Posts Tagged ‘esp32’

A First Look at ESP32-LyraTD-MSC Audio Mic HDK with Baidu DuerOS Assistant

February 18th, 2018 1 comment

Earlier this year, Espressif Systems had unveiled their ESP32-LyraTD-MSC Audio MiC HDK (Hardware Development Kit) which features an ESP32-WROOM module, a 4-mic array DSP, 3 microphones, an audio jack, and various I/Os.

I received the board a couple of weeks ago, and while there’s no public information released yet, the company provided me with ESP32-LyraTD-MSC User Guide in English. Eventually, I’d expect Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa to be supported, but in the meantime I had to leverage my (lowly) Chinese language skills to get started since the kit is pre-loaded with firmware connecting to Baidu DuerOS voice assistant.

ESP32-LyraTD-MSC Unboxing

The kit came in a bland Espressif Systems carton box.

Inside the package, I could only find one kit comprised of two boards.

The bottom board read ESP32_MicrosemiDSP_Mainboard-V1, and does not show much apart from marking for connectors, headers and the power switch.

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While the top comes with eight buttons (Vol +, Vol -, Mode, Boot, RST, Rec, Play, and Set), three microphones, as well as some configuration switches, which you may not want to touch a first…

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We can take the two boards apart to check out the mainboard, and ESP32_MicrosemiDSP_SubBoard_V1 with the microphones and buttons which includes a chip marked “N1309-3216”.

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If we have a closer look at the main board, we’ll find ESP32-WROVER module, MicroSemi ZL38063 audio processor which will process the audio from the microphones, and assist ESP32 with wake word recognition, as well as a CP2102N chip for debugging. We also have a micro SD card slot, two micro USB port (one for power, one for UART), an audio jack to connect a speaker, an on/off switch, and various headers for I/O and debugging (e.g. JTAG).

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Testing Espressif Systems ESP32 Audio Mic HDK with Baidu DuerOS

As this stage there’s actually little you can do due to the lack of documentation, but I was still able to test the hardware with Baidu DuerOS assistant. The first part of the user manual tells you to flash the firmware, but the requested files are nowhere to be found, and luckily the board was pre-loaded with some version of it.

So what I had to do first is to connect a USB power supply to the POWER micro USB port as well as a pair of speakers. If you plan to modify and flash the firmware (once it becomes available) you’ll also need to connect a micro USB to USB cable between your (Windows) computer and the UART micro USB port.

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Now change the power switch to ON, and for the first boot, you should see the blue LED blink. Press the SET button for a few seconds until the board utters something in Chinese (which I could not understand), and install & run IOT Espressif for Android (apk) or ESP-TOUCH for iOS on your smartphone. Skip all the initial steps, and tap on the top left icon, select Add devices, input your WiFi password, and click OK.

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After a few seconds, you should see one item added to the “Connected to WiFi Device List”, meaning the kit is now a client on your WiFi network. The blue LED should now be on at all times (no blinking).

Now we can try the voice assistant with “Alexa” wake word, which will cause the board to reply “您哈! 有什么吩咐“ (nin hao! you shenme fenfu) which translates to “Hello! How can I help you?”. We can then repeat “Alexa” with our request in Chinese.  I tried to ask for the time, and weather, and play music in the video below.

The assistant combines female and kid voices for interaction. I actually added one MP3 and one FLAC audio files in the micro SD card hoping it would start playing them, but instead it started some music from then net.

Microsemi ZL38063 Documentation & Tools

That’s all I could do for now, as we’ll need to get more documentation and some source code from Espressif Systems to further experiment with the platform. Although not compulsory, you may also be interested in ZL38063 audio processor resources since it interfaces with ESP32 over SPI for commands and I2S for audio. It may be necessary to change the wake word for example, although Espressif Systems mentioned they could do that themselves, and they’d just need 5,000 audio samples of the wake/hot word. Most of documentation and software tools are not public, so you’d need to request access to those with a company email address.

