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Posts Tagged ‘raspberry pi’

Flick HAT is a 3D Tracking & Gesture Expansion Board for Raspberry Pi Boards

September 6th, 2017 No comments

Way back in 2012, I wrote about Microchip MGC3130 3D Gesture Controller with “GestIC technology” which allows you to make gesture up to 15cm from the surface and at lower power in order to control devices in a new way. At the time, the chip was said to sell for $2.26 in large quantities, and the evaluation kits went for $169 and up. I’m writing about MGC3130 about 5 years later, as Seeed Studio has started taking pre-orders for a $25.89 Flick HAT board based on the solution, and designed for Raspberry Pi boards, or other boards with a compatible 40-pin “GPIO” header featuring an I2C interface.

Flick HAT 3D Tracking & Gesture HAT specifications & features:

  • Chip – Microchip MGC3130 3D Tracking and Gesture Controller
  • Tracking / Gesture Features
    • 3D tracking
    • Gesture sensing up to 15cm: Swipe (east to west, west to east, north to south, south to north), tap and double tap (center, east, west, north, south), airwheel (clockwise, anti-clockwise)
    • Touch and Tap sensing (center, east, west, north, south)
    • Position rate – 200 positions / second
    • Spatial resolution – up to 150 dpi
  • Host Communication Interface – I2C
  • Header – 40-pin header compatible with Raspberry Pi B+, Pi 2 model B, Pi 3, and others.
  • Dimensions – 6.5 x 5.6 x 0.5 cm
  • Temperature Range – -20℃ to +85℃
  • Certifications – CE and FCC

The Flick HAT comes with 8 plastic bolts, 4 plastic spacers, 3 stickers, and two info cards. The board can be hidden inside a non conductive case (plastic, wood, etc..)  although the range could further be decreased. Source code and demos can be found on Pi Supply’s Github account.

More details and other 3D tracking board can be found on Pi Supply’s Flick page, and in case you wonder about the LED HAT used in the demo it’s called “Raspberry Pi Sense HAT“.

RadioShuttle Network Protocol is an Efficient, Fast & Secure Alternative to LoRaWAN Protocol

September 6th, 2017 5 comments

LoRaWAN protocol is one of the most popular LPWAN standards used for the Internet of Things today, but some people found it “lacked efficiency, did not support direct node-to-node communication, and was too costly and far too complicated for many applications”, so they developed their own LoRa wireless protocol software called RadioShuttle, which they claim is “capable of efficiently sending messages in a fast and secure way between simple LoRa modules”.

Some of the key features of the protocol include:

  • Support for secure or insecure (less time/energy) message transmission, multiple messages transmission in parallel
  • Unique 32-bit device ID (device number) per LoRa member, unique 16-bit app ID (program number for the communication)
  • Security – Login with SHA-256 encrypt password; AES-128 message encryption
  • Air Traffic Control – Nodes only send if no LoRa signal is active on that channel.
  • Optimized protocol –  Message delivery within 110 ms (SF7, 125 kHz, free channel provided); default LoRa bandwidth 125 kHz (125/250/500 kHz adjustable), as narrow bandwidths allow for a longer range; Automatic transmitting power adjustment
  • Operating modes
    • Station, constant power supply recommended –  12 mA in receiving mode, transmitting mode (20 to 100 mA)
    • Node Online (permanently receiving), constant power supply recommended – 12 mA in receiving mode, transmitting mode (20 to 100 mA)
    • Wireless sensor (Node Offline checking) – Node reports back regularly. 1 µA in standby mode, battery operation for years.
    • Wireless sensor (Node Offline) – Node only active if events are reported. 1 µA in standby mode, battery operation for years.

