design compared to what was possible with NanoPi NEO.

This takes about 5 x 4.5 x 4 cm, so if we round that up you could have 1 meter x 1 meter x 4.5 cm deep cluster with 800 NanoPi boards (3,200 cores). You’d just have to find out how to power and cool it down… The 512MB memory might limit use cases for clusters. FriendlyELEC also sells an acrylic case for 8 board clusters.

The main use case for NanoPi NEO (2) board is probably IoT and electronics projects, so I soldered the two headers which are provided with the board (inside the package).

First I thought I made a mistake when I installed the heatsink first, but actually the nuts help keep the headers in place while soldering, so I did not have to use a sponge to push the headers while soldering, as I normally do.


NanoPi NEO 2 boards are now ready. So let’s checkout the two add-on board I got: NanoHAT PCM5102A audio board with Texas Instruments PCM5102A audio stereo DAC,  stereo audio output via RCA connectors, and an IR receiver, as well as NEO Hub (aka NanoHAT Hub) with 12 Grove connectors (I2C, Digital I/O, Analog Inputs, UART)  compatible with Seeed Studio offerings.

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NEO Hub also includes an unpopulated SPI header.

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The NanoHats sit on top of NEO (2) board, and you can still connect the UART to TTL debug board if you need to access the serial console. NanoHat PCM5102A also comes with 2x RCA to 3.5mm female jack to connect headphones or speakers.

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Since NanoHats includes male headers, it’s also possible to stack them.

In some ways, NanoPi NEO (2) and NanoHAT are the more powerful equivalent of Wemos D1 Mini and shields based on ESP8266, and I really like the design of both solutions.

If you already own some Seeed Studio grove modules, you just need the NEO Hub, but Bakebit Starter Kit appears to be a nice way to expereriment with all sorts of sensors, LEDs, and servo.

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There are twelve modules in total: 2 LED modules, an LED bar, on OLED display, a button, a joystick, a buzzer, an ultrasonic sensor, a servo, a potentiometer, a light sensor, and a sound sensors. The kit includes two detailed user manuals: one in good English, one in Chinese.

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The first part explains the features and interface for each module with a Wiki link, and latter on you have some easy projects with source code leveraging the NEO hub and some of the modules.

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You can also access the documentation online.

FriendlyELEC boards may be slightly more expensive than Shenzhen Xunlong’s Orange Pi boards, but documentation appears to be clearly a step or two ahead, and they have an ecosystem of modules that’s currently lacking on Orange Pi boards.

Some price info about the kit I’ve received:

  • NanoPi Neo 2 board – $14.99
  • Heatsink set – $2.97
  • NanoHat PCM5102A – $9.99
  • NEO Hub – $12.99 (Not needed if you buy Bakebit Starter Kit)
  • BakeBit Starter Kit – $29.99

You’ll need to add shipping, but it’s normally only a few dollars extra for registered airmail. You’ll find additional accessories by scrolling down on NanoPi Neo 2 page on FriendlyARM store. The next step will be to install an operating system, which will be FriendlyELEC’s Ubuntu Core + Qt image, or Armbian nightly build, in order to do some basic tests and run benchmarks like I did for NanoPi NEO, and following up on that I plan to write an extra post reporting on my experience playing with NanoHat PCM5102A and Bakebit Starter Kit.

Mecool KIII Pro Hybrid STB Review – Part 2: Android Firmware, TV Center, and DVB-T2 & DVB-S2 App

March 22nd, 2017 37 comments

Last year I reviewed K1 Plus T2 S2, an Android TV box powered by Amlogic S905 quad core processor with DVB-T2 and DVB-S2 tuner support, which worked with some caveats. VideoStrong has now send me an updated model with Amlogic S912 octa-core processor, which I presented in the post entitled Mecool KIII Pro Hybrid Android STB Review – Part 1: Specs, Unboxing and Teardown, where I listed the specifications, and showed photos of the device and the boards (main board + tuner board). I’ve now had time to play with the device, and in many respects the user experience is very similar to the one I got with KI Plus T2 S2 models, but there are also some tweaks, and a few bugs which I’ll report in the second part of the review below.

KIII Pro Hybrid TV Box Setup, Settings, & Power Consumption

The four USB ports are really convenient, as I could connect a USB hard drive, an air mouse, a wireless game pad, and a USB keyboard without the need for a USB hub. I also connected the usual Ethernet and HDMI cable, plus the cable from my Satellite dish to the DVB-S2 F connector, and the cable from my roof antenna to the DVB-T2 coaxial connector.

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Once we connect the power, the device boots automatically, and usually takes under 30 seconds to do so. The launcher is pretty much the same as KI Plus TV box.

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So I won’t go through it in details again, and will only comment on one change. Kodi is gone and been replaced by something called “TV Center”. So I clicked on it, and it showed a famous Chinese proverb “The installation isn’t installed!”. So I went to the list of apps, and click on TV CENTER, which will do the installation of this mysterious app.

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Once it’s done I can click on TV Center, and the user interface looks familiar.

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So that means they made some modifications to Kodi 17, and change the name to comply with the trademark requirements.

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The TV Center installation also automatically added some add-ons as shown in the screenshot below.

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The Setting app is exactly the same as for other recemt Amlogic TV boxes, and there’s nothing specific to DVB, so I’ll mostly skip it (If you want to see check out Qintaix Q912 review), except to show Storage & USB section that reveals 634 MB is used out of 16.00 GB. That’s obviously a fake number, and it should be around 11 to 12 GB, but the company may have chosen to do so to avoid some customer’s complains that there’s not 16GB storage, as they don’t understand the OS take places on the flash.

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It also shows NTFS and exFAT file systems are supported, but not EXT-4, nor BTRFS.

The About section shows the model is indeed KIII pro running Android 6.0.1 on top of Linux 3.14.29. The firmware is rooted by default.

OTA update appears to be supported, but at the time of the review, there was no update available.

I tested the provide IR remote by adding two AA batteries, and it works well up to 10 meters. For most other TV boxes, I’d recommend to use an air mouse, bu in the case of KIII Pro, you’ll need to keep using the remote control in order to support DTV app for DVB-S2/DVB-T2 properly, maybe switching to an air mouse or wireless keyboard + touchpad for some other Android apps. One recurring issue in most TV boxes is still present in KIIIPro however: the mouse cursor is rather small when you set your TV to 4K resolution.

I could install all apps I needed through Google Play, and Amazon Underground without issues.

