Pocket Science Lab (PSLab) is an Open Source Hardware Electronics Lab

Last Saturday I created a virtual schedule for the Embedded Linux Conference Europe 2018 where I listed some of sessions relevant to myself and hopefully regular readers of CNX Software, but due to scheduling conflicts one talks did not make it to the list: “Pocket Science Lab – An Open Source Hardware for Electronics Teaching & Learning” by FOSSASIA. The project is also referred to as PSLab, and aims to  “create an Open Source hardware device that can be used for experiments by teachers, students and citizen scientists to learn and teach electronics”. It looks interesting enough so let’s have a closer look. The project  is inspired by the earlier expEYES project that combines with Raspberry Pi or other Linux platform to create an electronic labs, and the work by the Open Science Hardware community. PSLab key features and specifications: MCU – Microchip PIC24EP256GP204 16-bit microcontroller @ up to 70 MHz with 32KB SRAM, 256KB flash Wireless Connectivity – Footprint …

Pi-Zero-UpTime is an UPS for Raspberry Pi Boards and Clones

Pi-Zero-UpTime UPS for Raspberry Pi

Since for a headless Raspberry Pi it makes no sense to use a large UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) to keep it running in case of power failure,  I bought and tested a Raspberry Pi battery kit a couple of years ago. The kit included an acrylic case,  a battery charging board, and LiPo battery and it worked most of the time as a UPS. “Most of the time” means the switch from mains to battery would not occur fast enough maybe 10% of the time (it depends on the load), so the Raspberry Pi board would reboot. The kit also did not include a GPIO / I2C interface to report the charge level of the battery, so you would not be able to safely power the board when the battery is almost fully depleted. In recent years, it’s become more and more difficult to get batteries shipped from overseas, so a design based on standard batteries like rechargeable 18650 batteries …

LoStik USB Dongle Adds LoRa Connectivity to any Computer or Linux Board (Crowdfunding)

We’ve covered plenty of hardware with LoRa radio from gateways, to Arduino shields, tracker boards, and mini PCIe cards, but after reading an article on Time4EE this morning, I realized we never wrote about any LoRa USB stick. LoStik – previoulsy LoRa Stick – is an open source hardware USB dongle based on Microchip RN2903 / RN2483 LoRa module, and offered on CrowdSupply for $39. LoStik specifications: USB – USB 2.0 port LoRa Connectivity Microchip RN2903 – 915 MHz for  US, Canada, South America and Australia Microchip RN2483 – 868 Mhz for Europe Receiver Sensitivity – down to -146 dBm TX Power – adjustable up to +18.5 dBm Range – up to 15 km coverage in suburban and up to 5 km coverage in urban areas Misc – 2x user LEDs Power Consumption – 140 ma typical TX, 20 ma idle (with power LED) Dimensions – 80 mm x 25 mm x 12 mm (without antenna) As usual, people requiring …

Xilinx Zynq-7020 based PYNQ-Z1 Arm + FPGA Board is Meant to be Programmed with Python

PYNQ Z1

Xilinx Zynq-7000 series is a family of SoC based on Arm Cortex A9 processor coupled with FPGA fabric, and since the introduction in 2012, we’ve seen may board based on the entry-level Zynq-7010 or Zynq-7020 SoCs. Digilent PYNQ-Z1 is another Xilinx Zynq board from the company, but it does not differentiate itself by its hardware features, and instead the software part is the most interesting. The board is designed to be used with PYNQ, a new open-source framework that enables embedded programmers to exploit the capabilities of Xilinx Zynq SoCs without having to design programmable logic circuits, relying instead on Python programming. Digilent PYNQ-Z1 hardware specifications: SoC – Xilinx Zynq-7020 (XC7Z020-1CLG400C) dual core Arm Cortex-A9 processor with FPGA with 1.3 M reconfigurable gates System Memory – 512MB DDR3 Storage – Micro SD card slot, 16MB QSPI Flash with factory programmed globally unique identifier (48-bit EUI-48/64 compatible). Video – HDMI In and HDMI Out Audio – Mic in, Line Out Networking …