The Radioshuttle library has a low memory and storage footprint with current requirements of

  • 100 kB Flash for RadioShuttle library with SHA256 & AES
  • 10 kB RAM for Node Offline/Checking/Online mode
  • 10 kB RAM for Station Basic mode (RAM depends on the number of nodes)
  • 1 MB RAM for Station Server mode (Raspberry Pi, 10,000 LoRa nodes)

The solution supports various Arduino boards, some ARM Mbed boards (e,g, STM32L0, STM32L4), and Linux capable boards like Raspberry Pi or Orange Pi (planned). Semtech SX1276MB1MAS and SX1276MB1LAS (SX1276-based), MURATA CMWX1ZZABZ-078/091 (found in STM32 Discovery kit for LoRaWAN), and HopeRF RFM95 transceivers are supported.

LonRa Board – Click to Enlarge

The developers have also designed their own LongRa board, compatible with Arduino Zero, based on Semtech SX1276 LoRa radio chip with a 168 dB link budget and support for 868 MHz & 915 MHz frequency. The board can be powered by its micro USB port, or by two AA batteries if you’re going to use the board as a wireless sensor node.

RadioShuttle protocol is not open source for now, and while it support multiple devices as stated previsouly, if you are not using LongRa board, a 25 Euros license is required per device.

 

AutoPi is a 4G & GPS OBD-II Dongle Based on Raspberry Pi Zero W Board (Crowdfunding)

September 1st, 2017 8 comments

We’ve previously cover Macchina M2 OBD-II dongle based on an Arduino compatible MCU, and with 4G LTE support for the maker market, and iWave Systems OBD-II dongle with 4G LTE and LTE running Linux on NXP i.MX6 for the B2B market, but so far I had not seen an hackable OBD-II dongle running Linux for the maker market. AutoPi dongle fills that void as it is based on Raspberry Pi Zero W board, runs Raspbian with Autopi software (AutoPi Core), supports 4G LTE, GPS, etc,.. and connects to your car’s OBD-II socket.

AutoPi dongle specifications:

  • SoC – Broadcom BCM2835 ARN11 Core processor @ up to 1 GHz
  • System Memory – 512MB LPDDR2 SRAM
  • Storage – 8GB micro SD card
  • Cellular Connectivity
    • 4G Cat 1 modem with 3G/EDGE fallback working worldwide (but region locked)
    • 4G bands – Region specific
    • 3G fallback (WCDMA) – B1, B2, B4, B5, B8
    • EDGE fallback – B3, B8; quad band
    • micro SIM card slot
  • GNSS – Integrated GPS + A-GPS
  • Wireless Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1 LE
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 ports
  • Video – mini HDMI output up to 1080p60
  • Audio – Built-in speakers
  • Car Interface
    • STN-2120 OBD-II, SW-CAN, MS-CAN to UART Interpreter IC
    • Supported Protocols: ISO 15765-4, ISO 14230-4, ISO 9141-2, SAE J1850 VPW, SAE J1850 PWM, SW-CAN, MS-CAN, ISO 15765, ISO 11898 (raw), K-Line, L-Line
  • Expansion – 18x unused GPIO pins
  • Sensors – 3-axis accelerometer
  • Power Supply – Via OBD-2 interface; built-in power management to avoid draining the car’s battery
  • Dimensions – 90 x 45 x 25 mm

The dongle comes pre-assembled with an OBD extension/relocation cable, a case with all electronics including RPi0 W, a micro SD card with AutoPi Core, and some Velcro strips.

Setup is pretty easy with 5 steps:

  1. Insert your micro SD card
  2. Insert the dongle into your vehicle’s OBD-II port
  3. Connect to AutoPi WiFi access point
  4. Configure the device with APN string and AutoPi key
  5. Connect to AutoPi cloud

The cloud platform allows you to remotely monitor your car, and the customizable dashboard gives access to an history of trips, car data, OBD commands, IFTTT, custom Python code development, terminal access, and a REST API is also available to develop your own web app.

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A lot of different features are possible thanks to AutoPi dongle and cloud platform, such as voice commands to control windows and aircon in your car, theft detection and tracking, remote start, crash detection with SMS alerts, auto lock/unlock from a smart device, and so on. All is supposed to be done securely, but the company did not provide that many details about that critical part for a such system.