The set-top box has only two power modes: off or on, and there’s no standby mode. I can turn the device on or off using the IR remote control or the power button.

Power consumption is pretty high in power off, as I tested different options with or without the USB hard drive, but I found a lot of variability with testing:

  • Power off – Test 1: 5.1 Watt; Test 2: 2.2  Watts; Test 3: 3.1 Watts
  • Idle – 7.2 Watts, then 4.3 Watts (2nd try)
  • Power off + HDD – Test 1: 5.1 Watt; Test 2: 2.2  Watts; Test 3: 3.1 Watts
  • Idle + HDD – 9.3 Watts then 8.1 Watts (2nd try)

The good news is that USB ports are turned off in power off mode, so at least the extra power consumption does not come from those ports.

Temperature is a little higher than other boxes, but I’ve not encounter massive CPU throttling during my tests. After playing a 2-hour video the maximum top and bottom temperatures as measured with an IR thermometer were respectively 53°C and 57°C, while after playing Riptide GP2 for about 15 to 20 minutes the temperatures were 51°C and 57°C, but I did not notice any lower framerate in the game as the time went on. I quickly started CPU-Z after quitting the game, and the reported temperature in the app was a high 89°C, so in some conditions performance degradation due to high temperature might be possible, I just did not experience it during my tests. FYR, room temperature was around 30 °C during testing.

KIII Pro Android firmware feels very much like any other Amlogic S912/S905X TV boxes, and it was responsive without any critical bugs. The only small annoyances were the somewhat loud music during the boot animation, the small cursor at 4K resolution, and the relatively high power consumption in power off mode.

Video & Audio Tests with TV Center (Kodi), and DRM Info

As we’ve seen in the section above, Kodi is not installed per se, but instead the box comes with an installer for a fork of Kodi 17.0-RC3 called TV Center.

I enabled “Adjust display refresh rate” in Kodi settings,and started by playing 4K video over Ethernet from a Linux SAMBA share:

  • HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 – Not always smooth
  • sintel-2010-4k.mkv – OK
  • Beauty_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) –  OK
  • Bosphorus_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) – OK
  • Jockey_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_TS.ts (H.265) – OK
  • MHD_2013_2160p_ShowReel_R_9000f_24fps_RMN_QP23_10b.mkv (10-bit HEVC, 24 fps) – OK
  • phfx_4KHD_VP9TestFootage.webm (VP9) – OK
  • BT.2020.20140602.ts (Rec.2020 compliant video) – OK
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_30fps.mp4 – OK
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_60fps.mp4 – The video plays in slow motion and audio delays (NB: 4K H.264 @ 60 fps is not supported by S912 VPU)
  • Fifa_WorldCup2014_Uruguay-Colombia_4K-x265.mp4 (4K, H.265, 60 fps) – OK
  • Samsung_UHD_Dubai_10-bit_HEVC_51.4Mbps.ts (10-bit HEVC / MPEG-4 AAC) – OK
  • Astra-11479_V_22000-Canal+ UHD Demo 42.6 Mbps bitrate.ts (10-bit H.265 from DVB-S2 stream) – OK
  • 暗流涌动-4K.mp4 (10-bit H.264; 120 Mbps) – Plays at around 1 to 2 fps (expected since it relies software decode as S912 VPU does not support 10-bit H.264)
  • Ducks Take Off [2160p a 243 Mbps].mkv (4K H.264 @ 29.97 fps; 243 Mbps; no audio) – USB hard drive playback: Not smooth as on all other Amlogic TV boxes.
  • tara-no9-vp9.webm (4K VP9 YouTube video @ 60 fps, Vorbis audio) – OK
  • The.Curvature.of.Earth.4K.60FPS-YT-UceRgEyfSsc.VP9.3840×2160.OPUS.160K.webm (4K VP9 @ 60 fps + opus audio) – Plays, but not always perfectly smooth as with all Amlogic S912 TV boxes.

4K video capabilities are pretty much the same as on other Amlogic S912 TV boxes, except for HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 that was worse than usual. Automatic frame rate switching is not working again as is the case on most other S912 boxes, except MINIX NEO U9-H.

Next up I enabled HDMI audio pass-through in Kodi, and since TrueHD is not part of the list, I also enabled Dolby Digital (AC3) transcoding.

Here are the results of my tests with Onkyo TX-NR636 receiver.

Video PCM 2.0 Output
(Kodi)
PCM 2.0 Output
(MX Player / Video Player app)
HDMI Pass-through
(Kodi)
AC3 / Dolby Digital 5.1 Audio OK, but video not smooth at all OK Audio OK (Dolby D 5.1), Video not smooth
E-AC-3 / Dolby Digital+ 5.1 OK OK OK (Dolby D 5.1)
Dolby Digital+ 7.1 OK Video not smooth, and audio cuts No audio
TrueHD 5.1 OK No audio Dolby D 5.1 (transcoding)
TrueHD 7.1 OK No audio Dolby D 5.1 (transcoding)
Dolby Atmos 7.1 OK No audio Dolby D 5.1 (transcoding)
DTS HD Master OK No audio No audio and black screen
DTS HD High Resolution OK OK No audio and black screen
DTS:X OK No audio No audio and black screen

That’s pretty bad if you plan to use HDMI audio pass-through, except for Dolby Digital 5.1 / AC3. The first video has often problem on Amlogic TV boxes in Kodi, but most AC3 video should work fine. A good news is that AC3 is working via MX Player, so if you receive live TV channels with AC3 audio through the DTV app, it should be able to decode AC3 audio properly, something that was not possible in K1 Plus T2 S2.

I also played a 2-hour video to check for stability. The first time, TV CEnter app crashed with the message “Unfortunately TV Center has stopped” after about 5 minutes, and my second attempt was not completely trouble free either, as the video stopped at around the 50 minutes marked, and the system went back to TV Center UI, but I could select the video again, was offered to resume from 49:21, and it could play until the end.

KIII Pro supports Widevine Level 3 DRM. That means no Netflix HD like on most competing Android media players.

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DTV App for DVB-S/S2 and DVB-T/T2

Now to the most important features of KIII Pro hybrid set-top box: DVB-T/T2 and DVB-S/S2 tuner support. The box is using the same DTV app as on K1 Plus T2 S2 with only minor modifications. The first time you launch the app, you should get the following message indicating there aren’t any channels yet, and asking you to scan for channels.

Once you agree, you’ll be ask to select DVB S/S2 or DVB T/T2.

