Archive

Posts Tagged ‘ubuntu’

CHUWI LapBook 12.3 Apollo Lake Laptop with 2736 x 1824 Display Sells for $300 (Promo)

June 20th, 2017 2 comments

CHUWI LapBook 12.3 is a laptop powered by an Intel Celeron N3450 “Apollo Lake” processor, with 6GB RAM, 64GB storage, and a high-resolution display that ships with Windows 10 Home, and is supposed to support Ubuntu too. While the laptop was announced last April for $349, it has now started to sell for $299.99 on GearBest with coupon CHUWI123 valid for the first 100 orders only, after which you should be able to get it for $309.99 during flash sales.

Click to Enlarge

CHUWI LapBook 12.3 specifications:

  • SoC – Intel Celeron N3450 quad core “Apollo Lake” processor @ 1.1 GHz / 2.2 GHz (Burst frequency) and 12 EU Intel HD graphics 500 @ 200 MHz / 700 MHz (Burst freq.); 6W TDP
  • System Memory – 6GB DDR3
  • Storage – 64 GB eMMC flash + micro SD slot up to 128 GB + M.2 SSD up to 256 GB
  • Display – 12.3″ IPS display with 2736 x 1824 (2K) resolution; 3:2 aspect ratio
  • Video Output – 1x micro HDMI port
  • Audio – HDMI, 3.5mm audio jack, built-in stereo speakers and microphone
  • Connectivity – Dual band 802.11 b/g/n/ac WiFi, and Bluetooth 4.0. (Intel Wireless AC-3165 module)
  • Camera – 2.0 MP front-facing camera (on GearBest shown as 0.3 MP)
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 host port, 1x USB 3.0 port
  • Power Supply – 12V/2A
  • Battery – 8,000mAh / 7.6V (60.8 Wh) Polymer Li-ion battery good for about 5 to 6 hours
  • Dimensions – 300 x 223 x 16.7 mm
  • Weight – 1.44 kg; all metal body

I previously reviewed CHUWI LapBook 14.1, and was pretty happy with it, especially it would also run Ubuntu 17.04 with basically everything working. However, there are some things you cannot test as a reviewer, such as reliability and customer service, and while anecdotal, I got some feedback about problems with the keyboard and poor customer service:

I bought Chuwi 14″ Apollo Lake laptop but unfortunately it had “well known” defect on the keyboard (keys stop working). It’s been over a month and two dozen emails and I still haven’t received the reference number to get it repaired. I had huge hopes on Chuwi but even if the hardware is nice they fail badly at post-sales.

The company also appears to have changed the eMMC flash part number in later production batches, which lead to several people unable to install Ubuntu on newer LapBook 14.1 laptops. The company also claimed several time that they considered selling Ubuntu versions of their laptops, but never followed through, so it feels they are not really committed to supporting Linux on their devices.

Via Liliputing

UBPorts Project Announces its First Stable Ubuntu Touch Release for Supported Smartphones

June 15th, 2017 No comments

Canonical may have stopped working on Unity, Mobile & Convergence for Ubuntu last April, but since then, at least two teams have worked on Unity and mobile convergence alive with respectively yunit and UBPorts projects. There has not been much activity on the former, but UBPorts has recently announced the first OTA-1 stable release for supported devices, minus Nexus 4 and 5 for now.

Click to Enlarge

This release brings bug fixes, experimental AGPS support, he UBports Welcome app, the OpenStore, and the Terminal and File Browser are preinstalled.  It should work on OnePlus One, FairPhone 2, Optimus L90, BQ Aquaris M10 HD / FHD, and possibly some other models.

They also mentioned work on Halium – a project aiming to standardize the Android hardware compatibility layer between many Linux distributions – has been progressing nicely, and it can now boot both Ubuntu Touch and Plasma Mobile. Convergence still needs some work, but one of the developers demoed it on a Nexus 5 here. Anbox support is also planned in order to support Android apps in Ubuntu, but it’s a low priority for now.

If you are interested in learning about future releases, or helping fix bugs, you can do so on the Milestones page.

