USBImager – A Lightweight Alternative to balenaEtcher

The common way to flash OS images to SD cards used to be “dd”. But you could potentially damage your system with a wrong command, it will not do verification after writing the firmware image, and it was not available in Windows, so people had to use Win32DiskImager, and last time I check it did not do verification either. So Etcher, now called balenaEtcher, became a popular cross-operating systems tool to flash images for Raspberry Pi and other SBCs. It’s easy to use and does verification after flashing. However, the binary is rather large at around 130 MB, and the company started to show sponsors to fund the development of the program, and this was not to the liking of everyone. During my review of CrowPi2 Raspberry Pi 4  laptop, I encountered an issue with balenaEtcher, which was quickly fixed once I updated the program to the latest version. But commenters pointed out there are now better tools including USBImager, […]

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Perfetto Profiler Now Supports Mali GPU Hardware Counters via Panfrost

Perfetto is an open-source system profiler, app tracer, and trace analyzer for Linux, Android & Chrome platforms, and user-space apps. The program can already visualize CPU and memory usage, as well as power consumption.  GPU support is more limited with the program only capable of sampling the GPU frequency when the driver outputs that information via ftrace. When Perfetto is also extendable thanks to a Tracing C++ SDK that “allows userspace applications to emit trace events and add more app-specific context to a Perfetto trace”. Collabora made use of the tracing SDK to add support for Mali Midgard GPU performance profiling in gfx-pps project using the Mali GPU hardware counters exposed via Panfrost open-source Mali GPU driver. After following the installation instructions, you’ll be able to run the following executables for tracing and profiling: tracedtracing service. traced_probes OS probes service. perfetto command-line tool for recording traces. producer-gpuproviding the Panfrost data source. There’s also gpu.cfgconfig file to feed as input to […]

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xDrill Smart Power Drill Supports Intelligent Speed/Torque, Laser Measuring, Digital Leveling (Crowdfunding)

Many home appliances now have smart functions, and in my cases, I fail to see the added value, and I’m not sure why I’d want/need a connected refrigerator with a touchscreen display. So when I first saw somebody make a “smart” power drill with a small touchscreen display I laughed. But after having a closer look, Robbox xDrill smart power drill could actually be a very useful device saving you time and helping work better. The touchscreen is used for settings but also serves as a level tool to make sure the drill is aligned horizontally or at the angle of your choice, and you can also set the drilling depth. There are also two lasers that measure distances, so you don’t need to use a measuring tape and pencil anymore. xDrill key features and specifications: Built-in microcontroller with WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity (is that an ESP32 inside?) Display – LCD touchscreen display Brushless digital motor Manual speed/torque lever (2000 […]

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CANTact Pro Open-source USB to CAN Device Enables Car Hacking (Crowdfunding)

The Controller Area Network (CAN) serial communication bus allows microcontrollers and devices to communicate with each other without a host computer. It’s especially used in automotive applications where various components (dashboard, ABS, air conditioner, and other sensors) may need to communicate with each other, but it has also found its way into robots, industrial control systems, and avionics. CANTact Pro is an open-source USB to CAN device that can help you debugging or hack components inside a car or other vehicle. The tool features two CAN Interfaces and can be controlled from Windows, Linux, or Mac OS computers. CANTact Pro key features and specifications: CAN Interfaces – 1x CAN/CAN-FD/SWCAN (Single Wire CAN), 1x CAN/CAN-FD; Both via DB9 connectors Host Interface – USB 2.0 device port Misc – 4x LEDs Safety – Isolation between CAN and USB Power Supply – 5V via USB port CANTact Pro works with Windows, macOS, and Linux with USB drivers, command-line interface, and Python, C/C++, and […]

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3D Printer Retraction Calibration Vol II – Calibration Generator Program Release