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I’ve gone with the latter first, and I’ll redirect you to the post entitled “How to Configure DVB-S2 and DVB-T2 Tuners in K1 Plus Android DTV Receiver” since the procedure is the same. I got 26 channels for my T2 scan, but somehow I got 30 channels on K1 Plus T2 S2. So I went to check the settings, and this time the Area Setting was already set to Thailand, either automatically, or it was done before sending the device.

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Anyway I could watch both HD and SD channels without any problems, and signal strength are quality are both at 100% or close to it all the time.

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The EPG looks exactly the same, and it still has problems with Thai encoding or font.

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But before testing other features, let’s configure our satellite dish. Press the Menu key on the remote control, select Installation,

and then DVB S/S2.

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You’ll be able to select your satellite from a list, or define your own as I showed in K1 Plus T2 S2 setup guide and review. I did not show Motor Settings last time, so I’ve taken two screenshots one showing DiSEQc 1.2 support…

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… and the other USALS support. I have not tested either since I don’t own a motorized satellite dish.

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Once you are happy with the setting go to Multi Scan menu to see your satellite list, and press the Blue button on the remote control to start scanning.

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I got 25 TV channels and 7 radios after selecting a Blind Scan and FTA (free-to-air) channels only. Last year, I got 55 TV channels and 5 radio with the same “Thaicom2” satellite. Go figure… Signal strength and quality are quite lower in my case at around 55% and 50% respectively. There are some channels without signal, just as with K1 Plus T2 S2.

One nice improvement is that you don’t need to select between DVB-T2 or DVB-S2 when you start DTV app, as all your channels are shown in the list.

I tried EPG scheduling to start playback or record video, and it works exactly like before.

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So  I setup a few “timers, and watched a DVB-T2 channel live, and one minute before a schedule recording on MONEY channel (DVB-S2) the following window overlaid the video:

I did not press any button, and one the count down expire, it switched to MONEY channel automatically (good), and I got the message “recording complete” (bad). I could reproduce this bug several times. I noticed if I schedule a recording on a channel, and stay on that channel it will work fine.

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You can see the list of recording above on my USB hard drive with some started manually (REC key on remote), and several scheduled. All the 0 bytes videos are due to the bug described above. So schedule does not work 100% reliably. However I noticed different current times (shown in top right of EPG) with different channels, for example it was 13:10 on a DVB-T2 channels, and 13:18 on a DVB-S2 channel, so this might explain some of the issues.. Please note that if you schedule program, and turn off the box, it won’t automatically start to record, and some comments in case try to run DTV app in the background and do other things. The DTV app must run in foreground in other to record videos.

I was more lucky with TimeShifting. Pressing the play/pause key on the remote control, will ask you to select a storage device, and you’ll be able to pause and play live TV within a default 5 minutes period, but this is adjustable in the settings. Note that you need external storage, as this won’t work from the flash.

Advanced users will be able to access CCcam, BISS, and PowerVU setting, by pressing the Menu key, selecting Installation and DVB S/S2, and from there enter 111111 on the remote (6 times character 1) to access Smart Data Manager menu.

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I have not done a video again since it’s so similar to the previous model, with just a few minor changes to the user interface, and if you want to check out DTV app into more details, I invite you to watch K1 Plus T2 S2 video review.

Networking (WiFi & Ethernet)

I’ve checked WiFi performance by transferring a 278 MB file between a SAMBA share and the internal flash (and vice versa) using ES File Explorer. I’ve only tried 802.11ac (connected @ 265 Mbps) , and again performance was asymmetric with the download @ 3.70 MB/s and upload @ 1.44 MB/s, and average @ 2.1 MB/s which makes it similar to other recent Amlogic TV boxes.

Throughput in MB/s

However, last time I reviewed MINIX NEO U9-H which had disappointing WiFi results with the same tests, as it was much slower than MINIX NEO U1 despite ahving the same WiFi module and overall system setup. MINIX them showed me their own tests with different routers showing similar performance between NEO U1 and NEO U9-H, so Amlogic may have completely blown up their SAMBA implementation in their Android 6.0 SDK (NEO U1 runs Android 5.0, U9-H runs Android 6.0).

For that reason, I also tested 802.11ac download speed using iperf “download” test:

That’s 216 Mbps (~27 MB/s) with a raw TCP transfer, and while SAMBA is not supposed to be the fastest network protocol, performance should not drop as low as 3.7 MB/s (over 7 times slower) for the SAMBA download unless something is really wrong.

I also tested Gigabit Ethernet with iperf but using a dual duplex test, and performance is fine.

Doing a SAMBA download over Gigabit Ethernet gets a 885 MB file transfer in 59 seconds (15 MB/s) to the internal flash, which is pretty much normal. So it looks like the issues occur when combining WiFi with SAMBA. SAMBA performs fine with Ethernet, and WiFi raw TCP transfer speed is OK.

Storage

KIII Pro supports exFAT, NTFS, and FAT32 file systems, but not EXT-4 and BTRFS. Benchmarks with A1SD bench shows you should avoid exFAT to record videos with the DTV app, as write speed is rather low (1.35 MB/s), and the write speed (156.09 MB/s) is just incorrect as it is what triggered the “Cached read” in the screenshot below.

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That means your only option is to use NTFS for external storage if you want to support larger video files. Performance is good at 44.43 MB/s for read speed, and  16.74 MB/s write speed.

The eMMC flash (“SD card” in screenshot) performance is not outstanding, but at 41.34 MB/s (read) and 18.29 MB/s (write) is good enough for the system to boot fast, and feel responsive at all times.

KIII Pro Benchmarks

CPU-Z correctly reports an octa-core ARM Cortex A53 processor @ up to 1.51 GHz with an ARM Mali-T860 GPU. Model KIII Pro is using q20x board, and the pp shows with 2825 MB total RAM, and 11.87 GB internal storage (the real value, but the 16GB shows in Android settings).

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Since I’ve reviewed so many Amlogic S912 TV boxes, and only ran Antutu 6.x benchmark to make sure there was no hidden issue, and the 40,330 points achieved by the TV box is within the normal range.

Conclusion

KIII Pro comes with typical performance and flaws of other Amlogic S912 TV boxes, with Android 6.0 firmware working well, TV Center (Kodi 17 fork) playing 4K videos relatively well, supporting DD 5.1 pass-through, but not the full range of audio codec, and lacking support for automatic frame rate switching. The device is however unique thanks to its dual tuner with DVB-T/T2 and DVB-S/S2 inputs, and the DTV app is about the same as on the previous model (K1 Plus T2 S2), but merges channels from both sources instead of having to choose at launch. Sadly some of the same bugs and shortcomings linger such as font encoding issues, and inablity to run PVR process in the background.

