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Open Hardware/Modding: Wilson the IoT Hat (Arduino), Purism, and COVID Patient Health Assessment Device

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  • Use your smartphone to control Wilson the IoT hat | Arduino Blog

    Wearable displays are nothing new, but many of them lack that all-important “fun” element. That’s why OlivierZ over on Instructables created Wilson the IoT hat. The smart hat contains a large 232mm by 22mm flexible LED strip on its front that prominently shows rainbow text across a 71×7 LED matrix. The whole thing runs on a single 9V battery, which powers an Arduino Nano, HC-05 Bluetooth module, and LED matrix. All of these components are nicely tucked away within the top of the hat to prevent wearers from seeing unsightly wires.

  • Software Updates that Respects Civil Liberties – Purism

    Yet-another reminder of how disrespectful Apple, Google, and Microsoft are with their software update process was highlighted to Android phones that were in Massachusets, USA. The unintentionally descriptively named “MassNotify” application was installed to all Android phones in Mass.—en masse—without consent.

    Mass Upgrade, Without Consent

    From a forced album install by Apple, to the forced upgrade to the Microsoft Edge browser, to the truth is stranger than fiction forced removal of the book 1984 from Kindle devices, mass forced upgrades/updates has been abused as technological dictatorship in the name of “security”. All technological advancements—even software updates—can be done where it respects the freedoms and civil liberties of humans. Not only can it be done, we can look at one of the earliest (and one of the most secure) operating system distributions and how they did software updates the right way.

  • This pocket-sized uses tinyML to analyze a COVID-19 patient's health conditions | Arduino Blog

    In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, being able to quickly determine a person’s current health status is very important. This is why Manivannan S wanted to build his very own COVID Patient Health Assessment Device that could take several data points from various vitals and make a prediction about what they indicate. The pocket-sized system features a Nano 33 BLE Sense at its core, along with a Maxim Integrated MAX30102 pulse oximeter/heart-rate sensor to measure oxygen saturation and pulse.

    From this incoming health data, Manivannan developed a simple algorithm that generates a “Health Index” score by plugging in factors such as SpO2, respiration rate, heart rate, and temperature into a linear regression. Once some sample data was created, he sent it to Edge Impulse and trained a model that uses a series of health indices to come up with a plausible patient condition.

Embedded Linux and Open Hardware Leftovers

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  • Slides and videos of Bootlin talks at Live Embedded Event #2

    The second edition of Live Embedded Event took place on June 3rd, exactly 6 months after the first edition. Even though there were a few issues with the online platform, it was once again great to learn new things about embedded, and share some of the work we’ve been doing at Bootlin on various topics. For the next edition, we plan to switch to a different online platform, hopefully providing a better experience.

  • Growing for the road ahead

    The last 16 months have been challenging, to say the least. However, despite the many obstacles brought on by the pandemic, Collabora has continued delivering services to our clients, and continues to build and strengthen our engineering and administration teams for the road ahead. With over 15 years' experience in working remotely, Collabora was, and continues to be, uniquely prepared to support our customers and our teams during these challenging times.

  • Olimex STM32MP1 SoM and evaluation board support Linux 5.10 - CNX Software

    Olimex has just announced the availability of an STMicro STM32MP1 Cortex-A7/M4 powered system-on-module (SoM) and an evaluator board with respectively STMP15X-SOM available in extended and industrial temperature variants, as well as STMP1(A13)-EVB evaluation board that works with the new STM32MP1 module, as well as earlier A13-SOM Allwinner A13 based system-on-module.

    Beyond the hardware, the company told us their upcoming STMP1-OLinuXino-LIME2 SBC could support mainline Linux in February, and the company prepared some Linux 5.10 based Debian Buster and Ubuntu Focal images which are now also available for the STMP15X-SOM module.

  • $3.5 RV-Debugger Plus UART & JTAG debug board comes with BL702 Zigbee & BLE RISC-V SoC - CNX Software

    USB to UART debug boards are a necessity for anyone playing with single board computers, at least when using bleeding-edge bootloader or Linux kernel where the target board may not always boot, or when troubleshooting booting problems.

    Those are often based on FDTI or WCH chips, but Sipeed RV-Debugger Plus features Bouffalo Lab BL702 Zigbee & Bluetooth LE RISC-V SoC instead and offers both UART and JTAG interfaces. So let’s have a look at both the board and SoC.