Review of Wio Tracker with GPS, Bluetooth 3.0 and GSM Connectivity

June 11th, 2017 No comments

Wio GPS – also called Wio Tracker – is an Arduino compatible board based on Microchip Atmel SAMD21 MCU with GPS, Bluetooth, GSM/GPRS connectivity, as well as several Grove connectors to connect sensors and modules for your IoT project. SeeedStudio sent me a sample for evaluation, so I’ve tested it, and reported my experience below by testing some of the Arduino sketches.

Wio Tracker Unboxing

All I got in the package was Wio GPS tracker v1.1 board. The top includes the Atmel MCU, an RGB LED, a microphone and 3.5mm AUX jack to make phone calls, a user and power button, a micro USB port for power and programming, a small 2-pin connector for a battery, and 6 Grove connectors for digital, serial, I2C and analog modules.

Click to Enlarge

The other side of the board comes with Quectel MC20 module that handles Bluetooth, GPS and GSM, a dual use micro SD card and nano SIM slot, and the GPS, 2G, and Bluetooth antennas. We can also see -/+ footprints close to connect speakers close to the OSHW logo.

Click to Enlarge

Getting Started with Wio GPS Tracker with Arduino IDE

I’ve been following Wio GPS Board Wiki for this part of the review, and as we’ll soon discovered I’ve had a rather mixed experience.

First, you’ll need a micro USB to USB cable to connect the board to Windows/Linux/Mac computer. This is the kernel output I got from Ubuntu 16.04:

After installing Arduino IDE for your operating system, we can add Seeduino boards to the IDE, by going to File->Preferences and pasting the link https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Seeed-Studio/Seeed_Platform/master/package_seeeduino_boards_index.json into Additional Boards Manager URL field, and clicking OK.Now go to Tools->Boards->Boards Manager search for wio, and install Seeduino SAMD by Seeed Studio.

You can also install Adafruit Neopixel by going to to Sketch->Manage Libraries->Include Library, or importing the zip file. After that point, I decided to check whether I could find “Wio Tracker” in the list of boards as indicated in the Wiki, but there was no such board so I selected Wio GPS Board, and selected port /dev/ttyACM0 (Wio GPS Board) port.

Then I went to check for sample sketches, and found some in Examples->Seeed_Wio_GPS_Board for the all key features of the board. So I tried a bunch of them including RGB_LED, Bluetooth, GNSS (GPS), and GSM (Send SMS), and only the Bluetooth sample would work.

Click to Enlarge

By I went back to the Wiki, and found out I add to import Wio Tracker library too, which I did, and I had another very similar sets of samples for MC20_GPS_Traker-master.

I’m not exactly sure we have two separate sets of nearly identical samples, but let’s see if I have more like with samples in MC20_GPS_Tracker-master folder.

Blink.ino is supposed to blink the RGB using blue color:

I could upload the program to the board with the following warning messages:

The RGB LED did not work. So I tried to remove Adafruit Neopixel library, same results. Finally I checked schematics to confirm the RGB LED is indeed connected to D10, and inserted some println debug code to make sure the program is running properly. Everything seems right, but the RGB LED would not blink. I’ve contacted the company, but unsurprinsgly they don’t work during the week-end.

Let’s move on with BT_CLientHandle.ino sketch that should allow us to pair the board with your phone. The code is relatively simple for this task:

I could see QUECTEL-BT with my Android phone, and had no problem to pair the board.

The serial output with pairing, and disconnecting events shows some of the AT commands used:

I also tried to connect a speaker to the AUX port of the board to see if I could use it as Bluetooth speaker, but it did not work, so some more code and a different Bluetooth audio profile (not HF_PROFILE) are likely required. All I could hear was dial-up modem sounds from the speakers. But still, we can tick this Bluetooth test as success.

