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Top Programming Languages & Operating Systems for the Internet of Things

May 19th, 2017 3 comments

The Eclipse foundation has recently done its IoT Developer Survey answered by 713 developers, where they asked  IoT programming languages, cloud platforms, IoT operating systems, messaging protocols (MQTT, HTTP), IoT hardware architectures and more.  The results have now been published. So let’s have a look at some of the slides, especially with regards to programming languages and operating systems bearing in mind that IoT is a general terms that may apply to sensors, gateways and the cloud, so the survey correctly separated languages for different segments of the IoT ecosystem.

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C and C++ are still the preferred languages for constrained devices, and developers are normally using more than one language as the total is well over 100%.

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IoT gateways are more powerful and resourceful (memory/storage) hardware, so it’s no surprise higher level languages like Java and Python join C and C++, with Java being the most used language with 40.8% of respondents.

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When it comes to the cloud with virtually unlimited resources, and no need to interface with hardware in most cases, higher level languages like Java, JavaScript, Node.js, and Python take the lead.

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When it comes to operating systems in constrained IoT devices, Linux takes the lead with 44.1%, in front of bare metal (27.6%) and FreeRTOS (15.0 %). Windows is also there in fourth place probably with a mix of Windows IoT core, Windows Embedded, and WinCE.

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Linux is the king of IoT gateways with 66.9% of respondent using it far ahead of Windows in second place with 20.5%. They have no chart for the cloud, probably because users just don’t run their own Cloud servers, but relies on providers. They did ask specifically about the Linux distributions used for IoT projects, and the results are a bit surprising with Raspbian taking the lead with 45.5%, with Ubuntu Core following closely at 44.4%.

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Maybe Raspbian has been used during the prototyping phase or for evaluation, as most developers (84%) have been using cheap development boards like Arduino, BeagleBone or Raspberry Pi. 20% also claim to have deployed such boards in IoT solutions.

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That’s only a few slides of the survey results, and you’ll find more details about Intel/ARM hardware share, messaging & industrial protocols, cloud solutions, wireless connectivity, and more in the slides below.

Via Ubuntu Insights

Mirabook is Laptop Dock for Smartphones, Development Boards (Crowdfunding)

April 17th, 2017 5 comments

Motorola Lapdock may have been ahead of its time, as laptop docks for smartphone are back in vogue with products like NexDock, and Apple could soon launch their own iPhone laptop dock. Another option is Miraxess Mirabook laptop dock with a 13.3″ display, and a battery lasting up to 24 hours, that works for smartphones, development boards, and HDMI TV sticks thanks to its USB type C port.

Mirabook specifications:

  • Display – 13.3″ IPS display with 1920×1080 resolution (non-touch, except if they raise $2 millions…)
  • Audio – Speakers, 3.5mm audio jack
  • Video Output – HDMI port
  • Storage – SD card slot
  • QWERTY keyboard & multi-touch trackpad
  • USB
    • Integrated USB type C cable to connect to phone, board or HDMI TV stick
    • USB type C port to charge the Mirabook battery
    • 2x USB type A host port
  • Battery – TBD capacity good for 24 hours while charging your phone
  • Dimensions – 320 x 220 x 15 mm
  • Weight – 1 kg

The solution relies on SlimPort to provide video & audio over USB as it works for many products, and does not require as much (CPU) resources as DisplayLink. The latter will however be considered as a stretch goal if the campaign raises over $300,000.

The company explains that “convergence” operating systems such as Windows Continuum, Samsung DeX, Auxens Oxi OS, or Remix Singularity, are particularly well suited for the Mirabook, as they provide a desktop experience when the phone is connected to a larger display. They also mentioned Leena OS which I had not come across before, and works on any Android 4.2 or greater smartphone with a free version supporting multi-window, web apps, and a browser, and a Pro version  adding some extra features like a native PDF reader, and the possibly to put icons on the desktop.

The project has launched on Indiegogo with Miraxess aiming to raise at least $50,000. A $180 Early bird pledge should get you a Mirabook, while the retail price after the Indiegogo campaign is expected to be $299. Shipping will add around $15, and delivery is scheduled for December 2017.

Via Liliputing

Azul Systems’ Zulu Embedded is a Build of OpenJDK for ARM, MIPS, PowerPC, and x86 Compliant with Java SE standard

April 6th, 2017 3 comments

Yesterday as I wrote about the Embedded Systems Conference 2017 schedule I came across a potentially interesting talk entitled “Building A Brain With Raspberry Pi and Zulu Embedded JVM” by Azul Systems that will explain how to build a brain emulator using a cluster of Raspberry Pi boards. I wanted to find more about it, but I have not been able to find any details about the project/demo at this stage. However, I could still learn a bit more about Zulu Embedded, which is said to be an open source Java Virtual Machine based on OpenJDK, compliant with Java SE standard, working on 32-bit & 64-bit ARM & x86, MIPS, and PowerPC, as well as  multiple operating systems.