  • Inside a transistorized shift register box, built in 1965 for Apollo testing

    One of the under-appreciated aspects of the Apollo launches to the Moon is how much testing was required. I recently came across an item that was part of this testing: the Computer Buffer Unit. It is essentially a 16-bit shift register that interfaced test equipment to the Apollo Guidance Computer. While a shift register is a trivial circuit nowadays, back then it took a box full of transistors that weighed about 5 pounds. In this blog post, I look inside this unit, describe its unusual packaging and circuitry, and explain how it works.

  • Exerscent is a remote olfactory assessment system | Arduino Blog

    The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for widespread diagnostic services that can be taken at home, especially those that relate to smell as the loss of that sense is an associated virus side effect. One team from Malmö University and Stockholm University in Sweden has come up with a system they call “Exerscent” that allows patients to test their sense of smell at home using a series of tagged odors that can be adapted over time.

    Exerscent uses an Arduino Uno and an MFRC522 NFC reader module to scan various vials of scented liquids and transmit that information to a laptop running the team’s software. Once a smell has been selected, the software guides users on not only which scent to smell first, but also how to handle them. These instructions could include commands such as where to place the vial, how far away it should be from their nose, and what to do once finished.

RasPad 3 Review – Part 2: A Raspberry Pi 4 mini PC with integrated display

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I started RasPad 3 review last week with an unboxing of the tablet shell for Raspberry Pi 4, together with assembly instructions, and a first boot after flashing Raspad OS to the system.

In the first part of the review, I mentioned that I’d probably focus the remainder of the review on Ezblock Studio visual programming IDE, as the rest of the software is almost the same as using a standard Raspberry Pi 4, the other difference being the touchscreen-friendly RasPad launcher.

But Sunfounder explained to me it would be hard to check out Ezblock as it’s designed to control robots and other hardware platforms, and requires an extra HAT (see Kickstarter campaign) to allow the Ezblock APP to connect through Bluetooth (it cannot be directly linked to Raspberry Pi through the built-in Bluetooth). Here’s an example of a robot that is compatible with Ezblock Studio: Picar-X.

Read more

Open Hardware/Modding Leftovers

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  • Commodore 64 + Raspberry Pi 4 = Synth6581



  • Deep dive into how the Teensy microcontroller interacts with the Arduino library



    Pin configuration is more complex than you might expect. The problem is that the processor chip has 144 pins (in a 12×12 grid), but the microcontroller provides a much larger number of functions. The solution is that each pin has up to 8 different multiplexed functions, and you can select one of these functions for each pin. Thus, you can't use all the features of the chip at the same time, but hopefully you can use the features you need.


  • PUPPI is a tinyML device designed to interpret your dog's mood via sound analysis | Arduino Blog

    Dogs are not known to be the most advanced communicators, so figuring out what they want based on a few noises and pleading looks can be tough. This problem is what inspired a team of developers to come up with PUPPI — a small device that utilizes tinyML to interpret your canine companion’s mood through vocal signals. Their project employs an Arduino Nano 33 BLE Sense and its onboard microphone to both capture the data and run inferencing with the model they trained using Edge Impulse. After collecting ample amounts of data for barks, growls, whines, and other noises, their model achieved an accuracy of around 92%. 

  • Digi ConnectCore 8M Mini SOM and Mini Development Kit for Industrial IoT Applications - CNX Software

    Digi International has announced the Digi ConnectCore 8M Mini System-on-Module (SOM) which is an addition to its ConnectCore family modules. We saw the Android application development kit featuring earlier Digi Wireless modules based Freescale i.MX51 (ConnectCore Wi-i.MX51) and i.MX53 (ConnectCore Wi-i.MX53) in early 2012. The new Digi ConnectCore 8M Mini comes with a built-in Video Processing Unit specialising in vision use cases.

    The Digi ConnectCore 8M Mini SOM is an industrial i.MX 8M Mini quad-core system-on-module that comes with Arm Cortex-A53 cores, one Cortex-M4 core, and the Cortex-M0-based Digi Microcontroller Assist. This enables optimal power consumption while simultaneous maintenance of highly efficient performance.

Open Hardware and Devices Like Arduino

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  • KloudNote 10.3-inch E-reader supports WiFi, Bluetooth and cellular connectivity - CNX Software

    Geniatech used to be better known for their Amlogic TV boxes, before expanding their business to development boards and systems-on-modules. But the company has now introduced KloudNote, a 10.3-inch E-reader running Android 8.1 on a quad-core Cortex-A35 processor.