PROS

  • Stable and Responsive Android 6.0 firmware
  • Decent 4K video playback in TV Center (Kodi fork)
  • Support for Dolby Digital 5.1 (AC3) HDMI pass-through and downmixing in all apps
  • DVB-S/S2 & DVB-T/T2 support via DTV app with timershifting, EPG, and PVR support
  • Good 802.11ac WiFi and Ethernet performance
  • OTA firmware update (App is there, but not fully tested as no new firmware available during the review)

CONS (and Bugs)

  • DVB issues and shortcomings:
    • DVB S/S2 signal strength and quality is only around 50 to 55% (on my setup and for others too), which could lead to problems get signals for some channels
    • Thai font encoding issues
    • In some conditions, scheduled recordings will start on time, but stop immediately resulting in an empty video.
    • PVR function does not work in background, so the DTV app must be on the foreground at all time, and the box cannot be turned off when using schedules/timers.
  • HDMI audio pass-through not working (in TV Center) for Dolby Digital+ 7.1, TrueHD and DTS / DTS-HD
  • Automatic frame rate switching is not working in Kodi
  • Potential instability issues with TV Center – The 2-hour video test failed twice: 1st time: crash after 5 minutes; 2nd time the video stopped after about 50 minutes, but I could resume. N.B.: I did not experience other crashes while testing video samples.
  • Mediocre WiFi + SAMBA performance like in other S905X/S912 TV boxes with Android 6.0.
  • Relatively high power consumption (2.2 to 5.1 Watts) in power off mode
  • While I have not noticed obvious CPU or GPU throttling during my tests, temperature does get high (89 °C reported in CPU-Z)
  • Minor issues – Very small mouse pointer @ 4K resolutions, loud music during boot logo

Finally, I also have a user-friendliness remark. If you are just going to use TV Center and DTV app, the provided IR remote control will do, but if you are going to also use other Android apps, I normally recommend to replace the IR remote control with an air mouse. It’s not really possible/practical with KIII Pro, as DTV app has been designed around the IR remote control with keys such as MENU, PVR, REC, EPG… That means you’ll need juggle with both the IR remote control and an air mouse in order to fully enjoy all capabilities of the device. It would be really nice if VideoStrong could come up with an (optional) air mouse with keyboard that also supports DTV app.

Resellers and distributors may inquire Videostrong via their Alibaba page to purchase KIII Pro in quantities. Individuals can purchase KIII Pro Android set-top box on  GearBest ($117.99), Aliexpress ($141 and up), Banggood ($133.99), and other online retailers.

Xtream Codes IPTV Panel 2.4.2 Review – Part 4: Tutorial to Change the Main Server, Backup & Restore the Database

March 20th, 2017 3 comments

This is the fourth part of a review about Xtream Codes IPTV Panel, software to become your own content provider, and manage streams, clients, and resellers. The first three parts:

  1. Review of Xtream-Codes IPTV Panel Professional Edition – Part 1: Introduction, Initial Setup, Adding Streams…
  2. Xtream Codes IPTV Panel Review – Part 2: Movie Data Editing, Security, Resellers, Users and Pricing Management
  3. Xtream-Codes IPTV Panel Review – Part 3: Updates and New Features for Version 2.4.2

Main Server Change – Part 1: New Server

Changing your Main Server could bring you troubles, if you do not know what you are doing. Many different reasons to change the Main server such as  crashes, new one. making a Load Balancer to be a Main Server…

Remember, it’s all about the existing backup, and you’ll restore your backup later, after successfully changing the Main Server. That is not difficult and everybody can do it. But if you install your backup with your former configurations-Servers etc, it will need some corrections after the backup install is finish, and for example all your Clients, Servers ( and your Old Main Server) will be in again after you install your backup.

I’ll try to explain what that’s all about and show different examples.

  1. Changing the Main Server sounds and looks pretty easy, piece of cake, right?

But let me tell you, it’s not! Be absolutely sure about what you are doing before. We start with “Manage Server” left side in the Panel.

Then you scroll down to the end and you’ll see this:

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Warning: Make sure that you took all necessary steps before you press this button, all will be gone in a flash… BEFORE YOU Press MAIN SERVER CHANGE

Step 1: Do a Manuel Backup; this is still possible, since Xtream-Codes thought it would be a good idea to take the manually install Backup-Button off the road, for later installing your FULL BACKUP again by yourself!. NOT A GOOD IDEA, Xtream-Codes!

Step 2: Do a fresh automated backup on Xtream-Servers.

  • Database Manager—Remote Backup Now

Step 3: Take your time to think about your scenario! What do you want to do? Changing to a brand new Main? Formatted the old one only? Making an Existing Load balancer Main now? You see? Different procedures. It needs different preparing on this step of the game.

You have to think about the existing BACKUP, with all your clients and streams in, right? Or you want to loose them? I guess not. Again, think about, that the backup and later installing of your backup contains all your streams, clients etc…but also the old Server configurations.

Have also your ROOT ACCESS from the Panel at hand, because after pressing the CHANGE-Main Button…it happened a few times, that I could not login anymore in the CMS without root user/pass. You can find this Root USER/PASS in your Client Area WHMCS with Xtream-Codes,

Click My SERVICES—-

Press this then after:

And you see all what you need after:

We now change the Main to a NEW ONE:

After pressing the Button

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A warning pops up, asking, “Are you Sure”?

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We press OK! Seat belt on, and then this should come (In former versions I was simply getting kicked out the CMS, and have to login with Root user/pass only, Admins could not. This seemed to be fixed to a friendlier follow up now…)

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Now you put your NEW MAIN’s IP and SSH ROOT Password in, also your MYSQL ROOT Password, if any. If you are not sure, then in most cases simply put your ROOT SSH in again. Also, check the SSH Port, standard is Port 22, except if you changed it before. Don’t care about the rest now; you can change it later easily. Your New MAIN SERVER will install now, if all necessary data’s was right. And after a couple of Minutes, your New Main is installed

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After Installation of your NEW Main is finished, you want to restore the backup. Like I said, Xtream-Codes gives you right now (Sure that they will bring it up again) only the choice to install a Remote Backup from Xtream Codes Servers. To do this, you do as follows: Go DATABANK Manager and you see all your Remote Backups

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Right click the curved red and green arrow (load Backup), and after you choose your Remote Backup, this shows up:

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Press OK, and you see that Databank with all your Values is restored.

