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Hardware

Learn NixOS by turning a Raspberry Pi into a Wireless Router

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GNU
Linux
Hardware
HowTos

A lot of the Nix documentation seems to be aimed at a very particular kind of desktop user: someone who already has Nix installed! Such users represent an important use case, and the nix build configurations are easy enough to read. However, I definitely think there is on-boarding improvement work to be done in the Nix ecosystem.

So, will I ever go back? I don't think so! This router was so cheap (~$40) and the Raspberry Pi 3B+ is so powerful that I get amazing performance throughout my entire apartment. If it ever breaks, the Pi will be trivial to replace. I am really happy with what I created. Even if this little project isn't original, it solves a real problem in my day-to-day life.

In terms of NixOS as a Linux distribution, I think I now am totally on board. Nix has so many incredible advantages that (as a control freak who builds his own WiFi router) I just can't ignore or give up. The feature of Ubuntu that was keeping me on that distribution for so long was that "it just works" © ®.

But Nix "just works" too. The only catch is that you need to know what "it" is that you want working ahead of time. I am also comfortable with responsibly using environments, so I think that increases my willingness to jump into a new OS framework. I am a little worried about moving from Ubuntu to Nix on an existing machine, but that is what external hard drive backups are for!

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Shaking Down the Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera, Review of the Uputronics GPS/RTC Raspberry Pi Expansion Board and More Raspberry Pi

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GNU
Linux
Hardware
  • Shaking Down the Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera

    This is my current setup for this article. I built little stage with Mario, and I have the camera with a lens, into my Pi, and a temp/humidity sensor hooked to it. It’s the same I used in my previous live stream with this camera.

    In this article, we’ll learn:

    How to set up Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera
    How to configure the camera with V4L2
    Take pictures with Raspistill Record video with Raspivid

  • Review of the Uputronics GPS/RTC Raspberry Pi Expansion Board

    I recently spotted on Twitter that Uputronics had launched a GPS/RTS Raspberry Pi Expansion Board, and that they were looking for worthy projects to test it. I thought our Galileo/GPS/BeiDou/GLONASS monitoring project galmon.eu might be worthy and Uputronics agreed.

    Relevant for our purposes, this is an actual ‘timing receiver’. Any GNSS chip will get you a location, but some of them go the extra mile to also deliver a very stable clock signal.

    The expansion board contains an u-blox M8 device, which also enables access to raw GNSS messages. This in turn allows projects like us to use such a device to do orbit determinations and quality measurements.

  • Deep learning cat prey detector

NanoPi NEO3 Headless SBC Launched for $20 and up

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Linux
Hardware

Last month, we found out FriendlyELEC was working on NanoPi NEO3, a tiny SBC powered by Rockchip RK3328 processor and made for headless applications and networked storage thanks to Gigabit Ethernet and USB 3.0 ports, as well as a 26-pin GPIO header.

At the time, the board was still been finalized, but the company has now started to take orders for $20 and up depending on options which include a cute white enclosure...

[...]

The Wiki has been updated as well, and the company provides both Ubuntu Core 18.04 based FriendlyCore, and OpenWrt based FriendlyWrt operating systems for the board with both relying on Linux 5.4.12 kernel. I’d also expect Armbian to eventually provide Ubuntu 20.04 and Debian 10 images.

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Open Hardware: Adafruit, Arduino, Librem 5 and More

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Hardware
  • RFCat N32 Long Range nRF52832 Bluetooth Board Delivers 30x the Transmission Power with an Amplifier

    Bluetooth 5.0 has two main new features: high speed (2Mbps) and long-range. But as we’ve seen in our nRF52840 vs nRF52832 vs nRF52810 comparison is that only nRF52840 supports Bluetooth 5.x long range.

    Bluetooth 5 long range is achieved with two new lower bit rates of 500 kbps and 125 kbps. So what do you do if you’d like a longer range and keep using the higher bit rates? You add a power amplifier and LNA to your board, and that’s exactly what Nikolaj (RFCat) did with RFCat N32 board based on Nordic Semi nRF52832 wireless SoC.

    [...]

    The board is pre-loaded with Adafruit NRF52 bootloader supporting OTA, FreeRTOS, and Arduino. Source code and samples are available on Github. The Arduino library is based on Adafruit nRF52 Arduino Core and for some reason, only shared as a zip file (rfcat.zip in the Github repo).