To my surprise, I managed to access the files using my website address, but sadly can’t share anything since none of the files are publicly available. The process is somewhat cumbersome, as you need to get approval for the account first which takes a few days, then request access to documentation for another day or two. There’s a separate login for software and registration to “Microsemi Software Delivery System (SDS)” is automatic, but again you need to request access to each software/firmware package individually which in my case was accepted within 24 hours. It would be good if Espressif Systems and/or Microsemi themselves could make it easier for developers to access those resources for a processor that was released in 2015.  Some documentation for ZL38063 based Microsemi AcuEdge Development Kit for Amazon AVS (ZLK38AVS) can be found on Github, but I’m not sure whether much of it is usable for the Espressif development kit.

Espressif Audio Mic HDK is not for sale just yet, but the company has sent the kit to several developers, so we should except some progress in the weeks or months ahead. I’ll likely check it out again once on English voice assistant is made to work, and more resources are made public.

CAN32 ESP32 Development Board is Designed for CAN Bus Applications

February 14th, 2018 3 comments

If you want a WiFi + BLE board to play with CAN bus, one option is to go with the versatile Olimex ESP32-EVB Board, but if you need something more compact CAN32 board might be worth a look as the board is specifically designed for projects and testing of the ESP32 in a CAN-BUS environment.

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CAN32 board hardware specifications:

  • Wireless module – Espressif Systems ESP32-WROOM WiFI + Bluetooth LE module
  • External storage – micro SD slot
  • CAN Bus chip – Texas Instruments SN65HVD230DR CAN-BUS transceiver with sleep mode
  • Expansion
    • Unpopulated headers exposing: SVP/SVN, GPIOs, I2C, UART, GND, 3.3Vm 5.0V
    • 4 larger vias for CAN H and L, 12V (max 15V), and GND
  • Debugging / Programming – micro USB port via Silicon Labs CP2102N USB to UART
  • Misc – C&K soft-touch low-profile buttons for reset and boot; 4x LEDs for power, ESP, UART Tx/Rx
  • Power Supply
    • 5V via micro USB port
    • Optional 12V (up to 15V) via vehicle battery
    • Texas Instruments <15V regulator for power from USB and/or vehicle voltage
    • 800mA LDO providing power up to 3.3V @ 500 mA to external devices
  • Dimensions – TBD

Schematics don’t seem to be available, and the developer mentions ESP32 CAN BUS protocol is still under development with working examples available on Github. The board comes pre-loaded with an Arduino Wifi-Scan example sketch.

CAN32 can be purchased on Tindie for $39 plus shipping. That’s a bit more expensive than the Olimex board selling for 26 Euros (~$32 USD). The latter is equipped with Microchip MCP2551 CAN transceiver which appears to have similar features and price ($1) as the TI chip found in CAN32.

Via ESP32Net on Twitter

Particle Unveils Three nRF52840 Bluetooth 5 Boards: Argon (WiFi), Boron (LTE), and Xenon, as well as Particle Mesh Technology

February 14th, 2018 1 comment

In the last year or so, Bluetooth has gotten an upgrade with the release of Bluetooth 5. The new protocol works on several existing platforms, but if you want support for the full set of Bluetooth 5 features such as longer range and higher bandwidth, we’ve seen you need a recent chip such as Nordic Semi nRF52840.

However so far, AFAIK you had to buy Nordic Semi own development kit for play with nRF52840, and now Particle has announced not one, but three low cost development boards powered by nRF52840 chip starting at just $9, and supporting their newly announced Particle Mesh technology. So for some reasons, it appears they did not go with Bluetooth Mesh.