Good day. Karl here. It has been a while since I have submitted any articles. I got burned out and my normal day job picked up considerably. I have been keeping busy but not with anything I would share by itself. I will start out with an update on what I have been up to. You can skip to the 3D printer retraction calibration section with the release of the Calibration Generator tool if you are not interested. What have I been up to? First, I have been doing a lot of gaming. Been playing Fortnite, Red Dead Redemption 2, and some other random games. I am trying hard to keep up with my son. Unraid OS. So many things to explore and learn. Docker, VM’s, and storage. There is so much goodness in this OS. I was able to consolidate several services into one box. I had a standalone NAS drive that I went way too long trusting my […]

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ZS1100A IoT Power Meter Supports Sigrok Open-Source Software (Crowdfunding)

A few months ago, I tested Qoitech Otii Arc power meter & DAQ system designed for developers of IoT devices, and fount out it would be incredibly useful to developers of battery-operated devices since it shows voltage and current graphs synchronized with the serial output making it easy to see where software might be optimized. The system can also capture analog and digital signals from the DUT and emulate batteries with user-defined characteristics. But this weekend, I’ve come across a very similar solution with ZS1100A IoT power meter that also happens to be compatible with Sigrok open-source signal analysis software, and the corresponding Pulseview GUI. ZS1100A IoT power meter specifications: Measurements Output Voltage Range – 0 to 6 V programmable in 10 mV steps with +/- 5mV accuracy, Current Measurement Range – -0.5 A to 1.5 A (linear range) with < 0.1 μA resolution,  accuracy of 1% of measured value ± 0.2 μA Max Output Current 1 A constant current […]

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Zigbee Firmware News – TI Z-Stack 3.0 Zigbee for CC2530 & ptvo Zigbee FW Configuration Tool

We’ve been writing about Zigbee more in recent months with either product announcements such as Sonoff ZBBridge WiFi to Zigbee gateway, and open-source software updates such as Tasmota support for Zigbee connectivity. We’ve recently been tipped about Zigbee-related news, namely TI Z-Stack 3.0 Zigbee router firmware port to Sonoff BASICZBR3, and ptvo Zigbee Configurable Firmware v2.4 GUI tool designed to create alternative Zigbee switch and router firmware for TI CC253x based modules and devices TI Z-Stack 3.0 Zigbee Router Firmware on Sonoff BASICZBR3 Kirovilya, a well-known open-source developer and founder of ioBroker open-source home automation software, has ported TI Z-Stack 3.0 Zigbee router firmware to CC2530 and tested it on Sonoff BASICZBR3 with DS18B20 waterproof temperature sensor. This is significant as Sonoff BASICZBR3 is only shipped with TI Z-Stack Home 1.2 Zigbee router firmware and I was told no one else had ported TI Z-Stack 3.0 Zigbee to CC2530 chip so far. You’ll find source code on Github, and a […]

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Bluetooth USB PD Tester Connects to Windows and Android/iOS Apps for Data Logging

We’ve written about USB-C PD power meters in the past such as Satechi USB Type-C power meter. Those allow you to measure (charging) voltage and current displayed on the screen part of the meter. But thanks to Bluetooth and USB connectivity, Riden TC66C USB PD tester allows you to capture and log data over a period of time by connecting to a Windows program or Android/iOS mobile app. There’s also a version without Bluetooth – TC66 – that only works with the Windows program over USB. Riden TC66C/TC66 Bluetooth USB PD tester specifications: Display 0.96″ color IPS display with 160×80 resolution Auto screen off time – Adjustable up to 9 minutes Measurements Voltage Range – 0.005V-30V +/- 0.1mV; accuracy: ±(0.5%+10digits at 23℃) Current Range – 0 to 5A +/- 0.01mA; accuracy: ±(1%+20 digits, at 23℃) Power Range – 0-150W Temperature Range – 0 to 80°C Load impedance range – 1Ω to 9999.9Ω Charge Accumulation Range – 0 to 99999 mAh Energy Accumulation range […]

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