  • Meet MrK_Blockvader, a little mobile robot that’s lots of fun

    One of the simplest ways to make a mobile robot involves differential steering, where two wheels move at different speeds as needed to turn and a ball caster keeps it from tipping over. The MrK_Blockvader is an excellent take on this type of bot — demonstrated in the first clip below — featuring a nice blocky body comprised out of 3D-printed parts, RC truck wheels driven by tiny gear motors, and an integrated roller on its back.

    The MrK_Blockvader is controlled via an Arduino Nano, along with an nRF24 breakout that allows it to receive signals from a radio transmitter unit. The build includes LED lighting as well as a piezo buzzer for all the beeps and boops. It can also take advantage of various sensors if necessary.

  • PoE FeatherWing Brings PoE, Unique MAC Address to Adafruit Feather Boards (Crowdfunding)

    After the launch of Microchip SAMA5 powered Giant Board last year, Silicognition LLC (Patrick Van Oosterwijck) is back with another Adafruit Feather compatible board.

    PoE FeatherWing is an expansion board that adds PoE support to Adafruit Feather board and can handle up to 4 Watts of power. The expansion board also comes with a built-in globally unique MAC address. It’s similar to the official Ethernet FeatherWing, but with the addition of PoE and a unique MAC address.

    [...]

    Since the board re-uses the same WIZnet W5500 Ethernet controller, it is fully compatible with existing software written for the Adafruit Ethernet FeatherWing meaning it can easily be programmed with Arduino or CircuitPuthong using standard libraries.

  • Tiny modules unlock i.MX8M Mini and Nano

    Keith & Koep’s Linux-friendly 48 x 32mm “Myon II” and “Myon II Nano” modules feature the i.MX8M Mini and Nano with 8GB and 4GB LPDDR4, respectively, along with eMMC expansion, GbE, MIPI-DSI and -CSI, and up to -40 to 85°C support.

    Germany-based Keith & Koep has added two new members to its 48 x 32 x 4.2mm Myon family of compute modules. While the Myon I runs Linux on a Snapdragon 4.0, the pin-compatible Myon II and Myon II Nano integrate NXP’s i.MX8M Mini and i.MX8M Nano, respectively. The company previously showcased the i.MX8M Mini in its larger, SODIMM-style Trizeps VIII Mini, which was announced last year along with an i.MX8M-based Trizeps VIII module.

    [...]

    Since Keith & Koep does not post press releases, we are not sure when the Myon II arrived, but they are listed as “new” and we have yet to see any coverage of the modules. Both the Myon II and Myon II Nano support Linux Kernel 4.14, Android 9, and Windows 10 IoT Core.

  • Librem 5 Dogwood Update 3

    The battery shipping with dogwood is 3600mAh, roughly 80% more battery than previous batches. Combined with early kernel optimizations usage is now measured in multiple hours, and with additional kernel work will continue to see leaps forward.

    A diffuser has been added between the screen and the indicator light. This makes notifications easier to notice at extreme viewing angles and overall better appearance.

    The volume buttons have become a volume rocker increasing usability.

    In previous versions, the headphone jack was recessed and not centered. In Dogwood it’s now flush with the top of the phone and centered in the frame.

Raspberry Pi 4: Could Ubuntu Be On The Way?

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Hardware
Ubuntu

On the surface the Raspberry Pi 4 8GB may not have been a revolutionary release, but it has finally brought the power of a low cost 64 bit desktop computer to homes around the world. From day one the Raspberry Pi has used a Linux based operating system, initially a rather limited release of Debian, called Raspbian which has evolved over the years to become Raspberry Pi OS. But there are times when a more refined desktop experience would benefit the user.

For over 15 years Ubuntu have provided a Linux distribution that offers a more friendly and forgiving means to delve into the Linux ecosystem.

On a recent Ubuntu Podcast, Martin Wimpress, Director of Engineering at Canonical the company which publishes Ubuntu, hinted that “maybe we’re working on Ubuntu desktop for the Raspberry Pi”. Martin Wimpress was brought in to work on the main Ubuntu release based on his work in the Ubuntu MATE community.

There is a high chance that this will be ready for Ubuntu 20.10 due for release in October 2020.

