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Posts Tagged ‘open source’

Tomu Arm Board Fits into a USB Connector, Adds Buttons, Two Factor Authentication to Your Computer (Crowdfunding)

January 10th, 2018 No comments

We’ve covered many boards that claim to be the world’s smallest development board, and Tomu board does not claim anything like that, but it’s pretty small, as it’s made to fit into your computer’s USB board. It may be cool, but it could also potentially be useful, as the board exposes two (capacitive touch?) buttons, and two LEDs so you can use it as a computer accessory for example to add volume buttons, or as a Universal 2nd Factor (U2F) token supporting two-factor authentication (2FA) to login to compatible online services.

Tomu board hardware specifications:

  • MCU – Silicon Labs Happy Gecko EFM32HG309 ARM Cortex-M0+ up to 25 MHz with 64KB flash, 8KB RAM
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 FS port
  • Misc – 2x buttons, 2x LEDs: 2 (red + green)
  • Dimensions – 1.4mm thick (0.6mm thick PCB)

Singapore based Sutajio Ko-usagi – the company behind the project – provides the hardware designs files (KiCAD + gerber), and source code for the board on Github, so you can modify the hardware and/or software to meet your requirements. A mailing list and #tomu freenode IRC channel have been setup for support.

Since the project, now launched on Crowdsupply, have now raised way more than the $2,000 stretch goal, a plastic case will also be offered with the board. Pledges start at $30 for a single Tomu board, which is quite pricey for a single board, but other rewards bring the unit price down, as you can get two for $35 ($17.5 per board), and up to 1,000 boards for $8 per board. Shipping is free to the US, $5 to $50 the rest of the world depending on the rewards, and delivery is scheduled for August 2018. Tomu.im website provides a getting started guide, and also explains how to use Chopstx with U2F support on the board if you are interested in two-factor authentication.

Haven Open Source App Transforms Your Old Android Smartphone into a Smart Security Camera

December 23rd, 2017 3 comments

About two years ago, I wrote a post asking what to do with old devices instead of throwing them away. My own proposals included giving them away, reselling them on eBay, recycling them for other purpose like servers or download clients, or scavenging some parts. Other people also comments what they did with theirs, for example setting up a Linux cluster with old TV boxes.

Another way to recycling an old (Android) smartphone – albeit you could always buy an inexpensive one – is to install and run Haven, an open source app that transforms your phone into some sort of smart security camera, but instead of only using the camera from the phone, the app also logs audio events using its microphone (array), as well as data reported by sensors.

Click to Enlarge

One of you first reaction might be: “cool! somebody may an app that would allow hackers or government to make spying on your ever easier”. But actually, the app was initially intended to protect journalists against raids, or more exactly record their occurrence (as proof), and is released by the Guardian Project that aims to “create secure apps, and open-source software libraries that can be used around the world by any person looking to protect their communications and personal data from unjust intrusion, interception and monitoring”.  Haven can also be used to monitor anything you care about, or even as a baby monitor for instance.

While audio and video is continuously monitored, the app only logs the data inside the phone if “thresholds” are exceeded (e.g. motion sensing, audio level…). If you decide to enable notifications, it does not transform your smartphone into another IoT device that relies on the cloud, but instead leverages Signal secure communication app, and the Tor network via Orbot app. A SIM card is not needed, unless you plan to use the optional (and less secure) SMS options.

Commercial Products vs Haven – Click to Enlarge

The app only runs in Android, but iPhone users can still receive notifications via Signal + Tor, they’d just need to buy a cheap Android phone acting as the “camera”. You may want to check out the presentation slides for a quick overview, and visit the app page for more details.

The app can be downloaded from the Google Play Store, F-Droid, or as an apk, and the source code can be cloned from Github.

Apertus AXIOM Beta Open Source Professional Digital Cinema is Built around MicroZed Board

December 20th, 2017 No comments

Apertus AXIOM Beta is a professional digital cinema camera built around FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) and open hardware licenses. The project started around year 2011 with AXIOM Alpha camera, and AXIOM Beta is the latest iteration powered by MicroZed development board based on Xilinx Zynq 7020 ARM + FPGA SoC, and running Arch Linux ARM.

