Getting Started with balenaFin Developer Kit, balenaOS and balenaCloud

balenaFIN USB programming

balena Fin is a carrier board for Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3/3+ designed specifically for industrial applications leveraging fleet management services provided by Balena. I received balenaFin developer kit last month, and in the first part of the reviewed shows how to assemble the kit. I’m now had time to spend more time with the kit, as well as BalenaOS Linux based operating system optimized for running Docker containers on embedded devices, and balenaCloud services to manage a fleet of devices from a web dashboard. I’ve mostly followed the instructions in the getting started guides here and there, and will document what I had to do to prepare the image, flash it to the board, and load a sample docker application locally, and through balenaCloud. Downloading and Configuring BalenaOS for balena Fin You’ll find BalenaOS in the download page. While we are using hardware based on a Raspberry Pi Compute Module, make sure to select “Fin” instead of “Raspberry Pi”. …

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Getting Started with Temperature & Humidity Sensors on ESP8266 using ANAVI Thermometer

ANAVI Thermometer Air / Humidity / Water

ANAVI Thermometer was launched on CrowdSupply in January.  It is an ESP8266 WiFi board with a built-in DHT22 temperature and humidity sensor, support for external DS18B20 waterproof temperature sensor, as well as other sensors thanks to three I2C sensors. I received the ANAVI Thermometer starter kit last month, and I’ve only found time to play with it in the last few days. I’ll start with a unboxing, assembly guide, before showing it action, and I’ll try to make it interface with Home Assistant over MQTT. ANAVI Thermometer Starter Kit Unboxing The kit comes with ANAVI Thermometer board, a plastic stand, a USB to TTL debug board, an I2C OLED display, a few nuts and bolts, and a couple of KiCad and ANAVI stickers. Leon ANAVI also added a traffic light board and LEDs, but it’s not normally part of the kit 🙂 ANAVI Thermometer board include an ESP8266 module, AM2302 (wired DHT 22) temperature and humidity sensor, a terminal block …

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Sony Spresense Board Review with NuttX based Spresense SDK

Sony Spresence Kit Assembled

Sony Spresense Arduino compatible board with audio and global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) support and its extension board launched in Japan this summer. The company has now expanded markets, and is offering the boards in the United States and Europe as well. They also tasked an agency to send samples to various reviewers, and I got selected to receive one as well. I’ll start the review by checking out the hardware, shortly discuss software development options, and report my experience with Spresense SDK. Sony Spresense Unboxing I received two packages… … one the main board, and the other for the extension board. The main board package only comes with CXD5602PWBMAIN1 board and an information sheet. The top of the board includes a reset button, four user LEDs, a power LED, a boot recovery button, the camera interface, Sony CXD5247 power management and audio analog interface chip (Black on the photo below, but in reality it’s a reflective surface), Sony CXD5602 hexa …

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Acer Aspire 3 A315-41G (AMD Ryzen 7 2700U) Laptop – Installing Ubuntu 18.04 and “Hidden” M.2 SSD Socket

Acer Aspire 3 A315G-41 Ubuntu 18.04

Everyday I’m using a tower PC running Ubuntu 18.04 to take care of this blog, but when I travel it’s obviously not so convenient, so a few years ago I bought an  Acer Aspire E5-421G laptop powered by an AMD A4-6210 processor with 4GB RAM, 512GB HDD, and a 14″ display. I installed Ubuntu on the laptop and it works, but with 4GB RAM, it’s not always usable while multitasking. For example I can run Thunderbird and Firefox, but if I ever make a Skype call for example, the system becomes unusable, and I have to close one of the programs. Tasks like video editing are also quite slow on the machine. So since I’m going to travel in a few weeks, I decided I needed a new laptop. My requirements were 8GB RAM,  SSD and HDD support, a 15″ display, the ability to run Ubuntu 18.04, and possibly a processor with a performance close to the AMD FX8350 processor …

