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Open Hardware/3-D Printing

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Hardware
OSS
  • Meltdown And Spectre Processor Vulnerabilities: Is It Time To Revive Open Source Alternative?

    The beginning of the year 2018 brought new challenges in the form of Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities in most of the processor architectures.  In layman terms, both of these vulnerabilities allow hackers to steal sensitive data like passwords.  This vulnerability is applicable to Intel, AMD, and ARM. This means the problem is universal as it affects almost all devices ranging from embedded devices, smartphones, desktops, and servers to supercomputers.

  • When the canary breaks the coal mine

    Nobody likes it when kernels don't work and even less so when they are broken on a Friday afternoon. Yet that's what happened last Friday. This was particularly unsettling because at -rc8, the kernel is expected to be rock solid. An early reboot is particularly unsettling. Fortunately, the issue was at least bisected to a commit in the x86 tree. The bad commit changed code for an AMD specific feature but oddly the reboot was seen on non-AMD processors too.

    It's easy to take debug logs for granted when you can get them. The kernel nominally has the ability for an 'early' printk but that still requires setup. If your kernel crashes before that, you need to start looking at other debug options (and your life choices). This was unfortunately one of those crashes. Standard x86 laptops don't have a nice JTAG interface for hardware assisted debugging. Debugging this particular crash was not particularly feasible beyond changing code and seeing if it booted.

  • DIY Open-Source PantoProbe Precision Probe

    Electronics enthusiasts, hobbyists and makers looking for a handy tool to help you troubleshoot their latest project, may be interested in an open source PantoProb created by Kurt Schaefer. As you can see from the image above the open source probe requires a few 3D printed parts as well as some off-the-shelf hardware which is easily sourced. Kurt has also provided full instructions and a Github repo with all the necessary files to make your very own 3D printed testing probe. Check out the video below to learn more.

  • What the Apple 3D Printing Patents Mean for Our Industry

    Recently Apple has been granted a patent for a color 3D printing idea whereby the printed object is first made and then colored in afterwards. This idea is a straightforward one; using it one could print an object using FDM for example and then later color it with an inkjet print head. This method would play to both technologies’ strengths with FDM making for strong objects that are very dimensionally accurate but often suffer from poor surface quality. By having a separate print head then color in and, more importantly perhaps, strengthen and smooth over the object as well as add things such as conductivity, the resulting object would look nice as well. This could be a potential breakthrough in expanding 3D printing.

Devices: Debugging Tools, TP-Link, Raspberry Pi and Android

Filed under
Android
Linux
Hardware
  • Debugging Tools

    That’s three strands (red, white, black) from a USB-to-serial converter, soldered on to a 3-pole screw-tightened connector. Clamped into that are the serial lines (red, green and blue) which were originally crimped straight to the lines. After a few months of use, the crimping failed and the red cable (RX) broke off.

    So I had to fix it, and in the process decided to make it more sturdy, more ugly, but also easier to use.

  • TP-Link Smart Wi-Fi Plug with Energy Monitoring Review

    Opening up the box reveals both plugs sitting in a plastic tray. A quick start guide, tech support contact information, and a copy of the GNU General Public License were found on top of the plugs. Following the quick start guide proved to be very straightforward.

  • Reading Buttons from a Raspberry Pi

    When you attach hardware buttons to a Raspberry Pi's GPIO pin, reading the button's value at any given instant is easy with GPIO.input(). But what if you want to watch for button changes? And how do you do that from a GUI program where the main loop is buried in some library?

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  • Rooting Android Just Isn’t Worth It Anymore

    Since Android is based on Linux and uses a Linux kernel, “rooting” effectively means allowing access to root permissions in Linux. It’s really that simple—these permissions aren’t granted to normal users and apps, so you have to do some special work to gain them.

  • What’s the Difference Between Android One and Android Go?

    In 2014, Google announced a lineup of low-cost, low-spec phones called Android One. In 2017, they announced Android Go, specifically designed for low-cost, low-spec phones. So…what’s the difference?

PC desktop build, Intel, spectre issues etc.

Filed under
Hardware
Security

Apart from the initial system bought, most of my systems when being changed were in the INR 20-25k/- budget including all and any accessories I bought later.

The only real expensive parts I purchased have been external hdd ( 1 TB WD passport) and then a Viewsonic 17″ LCD which together sent me back by around INR 10k/- but both seem to give me adequate performance (both have outlived the warranty years) with the monitor being used almost 24×7 over 6 years or so, of course over GNU/Linux specifically Debian. Both have been extremely well value for the money.

As I had been exposed to both the motherboards I had been following those and other motherboards as well. What was and has been interesting to observe what Asus did later was to focus more on the high-end gaming market while Gigabyte continued to dilute it energy both in the mid and high-end motherboards.

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Raspberry Pi HAT connects up to three Pmod modules at once

Filed under
Linux
Hardware

Digilent and RS Components have launched a $15, Python supported “Pmod HAT Adapter” for the Raspberry Pi that can connect up to three Digilent Pmod peripheral modules at a time while also extending the 40-pin adapter.