Developer Kit – Click to Enlarge

AXIOM Beta developer kit (planned) hardware specifications:

  • “Linux” Board – Xilinx Zynq 7020 based MicroZed board
  • Beta Main Board – Hosts two external medium-speed shield connectors and two high-speed plugin module slot connectors.
  • Image Sensor – 12MP CMV12000 (Used for research and development) via CMV12K ZIF Sensor Board
  • Lens Mount Passive E-mount
  • Ports – USB / USB UART / JTAG / Gigabit Ethernet
  • Modules and Shields
    • Single HDMI Full HD (4:4:4) output at up to 60 FPS
    • Dual 6G SDI output (in development)
    • 3x PMOD debug module
    • LED matrix debug module
    • Genlock, Trigger, Timecode, LANC shields (in development)
    • 4K Displayport/HDMI (in development)
  • Power Supply – 5V/5A via power adapter board; Other voltages provided via Beta Power Board
  • Dimensions -111.76 x 74 x 65.1 mm (devkit)
  • Weight – 319 grams (devkit)

There’s also a Beta Interface dummy board that acts as a bridge between the image sensor board and the rest of the camera.


The camera will run Arch Linux ARM on MicroZed board, support common network protocols (SSH/FTP/SCP/etc), and be configurable via a web interface. Features will include global shutter capture, output of 4K RAW experimental HDMI/Displayport outputs over 1080p60, remote control, WiFi connectivity, support for  motion tracking via various sensors for image stabilization, as well as image processing with Look-Up-Tables (LUTs), matrix color conversion, dead pixel compensation, and so on. However, audio recording is not currently supported. Many more software and hardware details can be found in the Wiki.

Click to Enlarge

A compact enclosure is also planned for the production camera that will be called AXIOM Beta Compact, and while the timeline is unclear, you can register your interest for what is planned to be a 5,990 Euros camera. Some of the development kits pictured above have been shipped last summer, and can still be ordered for 3,990 Euros ex. VAT. FYI, the image sensor represents around 2,000 Euros out of the total cost. Visit the product page for more details.

Rendering of Expect Final Product (AXIOM Beta Compact)

Anavi Light pHAT Adds RGB Light Strip Support to Raspberry Pi Boards (Crowdfunding)

December 10th, 2017 15 comments

He works as a software engineer for his main job, but Leon ANAVI is apparently enjoying his hobby of designing open source hardware, as after RabbitMax Flex home automation HAT, and ANAVI Infrared pHAT with IR transmitter and receiver, he has come up with as third project: Anavi Light pHat, an add-on board for Raspberry Pi 3/Zero (W) that adds support for RGB light strips.

Light pHAT specifications:

  • Compatible with 40-pin Raspberry Pi header
  • EEPROM with board manufacturer information and a device tree fragment
  • Terminal block for a 12V RGB LED strip
  • 3x 4-pin I2C headers for sensor modules
  • 1x 3-pin header for PIR motion sensor
  • 1x 4-pin UART header for debugging
  • Dimensions – pHAT form factor

You first need to connect the pHAT to your board, and then LED strip, and you can then control the lights using Home Assistant open source home automation platform, with the strip integrated as an MQTT JSON Light component.

Documentation will be provided to use the kit. It’s not available yet, but based on my past experience with his boards, documentation is usually good and easy to follow. Just like the other boards, Light pHAT was design with KiCAD, and you’ll find the hardware design files on Github.

If you want to control the light based on detection of movement, a optional PIR motion sensor is available, as well as three I2C sensor modules: BH1750 light sensor, HTU21D temperature and humidity sensor, and APDS-9960 RGB color and gesture detection sensor.