AutoPi’s developers  have launched a Kickstarter campaign aiming to raise at least DKK 475,000 (~$76,000). If you live in Europe, you can pledge ~205 Euros to get an AutoPi from the batch to be delivered in January 2018, others can pledge ~$261 to get a sample from the second batch in March 2018. Note the software will improve overtime, and while all models will be upgradeable, AutoPi dongle with the fully implemented firmware and software will be delivered in the third batch and beyond starting from May 2018. Shipping adds ~$9.60 to Europe, and ~$14.4 to the rest of the world. You may want to visit AutoPi.io website for many more details about the solution.

Google Assistant News – AIY Voice Kit For Sale, Offline Support, 3rd Party Smart Speakers Announced

September 1st, 2017 5 comments

There’s been a lot of development related to Google Assistant in the last few days. First, Google provided an update for AIY Projects, with their AIY Projects Voice Kit now available for pre-order on Micro Center for $35 including a Raspberry Pi 3 board, making the kit virtually free, although you may also purchase it. Note that Micro Center blocks traffic originating from some countries, so I had to use Zend2 to access the site. [Update 10/09/2017: You can also get it from Seeed Studio for worldwide shipping]

Click to Enlarge

Google also announced the Speech Commands Dataset with 65,000 one-second long utterances of 30 short words, which they are in the process of integrating with the next release of the Voice Kit, and will allow the devices to respond to voice commands without the need for an Internet connection. So if you lose your Internet connection, or want to isolate your Voice Kit from it, you can still perform simple tasks like turning on/off lights without an Internet connection.

In this first blog post, the company also showcased some projects based on the Voice Kit, and encouraged the community to provide input for the next version with Hackster.io, or showcase your work on social networks using #AIYprojects hash tag.

The next day, Google published another blog post explaining Google Home, eligible Android phones, iPhones, Google Allo and Android Wear, will soon be joined  by third party speakers supporting Google Assistant and supporting the same features like answering requests, playing music, and controlling appliances. One day later a bunch of announcements was made at IFA 2017, and the company updated their blog post with some list of 3rd party Google Assistant Speakers all scheduled to launch by the end of the year, or early 2018:

  • JBL LINK 10, LINK 20 and LINK 300 respectively 8, 10 and 50 Watts WiFi smart speakers coming to UK, Germany and France starting fall 2017 for 169 Euros, 199 Euros and 299 Euros.

  • Onkyo Smart Speaker G3 (VC-GX30) “acoustic suspension” speaker with 80mm pressed-pulp diaphragm woofer, and 20mm soft-dome tweeter. Available in Black of White.

  • Sony LF-S50G with clock showing through speaker, and to be sold for $199.99.

Availability will be limited to some countries only, likely partially due to a lack of language support, with most expected to be available in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, Germany and France.

ReSpeaker 4-Mic Array is $25 Quad Microphone Add-on Board for Raspberry Pi

August 29th, 2017 4 comments

Last year, Seeed Studio launched ReSpeaker WiFi Audio / IoT board based on Mediatek MT7688, as well as an optional microphone array board with 7 microphones and 12 LEDs. Later on, they introduced a $10 2-mic array board for Raspberry Pi Zero (W), and today the company has started to take orders for ReSpeaker 4-Mic Array for Raspberry Pi board for $24.50 plus shipping.

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Respeaker 4-Mic Array board specifications:

  • Audio
    • X-Powers AC108 quad-channel ADC with I2S/TDM output transition
    • 4 Microphones
  • Expansion
    • 2x Grove interfaces (1x I2C, 1x GPIO port using pins 12 & 13)
    • 40-pin Raspberry Pi compatible header
  • Misc – 12 LEDs (APA102) connected over SPI, GPIO5 enables power
  • Dimensions – 65mm x 65mm x 9mm
  • Weight – ~20 grams

The board will give Raspberry Pi board the ability to do Voice Activity Detection (VAD) aka “hot word” detection, estimate Direction of Arrival (DoA) and show the direction via the LED ring, just like Amazon Echo or Google Home. I’m using an Orange Pi Zero board with a single microphone with Google Assistant and while it works fine most of the times range is limited to about 5 meters, and “OK Google” detection may be a problem with background noise like music. For example, I’ve found out it may be tricky to turn off the alarm with “OK Google. Stop” while it is ringing. Such board should help.