Time for a GPS test. GNSS_Show_Coordinate.ino sketch is supposed to  output latitude and longitude to the serial console, and again the code to achieve this is still fairly simple:

But all I got in the serial output was the following:

With +CREG: 0,0 shown over and over. We can find the different AT Command sets (and EAGLE schematics) in the resources directory in Github. One of the document reports that AT+CREG? is a read command to retrieve network registration status, and the two numbers referred as <n> and <stat> are set to 0,0 meaning that:

  1. Disable network registration unsolicited result code
  2. Not registered, ME is not currently searching a new network to register on

I firstly did the test indoors, and although previously I could get a signal indoors with NavSpark mini board, I still went outside in case it was a signal problem, but the result was just the same. So maybe the program is stuck somewhere because I had not inserted a SIM card yet. Since I was not sure whether my operator still supported 2G, I forced my Android phone to use 2G, and the phone did get a signal using “E” instead of the usual 3G, and I could send an SMS and make a phone call over 2G network (I think).

So I took out the SIM card from my phone, and …. I could not insert right away simply because my SIM card was cut out as a micro SIM, but the board requires a nano SIM. Luckily, I purchased nano/micro SIM card adapters a while ago as I knew sooner or later I would have this little first world problem. You can find those for less than $1 on eBay, so even if you don’t need them right now, it might be a good idea to get some.

Click to Enlarge

Once I cut out my SIM card so that it fits into the micro SIM to nano SIM adapter that I will need to use when I put back the SIM card into my smartphone, I inserted  the nano SIM and a micro SD card at the same time, as the picture below shows with the white band right above the 4GB micro SD card being the nano SIM card. I did not know they made those, as I’ve only seen shared slots in the past.

I reran the GPS sample program, and the serial output changes a bit, but still no longitude and latitude info:

+QGNSSC:1 means the GNSS module is powered on so that’s good news I guess.

+CREG: 0,2 means the SIM card is registered, and in home network, but then it will switch to +CREG:0,5 meaning the SIM card is registered and roaming. Not really re-assuring.

They also have a more complex sample called GNSS_Google_KML.ino, that will get coordinate display them in OLED display attached to the board, and save data into a gps.txt into the SD card with raw longitude and latitude data that can be inserted into a Google KML file. A GoogleMapDemo.ino sketch will upload your coordinates to ziladuo.com website. That’s provided it works of course… and considering the simplest sample GNSS would not work. I gave up on GPS/GNSS tests.

Last try was with the GSM function with the send SMS sample (MC20_SMSSend.ino) that will send “Hello MC20!!” message to the phone number of your choice”. Again it’s very easy to program:

But sadly I could not send an SMS, as the function waitForNetworkRegister failed:

I had to end my testing there. I could not remove the nano SIM card with my hands, and I had to use a pair  tweezers to get it out by pushing those the small holes on top of the slot mechanism.

So overall my experience with the board was quite catastrophic with only Bluetooth working,  and GPS, 2G GSM, and even the RGB LED sample all failing. I also often had trouble uploading the code to the board with messages like:

or (even after having close to the serial terminal for a while):

So I often had to re-try and re-try to successfully upload the code to the board. I’m sure there must be an explanation for all the issues I had. I can see they tested it in Windows, but I’m using Ubuntu 16.04, so maybe that could be one reason?

Having said that, if the board actually worked, I really like what SeeedStudio has done, as it looks really easy to program the board with GPS, Bluetooth, or 2G data, SMS, calls, and you can add Grove Sensors to make pretty more advanced IoT projects. The company also provides a more practical sample with their “Wild Adventure Tracker” demo reporting sending GPS coordinates over SMS when a shock occurs. The source code on Github with a video showing the results below.

The company is also working on a 4G version, and I’ll probably have a chance to give it another try once it is released. If you are interested in Wio GPS Tracker board, you can pre-order it for $24.95 including all three antennas.

Amazon AWS Greengrass Brings Local Compute, Messaging, Data Caching & Sync to ARM & x86 Devices

June 8th, 2017 No comments

Amazon Web Services (AWS) provides cloud computing services to manage & store data from IoT Nodes over the Internet, but in some cases latency may be an issue, and Internet connectivity may not be reliable in all locations. AWS Greengrass provides a solution to those issues by running some of the IoT tasks within the local network in ARM or x86 edge gateways running Linux.