    The device is equipped with 2GB of RAM and a 16GB eMMC flash, supports WiFi 5 and Bluetooth, as well as optional 2G/3G/4G LTE cellular connectivity, and comes with a USB-C port and a headphone jack.

  • TI AM64x 7-core processor is made for PLC's, motor drives, industrial robots - CNX Software

    Texas Instruments AM64x is a family of 64-bit Arm processors with functional safety designed for Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC), motor drives, remote I/O, and industrial robots. The top-end processor of the family, AM6442, comes with seven cores including two Cortex-A53 application cores, four Cortex-R5F real-time cores, and one Cortex-M4F isolated core.

    AFAICT, while the documentation is dated January 2021 and TI announced the processor in February in a blog post with a cryptic title, it was only first picked up by Embedded Computing in early May. Besides the processor itself, TI also provides an AM64x starter kit and a full-featured AM64x evaluation kit, and several companies are already preparing development boards and modules as we’ll see further below.

  • 14 Awesome Arduino Cloud Features You Never Knew Existed

    There are dozens, if not hundreds of amazing Arduino Cloud features. So it’s perfectly understandable if you’ve missed some of them.

    So we’ve put together a list of our favorite Arduino Cloud features that you might not know existed.

  • Homemade mechanical color TV runs on an Arduino Due | Arduino Blog

    Nearly everyone alive today has never the technical marvel that is the mechanical television. In short, the work by quickly strobing a light through a disc that has holes cut around its perimeter, with each hole being slightly lower than its predecessor. Combined with the persistence of vision effect, this gives the illusion of a still image with its number of rows being equal to the number of holes in the disc. YouTuber “Science ‘n’ Stuff” wanted to try creating a modern version that uses a microcontroller to precisely adjust an LED’s color, rather than using an analog signal.

    The device has a single large plastic disc with 32 holes for a total of 32 rows in the image. It’s spun at 1500 RPM by a DC motor that’s driven via PWM, and because there can be some variance in the motor’s speed, the synchronization signal that’s produced on each full rotation is also used to carefully adjust the motor’s speed to keep it constant. Both images and sound are read from an onboard microSD card, with the images being converted into pulses of light and the sound being played on a mono speaker. All of this is controlled by an Arduino Due board.

Arduino and GNU/Linux Devices

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  • This Arduino device will sort your M&M's by color | Arduino Blog

    If you were challenged to design a device that could sort M&M candies by color, how would you make it work? You might consider using machine learning, which has become accessible in recent years. There are even ML models available today that can run on Arduino boards. But Jack Monaco (AKA Jackofalltrades_) found a more elegant solution when he created this Arduino Uno-controlled M&M’s sorter.

    We perceive color based on the wavelengths of light that an object reflects. A white object reflects all visible wavelengths well. A black object doesn’t reflect any visible wavelengths well. A blue object reflects blue wavelengths better than others. This machine relies on those facts to detect the color of an M&M candy.

  • 4.2-inch ESP32-based e-Paper display ships with a 3D printed enclosure (Crowdfunding) - CNX Software

    We’ve covered a fair amount of connected e-Paper/e-Ink displays based on ESP32 WiFi & Bluetooth SOC including several Inkplate displays, with the latest Inkplate 6Plus model including a touchscreen, TTGO T5 displays with small sizes, or even the fully enclosed M5Paper ESP32 IoT development kit with a 4.7-inch touchscreen e-Paper display. There’s also Watchy ESP32 smartwatch with a 1.54-inch display if you really need something small.

    But here’s another option courtesy of Rohit & Prasad, two young engineers from India, with the 4.2-inch ESP32-powered e-Paper display that ships with an optional 3D printed enclosure.

  • Raspberry Pi CM4 based controller offers isolated serial and DIO

    OpenEmbed’s $159-and-up “EdgeBox-RPI4” industrial controller builds on the Raspberry Pi CM4 with GbE, optional WiFi/BT, HDMI 2.0, 2x USB, isolated RS485 and DIO and M.2 and mini-PCIe for NVMe and 4G.

    OpenEmbed, which has introduced products such as the RK3399-based em3399 module and emPAC-RK3399-EVB eval board, has launched a compact, semi-rugged edge controller and IoT gateway based on the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 (CM4). The EdgeBox-RPI4 is on pre-order at Seeed with July 7 shipment.