Tibbo-Pi is a Wirefree Modular IoT Prototyping Platform for Raspberry Pi Board

Tibbo-Pi

Tibbo Project System (TPS) is a modular Linux IoT prototyping platform based on the same Texas Instruments Sitara AM335x processor used in BeagleBone Black or a PocketBeagle boards, and comprised of a main board, Tibbit blocks to add features as needed, and an enclosure. I’ve now been informed the company will be at Computex 2018 to showcase their new products including Tibbo-Pi, following the same concept as Tibbo Project System, but leveraging Raspberry Pi 3 board and ecosystem instead. While an English brochure is said to be available, all information in the webpage listed in the photo above is in Japanese. But basically, Tibbo-Pi is said to be an IoT edge device for industrial use, made for build a prototypes, or small scale production system  thanks to a choice a 60 different Tibbit Blocks sensor and I/O module blocks, all wire free.  Programming of the system is typically done with with Node-RED (Javascript) on the Raspberry Pi, but the company also …

FOSSASIA Summit 2018 Schedule – March 22-25

FOSDEM is the “Free & Open Source Software Developers’ European  Meeting” takes place the first week-end of February every year in Brussels, Belgium.  It turns out there’s an event in Asia called FOSSASIA Summit that’s about to take place in Singapore on March 22-25. There are some differences however, as while FOSDEM is entirely free to attend, FOSSASIA requires to pay an entry fee to attend talks, although there are free tickets to access the exhibition hall and career fair. There are also less sessions as in FOSDEM, but still twelve different tracks with: Artificial Intelligence Blockchain Cloud, Container, DevOps Cybersecurity Database Kernel & Platform Open Data, Internet Society, Community Open Design, IoT, Hardware, Imaging Open Event Solutions Open Source in Business Science Tech Web and Mobile Since the event is spread out over four days, it should be easier to attend the specific sessions you are interested in. I’ve created my own virtual schedule,  but since talks about IoT …

Kodi 18 Features and Improvements (FOSDEM 2018 Video)

Most Kodi users are now running Kodi 17.x Krypton that was initially released in February 2017, with the latest point version being Kodi 17.6. At the time of Krypton release, the developers had also started working on Kodi 18 “Leia” which should now be in “alpha”, and the stable release may only be a few months away although Kodi developers do not provide an ETA. What they did provide however – via Martijn Kaijser at FOSDEM 2018 – is a progress report for Kodi 18 “Leia”, as well as some insights into Kodi 19 whose development has just started. Kodi 18 has gone through a lot of cleanup with the code upgraded to C++11 standard, duplicate code and obsolete libraries removed, dropped unmaintained feature, and so on. They also moved non-core features such as audio encoders and decoders, PVR, picture decoding, etc…  to external plugins. This work resulted into 299,476 deleted lines of codes, and 387,205 added lines of codes …

Getting Started with MicroPython on ESP32 – Hello World, GPIO, and WiFi

I’ve been playing with several ESP32 boards over the months, and tried several firmware images. I started with a tutorial for Arduino Core on ESP32, a few month later I tested ESP32 JavaScript programming with Espruino on ESPino32 board, and recently Espressif Systems sent me ESP32 PICO core development board powered by their ESP32-PICO-D4 SiP, and while I took some pretty photos, I had not used it so far. So I decided to go with yet another firmware, and this time, I played with MicroPython on ESP32, and will report my experience with basic commands, controlling GPIOs, and WiFi in this getting started post. Flashing Micropython Firmware to ESP32 Board Source code is available on Github, as a fork of MicroPython repo as ESP32 support has not been upstreamed yet. We could built the firmware from source, but there’s also a pre-built binary which you can download on MicroPython website. I’ll be using Ubuntu 16.04 for the instructions, which should …