Some of the key features of Zulu Embedded include:

  • Java Support – Java 6, 7, 8, and 9 when available
  • Java Configurations – Headless, headful, or compact Java Compact Profiles
  • Hardware – ARMv7 and 32-bit ARMv8, ARM64, Intel/AMD x86, 32-bit and 64-bit, MIPS, and PowerPC
  • Platforms & Operating Systems
    • Linux 32/64-bit – RHEL 5.2+, 6 & 7 or later, SLES 11 sp1/2/3, 12, CentOS 5.2+, 6 & 7 or later, Ubuntu 10.04, 12.04, 14.04 & 16.04, Debian Wheezy & Jessie, Wind River Linux, and Oracle Linux
    • Windows 32/64-bit – Windows 7, 8, 8.1, 10/IoT/Mobile, 2008 R2, 2012, 2012R2, Nano
    • Mac OS X
    • Hypervisors – VMware, Hyper-V, KVM
    • Cloud – Azure, AWS, Google, Snappy, Docker
  • Packages – ZIP, MSI and DEB are available. Custom packages on request.
  • Memory Footprint – 11 MB to 250+ MB

Some of the advantage of Zulu Embedded is that it is 100% open source released under GPLv2 with Classpath Exception (I could not find the source code however), and fully certified and compliant with OpenJDK community technology compatibility kit (TCK) from Oracle.

Zulu Embedded is free to download for ARM Linux 32-bit (hard and soft float), and x86 Windows & Linux 64-bit, as well as x86 Windows 10 IoT Core 32-bit for MinnowBoard MAX. You’ll need to contact the company for other configurations.

It’s been used in program such as openHab 2.0, which replaced Oracle JDK with Zulu Embedded JDK, since it can be freely redistributed (no licenses required), and performance and stability feels exactly the same according to comments on Github. One person explained how to install it on the Raspberry Pi board (note: early access program is not needed anymore, since the binary has been publicly released), and the installation procedure is just the same as with OpenJDK.

You can visit Zulu Embedded product page for more information.

BLCR MX3 is a $12 Backlit Air Mouse with QWERTY Keyboard

February 27th, 2017 7 comments

There’s an embarrassment of choices when it comes to air mice, but so far apart from models like Rii Mini i28 which looks more like a keyboard than a remote control, I had not seen air mice with backlit keys. But this morning BLCR MX3 showed up in DX new arrivals feed for $17.27 shipped, but you could also find it for about $12 on Aliexpress without BLCR “trademark”. [Update: Also on Amazon US for ~$16].

BLCR MX3 air mouse specifications:

  • Connectivity – 2.4 GHz RF up to 10 meters
  • Sensor – 6-axis sensor with gyroscope and g-sensor
  • Remote side with IR learning function + backlit keys
  • Air Mouse mode
  • QWERTY keyboard with backlit keys
  • Power Supply – 2x AAA batteries (not included)
  • Dimensions – 17.2 x 5.2 x 1.9 cm
  • Weight – 98 grams
  • Material – Plastic + silicone

The device ships with a USB dongle and user’s manual, and works with Android, Max OS, Linux, Windows… basically any OS that supports USB HID class. Backlight functions can be enabled/disabled with the corresponding key on the bottom right of the remote side (above “Internet Explorer” icon), and the last row of keys (red, green, yellow, blue) can be programmed to work with your TV, for example for the power, input, and volume buttons. That side also have trick modes buttons, play/pause, Zoom In/Out buttons, but not Stop button.

The QWERTY keyboard also features backlight keys, but some people may miss the Tab key which can be convenient when filling out forms like entering username and password. The Shift key is not included either, so you’d have to play with CAPS to switch between lowercase and uppercase characters.

Please note that there are some other MX3 air mouse models without backlit, and with or without microphone, so if you are interested in the backlight function make sure you purchase the right one.

Categories: Hardware Tags: air mouse, Android, Linux, mac, windows

ADLE3800SEC is a Compact Intel Bay Trail-I Board with Dual Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI or DisplayPort, and More

December 27th, 2016 No comments

ADL Embedded Solutions, a US company specializing in… embedded solutions, has unveiled ADLE3800SEC embedded single board computer (SBC) optimized for size, weight and power (SWAP), based on an Intel Atom E3800 Bay Trail-I processor with HDMI, SATA dual Gigabit Ethernet, etc… The board is the first one part of the company’s Edge-Connect architecture defined a 75x75mm form factor with an edge connector exposing additional I/Os for breakout boards.