NEXT STEP, like I mentioned already above: after your Backup is installed, you will see, that your former OLD MAIN SERVER seems to be installed again! YOU HAVE TO GO ‘EDIT-SERVER…EDIT MAIN… and CORRECT IP AND SSH! This will do it then!.

And after successful installing the new Main (if he is a brand new one) , and installing the Backup then after, you Main will show the former IP of your Main, cause he was still in the installed backup in!

No problem at all, simply go edit Main-Server, insert again IP and SSH Root Password, and right SSH port, commonly Port 22, if you don’t changed it in your New Main.

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It also appears that your Load Balancers need a FULL REMAKE

PRESS FULL REMAKE ALL LB’s

AFTER PRESS FULL REMAKE ALL LOAD BALANCERS, HERE WE GO

It is possible, that you have to have to repeat this action with remaking all Load balancers. But be assured, it will work.

This was Part 1 of CHANGING the MAIN SERVER. I guess you know, what follows later, the little bit more complicated procedure of Changing The Main under different scenarios:

  1. We make an existing Load balancer to a NEW MAIN
  2. The preparation to do this

Changing Main Server – Part 2: Convert Load Balancer to Main Server

Scenario: We want a running Load balancer as a new Main Server! The right now “running” Main we want to send in retirement, right? This example requires that you have a few Load Balancers up and running. In case you have only 2 dervers in total, it’s not so complicated at all. Like I said above, each scenario is different. There are Admins with 20 or more Load balancers, and there are small ones, with 2 or 3 in total.

Do exactly Step by Step as follows, no twisting, no turning, no upside down please.. 🙂

Step 1: You go to TOOLS left Side, and transfer temporarily all streams from the future Main Server to another Load balancer of your choice! That’s how I have done it, not sure it will work later if you go another way, letting the streams on the future Main (the Server is a LB right now), but we have to delete this Server later out of the Panel configuration to make him Main! Reason: After we push the Remote-Backup back in, he will appear as a Load balancer again, and we can’t make him a Main Server without deleting him in the Panel.

Go exactly this way right from the start! NO REMOTE BACKUP BEFORE!! (Still hope that Xtream-Codes will implement the old feature back in soon, because not many can handle phpmyadmin, to implement a databank backup by their own later, or they should put a “hint or kind of warning” in before, something like Remote Backup now? Just in case the Admin forget it! Remember also, that the cron job “Remote Backup” is only once each 24 hours, so better do this manually Remote Backup before.)

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In general, a good idea in safety reason, the Remote Backup’s, it is a way more safe then before. Here we go now:

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After you’ve transferred your Main Server’s streams to another server, check first, the Main is really empty, it will need sometimes 1 or 2 or more minutes, depending of the quantity of your transferred streams. Now we have an empty Main, it’s the one, we do not need anymore after.

We have also to transfer the streams from the Load balancer we want as a NEW MAIN, making him completely empty. No streams on it. We do the same with the Load balancer we want as Main now! We are transferring his streams to another Load balancer the same way we have done before with the Main who has to go.

Step 2:

We do a REMOTE BACKUP after we transferred all streams, and to be on the safe side, a manual Backup to your Computer as well. First you press BACKUP DATABASE (the Backup File will load down to your computer), and direct after, we press REMOTE BACKUP NOW (Backup is loaded into Xtream Codes Server).

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Step 3:

We go MANAGE SERVER and at the bottom we see Main-Server-Change again:

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Let’s summarize what we have done.

  1. We have the Main and the future MAIN now with no Streams on it
  2. We are still in the process to change our Main Server
  3. Backups are already made (we are with an empty Main Server and an empty Load balancer right now)
  4. We have all our necessary data’s, IP and SSH Root Pass from the Load Balancer we want to put as a New Main. Login data’s ROOT for our CMS, just in case…

After that, we go MANAGE SERVERS-EDIT SERVER-DELETE SERVER.

We delete the Load balancer we want as NEW MAIN. Now we can press the Button Main Server Change.

Click to Enlarge

All necessary follow up’s standing already in Part 1 above!

We are ready to go!

  • Just in case you forgot or out of whatever reason you prefer to do a manually “load” of your saved databank backup, it’s also possible with phpmyadmin later.
  • In case you cannot do, open a ticket, XC is happy to help you out!
  • Don’t forget, Xtream-Codes support is not open 24/7!
  • And one of the most important last steps, after successfully installed the new Main, don’t forget to switch the old former MAIN OFF!
  • Switch him off, or make a new install! and sure you have to sort out your streams later, balancing them again.
  • In all other cases, like you have only 2 Servers, the procedure is similar and not complicated, cause of your limited streams, and clients. This example was written in case you got a few more Load Balancers running.
  • Don’t hesitate to open a ticket in case you are in trouble, Xtream Codes will help you in any cases.

I hope this little How-To helps you guys a little.

Ray

Mecool KIII Pro Hybrid Android STB Review – Part 1: Specs, Unboxing and Teardown

March 13th, 2017 31 comments

K1 Plus T2 S2 review has been a popular post on CNX Software, as many people tried to improve their experience with the device. VideoStrong has just send an updated version of their DVB-T2 + DVB-S2 TV box with Mecool KIII Pro octa-core Hybrid STB powered by an Amlogic S912 processor combined with 3 GB RAM and 16GB storage, and the same dual tuner configuration. I’ve started the review by posting some pictures of the hardware, inside out, before reporting my experience with Android, especially the DTV part, in a few weeks.

KIII Pro Specifications

  • SoC –  Amlogic S912 octa core ARM Cortex-A53 @ up to 1.5 GHz with  Mali-T820MP3 GPU
  • System Memory – 3 GB DDR3
  • Storage – 16GB eMMC flash + micro SD card slot up to 32GB
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0a up to 4K @ 60Hz with support for HDR10 and HLG, and 3.5mm AV (composite video) jack
  • Audio Output – HDMI, AV (stereo audio), optical S/PDIF
  • Video Codecs – 10-bit H.265, and VP9 up to 4K60, H.264 up to 4K30, AVS+ up to 1080p60
  • Tuner – Combo DVB-T/T2 and DVB-S/S2 with two connectors
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, dual band 802.11 b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – 4x USB 2.0 host ports
  • Misc – Power button and LED, IR receiver
  • Power Supply –  DC 12V/12A
  • Dimensions – 130 x 120 x 32 mm
  • Weight – ~190 grams

The box runs Android 6.0 with Kodi 17 pre-installed.