  • TI's AM64x powers three modules and two new HummingBoard SBCs

    TQ’s TQMa64xx, Phytec’s phyCore-AM64X, and SolidRun’s AM64x SOM modules run Linux on TI’s new FuSa-enabled Sitara AM64x with up to 6x GbE, 4x of which support TSN and fieldbus. The AM64x SOM also powers two new HummingBoard-T SBCs.

    Yesterday, we explored Texas Instruments’ new functional safety (FuSa) oriented Sitara AM64x SoC along with a pair of TI eval kits. Here we look at the first compute modules to showcase the AM64x: TQ Embedded’s TQMa64xx, Phytec’s PhyCore-AM64X, and SolidRun’s AM64x SOM. SolidRun’s AM64x SOM is also appearing on HummingBoard-T AM64X Base and Pro SBCs (see farther below).

    The headless, 16nm FinFET fabricated AM64x runs Linux on 1x or 2x 1GHz Cortex-A53 cores and offers up to 4x 800MHz Cortex-R5F cores for real-time duty. The SoC also supplies up to 2x programmable real-time units (PRUs) for managing up to 4x GbE ports with time-sensitive networking (TSN) and fieldbus protocols.

Open Hardware/Modding Leftovers

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  • The Other First Computer: Konrad Zuse And The Z3
  • Daniel Vrátil: Building RC LEGO with Arduino and Qt

    Recently my 4 year-old stepson saw a kid with an RC racing car in a park. He really wanted his own, but with Christmas and his birthday still being a long way away, I decided to solve the “problem” by combining three things I’m really passionate about: LEGO, electronics and programming.

    In this short series of blogs I’ll describe how to build one such car using LEGO, Arduino and a bit of C++ (and Qt, of course!).

  • RC skateboard moves in any direction | Arduino Blog

    Skateboards are great for going in a straight line, or gently curving one way or the other, but Proto G Engineering’s “omnidirectional board” takes things to a whole new level. Thanks to four 3D-printed Mecanum-style hub wheels, this device can not only move forwards and backwards, but can slide left and right and even spin like a tank!

    The system is powerful enough for human riders, but currently has some issues carrying such a load at low speeds, making it a mostly unmanned vehicle for the time being. Steering is handled by a remote control unit while a GoPro camera setup provides a first-person view. An Arduino Nano is implemented on each of the hub motors to translate RC PWM signals into the proper driver format. The Nanos also control the forward/reverse/brake pin input on the motor drivers, making this unique board possible.

Devices: Xilinx, TI, NVIDIA, and Raspberry Pi

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  • Xilinx announces Versal AI Edge Series with Cortex-A72 & R5 cores, FPGA fabric - CNX Software

    Edge AI solves the latency and security issues through on-device AI acceleration for optimal computations at a low power supply. Xilinx announces its Versal AI Edge Series which is 4th member of the Adaptive Compute Acceleration Platform (ACAP) family. The versal series consists of seven models ranging from VE2002 to VE2802 with the processor fabrication on 7 nm silicon technology.

  • Safety conscious TI AM64x debuts on $99 dev kit

    TI’s 16nm Sitara AM64x offers up to 2x -A53, up to 4x Cortex-R5F, and a Cortex-M4F core for FuSa and ships with a Linux SDK and choice of $99 and $299 eval kits. Phytec, SolidRun, and TQ have also unveiled AM64x based modules.

    The Texas Instruments Sitara AM64x was announced on Embedded Computing in early May, but we did not hear about it until TQ Embedded sent us an announcement this week for a TQMa64xx module based on the new SoC. Then we saw that TI quietly announced the industrial-focused AM64x in a February blog post and has posted “preview” product pages for the 5x AM64x models. We also see that Phytec has posted a product page for a PhyCore-AM64X module and SolidRun has a page for an AM64x SOM.

  • NVIDIA Jetson AGX Xavier Industrial module adds lockstep Cortex-R5 cluster, ECC RAM, and more - CNX Software

    NVIDIA Jetson AGX Xavier is the most powerful module from the Jetson family packing 32 TOPS of AI inference performance. But with some customers wanting to use the embedded AI computer in harsher conditions, the company has now introduced a rugged version of the module with NVIDIA Jetson AGX Xavier Industrial.

    Some changes included a slightly lower performance (30 TOPS) to cater for an expanded temperature range, a dual-core Cortex-R5 cluster in lockstep, ECC memory, and compliance with shock and vibration standards.

