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Development Boards and Open Hardware/Modding

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  • Cucumber ESP32-S2 Development Board Comes with USB OTG Port, Optional Sensors

    Yesterday, I wrote about LilyGO TTGO ESP32-S2 WiFi IoT board, but one commenter mentioned it missed one of the key features of ESP32-S2 chip: a USB OTG port. While USB OTG is accessible through the header pins, it’s not the most convenient to use.

    I also quickly mentioned Cucumber ESP32-S2 development board in that post, but I did not expand too much since I thought it should only ship within Thailand. But the board does include two USB Type-C ports, one for the usual USB UART connector, and the other for USB OTG, and I found out the board is available worldwide.

  • TTGO ESP32-S2 WiFi IoT Board Comes with Optional MicroSD Card and Battery Support

    All ESP32-S2 boards I’ve seen so far were from Espressif Systems themselves including ESP32-S2-Saola-1 and ESP32-S2-Kaluga-1, but LilyGO TTGO ESP32-S2 is the first third-party board for sale so far.

    The tiny board is somewhat similar to ESP32-S2-Saola-1 board and comes in two versions with a similar form factor, but a completely different pinout and the presence of a MicroSD card socket and a battery connector on one of the boards.

    [...]

    The boards are a bit more different than I expected at first look. Please note that specifications should be seen as preliminary, as there were obvious mistakes such as Bluetooth support (not available for ESP32-S2) which I did not included in the specs above, but there may be others which I missed.

  • CR Deck Mk.1 Is An Open Source AR Headset Based On Project North Star With Ultraleap Hand-Tracking
  • Open Source Ventilators Helped by Electronic Design Software

    In the early days of the pandemic, the first major challenge facing nations was a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators. The former helps safeguard hospital personnel from potential contamination; the latter are necessary to keep the most critically ill patients breathing once the virus attacks their respiratory systems.

    Ventilators are traditionally large and very costly devices; smaller ventilators—known as field emergency ventilators (FEVs) have been used in emergency settings, including combat missions and in Third World nations for decades to help keep patients alive as they await transport to hospitals for intubation.

  • NASA JPL Team Fires up Open Source PPE Respirator Designs

    Does it really take a team of rocket scientists to rapidly engineer a top-notch line of personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect against COVID-19 spread? And then to open source its production designs for the benefit of anyone with access to a 3D printer?

    The answer: not necessarily, but it sure can help.

    That’s the latest good news on the pandemic front from the technology and innovation team at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

  • NASA and other innovators work to redesign ventilators for Covid-19 patients

    NASA scientists as well as other innovators are busy developing alternatives to the traditional ventilator being used worldwide to treat severe cases of Covid-19. The movement is in response to growing evidence that in some cases ventilators can cause more harm than good in some patients with low oxygen levels. Statistics tell the story: 80% of patients with the coronavirus die on such machines.

    This comes just a few months since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, when U.S. healthcare providers said that they needed ventilators to accommodate the flood of new patients, and lots of them. The crisis triggered the Trump administration to activate the Defense Production Act so manufacturers including Ford, GM and GE could start ventilator production to produce these medical devices for the U.S. government.

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Star Lite Mk III and Purism GNU/Linux Laptops

  • Star Lite Mk III Linux Laptop Is Now Available for Pre-Order from Star Labs

    Star Labs just informed me today that they’ve launched the pre-orders for the lightweight Star Lite Mk III Linux laptop from only $428 USD. Featuring a lightweight design with a redesigned chassis, the Star Lite MK III Linux laptop features an 11.6-inch LED-backlit Arc IPS matte display with Full HD (1920×1080) resolution and 16:9 aspect ration, which users offers glare-free viewing thanks to the a hard coat that also boasts durability. Under the hood, the Linux laptop is powered by a 1.1GHz Quad-Core Intel Pentium Silver N5000 processor that can go as high as 2.7GHz when boosted and promises up to 29% performance increase. It also features 8GB 2400MHz LPDDR4 RAM for up to 33% faster memory. It also features Intel UHD 605 graphics, a fanless design, a smoother glass trackpad, improved audio system, backlit keyboard, as well as an ultra-fast 240GB over-provisioned Star Drive SSD with up to 560MB/s read speeds and up to 540MB/s write speeds.