The project has launched on Crowdsupply with a target of $1 funding since it’s mostly a hobby project, and it will happen whatever the amount raised. A $25 pledge is asked for the Light pHAT only, but you could also consider pledging $35 to get a kit with a 1-meter RGB LED strip, or $59 for the board, LED strip, and all 4 sensors mentioned above. Shipping is free worldwide, and delivery is planned for February/March 2018 depending on selected reward.

Leon also told me he had a spare board he used for testing together with a one meter LED strip, that he’d like to giveaway to one of CNX Software readers. The contest is open worldwide, and Leon offered to pay for shipping, so the only thing you have to do is to leave a comment with #giveittome hashtag. I’ll draw the winner with random.org in about two days on Tuesday 12, 2017 @ 16:00 (GMT+7). Make sure you use a valid email, and can answer within 48 hours.

ZeroShell Firewall/Router Linux Distribution Works on x86 Hardware, Raspberry Pi 2/3, & (Some) Orange Pi Boards

November 30th, 2017 12 comments

We’ve just seen pfSense is now available for Arm via firewall appliances such as Netgate SG-3100, but AFAIK there’s no pfSense community Arm firmware images yet. Several Arm SoCs & boards are now supported by FreeBSD, so in theory pfSense could be ported to those, but the page on FreeBSD does not seem to have been updated for a while.

If you want a firewall distributions with an easy-to-user web interface like pfSense, but that also works on cheaper Arm hardware, Linux based ZeroShell distribution could be worth a try, as beside working on Intel & AMD x86 platforms, the developers also provides images for Raspberry Pi 2 & 3 boards, and several Orange Pi boards, namely Orange Pi R1, Orange Pi Zero, Orange Pi PC, and Orange Pi Plus/Plus2. The latter is the only supported Arm board with Gigabit Ethernet.

ZeroShell Web Interface | Net Balancer Section – Click to Enlarge

Some of ZeroShell features include:

  • Load Balancing and Failover of multiple Internet connections.
  • UMTS/HSDPA connections via 3G modems.
  • RADIUS server for providing secure authentication and automatic management of the encryption keys to WiFi networks.
  • QoS (Quality of Service) management and traffic shaping.
  • HTTP Proxy server to block web pages containing virus.
  • Wireless Access Point mode with Multiple SSID and VLAN support.
  • Host-to-LAN VPN with L2TP/IPsec in which L2TP (Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol) authenticated with Kerberos v5.
  • LAN-to-LAN VPN with encapsulation of Ethernet datagrams in SSL/TLS tunnel with support for 802.1Q VLAN.
  • Router with static and dynamic routes (RIPv2 with MD5 or plain text authentication and Split Horizon and Poisoned Reverse algorithms).
  • 802.1d bridge with Spanning Tree protocol to avoid loops even in the presence of redundant paths.
  • 802.1Q Virtual LAN (tagged VLAN).
  • Many more…

Gateway Configuration

You’ll find the complete list of features on the project page. You’ll find live CD images for x86, and micro SD card image for supported Arm boards on the download page, and support is available via the forums. However, I have not been able to find the source code, nor instructions to build from source.

Via Time4EE

Mozilla Adds HTML5 AV1 Video Support to Firefox 59 Nightly Builds

November 29th, 2017 6 comments

Last year, we wrote about AV1 royalty-free open source video codec managed by the Alliance for Open Media (AOMedia), a non-profit organization with members such as Amazon, Cisco, Google, Intel, Microsoft, Mozilla, and other companies.

Eventually AV1 should be 25 to 35% more efficiency than H.265 or VP9, but encoding will be slower, and at the time, my AMD FX8350 based computer could encode CIF (352×288) video  at less than 0.5 fps, and I had to use command line tools to encode and decode/playback the videos.

But thing are progressing nicely, and it’s now possible to stream AV1 video with HTML5 / in Firefox 59.0 (nightly) using Bitmovin Player. If you are using Ubuntu, you can also install Firefox nightly as follow:

Start it and visit the demo page to stream an AV1 MPEG-DASH/HLS stream in your web browser. It works from 360p @ 200 Kbps up to 720p @ 800 Kbps in my machine (still FX8350), and the image will freeze from time to time, but that’s a step in the right direction. The demo is supposed to handle up to 3 Mbps @ 1920×800 if your Internet bandwidth and computer can handle it.

