Archive for September, 2014

So the showdown

Posted in Beaglebone Black, cheap obsolete tech, Embedded, ODROID-W, Open Source can be professional on September 28, 2014 by asteriondaedalus
No competition, really.  Grown up board for serious work vs a primary skool diddling board

No competition, really. Grown up board for serious work vs a primary skool diddling board

First BBB (the other Creative Commons offering) vs Raspberry Pi.  Say no more.  More grunt, more I/O, better connectivity.  Apparently looses out (only) because 1) cannot connect to an old analog television (who still has one of those?) 2) only has 1 usb port (well done Raspberry Pi, woo hoo) 3) and is scary for beginners (there there little gimp, you can upgrade to BBB when you are ready).  [[PS: you can actually get to the analog video if you have to]]

So ODROID-W vs Rasberry Pi.

Same Creative Commons hardware design base?  Only from the point of view of same SOC.

Same reliance on free OS and free software applications.

Smaller footprint for embedded rather than (so-called) PC applications.

Match box vs Credit Card size

Match box vs Credit Card size

Comes with more on it (but there is a twist):

How did they do it?

How did they do it?

What is actually missing off there picture is that ODROID-W sort of addresses a short coming with Raspberry Pi by also adding eMMC – but this is somewhat knobbled because the Broadcomm chip that RPF chose is somewhat a slug here and you only get a 10% improvement in speed.  But, you still have that option.

Now you only get one USB host port, much the same as BBB … but there is still the twist to come.

Now the twist, you don’t really get Ethernet until you add a base board.

The base board

The base board

Now voila!  With base board you get ethernet and four USB ports – better than Pi or BBB – so likely no need for USB hub at all.  You don’t have to have the baseboard with the LCD if you don’t wanna 😉

So, baseboard without LCD $20, with $30.  So more expensive than Pi?  Well not if you include RTC, UPS, ADC and fuel gauge, and four USB instead of two (so take off price of USB hub) AND an LCD.

Sad fact.  You still can’t connect to that old analogue television that you don’t have anyway 😦  You’ll have to settle for the LCD 😉

Now, I don’t myself think what I want this for is to build my own Smart Watch …

No, no, never, never no watch

No, no, never, never no watch

… lest Steve Wozniak make a Youtube about it.

Rather, the matchbox format means more horse power on smaller robotics platforms – way cheaper than the original trendsetters at Gumstix.  All of the Gumstix base boards (not the computer modules) are Creative Commons for you to use in making up your own designs for baseboards – striking an interesting balance.  But still, emphasizing that the hardware design is the thing that is open and encourages your own implementations.

Tini! But who can use those board connectors.  Makers need 2.54 mm!

Tini! But who can use those board connectors. Makers need 2.54 mm!

Just to help you out the GOR (Gumstix to ODROID-W to Raspberry Pi ratio) is:

Squeezy, not so Squeezy, Obese

Squeezy, not so Squeezy, Obese

Mind you, once you put your Gumstix onto a baseboard, so you get your 2.54mm spacings, you are back up to at least ODROID-W footprint.

What?  Yeah, you put the base on the ODROID-W and it takes up more room – but it doesn’t necessarily need the base for embedded work does it.  Options are good right!

Final Say

And taking on board what a couple of commentators have already said.

Raspberry Pi relies heavily on opensource software but muddied the water by asking owners to pay for CODECS.   Obviously, ODROID-W leans on same Linux sources – doesn’t everyone?

Pi wouldn’t be so cheap if it used a more accessible SOC – it could have been the BBB, but it wasn’t.

The chip selection will break Pi anyway.  Unless RPF really get into bed with Broadcom they will need to change out the SOC and likely not have the price edge.

One commentator noted, and I tend to agree, the prior art in the design of the Raspberry Pi is so heavily driven by the Broadcom chip itself that your only “art” is the arrangement of the components on the board.

Now, if the board layout is the principle art being brought in, and the board components around the SOC have varied, as they have done for ODROID-W, then there is no bleating that is plausible that the ODROID-W was a sleazy copy on the backs of RPF.

There is sufficient new art in the ODROID-W design, layout, use of components etc. that the Raspberry Pi has no more claim than any PC mother board manufacturer has, on any other, just because they all use the same INTEL/AMD cpu or companion INTEL/AMD chips.

This argument will be lost on Raspboobies I am afraid.

Raspberry Pirates

Posted in Raspberry Pirate on September 27, 2014 by asteriondaedalus

The name for Raspberry Pi clones is now Raspberry Pirates.

Arrrrgghh! Where be me parrot? Arrgghh!?

Arrrrgghh! Where be me parrot? Arrgghh!?

Image is of course “stolen” from Pink Pirate Rum.

PS this is a Proprietary Opinion and a Creative Commons free zone.  You do not have the right to comment, so there.

Why not?

Posted in Embedded on September 26, 2014 by asteriondaedalus
Virtual radar

Virtual radar

I am week 1 of my final slog in my Engineering Masters and will need a distraction as a study break over the next 24 weeks of my Dissertation.

So, how about an ADS-B receiver setup?

I sort of have already started:

I am interested as a side project to some of my UAV experiments.  It seams to me I can inject ADS-B flight paths into my UAV ATC experiments.  I would eventually want a headerless version that only pumps aircraft locations into my mission display so alerts can be raised if there are any impending volume intersections.  Problem might likely be CPU clock speed et al but why not try for the fun of it.

That is, as well as continuing my series of FPGA experiments (apart from continuing porting the Altera training onto our Master 21 board, maybe getting a blinking light on the FORTH in FPGA experiment).

