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Orange Pi Development Boards

ODROID-HC2 Linux NAS System for 3.5″ Hard Drives Launched for $54

January 18th, 2018 35 comments

We knew it was coming, and Hardkernel has now launched an updated version of the ODROID-HC1, called ODROID-HC2 based on the same Samsung Exynos 5422 board, but instead supporting 3.5″ hard drives.

The device can now be purchased for $54 plus shipping, but you may also consider adding some accessories like a 12V/2A power supply, and the top cover for the enclosure.ODROID-HC2 specifications:

  • SoC – Samsung Exynos 5422 octa-core processor with 4x ARM Cortex-A15 @ 2.0 GHz, 4x ARM Cortex-A7 @ 1.4GHz, and Mali-T628 MP6 GPU supporting OpenGL ES 3.0 / 2.0 / 1.1 and OpenCL 1.1 Full profile
  • System Memory – 2GB LPDDR3 RAM PoP @ 750 MHz
  • Storage
    • UHS-1 micro SD slot up to 128GB
    • SATA interface via JMicron JMS578 USB 3.0 to SATA bridge chipset
    • Case supports 2.5″ or 3.5″ drives up to 27mm thick
  • Network Connectivity – 10/100/1000Mbps Ethernet (via USB 3.0)
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 port
  • Debugging – Serial console header
  • Misc – Power, status, and SATA LEDs;
  • Power Supply
    • 12V/2A via 5.5/2.1mm power barrel
    • Backup header for RTC battery
  • Dimensions – 197 x 115 x 42 mm (aluminum cooling frame)
  • Weight – 361 grams

The company provides Ubuntu 16.04 with Linux 4.14, and OpenCL support, but other ditributions are available too including Debian, DietPi, OMV (OpenMediaVault) and others such as Armbian which has released stable Ubuntu and Debian server images for HC1 (but it should work for HC2 too). Source code can be found on Hardkernel’s Github account.

Just like the previous model, ODROID-HC2 is stackable, which explains why it does not sell with a top cover by default, so if you want to buy a single system that works out of the box and with a fully closed enclosure, you should add the optional 12V/2A power supply ($5.90) and a clear or black plastic case ($5.00) to your purchase.

Espressif ESP32 LyraTD MS1 HDK is Designed for Smart Speakers, Wireless Audio and other Smart Home Appliances

January 16th, 2018 7 comments

So apparently voice command will represent 50% of all searches in the next two years, and everybody is jumping on the smart speaker bandwagon, with announcements from many companies at CES 2018, including Google’s Android Things + Assistant products‘ announcement,  NXP i.MX 8M official launch, Amazon Alexa Voice Service (AVS) development kit from Amlogic and Allwinner, and more.

Espressif Systems is about to join the party with their ESP32 LyraTD MS1 HDK (Hardware development kit) that most people will likely remember as “Audio Mic HDK” that was announced on Twitter.

Click to Enlarge

Espressif Audio Mic HDK specifications:

  • Wireless Module – ESP32-WROVER module with 802.11 b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.1 LE connectivity.
  • DSP – 4-mic array chip
  • Storage – micro SD card for audio files
  • Audio
    • Audio driver chip
    • Earphone jack
    • Dual speaker output ports
    • 4x microphone array with up to 3 meter sensitivity while playing music
  • Expansion
    • I2C/SPI header
    • 6-pin UART header
    • I2S header
    • Others undocumented
  • Debugging – USB-UART micro USB interface (based on CP2102N), and JTAG header
  • Misc – Power switch, 8x keys on top
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port

The kit can work over WiFi or Bluetooth, supports major cloud voice vendors such as Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Baidu DuerOS. Soft decoder, and hot word recognition runs directly on ESP32 processor.

In twitter, the company also said you could implement your own hotword/keyword, by providing around 5000 unique recordings of your selected word, and that they expect to ship the board next week. It’s unclear when the board will be available for sale however.

One of the commenter mentioned he made his own ESP32 Circle evaluation kit with an audio jack, and a single microphone. If you are interested in that third party board, you can purchase it on Taobao for 169 RMB (~$26). The official Espressif Audio Mic HDK should sell for a bit higher due to the extra features.