You’ll find a getting started guide & Google Assistant tutorial on Github, where you can also download the hardware design files (PDF and Eagle), and X-Power AC108 datasheet (currently wrongly? linking to “AC101 user manual”).

ComfilePi Industrial Touch Panel PCs are Based on Raspberry Pi CM3 Module

August 24th, 2017 No comments

ComfilePi CPi-A070WR & CPi-A102WR are industrial IP65 panel PCs powered by Raspberry Pi CM3 compute module, with respectively 7″ and 10.2″ resistive touchscreen displays, and that run modified version of Raspbian OS.

ComfilePi CPi touch panel computers specifications:

  • SoC – Broadcom BMC2837 quad core Cortex A53 processor @ up to 1.2GHz with Broadcom VideoCore IV GPU
  • System Memory – 1 GB
  • Storage – 1x micro SD Slot
  • Display
    • 7“ 800×480 Touchscreen Pressure-sensitive (Resistive Film Type) LCD display OR
    • 10.2” 800×480 Touchscreen Pressure-sensitive (Resistive Film Type) LCD display
  • Audio – 3.5mm audio out port
  • I/Os
    • 40-pin header socket based on Raspberry Pi 40-pin header pinout with 22x GPIO with ESD protection circuit
    • 2x RS-232 terminal blocks
    • 1x I2C terminal block
  • USB – 3x USB 2.0 ports
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, optional WiFi via USB dongle
  • Misc – 1x Piezzo buzzer
  • Power Supply – 12~24V DC via 3-pin terminal block
  • Dimensions (housing made of Flame retardant ABS)
    • CPi-A070WR – 187 x 124 x 51.1 mm
    • CPi-A102WR – 264 x 70 x 52.6 mm
  • Temperature range – Operating: 0°C to 70°C; storage – -20°C to 80°C
  • IP Rating – IP65 rated front panel

While the company mentions CM3 module, it appears they actually went with CM3L module, an odd choice for an industrial product, as it means the OS will run from micro SD card, instead of the more reliable / resistant to vibrations eMMC flash found in CM3 module.

 

Expansion I/Os Details – Click to Enlarge

The company provides a Raspbian image for the touch panel PC that’s modified for:

  • Legal reasons – Removed Mathematica and the Wolfram Language, the Oracle JDK, and RealVNC since they are not allowed in commercial products (without paying extra)
  • User Interface Framework – Qt 5.8 and supporting packages added
  • Features specific to ComfilePi Panel PC – Touchscreen calibration, and piezzo buzzer beep when touch is detected

Source code can be found in the FTP server, and you’ll find hardware and software documentation in the Wiki. The video below provides an overview and demonstrates a few use cases for the panel PCs.

ComfilePi CPi-A070W & CPi-A102WR industrial panel PCs are sold for respectively $199 & $299 on Comfile Tech website, but you’ll also find both models on US based Saelig distributor for bit more.

Via LinuxGizmos

NComputing RX300 Thin Client Review – Part 1: Unboxing and Teardown

August 21st, 2017 4 comments

NComputing RX300 is a thin client based on Raspberry Pi 3 board that will allow to remotely run Windows and Linux operating systems from a much more powerful server, and Raspberry Pi 3 mostly handling the display, and connection to hardware like USB keyboard and mouse. The company has me sent a review sample for evaluation, and I’ll start by checking out what I received, and the hardware design of the device.

NComputing RX300 Thin Client Unboxing

I was asked whether I could test dual display, and then I had to choose between a VGA adapter or a DVI adapter. I selected the former, and I received both RX300 thin client, and a USB to VGA secondary adapter with its USB cable.

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We’ll find the thin client, a 5.1V/2.5A power adapter with a US plug adapter, and a multi-language quick installation guide in the package.