It all falls down …

Posted in The downside of Opensource on September 26, 2014 by asteriondaedalus

So, a little digging and I am appalled.

The response from some members of the Raspberry Pi Foundation forums to ODROID-W was caustic.  They felt that Hardkernel had “jumped on back the good work of the Foundation” in a bad way – “stealing” from the Foundation.

What galls me is that the Creative-Commons License Raspberry Pi calls out is actually about allowing people to use the IP.

So, this is really becoming and interesting ethical issue.

If you take Creative-Commons, or any open source licence really, it is akin to contract with everyone on the planet.  Not just to people who use the material but also to people who don’t.

We, the undersigned, allow anyone to come along and use our IP up to the limits of the style of open source licence. 


So, what don’t some of the punters on Raspberry Pi Forum get then about the whole purpose of Raspberry Pi and Creative-Commons etc.?

Now, of course it would have been select few people who have no idea right?

But where was the moderator intervention and especially the Foundation taking a stand on the commentary?

Silence is not Golden!

To wit, what is the point of opensource hardware anyway?

I was thinking about it.  I can’t download a piece of hardware.  It still needs to be constructed somehow.

If I download a pdf schematic of Raspberry Pi then I still have to scratch it into a PCB CAD tool.  My time is money so it might be a learning exercise in multi-layered board design right?  I might get really good at using Eagle by the end of scratching a Raspberry Pi into Eagle, yes?

I can dig that but then the cost to get the board made would be in excess of buying a Raspberry Pi.  I might have to spend on two boards to fix the errors I put into the first board.  Then maybe a third.  I could have bought a gaming PC by the time I sorted the issues out.  But I would be really good at layered board design right?

If I can download an eagle pcb board design, good.  But it will still cost me more to have made than a Raspberry Pi.  And then the debugging again.  Did they supply an Eagle file?

Didn’t find one.


If I was good at board design I might redesign the board.

Nope that was done.

Can’t buy the SOC.

So why do I need a Creative-Common design of something I can’t buy the SOC?

Is that a promise that can’t be kept?

A contract broken?

Am I content with being able to design and make my own bare Raspberry Pi board?  I could solder the surface mount components etc. onto the board.

Except for the SOC.

I would not claim to be really good at soldering surface mount components, after only soldering surface mount components onto one board, but it would be a start.

Still wouldn’t have the SOC.

I guess I could get really good a de-soldering surface mount components?

AH!  I could buy a Raspberry Pi, de-solder the SOC and re-solder it onto the board I designed and luvingly debugged to the tune of one not bad gaming PC.


If Open Source is about getting away from Vendor Lock-In, or so one of the arguments goes, then is a Creative-Commons design that you can’t copy, or at least can’t get the parts to copy, and can only get from one source, Vendor Lock-In or not?

Feels like it.

Me, I think there should be an ethics check in Open Source there somewhere.


Beagle boards are, curiously, also Creative Commons, so why the difference?

oh my god!

Posted in cheap obsolete tech, Development, Embedded, General niff naff and trivia, Hardware, Linux, The downside of Opensource on September 24, 2014 by asteriondaedalus

My ODROID-W turned up. The thing is the size that could almost fit in a matchbox. I am sold! You are right Broadcom, this little board is a threat. Good job Hardkernel.

Intriguing … when is Open Source not?

Posted in Embedded, General niff naff and trivia, The downside of Opensource on September 22, 2014 by asteriondaedalus

Raspberry Pi is Creative Commons.

My nephew has a Raspberry Pi – I helped him set it up last Christmas, and also sorted him out to develop on it from his Mac, his Arduino from his Mac and his Arduino from his Raspberry Pi from his Mac (torturous but fun, why not).

Me I am a Beagle boy (with an xM an two BBB).

Still, my nephew has invited me to help him with a project and, given he lives in Sydney and I live in Adelaide, I thought I would have to lower myself to get a Raspberry Pi to ensure whatever “help” I came up with worked on his target.

Luckily to help swallow my pride Hardkernel had the ODROID W, which is a Raspberry Pi clone.  It can run Raspbian etc. and has the same Broadcom BCM2835 ARM11 700Mhz on it as the Pi.  I also got the docking station with LCD.  Still half the size of a Pi though a little more expensive.

Mercifully, there is also a port of erlang for Raspbian so some evil plans are afoot – you don’t need a docking station for everything mwahahahaha!

The thing is, some time after I first came across it, Hardkernel put a caveat on their page that it wouldn’t be sold past the initial prototype run. Why not? Broadcom apparently refused to sell them anymore BCM2835.

The website now no longer has the “reason”, as it is removed now but the story is the same – once all the prototype run is gone then no more.

Funny that.

Broadcom not selling chips to a Raspberry Pi clone manufacturer.

Still, you have wonder as Raspberry Pi is Creative Commons which doesn’t make sense if you cannot use the hardware design because the SOC vendor won’t sell you chips.

Sort of makes me want an ODROID-W even more.  It is … was … very neat.

Erlang on BBB

Posted in Beaglebone Black, ConCurrency, Embedded, Erlang on September 17, 2014 by asteriondaedalus

So, tried to set up nerves-sdk on my 64bit Debian box.  Had trouble sourcing i386 libraries so I chickened out and jumped on my 32bit Debian box.

32bitSlow build but I got a linux image for the BBB cross compiled with erlang and elixir (no less) so I will look at putting the image on a card to see if the thing took.  I need to get an FDDI serial cable for my BBB to talk to the erlang onboard so soon.