Argon, Boron, Xenon

Particle Xenon – Bluetooth 5 + Mesh

Xenon is the cheapest model with the following specifications:

  • SoC – Nordic Semiconductor nRF52840 Arm Cortex-M4F 32-bit processor @ 64MHz with 1MB flash, 256KB RAM
  • Storage –  2MB SPI flash
  • Connectivity (via nRF52840)
    • 802.15.4-2006 up to 250 Kbps
    • Bluetooth 5 @ 2 Mbps, 1 Mbps, 500 Kbps, 125 Kbps
    • Up to +8 dBm TX power (down to -20 dBm in 4 dB steps)
    • NFC-A tag
    • On-board PCB antenna
    • u.FL connector for external antenna
  • Expansion – 20x mixed signal GPIO (6 x Analog, 4 x PWM), UART, I2C, SPI
  • USB – 1x Micro USB 2.0 port full speed (12 Mbps)
  • Debugging – JTAG (SWD) Connector
  • Misc – RGB status LED, Reset and Mode buttons
  • Power Supply
    • 5V via micro USB
    • Integrated Li-Po charging and battery connector
  • Dimensions –  ~5.1 x 2.3 cm (Meets Adafruit Feather‘s dimensions and pinout)
  • Certifications – FCC, CE and IC; RoHS compliant (lead-free)

Particle Argon  – WiFi + Bluetooth 5 + Mesh

The Argon board has a similar designed as Xenon, except it adds a single core ESP32-S0WD for WiFi connectivity:

  • SoC
    • Nordic Semiconductor nRF52840 Arm Cortex-M4F 32-bit processor @ 64MHz with 1MB flash, 256KB RAM
    • Espressif ESP32-S0WD single core 32-bit LX6 microprocessor, up to 200 DMIPS with 448 KB ROM, 520 KB SRAM
  • Storage –  2MB SPI flash for nRF52840, 1MB SPI flash for ESP32-S0WD
  • Connectivity via SoCs
    • ESP32
      • 802.11b/g/n WiFi (2.4 Ghz) up to 150 Mbps
      • u.FL connector for external WiFi antenna
    • nRF52840
      • 802.15.4-2006 up to 250 Kbps
      • Bluetooth 5 @ 2 Mbps, 1 Mbps, 500 Kbps, 125 Kbps
      • Up to +8 dBm TX power (down to -20 dBm in 4 dB steps)
      • NFC-A tag
      • u.FL connector for external antenna
    • On-board PCB antenna for Bluetooth or WiFi (user selectable)
  • Expansion – 20x mixed signal GPIO (6 x Analog, 4 x PWM), UART, I2C, SPI
  • USB – 1x Micro USB 2.0 port full speed (12 Mbps)
  • Debugging – JTAG (SWD) Connector
  • Misc – RGB status LED, Reset and Mode buttons
  • Power Supply
    • 5V via micro USB
    • Integrated Li-Po charging and battery connector
  • Dimensions –  ~5.1 x 2.3 cm (Meets Adafruit Feather‘s dimensions and pinout)
  • Certifications – FCC, CE and IC; RoHS compliant (lead-free)

Particle Boron – LTE (NB-IoT / eMTC) + Bluetooth 5 + Mesh

Bron board have a again a similar design, but instead adds LTE IoT connectivity:

  • SoC – Nordic Semiconductor nRF52840 Arm Cortex-M4F 32-bit processor @ 64MHz with 1MB flash, 256KB RAM
  • Storage –  2MB SPI flash
  • Connectivity
    • u-blox SARA R410 LTE modem
      • LTE CAT M1/ NB1 module with global hardware support (MVNO support for US/Mexico only)
      • 3GPP Release 13 LTE Cat M1
      • EGPRS Power Class E2
      • Dual SIM support: Nano 4FF (unpopulated) and MFF2
    • 802.15.4-2006 up to 250 Kbps
    • Bluetooth 5 @ 2 Mbps, 1 Mbps, 500 Kbps, 125 Kbps
    • Up to +8 dBm TX power (down to -20 dBm in 4 dB steps)
    • NFC-A tag
    • On-board PCB antenna
    • u.FL connector for external antenna
  • Expansion – 20x mixed signal GPIO (6 x Analog, 4 x PWM), UART, I2C, SPI
  • USB – 1x Micro USB 2.0 port full speed (12 Mbps)
  • Debugging – JTAG (SWD) Connector
  • Misc – RGB status LED, Reset and Mode buttons
  • Power Supply
    • 5V via micro USB
    • Integrated Li-Po charging and battery connector
  • Dimensions –  ~5.1 x 2.3 cm (Meets Adafruit Feather‘s dimensions and pinout)
  • Certifications – FCC, CE and IC; RoHS compliant (lead-free)

All three boards support Particle Mesh, a mesh networking technology built on Thread, and “designed to connect the spaces in between existing Wi-Fi and cellular deployments with local networks that are low-cost, secure, and ultra-reliable”. Xenon boards can act as end-points or repeaters in the mesh network, while Argon and Boron boards would normally be used as WiFi/LTE gateways.