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Open Hardware: Arduino and Beyond

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Hardware
  • Don’t try this at home: Colin Furze creates a semi-automatic potato cannon

    Colin Furze decided that he needed a potato cannon for his DIY screw tank, and after making a manually loaded version, he automated the process.

    What he came up with uses a pair of linear actuators to push the barrel forward under Arduino control, allowing a potato-projectile to drop into the device’s chamber assembly. After a short delay, it closes up again, cutting the roundish vegetable into a cylindrical plug. Flammable gas then enters via a solenoid valve for a carefully regulated amount of time.

    With the gas mixed, the cannon is then fired, and a single button press starts the process over again. The powerful cannon creates a mess in his test area after a few shots, actually taking a plug out of the mattress he used to absorb the impact. It should be quite impressive once mounted on the screw tank, though it’s a project that you probably shouldn’t try at home.

  • The Simplest TS100 Upgrade Leads Down A Cable Testing Rabbit Hole

    The fake “Grundlagen Audio” USB lead from my April 1st sojourn into using GNU Radio for audio analysis meanwhile is surprisingly stiff for what was in reality a cheap Amazon Basics item. This is probably due to two factors; it has a braided outer in a bid to copy more expensive leads, and my spraying it with gold paint has only made it stiffer.

  • HeyTeddy is a conversation-based prototyping tool for Arduino

    Programming an Arduino to do simple things like turn on an LED or read a sensor is easy enough via the official IDE. However, think back to your earliest experiences with this type of hardware. While rewarding, getting everything set up correctly was certainly more of a challenge, requiring research that you now likely take for granted.

    To assist with these first steps of a beginner’s hardware journey, researchers at KAIST in South Korea have come up with HeyTeddy, a general-purpose prototyping tool based on dialogue.

    As seen in the video below, HeyTeddy’s voice input is handled by an Amazon Echo Dot, which passes these commands through the cloud to a Raspberry Pi. The system then interacts with the hardware on a breadboard using an Uno running Firmata, along with a 7” 1024 x 600 LCD touchscreen for the GUI.

Expand your Raspberry Pi with Arduino ports

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GNU
Linux
Hardware

As members of the maker community, we are always looking for creative ways to use hardware and software. This time, Patrick Lima and I decided we wanted to expand the Raspberry Pi's ports using an Arduino board, so we could access more functionality and ports and add a layer of protection to the device. There are a lot of ways to use this setup, such as building a solar panel that follows the sun, a home weather station, joystick interaction, and more.

[...]

The first step is to expand the Raspberry Pi's ports to also use Arduino ports. This is possible using Linux ARM's native serial communication implementation that enables you to use an Arduino's digital, analogical, and Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) ports to run an application on the Raspberry Pi.

This project uses TotalCross, an open source software development kit for building UIs for embedded devices, to execute external applications through the terminal and use the native serial communication. There are two classes you can use to achieve this: Runtime.exec and PortConnector. They represent different ways to execute these actions, so we will show how to use both in this tutorial, and you can decide which way is best for you.

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Devices: Arduino and Raspberry Pi, Synthesizer and More

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Linux
Hardware

  • Rebuilding a Passap E6000 knitting machine with Arduino and Raspberry Pi

    Irene Wolf is the owner a Passap E6000, a computerized knitting machine which features pair of needle beds, and decided it was time to give it an upgrade. In particular, she wanted the ability to control its rear needle bed automatically in a similar manner to the way the front is normally operated for extra functionality.

  • Robotic cornhole board guarantees three points every time

    You may have seen Mark Rober’s automated dartboard or Stuff Made Here’s backboard, which use advanced engineering to create apparatuses that ensure you “can’t miss.” Now that summer is in full swing, what about a robotic cornhole board?

    Michael Rechtin decided to take on this challenge using a webcam pointed at the sky for sensing and DC motors that move the board along an X/Y plane on a set of sliding drawer rails.

    When a bean bag is thrown, the camera feeds the video over to a laptop running a Processing sketch to analyze its trajectory and passes adjustment info to an Arduino. This then controls the motors for repositioning, which attempts to predict where the bag will land and guide it into the hold for three points!