“New” Raspberry Pi Zero WH Launched with Pre-Soldered Headers

January 15th, 2018 15 comments

Raspberry Pi Zero W was launched in February 2017 for $10 as an update to RPi Zero adding WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity. The Raspberry Pi foundation has now announced a new model called Raspberry Pi Zero WH.

What does not extra H mean? H Bridge? nope. Hybrid? nope. WH like in white PCB? re-nope. H means the 40-pin header is soldered. It can be more convenient for people who don’t own a soldering iron, or don’t feel confident soldering on their own.

Apart from the header, Raspberry Pi Zero WH specifications remain identical to the W version:

  • SoC – Broadcom BCM2835 ARM11 processor @ 1GHz with VideoCore IV GPU
  • System Memory – 512MB RAM
  • Storage – microSD slot
  • Video Output – mini HDMI port and composite video (via 2 unpopulated  pins)
  • Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – 1x micro USB OTG port, 1x micro USB port for power only
  • Camera – 1x CSI camera connector
  • Expansion – Soldered 40-pin HAT-compatible header
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port
  • Dimensions – 65mm x 30mm x 5mm

This will be convenient for pHat boards, but the foundation also mentioned GPIO expander tool to use Raspberry Pi Zero (W/WH)  with a PC running Debian, or other projects where you may not want to permanently solder wires, e.g. for prototyping with a breadboard.

No price was mentioned in the blog post, and few approved resellers have stared to list the new model, but I could find it on Pimoroni, where it is sold for 11.04 GBP excluding VAT (~$15 US),  and for reference the shop sells RPI Zero W for 8 GBP exc. VAT (~$11 US), so you pay around $4 to get the version with the soldered header.

HiKey 960 Android Development Board Gets a 4GB RAM Version for $250

January 13th, 2018 6 comments

Hikey 960 development board is one of the most powerful Arm boards on the market thanks to Huawei/Hisilicon Kirin 960 octa-core processor with four ARM Cortex A73 cores, four Cortex A53 cores, and a Mali-G71 MP8 GPU, fast storage with 32GB UFS 2.1 flash, and 3GB LPDDR3 memory. Like the earlier Hikey (620) board, the board is also an official reference board for AOSP, so you should be able to run the latest Android version, and also play with sensors using Neonkey SensorHub 96Boards mezzanine board.

If you are somehow limited by the 3GB RAM on the board, you can rejoice as Seeed Studio has just launched a 4GB RAM version selling for $249, or about $10 extra. Note that shipping is only scheduled for February 2, 2018, so those are pre-orders.

The rest of the specifications for Hikey 960 4GB RAM version are unchanged:

  • SoC – Huawei Kirin 960 octa-core big.LITTLE processor with 4x ARM Cortex A73 cores @ up to 2.3 GHz, 4x Cortex A53 cores @ up to 1.8 GHz, and a Mali-G71 MP8 GPU @ up to 900 MHz
  • System Memory – 4GB LPDDR4 SDRAM @ 1866 MHz
  • Storage – 32GB UFS flash storage + micro SD card slot up to 2TB (SD3.0, SRD104)
  • Video Output / Display Interface – 1x HDMI 1.4 up to 1080p; 1x 4-lane MIPI DSI connector up to 3840×2400 @ 60 Hz via HS expansion connector
  • Video Decode – H265\HEVC MP/High Tier, Main/High Tier, H.264 BP/MP/HP, MPEG 1/2/4, VC-1, VP6/8, RV8/9/10, DIVX, H265 up to 4K @60fps
  • Video Encode – 4K @30fps H.265/H264
  • Audio – Via HDMI, Tensilica HiFi 3.0 DSP audio subsystem
  • Connectivity – Dual band 802.11 a/b/g/n/a WiFi and Bluetooth 4.1 with two antennas (TI Wilink 8 WL1837 module)
  • USB – 2x USB 3.0 type A host ports, 1x USB 2.0 type C OTG port
  • Camera – 1x 4-lane MIPI CSI, 1x 2-lane MIPI CSI via HS expansion connector
  • Expansion
    • PCIe Gen2 on M.2 M Key connector
    • 40 pin low speed (LS) expansion connector with +1.8V, +5V, DC power, GND, 2x UART, 2x I2C, SPI, I2S, 12x GPIO
    • 60 pin high speed (HS) expansion connector: 4L MIPI DSI, 2L+4L MIPI CSI, 2x I2C, SPI (48M), USB 2.0
  • Misc – LEDs for WiFi & Bluetooth, 4x user LEDs, power button, reset button
  • Power Supply –  8V-18V/2A via 4.75/1.7mm power barrel (EIAJ-3 Compliant); 12V/2A power supply recommended; PMU: Hi6421GWCV530, Hi6422GWCV211, Hi6422GWCV212;
  • Dimensions – 85mm x 55mm
  • Weight – 60 grams

