Crowbits Master Kit Tutorial – Part 2: ESP32 intrusion scanner and visual programming

Crowbits Intrusion Scanner

I started Crowbits Master Kit review last month by checking out the content, user manual, and some of the possible projects for the ESP32 educational kit including a 2G phone and a portable game console. For the second part of the review, I’ll go through one of the lessons in detail, namely the intrusion scanner to show the whole process and how well (or not) it works. Let’s go to Lesson 5 directly, although I’d recommend going through the first lessons that provide details about the hardware and visual programming basics using Letscode program, which is basically a custom version of Scratch for Crowbits The user manual introduces the project, explains it is to detect intruders, and lists the learning goals as we’ll learn how to control the servo and play music on the Crowbits kit. Kit Assembly But first, we’ll have some assembly to do, in a similar way that’s we’d assemble a LEGO robotics kit. Each assembly step […]

Linux and Memory Performance on an Intel NUC 11 Enthusiast Phantom Canyon NUC11PHKi7C

nuc11phki7c Linux

I’ve already looked at Windows performance on the NUC11PHKi7C Enthusiast Phantom Canyon which is Intel’s latest NUC 11 flagship product specifically targeting gamers as it includes an NVIDIA RTX 2060 GPU. Now it is the turn of Linux and like before I will compare performance against Intel’s previous NUC with a discrete GPU: the NUC 9 Extreme Ghost Canyon. I will also briefly revisit Windows performance by looking at the impact of using 3200MHz memory as opposed to the 2400MHz used during the previous review. Hardware Overview As a reminder, the NUC11PHKi7C physically consists of a 221 x 142 x 42 mm (8.70 x 5.59 x 1.65 inches) rectangular plastic case. It is an actively cooled mini PC and uses Intel’s 10 nm Core i7-1165G7 Tiger Lake processor which is a quad-core 8-thread 2.80 GHz processor boosting to 4.70 GHz with Intel’s Iris Xe Graphics and the NUC also includes an NVIDIA N18E-G1-B notebook graphics card which is a GeForce […]

Annke CZ400 AI security camera reviewed with basic and smart events

Annke CZ400 ceiling installation

At the beginning of this month, I started the review of Annke CZ400 AI security camera by listing specifications, unboxing the device, and doing a partial teardown, notably to install a MicroSD card. In theory, the camera comes with more advanced AI features than Reolink RLC-810A 4K CCTV camera that only supports people and vehicle detection, as the Annke security camera can handle face detection, line crossing, unattended baggage detection, and other smart event detections. So let’s see how it performs Annke CZ400 installation The first challenge was the installation, as I told the company I would not be willing to install the camera on the ceiling since I’m renting, and preferred wall-mounting. after checking the user manual that included a wall mount, I decided to go ahead, and get the review unit. But sadly, the wall mount is not included in the package, and Annke even told me they have no plans to sell it, instead, inviting me to […]

Windows Performance on an Intel NUC 11 Enthusiast Phantom Canyon NUC11PHKi7C

NUC11PHKi7C skull

The Enthusiast Phantom Canyon is Intel’s flagship product from its latest NUC 11 range of mini PCs. Specifically targeting gamers it includes an NVIDIA RTX 2060 GPU. In this article, I take a brief look at the performance under Windows and compare it against Intel’s previous NUC with a discrete GPU: the NUC 9 Extreme Ghost Canyon. Hardware Overview The NUC11PHKi7C physically consists of a 221 x 142 x 42 mm (8.70 x 5.59 x 1.65 inches) rectangular plastic case which is remarkable because of its size and is similar to just a graphics card like NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 2060 Founders Edition (229 x 113 x 35 mm). It is an actively cooled mini PC and uses Intel’s 10 nm Core i7-1165G7 Tiger Lake processor which is a quad-core 8-thread 2.80 GHz processor boosting to 4.70 GHz with Intel’s Iris Xe Graphics. But it also includes NVIDIA’s N18E-G1-B notebook graphics card which is a GeForce RTX 2060 mobile GPU. As […]