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AS923 LoRa GPS Tracking with MatchX MatchBox Gateway and RAK811 LoRa GPS Tracker Board

RAK811 Cayenne LPP Data

Earlier this month, I installed Match MatchBox LoRa outdoor gateway close to the roof, and showed how easy it was easies to setup with MatchX Cloud. Basically, you just register to the cloud, enter the serial number, and the gateway is automatically based on your location. I’m in South East Asia, so the gateway was configured with AS923. I’ve now had time to play with the gateway using Rak Wireless RAK811 LoRa tracker board, and eventually managed to get the tracker location to show up on a map. It was my first experience with LoRaWAN, and I had to learn a lot, and overcome many issues from outdated software development tools, different data formats, and some interoperability issues between all components involved. I’ll document all that in this review, and hopefully it will help others. RAK811 LoRa GPS Tracker Unboxing Before going into LoRa configuration, I’ll show what I got with RAK811 node. It comes with an “IoT Made Easy” …

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Introduction & Differences Between RS-232, RS-422 and RS-485 (Video)

Differences RS-422 RS-485 Profibus

RS-232, RS-422, and RS-485 are pretty old serial communication interfaces, and I was not even born when RS-232 was specified in 1962, but there are still commonly used today in various applications such a points-of-sales,  multi-meters, industrial equipment like PLC or HMI, as well as medical devices. Maxim Integrated shared a video – embedded at the end of this article – on  social networks today explaining the fundamentals of serial transmitter devices and differences between RS-232, RS-422, RS-485, and Profibus. The video goes into more details with a glossary of terms, discussion of cable length and bitrate, hand-shaking, and auto-shutdown, but I’ll provide a quick summary below: RS-232 supports one transmitter and one receiver, and operate between -15 and +15V (with input tolerance of up to -/+ 25V). A logic zero is between +3 and +15V and a logic one between -15 and -3V on the receiver side RS-422 is an improved version of RS-232 with twisted pair cable and …

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Visual Studio 2017 with an Embedded Linux Arm Device

This is a non-sponsored guest post written by Marc Goodner: Principal Program Manager, Microsoft, and Jeremias Cordoba: Innovation Engineer, Toradex. Today many embedded devices run some flavor of Linux as their primary operating system. This poses a challenge to developers who run Windows on their development machine. This article explains a new way to use the latest Visual Studio for C++ development on an embedded Arm Devices from a Windows Host PC using containers for the build environment. The device we are deploying to is from the Toradex Colibri Family of System on Modules using the NXP i.MX 6ULL SoC, which features an Arm Cortex A-7. As a demo project we will connect a Bluetooth Sensor with the Toradex Colibri Module. Please note that Visual Studio support for this case is in an early state, you will see improvements from Microsoft and Toradex in the coming months. Prerequisites Colibri i.MX 6ULL with Wi-Fi/BT and an Aster Carrier Board TI SensorTag (Bluetooth low energy) …

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ESP8266 RGB LED Strip Control with ANAVI Light Controller, Arduino, MQTT, and HTML5

Anavi-Light-Controller-Starter-Kit-Assembly

A few months ago I reviewed ANAVI Light pHat for Raspberry Pi which allows you to control an LED RGB strip from the popular development board. However, if all you need is to switch the RGB LED light on and off, or change the color, the hardware is clearly overpowered for the tasks. So Leon ANAVI designed another board based on ESP8266 – ANAVI Light Controller – which does the same thing with lower cost and more power efficient hardware. Leon sent me a sample for review, so let’s see what we’ve got. ANAVI Light Controller Start Kit Unboxing I received a package for the Starter kit that’s offered for $39 on CrowdSupply. We’ve got the main board, a USB debugging, an acrylic enclosure with screws and spacers, a one meter RGB LED strip, and some stickers inside the package. If we have a close look at the board we have from right to left: a 12V power jack, SW1 …

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