Click to Enlarge

You can still manage your devices from AWS cloud, but a Linux gateway running Greengrass Core runtime will be able to run AWS Lambda functions to perform tasks locally, keep device data in sync, and communicate with devices running AWS IoT Device SDK.

Greengrass benefits include:

  • Response to Local Events in Near Real-time
  • Offline operation – Connected devices can operate with intermittent connectivity to the cloud, and synchronizes with AWS IoT once it is restored
  • Secure Communication  – AWS Greengrass authenticates and encrypts device data at all points of connection.
  • Simplified Device Programming with AWS Lambda – Greengrass execute Lambda functions locally, reducing the complexity of developing embedded software.
  • Reduce the Cost of Running IoT Applications – You can program filter device data locally, and only transmit the data you need to the cloud. This reduces the amount of raw data transmitted to the cloud and lowers cost

Greengrass Core’s minimum requirements are a 1GHz Processor with at least 128 MB, so it will run on most x86 products, as well as some ARM boards and devices, with Amazon recommending the following to get started quickly:

Greengrass Core works with Linux distributions with Linux 4.4.11+ or greater including Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, Debian Jessie, etc.. Canonical will also provide snap to easily install it on Ubuntu operating systems. Dependencies include SQLite 3 or greater, Python 2.7 or greater, Glibc 2.14, boto3 (latest), botocore (latest), OpenSSL 1.0.2 or greater, libseccomp and bash. You’ll find more detailed requirements in the FAQ.

Amazon’s announcement today was about AWG GreeenGrass availability to all customers, but it has already been used successfully in the industry by customers such as Enel, the largest utility in Europe, Konecranes now having 15,000 connected cranes, Pentair plc for their aquaculture customers, and Rio Tinto mining group to improve management and safety of their truck fleet.

Greengrass is free to try for one year with up to 3 devices, and costs $0.16 per month or $1.49 per year per device for up to 10,000 devices. If you are going to manage more than 10,000 devices you’d have to contact Amazon for pricing options. You can find more info and get started on Amazon Greengrass page.

 

UP Core Intel Board Has Launched for 69 Euros and Up on Kickstarter

June 1st, 2017 2 comments

During spring, we discovered UP Core, a tiny board powered by Intel x5-Z8350 Cherry Trail processor  that promised to sell for as low as 69 Euros. But at the time, it was not available yet for purchase, and the good news is that UP has just launched a one month crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to raise funds for mass production, and promote the board.

UP Core specifications have not changed since the first announcement:

  • SoC – Intel Atom x5-Z8350 “Cherry Trail” quad core processor @ 1.44 GHz / 1.92 GHz (Burst frequency) with Intel HD 400 graphics @ 200 / 500 MHz
  • System Memory –  1, 2 or 4 GB DDR3L-1600
  • Storage – 16, 32, or 64 GB eMMC flash, SPI flash ROM
  • Video Output / Display – HDMI 1.4 port, full eDP (embedded DisplayPort) connector
  • Audio I/O – Via HDMI, and I2S
  • Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n WiFi  @ 2.4 GHz, Bluetooth 4.0 LE (AP614A)
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0 host port, 2x USB 2.0 via header
  • Camera I/F – 1x 2-lane MIPI CSI, 1x 4-lane MIPI CSI
  • Expansion
    • 100-pin docking connector with power signals, GPIOs, UART, SPI, I2C, PWM, SDIO, I2S, HDMI SMBUS, PMC signals, 2x USB HSIC, CSI, and PCIe Gen 2
    • 10-pin connector with 2x USB 2.0, 1x UART
  • Misc – Power & reset buttons, RTC battery header, fan connector, BIOS reflash connector
  • Power Supply – 5V/4A via 5.5/2.1mm power barrel
  • Dimensions – 66 x 56.50 mm
  • Temperature Range – Operating: 0 to 60 °C
  • Certifications – CE/FCC Class A, RoHS compliant, REACH

Block Diagram – Click to Enlarge

The board supports Microsoft Windows 10, Windows 10 IoT Core, Linux via Ubilinux, Ubuntu, and the Yocto Project, as well as Android 6.0 Marshmallow. The block diagram shown in March also included an extension HAT connected to the 100-pin docking port, but we did not have many details. With the launch on Kickstarter two stackable expansion boards are available:

  • Expansion board A [BRKH01] carrying high-speed signals: 1c2 channel PCI Express switch, Gigabit Ethernet (RTL8111G-CG / RJ45), HSIC/USB ports, uSIM card reader, SD card, etc…
  • Expansion board B [BRKL01] based on MAX10 CPLD exposing low-speed signals such as RS-232/422/484, I2C, I2S, and GPIOs, as well as 12 to 24V power input

The documentation to make your own UP Core expansion board will be made available, so more are likely coming, and up to three expansion boards can be stacked under UP Core board. The company will also pay royalties to makers of expansion boards that are selected (by UP community) to be sold on their store.

A chassis for UP Core and its carrier boards is also available in your prefer to keep the boards in an enclosure.

The company goal is to raise at least 10,000 Euros, but they should reach a much higher level once the campaign is completed. Some of the most interesting rewards are:

  • 69 Euros (early bird) then 75 Euros for UP Core with 1GB RAM, 16GB eMMC
  • 85 Euros (early bird) then 95 Euros for UP Core with 2GB RAM, 32GB eMMC
  • 119 Euros (early bird) then 129 Euros for UP core with 4GB RAM, 64GB eMMC
  • 125 Euros starter pack with UP Core with 2GB RAM, 32 GB eMMC, aluminum chassis, AC adapter, and WiFi+Bt antenna
  • 189 Euros dev.pack with UP Core with 4GB RAM, 64GB eMMC, A & B expansion boards, AC adapter, and WiFi+Bt antenna

They also have variations up to the 225 Euros super pack with comes with the 4GB/64GB board, the two expansion boards, three aluminum chassis, and accessories. Shipping adds 16 to 27 Euros depending on the destination country, and delivery is scheduled for August to October 2017 depending on the selected reward.

Thanks to Harley for the tip.

ACT Power unveils its Project-X A1 production ready development board at Computex 2017

May 30th, 2017 2 comments

These days developer boards are a dime a dozen, but Taiwanese ACT Power has taken a different approach from most companies out there by making their addition production ready. The Project-X A1 is the first in what is expected to be a series of boards that will utilize the same mezzanine board connectors, to make it easy to change hardware platforms over time.

Click to Enlarge

The board on display at Computex is still an early prototype and some things will change before the final product launches. Specification wise we’re looking at:

  • SoC – Allwinner H3 quad core Cortex A7 processor @ 1.2 GHz with Mali-400MP2 GPU @ 600 MHz
  • System Memory – 1 GB DDR3 Storage
  • 8GB eMMC flash, SD card slot
  • Video Output – 1x HDMI 1.4a up to 4K @ 30 Hz
  • Audio Output – HDMI, I2S via pin-header
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet with optional PoE support
  • USB – Two full size USB ports, 1x micro USB OTG port
  • Expansion headers – 40-pin “common” header to Project-X boards, 20-pin header for 10/100Mbps Ethernet, serial port and chassis buttons.
  • Debugging – 4-pin serial console header
  • Misc – 2x LEDs for power and status, rear reset button, power and UBoot buttons.
  • Power Supply – 12V via barrel plug or internal 2-pin header, optionally via PoE.
  • Dimensions – 100×72 mm (Pico-ITX)
  • Weight – ~60 grams

Click to Enlarge

Although the hardware itself doesn’t distinguish the A1 board from many of its competitors, the plan is to offer a range of mezzanine modules for the expansion header. The ones pictured are only dummy mockups that were done for Computex, but it gives an idea of what’s being developed. The basic mezzanine board is simply a pin-header converter that allows to use of Raspberry Pi hats, although this would require some software re-jigging of the GPIO’s to make things work. The second board adds Wi-Fi as well as the option to add a 3G/4G USB only mini PCIe card. This version also has an industrial serial port header on it. An “IoT” friendly option and various industrial automation solutions are also planned to be offered.