Click to Enlarge

Hikey 960 is purely an Android development platform, as even though there are references to Debian Dekstop/Developer images, there don’t seem to be available for download, so AFAICS there’s no Linux support. Beside information provided in Android developer’s website (linked above), you’ll also find software and hardware documentation on 96Boards Github account.

Quokka IoT FPGA Board is Programmable with C# Language (Crowdfunding)

January 12th, 2018 1 comment

Quokka IoT (preliminary) hardware specifications:

  • FPGA – Intel Altera Cyclone IV, 6K logic elements, EP4CE6E22C8
  • Clock – 50MHz
  • Connectivity – WiFi via WiPy module
  • Expansion
    • 40x GPIO (3 banks by 8 pins, with direction and voltage (3.3V or 5V) configuration, 16 raw IO pins 3.3V)
    • 2x Dual Channel 10 bit ADC (3.3V)
    • 2x Dual Channel 10 bit DAC (3.3V)
    • H-Bridge for DC motors with support for external power
  • Power Supply – 5-24V DC input

The specifications are preliminary, because the FPGA may be replaced by one with more logic cells (e.g. 20K) depending on the popularity of the project. Drivers are available for each hardware component on the board including ADC and DAC drivers, UART, JSON serializer\deserializer and much more.

As mentioned in the introduction, C# programming is possible with QDT, and it’s not limited to Quokka IoT board, so you should be able to use it with other FPGA boards, although a license may be required as we’ll see below.

You can watch a short demo of the board in action while attached to a robotic chassis.

The project has launched on Kickstarter with a $30.000 AUD funding goal (~$23,600 US). Rewards start at 150 AUD ($118 US) for Quokka IoT board only, but if you want to use the board with QDT, you’d need to add 50 AUD extra for a total of 200 AUD (~$158 US). Shipping adds 25 AUD ($19.7 US), and delivery is scheduled for May 2018.

Thanks to TLS for the tip

$1 RDA5981 WiFi IoT Arm Cortex-M4 SoC is Designed for Smart Home Devices, Smart Speakers

January 11th, 2018 9 comments

RDA Microelectronics processors are found in a few cheap smart and not-so-smart phones, as well as the even cheaper Orange Pi i96 board. But the company does not only design cellular chips, but their portfolio also includes solutions for the Internet of Things and TV & radio tuners.

RDA5981 is a WiFi IoT chip specifically designed for smart home & audio application, such as smart speakers, and it’s found in devices running Baidu DuerOS, the Chinese equivalent of Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. The company explains it can be widely used in televisions, set-top boxes, smart appliances, wireless monitors, and other products.