KIII Pro Unboxing

I received the device in a white retail package marked “KIII Pro Octa-core Hybrid STB” and “OTT TV BOX”.

The bottom of the package has some of the specs.The set-top box ships with a 12V/1A power supply, a largish IR remote control taking two AA batteries, an HDMI cable, and a user’s manual in English.

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The enclosure is very similar to K1 Plus with the edges “smoothed” out.

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The power bottom can conveniently be found on the top cover, one side has four USB 2.0 host ports, a micro SD, and the rear panel features a DVB-T2 coaxial connector, a DVB-S2 F connector, CVBS/LR composite + stereo audio 3.5mm jack, a Gigabit Ethernet port, a HDMI 2.0a port, optical S/PDIF, and the power jack.

KIII Pro Teardown

Let’s open the thing. We’ll have to start with the bottom cover. First we’ll notice a D0:76:58 MAC address which is not registered with IEEE, but the company previously explained that it was for “localized network, and it is the only ID for empowering applications to activate, specially IPTV applications”. Then, the box can be wall-mounted via two “hooks”, which can be convenient in some use cases. Finally, there’s a recovery pinhole on the right of the sticker in order to reinstall firmware if your box does not boot anymore.

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We don’t need to remove all rubber pads, as there are two just screws holding the case together. One under the bottom left rubber pad, and one under the QC sticker, which you need to pierce through. Once we’ve removed those two screws, the box comes apart easily.


We have two boards: main board with heatsink on the CPU, and a yellow board with the tuner circuitry.

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We’ll find two SpecTek DDR3 SDRAM chips: PE029-125 (512 MB) and another chip market “512X16DDR3” (1 GB) for a total of 1.5 GB RAM on this side of the board. The flash is covered by a sticker, which I have not removed, so we’ll see how storage performs in benchmarks. Gigabit Ethernet is done using Realtek RTL8211F transceiver, and Pulse H5900L transformer, while AC WiFi  and Bluetooth LE is implemented via a module marked “KM63351412” which could be equivalent to AP6335 module found in some other devices. Other chips include GL852G USB hub, and DIO2133 audio driver. If you want to hack the board, the serial console should be available via an unpopulated 4-pin header on the bottom left of the photo above.

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The other side of the CPU board comes with a micro SD card slot, and 1.5 GB extra RAM to bring the total to 3GB. We can also see extra cooling with a thick metal plate, covered by a black sheet, itself covered by a thin plastic transparent sheet on the bottom of the enclosure.

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S2&T2_R848_REV1.2 tuner board looks very similar to KI Plus tuner board, but just upgraded from Revision 1.0 to Revision 1.2, and featuring the same Availink AVL6862TA DVB-C/T/T2 + DVB-S/S2 demodulator, but they changed Rafael Micro R848 tuner chip to R912 model, which is not documentation on Rafael Micro website yet.

If you are interested in purchasing KIII Pro in quantities, you may inquire Videostrong via their Alibaba page. Mecool KIII Pro can also be purchased online on sites such as GearBest ($117.99), which by the way currently has promotions for their 3rd anniversary, as well as several shops on Aliexpress ($141 and up) and Banggood ($133.99).

[Update: Part 2 of the review is up @ Mecool KIII Pro Hybrid STB Review – Part 2: Android Firmware, TV Center, and DVB-T2 & DVB-S2 App]

How to Control Your Air Conditioner with Raspberry Pi Board and ANAVI Infrared pHAT

March 12th, 2017 6 comments

Leon ANAVI may be a full-time software engineer, but in his spare time he has started to develop open source hardware project with the help of others and by himself. Last year, I got hold of his RabbitMax Flex HAT for Raspberry Pi, and tested it with the provided LCD display, one temperature sensor, and a Raspberry Pi 2 board. The board also featured IR receiver & transmitter, and I tried to use it with my aircon remote control, but at the time I did not find a way to do it easily, and control my TV with LIRC instead. Leon has now made a simpler, smaller, and cheaper add-on board for Raspberry Pi Zero, and other Raspberry Pi boards with a 40-pin header, with 3x I2C headers, two IR transmitters, and one IR receiver. He sent me a sample of “ANAVI Infrared pHAT”, and after quickly describing the board, I’ll show how to I could control my air conditioner with a Raspberry Pi 2 board and his Infrared pHAT.

ANAVI Infrared pHAT

The top of the has the 3x I2C header for 3.3V sensors, a UART header to access to serial console, two x 5mm IR transmitters (IR LEDs), and one IR receiver (IR photo sensor). It also has an EEPROM to store the HAT ID.

Click to Enlarge

The other side comes with the 40-pin female header to connect to your Raspberry Pi board.

The board was designed with KiCAD, and the hardware design files are released under a “Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States” License on github.

ANAVI Infrared pHAT Connection to Raspberry Pi Board

There’s only one step: insert the board on the 40-pin connector of your RPi board. You can only make one mistake, inserting it the wrong way. It has to be connected in away that it covers part of the board.

I’ve connect it with a Raspberry Pi 2 board with a battery kit, but it fits even better on the Raspberry Pi Zero, or newly released Raspberry Pi Zero W.

Setting up Raspberry Pi, and Controlling the Air Conditioner with LIRC

It’s time to start software setup in order to control the Haier air conditioner pictured below.

You’ll need to install Raspbian, and some packages including LIRC, but I’ve already explained how to do that in RabbitMax Flex Getting Started Guide, so I’m not going to repeat those steps here, especially you can find them in ANAVI Infrared pHAT user’s manual too, and I’ll assume you have already setup your board.

The reason why I could record IR commands from my TV remote control, and not my aircon remote control last time around, is because aircon remotes send not only one byte but also status info each time. The trick is to use mode2’s “alternative display mode” to capture pulse/space data as raw config files.

Let’s do that:

Now I faced the IR receiver and pressed the power key on the remote control:

Wow, that’s a whole bunch of numbers, but that’s exactly what we need as those are the duration of the high and low levels of the IR signal. I have repeated the same command, but capturing 4 keys: off, on, up to 29C, and down to 28C.