Click to Enlarge

Unlike most expansion headers, the Project-X header has support for USB 2.0 and 12V power, which means that those looking to develop their own mezzanine boards can add things relays and various USB devices without worrying about about having to use external connectors. The secondary connector allows for the addition of a 10/100Mbps Ethernet port, a third serial port (the 40-pin connector supports two already), as well as connect chassis LEDs and buttons. In the dummy boards this connector is interfacing with the mezzanine boards, but this is unlikely to be the case for many production solutions.

Courtesy of its Pico-ITX form factor, the Project-X A1 should be pretty straightforward to use in commercial products without the need of a highly customized housing. ACT Power is planning to release an Intel based version of Project-X later this year, but didn’t share details on which CPU would be used. The expansion header specification will also be shared closer to launch and ActPower will work with any potential customers to develop custom mezzanine boards. Unlike many development boards, this is not an open source project, but support for Ubuntu and Debian is expected.

MinnowBoard Turbot Quad Core Open Source Hardware Board is now Shipping for $190

May 24th, 2017 2 comments

MinnowBoard Turbot Quad Core board was announced last autumn, with shipping expected in December 2016, but there may have been delays as the MinnowBoard foundation has just announced that the Intel open source hardware board is now shipping.

Click to Enlarge

MinnowBoard Turbot Quad “MBT-4220” board specifications:

  • SoC – Intel Atom E3845 quad core Bay Trail-I processor @ up to 1.92 GHz with Intel HD graphics @ 542 / 792 MHz (10W TDP)
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3L 1067 MT/s (Soldered)
  • Storage – 1x SATA2 3Gbps, 1x micro SD card slot, 8 MB SPI Flash for firmware (Tianocore UEFI, Coreboot, SeaBIOS)
  • Video & Audio Output – 1x micro HDMI connector
  • Connectivity – 10/100/1000M Ethernet RJ-45 connector (with Intel i211 instead of Realtek NIC on dual core MinnowBoard)
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0 host, 1x USB 2.0 host
  • Debugging – Serial debug header
  • Expansion headers
    • Low-speed expansion (LSE) port – 2×13 (26-pin) male 0.1″ pin header with access to SPI, I2C, I2S Audio, 2x UARTs (TTL-level), 8x GPIO (including 2x supporting PWM), +5V, and GND
    • High-speed expansion (HSE) port –  60-pin high-density connector with access to 1x PCIe Gen 2.0 Lane, 1x SATA2, 1x USB 2.0 host, I2C, GPIO, JTAG, +5V, and GND
  • Power Supply – 5V/4A DC input via 2.5mm center pin positive power jack; 5V DC output via  2-pin header
  • Dimensions – 99 x 74mm
  • Temperature Range –  0 to 40 °C; wider range possible with larger heatsink.
  • Certifications – FCC Part 15 Class A, CE Class A, IEC-60950, RoHS/WEEE

Click to Enlarge

 

The board can run Debian GNU/Linux, Windows 10 IoT, Windows 8.1, Android 4.4, Ubuntu, and Yocto Project Custom Linux with source, firmware image, documentation, and hard design files available via the tutorials and github.

The board can be purchase for around $190 on Mouser or Netgate.

 

ODROID-C2 Board Gets Experimental Ubuntu 16.04 Armbian Images with Linux 4.10

May 24th, 2017 5 comments

Hardkernel is doing a good job at providing working images with GPU / VPU support, and documentation for their ODROID boards. But while Exynos based ODROID-XU4(Q) boards already get firmware images with a recent Linux 4.9 kernel, Amlogic S905 based ODROID-C2 board’s Ubuntu 16.04 images still rely on the Linux 3.14 kernel released by Amlogic, plus various patchsets.

But we’ve seen BayLibre is working on a Linux mainline port for Amlogic processors, and Armbian community appears to have leveraged that work, and added Ubuntu 16.04 Server and Desktop images with Linux 4.10 to their build system. Those are experimental nightly builds so they may not have been tested, and it’s likely not working as well as the Ubuntu 16.04 “legacy” images released by Hardkernel. They are also not shown in Armbian ODROID-C2 page at the time of writing, but it’s a step in the right direction.