  • The next generation of the Purism Linux laptop is on its way

    For most Linux desktop users who want a ready-to-run Linux laptop, I recommend the latest high-end Dell XPS 13. I can also suggest System76 or ZaReason PCs or laptops for those who want top-of-the-line Linux hardware. But if privacy, security, and free software are at the top of your "Want" list, then you should check out Purism, maker of free software and Linux-powered laptops, and its next-generation Librem 14 laptop.

Mozilla: Firefox Startup Cache, Security of Passwords, and Servo

  • Improving Firefox Startup Time With The about:home Startup Cache

    We’re working on a thing to make Firefox start faster! It appears to work! Here’s a video showing off a before (left) and after (right): Improving Firefox Startup Time With The about:home Startup Cache For the past year or so, the Firefox Desktop Front-End Performance team has been concentrating on making improvements to browser startup performance. The launching of an application like Firefox is quite complex. Meticulous profiling of Firefox startup in various conditions has, thankfully, helped reveal a number of opportunities where we can make improvements. We’ve been evaluating and addressing these opportunities, and several have made it into the past few Firefox releases. This blog post is about one of those improvements that is currently in the later stages of development. I’m going to describe the improvement, and how we went about integrating it. In a default installation of Firefox, the first (and only) tab that loads is about:home.

  • A look at password security, Part II: Web Sites

    In part I, we took a look at the design of password authentication systems for old-school multiuser systems. While timesharing is mostly gone, most of us continue to use multiuser systems; we just call them Web sites. In this post, I’ll be covering some of the problems of Web authentication using passwords. As I discussed previously, the strength of passwords depends to a great extent on how fast the attacker can try candidate passwords. The nature of a Web application inherently limits the velocity at which you can try passwords quite a bit. Even ignoring limits on the rate which you can transmit stuff over the network, real systems — at least well managed ones — have all kinds of monitoring software which is designed to detect large numbers of login attempts, so just trying millions of candidate passwords is not very effective. This doesn’t mean that remote attacks aren’t possible: you can of course try to log in with some of the obvious passwords and hope you get lucky, and if you have a good idea of a candidate password, you can try that (see below), but this kind of attack is inherently somewhat limited. [...] Leaked passwords aren’t the only threat to password authentication on Web sites. The other big issue is what’s called phishing. In the basic phishing attack, the attacker sends you an e-mail inviting you to log into your account. Often this will be phrased in some scary way like telling you your account will be deleted if you don’t log in immediately. The e-mail will helpfully contain a link to use to log in, but of course this link will go not to the real site but to the attacker’s site, which will usually look just like the real site and may even have a similar domain name (e.g., mozi11a.com instead of mozilla.com). When the user clicks on the link and logs in, the attacker captures their username and password and can then log into the real site. Note that having users use good passwords totally doesn’t help here because the user gives the site their whole password. Preventing phishing has proven to be a really stubborn challenge because, well, people are not as suspicious as they should be and it’s actually fairly hard on casual examination to determine whether you are on the right site. Most modern browsers try to warn users if they are going to known phishing sites (Firefox uses the Google Safe Browsing service for this). In addition, if you use a password manager, then it shouldn’t automatically fill in your password on a phishing site because password managers key off of the domain name and just looking similar isn’t good enough. Of course, both of these defenses are imperfect: the lists of phishing sites can be incomplete and if users don’t use password managers or are willing to manually cut and paste their passwords, then phishing attacks are still possible

  • This Week In Servo 132

    In the past week, we merged 64 PRs in the Servo organization’s repositories. The latest nightly builds for common platforms are available at download.servo.org.

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