Using an eGPU with a mini PC

using r43sg egpu with mini PC

Mini PCs have grown in popularity in part due to their small form-factor offering low-powered basic computing with sufficient ports for connectivity. As such they are useful both in commercial settings such as digital signage as well as with consumers needing a small-footprint or VESA-mounted low-cost computer. However, one drawback is their limited graphical performance due to using CPUs with integrated graphics which results in the options for playing games being somewhat restricted and ‘AAA’ titles typically being unplayable. Lower-priced laptops often share the same drawback and one of the ways that users have addressed their graphical need is by utilizing an external GPU (eGPU) however the commercially available ones are both expensive and require connecting via a Thunderbolt 3 port. Unfortunately, not many Chinese-made mini PCs currently include a Thunderbolt 3 port however now that they have started to include M.2 NVMe ports this has created the possibility of adding a GPU using a ‘PCIe x16 to M.2 NVMe […]

Crowbits Master Kit Review – Part 1: A first look at the ESP32 based education kit

Crowbits Master Kit Review

Crowbits STEM education kits comprised of magnetic modules launched on Kickstarter a couple of weeks ago. There are five kits increasing in difficulty with the Hello Kit just requiring the student to connect modules to get started, i.e. no programming required, to the Crowbits Master Kit based on a battery-powered ESP32 module suitable to create your own phone, portable game console, radar tower, etc… Elecrow sent me the latter for evaluation, and in the first part of the review, I’ll unbox the kit, see how modules mechanically fit together, and have a quick look at the user manual, before trying one or two projects from the manual in the second part. This is the second STEAM product from Elecrow that I review, as I reviewed CrowPi2 Raspberry Pi 4 laptop last year. Let’s open the package. We have a total of six modules with two joysticks, an ESP32 module with TFT display and battery, a laser ranging sensor, a keyboard, […]

ANNKE CZ400 AI security camera review – Part 1: Specs, unboxing and teardown

Annke CZ400 AI security camera review

We’re starting to see more and more security cameras with built-in AI features such as Reolink RLC-810A 4K camera with people & vehicle detection or the lower cost Vacom Cam Full HD camera with person detection only, which I have not reviewed yet due to some technical issues. I would not buy a camera without AI now as such features greatly reduce false positives. Another model has now come my way with ANNKE CZ400 (aka I91BK) 2K security camera that comes with even more advanced AI-accelerated computer vision features with not only face detection, but also intrusion detection, line crossing detection, region entrance detection, region exiting detection, object removal detection, unattended baggage detection, and audio exception detection. In this first part of the review, we’ll check the specifications, the content of the package with an unboxing, as well as a partial teardown that is needed to install a microSD card. ANNKE CZ400 specifications Camera Image Sensor – 1/3″ OmniVision Progressive […]

Maker Pi Pico STEM board mini review with CircuitPython

Maker Pi Pico First Boot

In my early list of third-party Raspberry Pi RP2040 boards, I shortly mentioned Cytron Maker Pi Pico baseboard for Raspberry Pi Pico that exposes all pins via female headers, includes LEDs for all GPIOs pin, six Grove connectors, three user push-buttons, one RGB LED, a piezo buzzer, an audio jack, a MicroSD card, and an ESP-01 socket to add WiFi connectivity. The beta version sold for $5, and at the time I missed that included Raspberry Pi Pico board as well, so basically you got a free baseboard. The Malaysian company has now sent me a review sample to play around with, so let’s have a closer at the hardware and code samples for the board. Maker Pi Pico Unboxing and Specifications I received the board in Cytron package together with a pinout diagram for Raspberry Pi Pico, and we can see the latter is already soldered to Maker Pi Pico. Maker Pi Pico specifications: Based on Raspberry Pi Pico […]