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The enclosure is really cute, and expose most Raspberry Pi 3 port with the four USB 2.0 connectors, Ethernet, HDMI and AV ports, as well as a micro USB port for power.

The only thing that’s not accessible is the micro SD card, but for this particular device it’s not really needed, since it’s designed for one and only purpose: being a thin client. The opening (close to my thumb) on the other red side should be the Kensington lock hole.


The power button is located on the top of the case, and the power / network LEDs can be seen through a transparent plastic bit.

NComputing RX300 Teardown

Most people won’t need to open the case, but in case you find out you don’t need a thin client after all, you could always re-use the Raspberry Pi 3 board for other projects.

Click to Enlarge

As a side note, the bottom of the enclosure allows for wall-mounting, and the user guide mentions an optional VESA mount is for sale, so you could hook the thin client right behind your monitor or TV. There are four rubbers pads, but only the top right in the photo above hides a screw, but there’s another hidden under NComputing’s authenticity? sticker.

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Piercing though that sticker most probably void any warranty you may have had for the device. You’ll also need a plastic tool to unclip the bottom part of the enclosure. As expected, we’ll find a Raspberry Pi 3 board inside with an 8GB Sandisk UHS-1 micro SD card pre-loaded with NComputing software. We can take out the board by removing the two red sides, and gently pulling it out as it is inserted into a small add-on board use to add a button to the design.

Click to Enlarge

The Raspberry Pi 3 board is also fitted with two heatsinks on the processor, and the USB Hub / Ethernet bridge controller to ensure smooth operation under heavy load and/or high ambient temperature.

That’s all for the hardware part, and the next step will be to install vSpace Pro 10 server on my computer, and connect to it with RX300 to remotely use the power of my computer. NComputing RX300 is supposed to sell for $99 with one-year connection subscription to vSpace Pro 10 and a 6-month trial of vCAST streaming technology, but so far I could only find it for ~$150 and up on sites like Newegg and eBay. The product is also listed on Amazon US, but currently unavailable.

[Update from the company about pricing and availability:

RX300 comes with either 1-year bundled license or 3-year bundled license. The $99 MSRP for RX300 is for the one that comes with 1-year bundled license, and the one you saw on NewEgg is based on a 3-year bundled license therefore higher price.

Our distribution is mostly based on channel partners as they have the reach to local education and SMB customers worldwide, and direct online sales has not been our core emphasis. However, we plan to have RX300 listed on Amazon starting in September for the U.S market.

]

Raspbian for Raspberry Pi Boards Gets Upgraded to Debian Stretch

August 17th, 2017 9 comments

While Raspberry Pi boards support many different operating systems, Raspbian is by far the most popular option, and in the last two years the distribution was based on Jessie (Debian 8), the Raspberry Pi foundation has just announced it was now replaced by an update to Stretch (Debian 9).

The Jessie version is completely gone from Raspbian Download page, and you’ll only be offered to download “Raspbian Stretch with Desktop” or “Raspbian Stretch Lite”.

So what has changed compared to Jessie? Debian 9 changelog will list the main differences compared to Debian 8, but some modifications have also been made in Raspbian itself:

  • Version 3.0.1 of Sonic Pi “Live Coding Music Synth” app – See changelog
  • Chrome 60 stable with improved memory usage and more efficient code
  • Bluetooth audio is supported by the bluez-alsa package by default instead of PulseAudio
  • Better handling of “non-pi users”, as previously many applications assumed to be run by pi user.
  • SenseHAT extension added to Scratch 2
  • BroadPwn exploit fix to close a vulnerability in the firmware of the BCM43xx wireless chipset
  • Other minor bug fixes and UI improvements

If you already have Raspbian Jessie running in your board, and would like to upgrade to Raspbian Stretch, you can try to do so at your own risk by changing all occurrences of ‘jessie’ to ‘stretch’ in /etc/apt/sources.list and /etc/apt/sources.list.d/raspi.list, and running:

The Raspberry Pi foundation however recommends to back up your micro SD card first, as upgrading that way is not guaranteed to work in every circumstance.