RDA5981A Block Diagram

RDA5981 A/B/C processor specifications:

  • CPU – Arm Cortex-M4 @ up to 160 MHz with integrated MPU and mbed uvisor
  • System Memory  – Up to 448 KB SRAM for network stack and application, external PSRAM interface
  • Storage – Up to 32Mbit SPI flash
  • Connectivity
    • WiFi
      • 2.4 Ghz 802.11b/g/n WiFi up to 150 Mbps with 20/40 MHz bandwidth
      • WPA, WPA2, WEP, TKIP,CCMP security
      • STA, softAP, P2P, STA+softAp, STA+P2P modes
      • A-MPDU, A-MSDU, HT-BA
    • TCP/IP stack with SSL (TLS?)
  • Host Interfaces – SPI / UART (AT command set) / USB2.0
  • Peripherals – GPIO, 2x UART, 2x I2S, 1x I2C, 8x PWM, 4x SPI, 1x SDMMC, 1x USB2, 2x ADC
  • Security – Hardware crypto accelerator AES/RSA, true random number generator (TRNG), and CRC accelerator
  • Misc – Watchdog, 16×16 bits eFuse configuration
  • Package – 5×5mm2 QFN package, 0.4mm pitch QFN-40

The company provides support for FreeRTOS and mbedOS5.1 for the chip. You could get a very basic datasheet from the company’s product page, but if you don’t want to leave your contact details, there’s even more information on Electrodragon Wiki.

The features looks interesting and could become a competitor to Realtek RTL8710AF or even Espressif ESP8266, especially Electrodragon sells their RDA5981X1 WiFi module based on RDA5981A for just $1.92 plus shipping.

Specifications for the module:

  • SoC – RDA5981A with 8Mbit internal flash, 288+160 KB RAM
  • 24 castellated pin exposing
    • Up to 16 free GPIOs
    • 2x UART up to 4Mbit, 3x ADC, 1x USB, 1x I2C, I2S in, I2S out, 1x SPI, up to 4x PWM, etc… (Pins are multiplex with up to 6 different function per pin)
    • VCC (3.0 to 3.5V), GND
    • Reset
  • Dimensions – 17.60 x 15.50 mm

The module also comes with a red breakout board (with 2.54mm pitch) included in the price. The company says RDA5981A IC itself sells for around $1 with price obviously depending on quantity.They also mention the SoC still have bugs without expanding. The board can be programming with AT commands or using mBed as explained in the Wiki linked above.

RDA5981A “Arduino” Development Board

There’s also an RDA5981 board with Arduino header, which I could only find on Taobao for under $50. Somebody also setup a new Github account with more information, and beside the RDA5981A/B/C models listed in the datasheet,  there seems to be an RDA5981AM chip as well. All RDA5981 variants are shown to be suitable for smart home, but RDA5981C can also be used for smart speakers and WiFi toys, maybe because it comes with 32 Mbit SPI flash? We’ll have to see how things evolve, and whether the solution will gain traction.

Via Olimex

$34 SmartFusion2 Maker Board Arm Cortex-M3 + FPGA Board Supports ESP32 & ESP8266 Modules

January 11th, 2018 13 comments

Xilinx Zynq SoCs are probably the most well-known FPGAs with ARM cores, as their Cortex A9/A53 cores can run Linux, but they are not the only ones. Microsemi launched SmartFusion2 SoC comprised of FPGA fabric and an Arm Cortex-M3 core in 2013, as well as a $300 development kit.

The company has now partnered with Digikey to launch SmartFusion2 Maker Board, a low-cost evaluation platform for the SoC that comes with Gigabit Ethernet, a USB port, a connector for ESP8266 module, PCB footprint for ESP32 module, among other features like a light sensor, LEDs, and buttons.

SmartFusion2 maker board (M2S010-MKR-KIT) main features & specifications:

  • SoC  – Microsemi SmartFusion2 M2S010 SoC with:
    • Arm Cortex-M3 @ 166 MHz, 6oKB+80KB eSRAM, 256KB eNVM
    • FPGA with 12,084 logic element, 400 Kbits RAM
  • Storage – 16 Mbit SPI Flash
  • Connectivity
  • USB (for programming/debugging) – USB integrated FlashPro5 programming hardware; USB port for UART communications
  • Sensor – Ambient light sensor
  • Misc – 8x user LEDs, 3x buttons including two user pushbuttons, 50 MHz clock source
  • Power Supply – 5V via mini USB port; LX7167A PMIC
  • Dimensions – N/A

The SmartFusion2 maker board can be used with Microsemi’s Libero SoC v11.8 or greater with a (Free) Silver license to program the FPGA fabric, and SoftConsole Eclipse based IDE to code the Arm Cortex M3 core in C/C++. You’ll find documentation on eewiki’s getting started guide.