Mozilla explains work still needs to be done, including on the encoder, which remain very slow as it takes around 150 seconds to encode one second of video on a standard desktop computer, and that’s why it is performed on Bitmovin cloud infrastructure instead, as the video appears to be encoded on the fly since the AV1 bitstream is still evolving (will be finalized by the end of the year), and both player and encoder need to use the same version.

I could not find whether AV1 is supported by Chrome (unstable) yet, but since Google is a member of AOMedia, it will certainly come. I’d still expect to wait a few years before AV1 becomes “mainstream”.

Categories: Testing, Video Tags: av1, firefox, open source, standard, video

NXP Announces OpenIL Industrial Real-Time Linux Distribution for Industry 4.0

November 28th, 2017 No comments

NXP has announced the release of OpenIL industrial Linux distribution with real-time OS extensions and Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) support for factory-automation for the Industry 4.0 era.

The OpenIL distribution includes support for per-stream policing, time-aware shaping of network traffic, and 801.1AS time synchronization, and supports NXP Layerscape SoCs and boards such as LS1028A dual ARMv8 processor, or LS1021A-IOT IoT gateway.

Some notable OpenIL features include:

  • Xenomai real-time extensions to Unix, making porting relatively easy from an RTOS like VxWorks or pSOS
  • Extensible Markup Language (XML) and NETCONF-based network configuration utilities for TSN
  • Generalized precision time protocol (gPTP) with the linuxptp daemon
  • Drivers for the Ethernet Interfaces and the NXP SJA1105T TSN switch
  • Support for edge computing services
  • Optional instantiation of the Ubuntu user-space filesystem layout

You’ll find the source code on Gihub, and some more information on OpenIL.org website. NXP appears to be the only company involved in the project, and they’re currently demonstrating their OS during SPS IPC Drives 2017 in Nuremberg, Germany, until November 30.

HackaBLE Board is a Tiny, Breadboard-Friendly Bluetooth LE Development Board

November 18th, 2017 5 comments

Earlier this year, I wrote about Electronut Labs’ Bluey development board powered by Nordic Semi nRF52832 development board with BLE, NFC, and a few sensors, and partially open source hardware with the KiCAD schematics and PCB layout available on Github.

The company is now back with another open source hardware nRF52832 BLE board, namely hackaBLE, that’s much smaller (28x18mm), and with 2.54mm pitch castellated pin headers making suitable for use for breadboard, or as a module on a custom designed board.

Click to Enlarge

hackaBLE board specifications:

  • SoC – Nordic Semi nRF52832 ANT + BLE ARM Cortex-M4 @ 64 MHz processor with 512kB flash, 64kB RAM
  • Connectivity – Bluetooth 4.2/5 LE and other proprietary 2.4 GHz wireless standards via chip antenna
  • Expansion
    • 2x 9-pin castellated headers with GPIO, 5V, 3.3V, and GND
    • 2x 5-pin solder pads for more I/Os
  • Debugging – 4-pin SWD header
  • Misc – RGB LED, and user button
  • Power Supply – 5 V via VDD or Vin pin.

The company explains “hackaBLE use offers more value than just using the BLE module directly – since it incorporates the necessary passive components – including the ones for the buck converter for power saving – and adds an RGB LED and a button for convenience. It’s also much easier to solder than the bare modules.”. More details, including the KiCAD schematics and PCB layout can be found on Github, as well as the PCB footprint for the board for those who plan on making a custom board.

Click to Enlarge

The company can also provide PogoProg board with 4 pogo pins to program the board through the SWD header, Bumpy SWD debugger, and snapVCC board outputting 5V/3.3V from a 9V battery.

hackaBLE can be purchased from Tindie for $20, and you could also get the $44 premium devkit with hackaBLE and the three boards mentioned and pictured above.