  • Build a Raspberry Pi Pico piano

Open Hardware: Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and PINE64

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  • Turn your bicycle into a Pokebike with DJ Harrigan's MKR Zero device | Arduino Blog

    Within the Pokemon series there exists a special bicycle that plays a little tune when ridden, and this is what element14 Presents’ DJ Harrigan was trying to recreate with his DIY Pokebike project. It has a simple purpose: play a song and increase its volume while accelerating and then decrease the volume and eventually stop playing it once the bike comes to a halt.

    The circuit uses an Arduino MKR Zero to handle all of the inputs and outputs, and with an onboard microSD card slot and the ability to output digital I2S audio, playing music is easy. Speed is determined by a Hall effect sensor and magnet pair that sends a pulse whenever the wheel has made a rotation. By tracking how many rotations have been made in a second and seeing the changes between these values, acceleration can be derived.

    Harrigan then designed and 3D-printed a simple enclosure that houses all of the circuitry, including a battery pack. The front is shaped like a Pokeball, and it has an illuminated push button that allows for the user to interact with it. Finally, there’s a small speaker at the back connected to an I2S amplifier that takes signals from the MKR Zero and converts them into sound.

  • The Piano Metronome is key to keeping the beat | Arduino Blog

    In the world of music, being able to keep time accurately is vital when playing a piece, as even small deviations in timing can cause the notes played to sound “off.” Ordinarily a device called a metronome is used to provide consistent ticks that the musician can use, but most are not that visually interesting. This is what inspired ChristineNZ over on Instructables to create her own metronome that uses an Arduino Uno to both show the beat and produce a small noise.

    ChristineNZ’s Piano Metronome enables users to select both the rate (tempo) of the beat and its volume by turning one of two rotary encoders. Rather than having some clunky interface, this project has a large 20×4 I2C LCD on the front that displays the current time via an RTC, the sound’s amplitude, and even subdivisions. The top of the enclosure also holds four RGB LEDs that visually indicate the beat and subdivision if present.

  • Make a Raspberry Pi-powered BMO Adventure Time console
  • Raspberry Pi 400 review: The keyboard is the computer [Ed: Reviews by Microsoft operative Simon Bisson, who hates GNU/Linux]

    The heart of the Raspberry Pi Foundation's mission is to bring computing to everyone, wherever they may be. The single-board Raspberry Pi devices have gone a long way to delivering on that promise, via kits that bundle keyboard and mouse for a full computing experience.

    But what if the Pi was built into the keyboard? After all, there have been many projects that put these devices inside laptop cases or built them into media centres, or storage systems. But those have all been third-party projects, taking off-the-shelf Raspberry Pi devices and adding them to new hardware. What if the boards could be redesigned, and integrated into, say, the official Pi keyboard?

  • June update: new hardware and more on the way

    Lastly, a quick reminder that KDE Akademy is taking place June 18-25. This is also the fourth year in a row that PINE64 is a sponsor of the event.

Radxa Zero SBC

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  • Radxa Zero SBC – A powerful quad-core alternative to Raspberry Pi Zero W

    Radxa Zero SBC follows Raspberry Pi Zero W form factor, but thanks to an Amlogic S905Y2 quad-core Cortex-A53 processor clocked at up to 2.0 GHz offers much higher performance, which Radxa says corresponds to about 70% of Raspberry Pi 4 CPU performance.

    The tiny Arm Linux board comes with up to 4GB RAM, 16GB eMMC flash, and either AP6212 or AP6256 wireless module. plus all interfaces from Raspberry Pi Zero W, but with a twist as the mini HDMI port is replaced by a micro HDMI port, and USB-C ports are used instead of micro USB ports.

  • Tiny Radxa Zero SBC runs Armbian on Amlogic S905Y2

    Radxa’s Raspberry Pi Zero-like “Radxa Zero” SBC runs on Amlogic’s quad -A53 S905Y2 and sells for $15 (512MB LPDDR4) to $45 (4GB with 16GB eMMC). Features include WiFi/BT, 4K-ready micro-HDMI, 40-pin GPIO, and 2x USB Type-C.

    The Raspberry Pi Compute Module series has followed mainstream Pi SBCs into Cortex-A53 and Cortex-A72 territory with the RPi CM3/CM3+ and CM4. Yet, the slightly larger and more SBC-like Raspberry Pi Zero and WiFi/BT enabled Raspberry Pi Zero W are still stuck with a 1GHz, ARM11-based Broadcom BCM2836. They nevertheless remain popular due to their $5 price, 65 x 30mm dimensions, and support for Raspberry Pi HATs and most Pi software.

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