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ADLE3800SEC board specifications:

  • SoC
    • Intel Atom E3827 dual core Bay Trail-I processor @ up to 1.75GHz with 1MB cache, Intel Gen7 graphics (8W TDP) OR
    • Intel Atom E3845 quad core Bay Trail-I processor@ up to 1.91GHz with 2MB cache, Intel Gen 7 Graphics (10W TDP)
  • System Memory – Up to 4GB DDR3-1333MHz (soldered on-board)
  • Storage – 1x M.2 socket(Key B, 2242); 1x SATA 2.0 (6GB/s) via edge connector
  • Video Output
    • 1x HDMI up to 1920 x 1200 or 1x DisplayPort up to 2560×1600
    • 1x DisplayPort via edge connector
  • Connectivity – 2x Gigabit Ethernet ports (RJ45)
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0 ports, 1x USB 2.0 port, 2x USB 2.0 interfaces via edge connector
  • Other Expansion via edge connector – 2x PCIe, SM-Bus
  • Misc – Optional low profile heat spreader; optional conformal coating of CPU board & underfill of BGA components
  • Power Supply – 20 to 30V DC
  • Dimensions – 75 x 75 mm
  • Temperature Range — Optional for extended temperature screen -40 to 85°C

The board can run Linux or Windows 7/8/10. Typical applications would include UAV and UUV unmanned systems, industrial control systems, government and defense, video surveillance, small scale robotics, remote data-logging, man-wearable computing, etc…

The company did not disclose pricing info,  but you should be able to find more info and if needed, inquire ADL Embedded Solutions via ADLE3800SEC SBC product page.

Via HackerBoards

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

November 3rd, 2016 16 comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have US Customs Declared War on TV Boxes (and mini PCs)?

July 4th, 2016 39 comments

Customs are useful to make sure illegal or dangerous goods don’t reach customers, and they also “protect jobs” or “special interests” by applying tariffs to imports. If you’ve ever purchased goods out of your country or economic zone, the experience can range from flawless (no duties), to annoying (paying some taxes), up to really frustrating and depressing, if customs decide to have a closer look to your imported item. Most the time I don’t have any problems, especially since I try to be careful to stay below the limit (~$30 here) sometimes splitting my orders, a few times I have to pay custom duties and VAT, and once I got a call from UPS telling me my $100 mini PC was kept by customs (not sure why), and that the total cost to it get was unknown, but it will be at least $150 for handling and taxes, and sending it back to China would cost about the same… So finally, my customs office (not in the US) got a free mini PC to play with. I just exchanged a few emails with UPS, and never had to fill any forms during the whole process.
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This happened a while ago, so why am I writing about this now? First, I’ve recently read some articles that UK authorities had raided TV box resellers running modified to stream illegal content, so let’s say it’s fair game. But I also got a comment from a US based reader who ordered 10 Wintel W8 Pro mini PCs:

Just an update on Geek’s Wintel W8 Pro. I ordered 10 more and they were seized by US Customs and Border Patrol. They could not find any illegal aliens so they are now checking all “TV BOXES” as declared on the shipping paperwork from China to US. 6 weeks later I got a 7 page letter from them saying they were seized not detained. The reason given was a trademark violation printed on the bottom of the box that is for Microsoft Windows 10. It is sworn to be an illegal trademark by Microsoft. They give you several options I gave the letter to my attorney. It sounds like I may still be fined some money on this side. The good thing is I paid with PayPal and got my money back. Geek offered to go Dutch on the loss and I said no. They are mad at me and won’t respond to me after I sent them a copy of the letter. The government determined the value to be 83.30 per unit and not a gift as packaged worth $50.00 per case. If you deal with Geek read the fine print, it talks about going Dutch when things go south. Customs said they are checking ALL boxes labeled “TV BOXES” many companies ship them like that. You may want to be more creative if you want them. No more Windows for me. After having trouble with one box with Kaspersky it said there was something bad in the Windows program I called and was told you cant run anti virus with that version of windows. I bought a different one. I believe in anti-virus’s reducing problems. Geek claims if the US sends the boxes back to China I will face shipping fees, importation fees, taxes and duties to the Chinese government. Maybe I can post the 7 page letter or email it to anyone who is thinking of buying these. I don’t know what the posting rules are on this. Delete any part that cant be printed. Just trying to save people time and money and having every package from China now being inspected 100% and taped back up with green US Customs and border patrol tape for routers and keyboards and things like that. This never happened until these 10 were seized. For the record Geek claims this has not happened to anyone else but I know a guy who bought 1 unit from a different reseller and his was also marked “TV BOX” and was seized.