The company has priced the boards very aggressively at least during during the pre-order period with Xenon going for $9, Argon for $15, and Boron for $29, and shipping is free during the first 24 hours (9 hours left at the time of writing). The boards are expected to ship in July 2018, and after prices will go up to respectively $12, $19, and $39.

Particle also increased the free data allowance for their $2.99 cellular Device Cloud plan which now comes  with 3MB of data per month instead of just 1MB. If you exceed that amount, they’ve decreased the price per MB from $0.99 to $0.40 too.

TTGO TAudio V1.0 is a $20 Audio Board with ESP32-WROVER Module

February 12th, 2018 5 comments

Espressif Systems may have recently unveiled their Audio Mic HDK suitable for all sort of audio applications including smart speakers, but if you need an ESP32 board that’s available now and don’t need a microphone array, TTGO TAudio V1.0 board may be an option.

The board – also known as TTGO T9 – features an ESP32-WROVER WiFI + Bluetooth module, a Wolfson audio codec with a 3.5mm audio jack and built-in microphone, as well as an RGB LED array and a motion tracking sensor.

TTGO T9 / TAudio V1.0 board hardware specifications:

  • Wireless Module – ESP32-WROVER 802.11 b/g/n + Bluetooth 4.1 LE module with 4MB Flash, 4MB PSRAM
  • External Storage – micro SD card slot
  • Audio
    • Cirrus Logic / Wolfson WM8978 stereo audio codec
    • 3.5mm audio jack
    • Microphone
  • Sensor – InvenSense MPU9250 9-Axis (Gyro + Accelerometer + Compass) MEMS device
  • Expansion
    • 24-pin header with GPIOs, I2C, UART, VP/VN, speaker out, RESET, 5V, 3.3V, VBAT, and GND
    • Unpopulated 5-pin header with GPIO 21, LED/GPIO 22, 5V, 3.3V, and GND
  • Misc – 22x RGB LED (WS2812B)
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port, LiPo battery header (500mA Max charging current)
  • Dimensions – TBD

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Documentation appears to be limited, but you’ll find some TTGO-T9 repos on Github showing how to control the RGB LED and sensor while playing music from the SD card, and controlling the device through a web interface (TTGO-T9-RGB_LED-WM8978), or run a “pay-voice-message”. Sadly most of the files appears to be binary only… There’s also a TTGO-T9 Marquee player, but it’s empty. The video below shows the board in action, likely the first demo playing music from an SD card. The second ESP32 board with OLED display is only likely used to “show the music”.

The board is sold with one power cable (to solder to the battery) for $18.33 + shipping (around $20 here) on Aliexpress.

$2 USB “18650 Battery Shield” Powers Arduino, ESP32, and Other Low Power Boards with a 18650 Battery

January 29th, 2018 10 comments

If you’re looking for battery power for one of your projects, you may consider a “18650 battery shield” – going for just above $2 on Aliexpress or eBay  – for powering Arduino boards, Espressif ESP8266 or ESP32 boards, or any board that can be powered by 5V up to 2A via USB or headers, or by 3V up to 1A via headers.

Specifications listed on eBay/Aliexpress:

  • Power Input – 5 to 8V via micro USB port up to 0.5A charging
  • Power Output
    • 5V via Type A USB port
    • 3V up to 1A via 3x 2-pin header
    • 5V up to 2A via 3x 2-pin headers
  • Misc – 1 switch control USB output, LED for charging status (green = full, red = charging)
  • Battery protection (Over-charge or Over-discharge)
  • Dimensions – 9.8 x 2.9 cm

You’ll need to add your own 18650 battery, and be careful about polarity while installing it, since putting it in the wrong direction would destroy the charging chip. Some sellers also stuff “Raspberry Pi” keyword in the product title, and they often do this for search engine optimization (SEO), but at least some people have shown it to work with a Raspberry Pi board too. It’s unclear whether it can act as a basic UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) without status. Has anybody tried?