Then we need to edit our lircd-haier-ac.conf file manually:

Note that you need to delete the first “big number” from each captured command. For example, I had to delete “4989552” from the first capture of the power key. If you want full control, you’ll need to record all keys. You may want to read lircd.conf manual to understand parameters like aep or aeps. I used the default values, but in case it does not work for you, or works unreliably, you may have to adjust them, possibly from data obtained using an oscilloscope. I did not have such problem, and copied the file to /etc/lirc/lircd.conf:

In theory, you can restart lircd from the command line:

but in my case, I always had troubles when running irsend command:

So I had to reboot the board with sudo reboot to enable changes. Later I used the reload command (to take into account the update config) after restart, and I could avoid a reboot:

Once it’s all working, we can list the keys we’ve just defined in lircd.cong:

To turn on the aircon:

Then I was not sure what action would happen when I recorded the up key once setting the temperature. So I first set the temperature to 23C to check whether it would increment the temperature to 24C, or set it to 29C:

And the later happened, which means you need to record all temperatures you want to set, and there’s no such thing as UP and DOWN keys.

You’ll already guessed how to turning off the aircon:

Then I realized that since “29C” and “28C” commands send the temperature, it might also send the power status, and indeed I can turn on the aircon @ 28C directly with with 28C command. So instead of recording keys for your aircon, you are actually recording “scenes” which you could name “night”, “25Cfanlowswingup”, “off”, and so on. I added 25Cfanlowswingup with temperature set to 25C, fan speed set to low, and swing set to up, added it to lircd.conf, and a single command would turn on the aircon and set all those values:

Pretty neat.

While the instructions above will work with any board with IR receiver (for first time setup) and IR transmitter, you may be interested in getting ANAVI Infrared pHAT on Indiegogo for $9 plus shipping ($5 to  $7). There are also other rewards including the pHAT, I2C sensors, and debug tools. The campaign has already surpassed its funding target ($500), and delivery is planned for September 2017.

Xtream-Codes IPTV Panel Review – Part 3: Updates and New Features for Version 2.4.2

March 8th, 2017 No comments

This is the third part of Xtream-Codes IPTV Panel review. IPTV Panel Professional Edition is a software to build your own IPTV Server from scratch. It supports all common Streaming Protocols as an Input and it is powered by FFmpeg & nginx. If you have not done so already, you may consider reading the first two parts:

  1. Review of Xtream-Codes IPTV Panel Professional Edition – Part 1: Introduction, Initial Setup, Adding Streams…
  2. Xtream Codes IPTV Panel Review – Part 2: Movie Data Editing, Security, Resellers, Users and Pricing Management

Here are the major changes since Part 2:

And part of the company’s announcement of the release:

Why choose IPTV Panel Pro?

IPTV Panel is powered by many Open Source Tools. These are only few reasons why we believe our software is different from our competitors:

Stability: Our software is powered by FFmpeg to do the Restreaming & Transcoding of your streams. FFmpeg is the leading multimedia framework, able to decode, encode, transcode, mux, demux, stream, filter and play pretty much anything that humans and machines have created. It supports the most obscure ancient formats up to the cutting edge. No matter if they are designed by some standards committee, the community or a corporation.

Security: We provide an Addon who will increase the security of your Streams even more. We guarantee that it will be hard, even impossible for someone, to steal your streams.

Fast & Lightweight: We are using NGinx to serve the Streams to your Client’s, which is one of the fastest (if not the fastest) & most stable Web Server currently. Our solution can be used even in a simple VPS. Everything has been optimized & tuned.

True Load Balancer: When it comes to load balancing, the iptv panel has been made in such way that lets you add your own external servers. By adding a new external server into the current installation offers you many advantages. You can split the load, you can change the streaming flow, you can add/change servers of your Videos and much more

Statistics & Interface: We have built our solution in a way that you can find what you want fast and easy. No matter how many external servers you added, you have everything in one place, you can search, export Statistics, view Client’s Connections from one single interface.

Let’s got to work and test the new Version 2.4.2.

You will notice that the fingerprint addon is now free but it is limited to ONLY send one messages to a specific client and not massive as the pay version add-on does.

Complete Changelog: https://forum.xtream-codes.com/topic/3552-v242-released/

Before getting down-under, here are some very useful advices right in the beginning of Part 3:

Flood Setting (General Setting-Security Settings)

As you can see, the optimal setting for most users is 80 in Flood Limit, and 2 in Request Frequency. This setting will block ONLY customers with no valid or expired Lines! Their IP simply will be blocked and can be seen in BLOCK IP/CIDR Section later, where you are able to unblock as well if you want.

We also see the “XC Support ALLOW AUTO-LOGIN”. This you activate by putting YES in.

If you create a Ticket with XC Support, just tell in the Ticket your CMS Address (URL of your Panel) and inform them, that you activated Auto Login.(Don’t forget to set it to NO after your ticket is closed)

MAG BOXES and Co, like TVIP and BLOMC Boxes, Emulators, Clones and other Stalker Middleware Boxes!

Advice: Pay attention that you have the latest Firmware installed.

Many problems for inexperienced users of the Panel can occur, like the Box gets blocked, cannot load the Portal, or you do the most common mistake in choosing an image to lock the MagBox. (my opinion: inexperienced user’s should not lock the mag boxes with an image. If you have detect Reshare/IP Lock Plugin, you can lock him with IP-LOCK feature.)

Hint: Many clients are having trouble to put the Portal in their boxes, after they bought it, so I’ve included a useful video showing how to put a Portal in a MagBox for your customers.

Click to Enlarge

You can do as follows to unlock the MagBoxes:

Run on Database Manager the command:

Update: This feature was taken OFF from Xtream-Codes a couple of days ago… Not a good decision, more Tickets will be created as a result, I guess.

Look once a while into your SECURITY CENTER

Suspicious Files will be seen there, on all of your servers, as well as intruders or hacking attempts.

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The “DASHBOARD” has now the much asked for  Clients’s Connection Geo again, what we know from the older Version 1.

The meaning of the shown geographical connects is, it shows all CLOSED CONNECTIONS. (It would be more useful if it would show the actual real-time connects out of the countries, or is “show from yesterday” such important ? Maybe I am wrong..:))

Hint: After pressing the FIX & OPTIMIZE Button in Database Manager, all current so called “closed” connections are gone….(Guess, starting all over the counting of “all closed conections..still looking for a sense in this..)

Update: The function to install a manually downloaded Databank Backup is also gone now after a few more “pushed” Pre-Updates from Xtream Codes. (Opinion: Not a good idea at all! I think it has to be implemented again)

Before v.2.4.2

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And after Update to v.2.4.2

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The Clients’s Connection Geo

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The huge and most important Section of creating Sub-Resellers from a Reseller-Panel (Since Version 2.3.1)

I must say, why not before? Great idea, great feature! Giving your Reseller A the choice to create a Sub-Reseller B!