So it took his word and asked for that document. So basically, once US customs decide to seize your goods you have 5 options (CBP = Customs and Border Protection):

  1. I request that CBP consider my petition administratively before forfeiture proceedings are initiated
  2. I request that CBP consider my offer in comprise administratively before forfeiture proceedings are initiated
  3. I abandon the property, and I request that CBP begin administrative proceedings to forfeit the property.
  4. I request that CBP send my case for court action
  5. I request that CBP begin administrative proceedings to forfeit the property

If you’re not a lawyer and have not dealt with customs before, yet clearly understand what the 5 options mean and their implications, I congratulate you. So unless you simply decide to abandon the property, most people might need a lawyer to handle the case.

But let’s clearly see why the mini PCs were seized by checking the appendix.

Microsoft_Logo_Word_CustomsSo the “Wintel Set-Top Boxes” running Microsoft Windows have been seized because Microsoft Windows logo was shown on the package, as well as Microsoft trademark…. Wintel name was OK apparently… That appears to be completely ludicrous, as they have not investigated whether the system had a proper Windows license, so even if you’ve bought a mini PC with a proper Windows license (~$25 on this type of computers), your property may still be seized because the package describes what’s been installed… Maybe it was just a matter of adding a line with “Microsoft is a trademark of Microsoft corporation” on the package or documentation (as they even opened it), but it’s still harsh, and may feel like they just found a pretext to confiscate the devices. So blank packages might not be that bad after all. I guess Android boxes with “Kodi” logo may also be looked suspiciously by customs whether banned add-ons are installed or not.

The person who released the document also share some other tidbits with his experience:

I have spoken to several different  DHL warehouse workers and drivers and they say the Customs people are there everyday. Some they grab off the belt and put right on the trucks and others they open right there, look at them, tape them back up and allow them to continue on.

I spoke to Customs this morning …. I asked if it made a difference if the box was made from Android parts instead of Bill Gates and she said it makes no difference. I did not want to argue with her but she said these boxes are just for stealing cable TV.

Why can I buy a Zidoo X6 Pro on Amazon.com for $109.00 but I can’t buy it on a Chinese website for $70.00?>

So customs agents are apparently posted in couriers’ warehouses, at least some people working at the US Customs and Border Patrol believe that TV boxes (and any small computers) are made to steal content from cable providers, and the same exact product that can be bought on Amazon, can be seized for any reasons by customs if bought from outside the US…. Is that a war on TV boxes or an isolated incident? I don’t know, but that means if you’d like to be safe, you’d have to buy locally (likely at a higher price), and selecting TV boxes or mini PCs without trademarked logos or brands on the package may help going through customs…

Axiomtek Braswell pico-ITX Board Fearures Pentium N3710 or Celeron N3060 Processor

June 2nd, 2016 4 comments

Axiomtek has just announced PICO300 pico-ITX board, an update of their PICO842 board replacing Bay Trail processors by Braswell ones. The board supports either Intel Pentium N3710 or Celeron N3060 processors with up to 8 GB memory via a SO-DIMM socket, and includes HDMI or VGA, SATA and Gigabit Ethernet interfaces among others.

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Axiomtek PICO300 pico-ITX motherboard specifications:

  • SoC
    • Intel Celeron N3060 dual core processor @  1.6 / 2.48 GHz with 12 EU Intel HD Graphics 400 @ up to 600 MHz (6W TDP) OR
    • Intel Pentium N3710 quad core processor @  1.6 / 2.56 GHz with 16 EU Intel HD Graphics 405 @ up to 700 MHz (6W TDP)
  • System Memory – 1x 204-pin SO-DIMM DDR3L-1600 up to 8GB
  • Storage – 1x SATA-600, 1x mSATA (shared with PCIe mini card)
  • Video Output – 1x LVDS, and 1x HDMI or 1x VGA
  • Audio – MIC-in/Line-out; Realtek ACL662 audio codec
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet with Wake-on-LAN, PXE Boot support (Intel i211AT)
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 host port, and 4x USB 3.0 ports via expansion connector
  • Expansion
    • 1x mini PCI Express (shared with mSATA support)
    • Expansion connectors with 1x PCIe, 2x UART, 1x DDI, 4x USB 3.0, 1x HD audio
  • Misc – Lithium 3V/220mAh, SMBus, hardware monitoring, watchdog timer
  • Power Supply – 12V DC power jack; AT Auto Power On function supported
  • Dimensions – 10 x 7.2 cm (Pico-ITX form factor)
  • Operating Temperature Range – -20°C to +60°C

Intel_Pentium_N3700_pico-ITX_MotherboardThe company does not mention operating system support, but the board should run Windows and Linux operating systems. AXView 2.0 intelligent embedded monitoring software can also be used to manage and monitor the board with SNMP, MQTT, MODBUS, SNMP Trap, and/or Email.

PICO300 is available now at an undisclosed price. Visit the product page for further information.