Thanks to Harley for the tip.

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

January 16th, 2018 9 comments

[Update February 17, 2018:  The kit was previously referred as ESP32 LyRaTD MS1, but the company appears to have changed the name to ESP32-LyRaTD-MSC]

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.

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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.

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

January 11th, 2018 16 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.

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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.

Year 2017 in Review, Top 10 Posts, and Some Fun Stats

December 31st, 2017 21 comments

2017 is coming to an end, and as I do every year, I’ll take a look back at the year that was on CNX Software. The pace of development boards launches has not slowed down this year, and we get an even wider range from the low-end with Orange Pi or NanoPi boards, to much more powerful ARM boards, and some new entrants like Libre Computer. The same is true for TV boxes, most of which now support 4K HDR, ranging from ultra cheap models selling for less than $20 to higher end Android TV boxes, while mini PCs were dominated by Intel Apollo Lake models, although some Cherry Trail products were also launched.

Processor-wise, Amlogic launched more Amlogic S905X derivatives with S905W/S905D/S905Z, which are popular in the TV box market. Rockchip’s most interesting processor this year was RK3328 quad core Cortex A53 processor designed for 4K HDR Android TV boxes, but also popular with single board computers thanks to Gigabit Ethernet and USB 3.0 interfaces that provide good I/O performance. Allwinner H2+/H3/H5 were launched last year, but they kept being used in cheap development boards, retro game consoles, etc.. The company also launched A63 SoC for 2K tablets, and H6 for 4K OTT TV boxes, and we can expect the latter not only to be found in TV boxes such as Zidoo H6 Pro, but in more Orange Pi H6 boards, and likely other products in 2018 since beside media capabilities, the processor also supports Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0, and PCIe. Intel’s Celeron and Pentium Apollo Lake processors dominated the entry-level Windows mini PCs market this year, and Linux was much better supported than in Bay Trail / Cherry Trail processors, but few manufacturers decided to offer Apollo Lake mini PC pre-installed with Ubuntu or other Linux distributions.

2017 was also an interesting year for the Internet of Things (IoT) with Espressif ESP32 going into full gear, and prices dropping to $5 for maker boards. Other WiFi IoT solutions that looked promising last year such as RTL8710AF, did not really took off in a big way. LPWAN (Low Power Wide Area Network) solutions got even more traction with LoRa dominating, but far from being alone with Sigfox, and the emergence of 3GPP standards like NB-IoT and eMTC.

While I had written articles about 3D printing in the past, it really became a proper category on the blog this year, thanks to Karl’s reviews, and 3D printers provided by GearBest. I’d also like to thank Ian Morrison (Linuxium), TLS, Blu, Nanik who helped with reviews and/or articles this year.

Top 10 Posts Written in 2017

I’ve again compiled a list of the most popular posts of 2017 using the pageviews from Google Analytics, but for a change, I’ll show the results in reverse order:

  1. Google Assistant SDK Turns Your Raspberry Pi 3 into Google Home (May 2017) – Voice assistants like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant went beyond the companies’own products, and Google Assistant SDK release allowed developers to make their own DIY smart speaker based on Raspberry Pi 3 board, or other ARM Linux boards. I could successfully implement my own using an Orange Pi Zero kit.
  2. Mecool BB2 Pro Review – TV Box with DDR4 Memory – Part 2: Android Firmware, Benchmarks, Kodi (January 2017) – Mecool BB2 Pro was one of the first Amlogic S912 octa-core TV boxes with DDR4 memory, but my tests did not show any benefits over DDR3 memory.
  3. Mecool KI PRO Hybrid Android TV Box with Amlogic S905D SoC, DVB-T2 & DVB-S2 Tuners Sells for $80 (May 2017) – For some reasons, post about VideoStrong/Mecool Android set-top boxes are quite popular on CNX Software, and KI PRO was the first model based on Amlogic S905D processor with support for multiple demodulators.
  4. Orange Pi 2G-IoT ARM Linux Development Board with 2G/GSM Support is Up for Sale for $9.90 (March 2017) – “Cellular IoT Linux board for $10? Where’s the buy button?” might have been the first reaction to many people. But when buyers received their board, it was a struggle and may still be, since it was based on a  RDA Micro processor for phones poorly supported in Linux.
  5. Installing Ubuntu 17.04 on CHUWI LapBook 14.1 Apollo Lake Laptop (February 2017) – People want their cheap and usable Ubuntu laptop, and if manufacturers won’t make one for them, they’ll find ways to make their own. Sadly, CHUWI massively changed the hardware, and it’s not such a good solution anymore.
  6. ASUS Tinker Board is a Raspberry Pi 3 Alternative based on Rockchip RK3288 Processor (January 2017) – A large company like ASUS entering the maker board market, and the solution inspired from Raspberry Pi 3, but more much powerful. That got people interested!
  7. Creality CR-10 3D Printer Review – Part 2: Tips & Tricks, Octoprint, and Craftware (May 2017) – It was the year of cheap $100 to $200 3D printer, but CNX Software visitors were more interested in a better model, and Creality CR-10 review was the most popular 3D Printer review/post this year.
  8. Mecool KIII Pro Hybrid STB Review – Part 2: Android Firmware, TV Center, and DVB-T2 & DVB-S2 App (March 2017) – VideoStrong sells some inexpensive Android TV boxes with tuner under their Mecool, and KIII Pro was their first octa-core model with both DVB-T/T2 and DVB-S2 tuners.
  9. ASUS Tinker Board’s Debian & Kodi Linux Images, Schematics and Documentation (January 2017) – ASUS board was somehow started selling before the company intended to, and while firmware & documentation were there, they were hard to find, so people looked for that information, and found it on CNX Software.
  10. MINIX NEO U9-H Media Hub Review – Part 2: Android 6.0 Firmware & Kodi 17 (March 2017) – Apparently, I’m not the only to consider MINIX NEO U9-H to be one of the best Android TV boxes, as my review of the media hub was the most read post of 2017.


981 posts were published in 2017. Let’s go straight to users’ country and city location data.

The top five countries have not changes, but this year Germany overtook the United Kingdom in second position. Traffic from India increased on a relative basis, and Australia made it to the top ten at the cost of Russia. London and Paris kept the two top steps, but Bangkok rose to third position, while last year third, Tel aviv-Yafo went away completely from the list. New York is gone being replaced by Warsaw in 8th position.

The list of the most used operating systems, and browsers is fairly stable, but the trends noticed in past years continues, with Windows share of traffic going down, Android going up, and Linux stable, while Chrome dominated even more, with most other browsers going down in percentage basis, except Edge that is very slowly replacing Internet Explorer, and Samsung Internet that replaced Opera mini in the list.

Desktop traffic still rules, but mobile + tablet traffic now accounts for around a third of the traffic.

Finally, I went to dig into pagespeed data with pages loading in 15.58 seconds on average. I then filtered the countries with more than 5,000 pageviews, and CNX Software pages and posts loaded fastest in Portugal, Denmark, and Macedonia. However, people in Venezuela need to wait close to 2 minutes for a page to load on average, and in China and Iran around one minute.

Next year looks promising, and I expect to test Gemini Lake mini PC, and maybe some ARM based mini PCs or laptops, but I’ll review less TV boxes as due to some new regulations I can’t easily import them. The regulatory framework is now in place for LPWAN standards, and I should be able to start playing with LoRa and NB-IoT in 2018, using local services, or my own gateway(s). I’ll keep playing with development boards, as I’m expecting interesting Allwinner H6, Realtek RTD129x, Hilsicon, and other platforms in the year ahead, as well as various IoT products.

I’d like to come together with some of the devices and boards reviewed in 2017 (and a Linux tux) to wish you all a prosperous, healthy, and happy new year 2018!

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