So far so good, if there would not be the pricing sector. I try to bring here light into the darkness.

Let’s start with “how to activate” this feature, for the Admin of the panel.

Here we go: MANAGE GROUP MEMBERS; edit the Group-Member of your choice

Then you see 4 Choices in Section Section SubResellers

  • Can Resellers in this Group create SubResellers
  • Credits Cost for Creating Subresellers
  • Can resellers alter the packages prices of their sub-resellers
  • Can Resellers select specific packages to assign to their subresellers

Now I will try to explain the most important part for Admin’s and also Resellers.

Who create a Sub-Reseller. The Margin, the pricing.

A lot of confusion about that, as most of the Admin’s also the Resellers’, who create a Sub-Reseller. Note: Only Reseller A can create a Sub-Reseller B, and that is then the end of the line, a Sub-Reseller can not create another Sub-Reseller.

Pricing, Margins and about Profits

We call here in the following examples with ADMIN (the Owner of the Panel), Reseller A (created from the Admin) and Sub-Reseller B (created from Reseller A).

Admin charges Reseller A with 1 Credit / 1 Euro.

Reseller A creates a Sub-Reseller B, and now Reseller A sells Credits to Sub-Reseller B, right? But for sure Reseller A wants to make a profit, remember, Reseller A pays 1Credit/1Euro already, so his created Sub-Reseller B should be charged more than 1 Euro for 1 Credit, right? The easy way for Reseller A would be to calculate in percentage, meaning: If he wants 50% Profit, he has to charge Sub-Reseller B 1.50 Euros for 1 Credit.

Other way, if the Admin charges the Reseller A 5 Euros for 1 Credit, then Reseller A could theoretically charge every price what is over his own price of 5 Euros.
Example: 1 Month – 1 Credit (Reseller A’s price is 5 Euro, he charges the Sub-Reseller B 7 Euros).

I hope that brings a little light in Reseller-SubResellers pricing politics.

Here’s what the official text says about this all:

We prepared a Subreseller system for you, and to prevent any downtime, we just applied the new system, in all the current v2.3.1 panels. If you are reading this, and you have the new version v2.3.1, you should have the new system embed.

This system gives the ability to groups where the Reseller status is ON, to be able to make their own reseller which we call subreseller.A subreseller has similar features and abilities like the Main Reseller, with the difference that his Users, Credits & Packages are being controlled by his owner.
Features

Reseller can make their own resellers (subresellers)
Resellers can remove some of the packages for their subresellers
Resellers can adjust different credit costs for any of the packages that are assigned by the administrator
Subresellers users & credits, are being controlled by the resellers who made them
Administrator can edit the permissions from the Admin Panel -> Manage Member Groups
Administrators can now edit the Packages and apply different credit costs per Reseller (the current system is per group). Now he can do both. ( Manage Registered Users -> Edit -> Assign Packages )

Reseller A sees this in his Panel:

New “TOOLS” Section (Very Useful)

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Many new features, like changing Streams DNS old2new, transfer Live-Streams from a server of your choice to another; fix Vod’s names (the VOD name should be correct and exactly match), Reset all ISPs restrictions for all your users (in case you activated IP Lock before, ex: customer at home with box on ISP A, his mobile phone on ISP B)

Update IMDB Details (needs some overhaul, not correct working in tests)

Clear different kind of Log’s, MagBox events and more.

Conclusion: Highly Useful

Movies Section

I know definitely now, like I mentioned already in Part 1 and 2, that the developers are not great fan’s with movies. There is still the almost whole range of movie editing section missing, and I would also like to see, that a Movie and a Stream could directly being assigned into a bouquet.

By the way…I never really managed to sort the categories out. Meaning that a category could be moved around of choice, up or down. At first place, at the end. And so on.

There is a section MANAGE CATEGORIES, but I must confess, I never came clear with this. Sorting categories works by pressing one “category” down, and move it up or down. Results are shown only in Magboxes later. VLC & Co? No chance at all. All mixed up. Stream Tools seemed promising, But somehow I missed here something, I guess. For me useful only in deleting streams and even mass delete is of no problem.

The ALL-NEW BOOST Setting in v. 2.4.2 (ATTN. ONLY FOR MAIN-SERVER)

To go there, MANAGE SERVERS, edit Main…Performance Settings, activate BOOST PERFORMANCE to YES.

Requirements to activate this BOOST

The Bad News: Totally EMPTY MAIN SERVER, not one single Stream on it, and no VOD, completely empty!
The good News: Before v.2.4.2 the recommendation was a 40-core Beast! You read it right, a “cheap” 40-core EMPTY Main was necessary, to enjoy the boost.

This is not necessary anymore, since update to 2.4.2! A minimum 8-core to 16-core will do the job now, if you should decide to use this boost, yhat results in more stability, and even faster stream connects, panel and on client side.

My personal recommendation is, minimum 32GB RAM with a 16-core server.

This gave me good results in extensive testings.

The ALL-NEW GUI of the Dashboard

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As we can see in the first picture, the usage of the network is continuous measured, and absolutely exact! In case of overloading your bandwidth, you will be warned about.

For Security Lovers.

As you see, with Xtream-Codes Backups Cronjob’s, you will be safe and sound, always. You even will be warned if your peer uses a HIGHLY UNSAFE cracked Panel Version v.1 with YOU BET…BACKDOORS!

Pros

  1. Amazing new features, too much to count even, everything is possible!
  2. Faster then ever, more stable then ever before
  3. Very fast reconnects of streams, with no kind of interrupts for clients.
  4. Highly flexible kind of configurations possible
  5. Compared to competitors, very cheap prices
  6. Brilliant Security settings
  7. Great and responsive Support (Thanks to Despoina and colleagues)
  8. Easy understandable GUI (if you invest a little time in the beginning)
  9. Brilliant and superfast transcoding
  10. Xtream-Codes even creates new long awaited Plugin for E2 (soon released)

Cons

  1. No assignment of streams or Vod’s direct into a bouquet till now possible
  2. Categories sections should be more flexible, regarding sorting the Lists
  3. NO REAL MOVIE EDITOR SECTION! Still….

Conclusion

Xtream-Codes is just on the jump to be a big player in the IPTV scene. It is to hope that the developers will go on and listen to the needs of their clients, like they do till now. I want to thank the Developers and the whole XC-Team for the support I received during the last months. You do an amazing job, and it was my pleasure to be a part of Xtream Codes.