Click to Enlarge

The board – also known as M2S010-MKR-KIT – can be purchased for $33.75 through Digikey with close to 2,000 unit in stock at the time of writing. There may also be further information on the product page on Microsemi website.

Develop NXP i.MX 8M Voice Controlled Smart Devices with MCIMX8M-EVK Evaluation Kit

January 11th, 2018 8 comments

We first heard about NXP i.MX 8M processsors in October 2016, and at the end of last year, WandPi 8M development board was unveiled with shipping scheduled for Q2 2018 once the processor will start manufacturing. Other exciting i.MX 8M projects include Purism Librem 5 smartphone, MNT Reform DIY modular computer, and I’m sure there will be others development board & products, and plenty of system-on-modules introduced with the processor in 2018.

NXP i.MX 8M processor also got in the news at CES 2018, because it will be one of the hardware platforms certified for Android Things, and NXP also issued a press release to announced the processor’s multimedia capability with be used in voice controlled devices with or without video.

NXP i.MX 8M Block Diagram

The PR refers to Gartner Research saying that “voice commands will dominate 50 percent of all searches in the next two years”, and explains that with thinner and thinner TV, sound bars and smart speaker swill become more popular and integrate features such as voice control, home automation, … which can be served by iMX 8M family of applications processors. The company also expects the processors to be found in lighting, thermostats, door locks, home security, smart sprinklers, other smart home systems and devices. One of the main purpose of that press release was to say “come to see demos at our CES 2018 booth” including:

  • i.MX 8M hardware that will be driving voice, video, and audio all at the same time, while also displaying 4K HDR, dual screen and immersive audio capabilities.
  • Android Things demos of drawing robots (drawbots) that use on-device processing power to sketch attendee selfies in real-time, and Manny, a Things-powered robotic hand (handbot) that uses TensorFlow plus computer vision to mirror hand gestures and play games.
  • An Alexa solution with leading features such as display support, multi-room audio and integrated talk-to-call.

NXP i.MX 8M Evaluation Kit

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Since the processor is still new, many of those demos will be implemented with the company’s MCIMX8M-EVK evaluation kits with the following features:

  • Processor – NXP i.MX 8M Quad (MIMX8MQ6DVAJZAA) quad core Cortex A53 applications processor, 1x Cortex-M4F real-time core, Vivante GC7000L GPU
  • System Memory – 3 GB LPDDR4
  • Storage – 16GB eMMC 5.0 flash, 32MB SPI NOR flash, micro SD card connector
  • Display interface – HDMI 2.0a Connector, DSI interface via Mini-SAS connector
  • Audio connectors – 3.5 mm stereo headphone output
  • Camera – CSI interface via Mini-SAS connectors
  • Connectivity
    • Gigabit Ethernet via RJ45 connector
    • 1x on-board 802.11ac WiFi/Bluetooth 4.2 module
    • 1x M.2 slot (KEY-E type)
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0/3.0 type C connector, 1x USB 2.0/3.0 host connector
  • Expansion Port – FPC connector (SAI ports)
  • Debug connectors – JTAG (10-PIN header), MicroUSB for UART debug
  • Misc – ONOFF & RESET buttons; Power status & UART LEDs
  • Power – NXP PMIC PF4210 + Discrete DCDC/LDO
  • Dimensions – 10 x 10 cm; 10-layer PCB

MCIMX8M-EVK Block Diagram – Click to Enlarge

The board ships with USB cable, a 12V/5.0A! power supply, and a quick start guide. If you plan to use audio input, you may need to add an Audio card via the SAI/I2C expansion port The company has also released a whole bunch of documents, hardware design files, SDKs, BSPs, MQX RTOS, and software tools right before CES 2018, which you can find on the evaluation kit and processor pages. The evaluation kit is sold for $449.00.