  • Synthesizer Gets An External Touch Screen

    So he started to look for a software solution to get him the rest of the way. Luckily the MODX runs Linux, and Yamaha has made good on their GPL responsibilities and released the source code for anyone who’s interested. While poking around, he figured out that the device uses tslib to talk to the touch screen, which [sn00zerman] had worked with on previous projects. He realized that the solution might be as simple as finding a USB touch screen controller that’s compatible with the version of tslib running on the MODX.

  • Coffee Lake system supports seven independent displays

    Vecow’s rugged “RCX-1000 PEG” series runs Linux or Win 10 on 8th or 9th Gen Coffee Lake CPUs with up to 2x PCI/PCIe x16 slots for graphics plus PCIe x4, 2x M.2, 2x mini-PCIe, 4x SATA, 6x USB 3.1 Gen2, and 2x GbE ports.

    Vecow announced another rugged, PCIe-enabled system with Intel 8th/9th Gen Coffee Lake processors to join its GPC-1000 and water-cooled RCX-1500W systems. While those models have up to 4x PCIe x16 slots for graphics cards, the RCX-1400 PEG has only 2x PCIe x16 slots, but also offers other PCIe and/or PCI interfaces, depending on the model.

  • Coffee Lake-H module features Intel CM246 chipset

    Nexcom’s Linux-ready “ICES 675” is a COM Express Basic Type 6 module with an 8th Gen Coffee Lake-H CPU and Intel CM246 chipset, triple display support, multiple PCIe connections, and an optional ICEB 8060 carrier.

Hardware: Arduino Nano, Advantech and Adafruit

Filed under
Hardware

  • Clockception combines 24 clocks to create one clock

    What if you were to use the hands of a clock not as an individual display, but as part of an array combines together to form digits? That’s the idea behind Clockception by creator “Made by Morgan,” which utilizes 48 servo motors to drive 24 clock-like faces for an 8×3 display.

    The build uses an Arduino Nano and three servo driver boards to control movement, along with a DS1302 RTC module to track time. The overall clock is constructed out of stained poplar, while the dial assemblies are 3D-printed.

  • Change the volume of any app on your PC with the turn of a knob

    Overall computer volume control is important, but what if you want to get more granular, adjusting sound from various applications individually? Rather than going through a series of menus and on-screen sliders, Ruben Henares’ Maxmix lets you do this on the fly.

    Based on an Arduino Nano, the simple yet stylish knob takes input from an encoder and button to cycle through and select a program. Just push down and then rotate to turn the volume up or down. Want to switch from Discord to Spotify? Click it again and repeat the process.

  • Atom C3000 net appliance offers options for 10GbE, PoE, WiFi 6, and 5G

    Advantech’s fanless, -20 to 70°C tolerant “FWA-1112VC” net appliance runs Linux on an Atom C3000 with 6x GbE or 4x GbE with 2x 10GbE SFP+ ports along with optional PoE and 3x M.2 for SATA, WiFi 6, and 4G/5G.

    Advantech has announced a highly customizable, IP40-protected desktop networking system with extended temperature support. The FWA-1112VC is described in the Electropages story where we found out about it as the latest in the company’s “entry and mid-level white boxes for SD-WAN and uCPE.”

  • QuickFeather Board is Powered by QuickLogic EOS S3 Cortex-M4F MCU with embedded FPGA (Crowdfunding)

    Yesterday, I wrote about what I felt what a pretty unique board: Evo M51 board following Adafruit Feather form factor, and equipped with an Atmel SAMD51 Cortex-M4F MCU and an Intel MAX 10 FPGA.

    But less than 24 hours later, I’ve come across another Adafruit Feather-sized Cortex-M4F board with FPGA fabric. But instead of using a two-chip solution, QuickLogic QuickFeather board leverages the company’s EOS S3 SoC with a low-power Cortex-M4F core and embedded FPGA fabric.

Huawei’s ARM-based desktop PC could leave you scratching your head

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GNU
Linux
Hardware

Part of the problem is Huawei’s replacement for Windows, a Linux-based Unity OS (not to be confused with Ubuntu’s Unity). While the OS itself performed smoothly, the apps running on it didn’t. The YouTuber even had to pay 800 RMB ($115) to get access to the UOS app store which had a very limited selection of software. Any Linux user would expect popular proprietary software like Microsoft Office and Adobe’s Creative apps to be absent but the store also strangely didn’t support running 32-bit programs either.

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