Digilent has joined with distributor RS Components to co-launch a $15 DesignSpark Raspberry Pi Pmod HAT Adapter board that brings Digilent’s Pmod peripheral boards to the Raspberry Pi. The 65 x 56.5mm HAT compliant board offers three 2×6-pin Pmod ports with support for I2C, SPI, UART and GPIO interfaces. The Raspberry Pi’s 40-pin adapter is extended to make full use of the SBC’s interfaces.

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First Impressions: Asus Tinkerboard and Docker

Filed under
Linux
Hardware

The board's standard OS is TinkerOS - a Linux variant of Debian 9. I've also read that Android is available but that doesn't interest us here. While Android may use forms of containerisation under the hood it doesn't mix with Docker containers.

Rather than trying TinkerOS I flashed Armbian's release of Ubuntu 16.04.03. The stable build on the download page contains a full desktop, but if you want to run the board headless (like I do) then you can find a smaller image on the "other downloads" link.

I initially used the stable image but had to swap to the nightly build due to a missing kernel module for Kubernetes networking. Having looked this up on Google I found the nightly build contained the fix to turn on the missing module.

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RF-enabled Raspberry Pi add-on brings Google Assistant to gizmos, speakers, and robots

Filed under
Linux
Hardware

JOY-iT and Elector have launched a $42 “Talking Pi” RPi add-on that enables Google Home/AIY compatible voice activation of home automation devices linked to the Pi’s GPIO, and includes a mic board, PWM servo controls, and support for a 433MHz SRD radio.

Elektor has begun selling a $42, open source voice control add-on board that is programmable via the Google Assistant SDK. Built by Germany based JOY-iT, and marketed by Conrad Business Supplies, the RF-enabled Talking Pi enables voice control of home automation equipment such as smart lights, power sockets, and other gizmos via addressable extensions to the Raspberry Pi’s GPIO.

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Librem 5 Phone Progress Report

Filed under
GNU
Linux
Hardware
  • Librem 5 Phone Progress Report – The First of Many More to Come!

    First, let me apologize for the silence. It was not because we went into hibernation for the winter, but because we were so busy in the initial preparation and planning of a totally new product while orienting an entirely new development team. Since we are more settled into place now, we want to change this pattern of silence and provide regular updates. Purism will be giving weekly news update posts every Tuesday, rotating between progress on phone development from a technology viewpoint (the hardware, kernel, OS, etc.) and an art of design viewpoint (UI/UX from GNOME/GTK to KDE/Plasma). To kickoff this new update process, this post will discus the technological progress of the Librem 5 since November of 2017.

  • Purism Eyeing The i.MX8M For The Librem 5 Smartphone, Issues First Status Update

    If you have been curious about the state of Purism's Librem 5 smartphone project since its successful crowdfunding last year and expedited plans to begin shipping this Linux smartphone in early 2019, the company has issued their first status update.

Yocto-on-i.MX6UL gateway serves up I2C and SPI on a DB9 port

Filed under
Linux
Hardware

Axiomtek’s compact “IFB125” DIN-rail IoT gateway runs Yocto Linux on an i.MX6 UL SoC with dual LANs, mini-PCIe expansion, extended temperature and vibration resistance, COM and USB ports, and a DB9 port that supports both SPI and I2C.

Axiomtek has released a minor variation on its IFB122 IoT gateway. Like the IDB122, the new IFB125 runs Yocto Project code with Linux 3.14.52 on NXP’s 528MHz Cortex-A7 based i.MX6 UltraLight (UL) SoC. The headless gateway is designed for remote control and remote monitoring management applications such as unmanned control room, industrial automation, automatic parking lot, and traffic cabinets.

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Also: Display-oriented eNUC SBC runs on Apollo Lake

Toughened up SODIMM-style COM taps i.MX8M

Filed under
Android
Linux
Hardware

CompuLab’s rugged, 68 x 42mm “CL-SOM-iMX8” computer-on-module runs Yocto or Android on NXP’s dual- or quad-core Cortex-A53 i.MX8M, with up to 4GB LPDDR4, up to 64GB eMMC, onboard wireless, and PCIe and HDMI 2.0 support.

CompuLab’s CL-SOM-iMX8 COM, which ships with an optional SBC-iMX8 Evaluation Kit, shares many features with Variscite’s recently announced DART-MX8M module, which similarly features NXP’s new i.MX8M SoC. The CL-SOM-iMX8 is slightly larger, at 68 x 42mm, and adds shock (50G/20ms) and vibration (20G/0-600Hz) resistance.

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Also: 5.25-inch SBCs offer Kaby Lake or Skylake in S- and H-series options

New Raspberry Pi: Zero

Filed under
Linux
Hardware
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KaOS 2017.11 review - Chaotic and unfriendly

KaOS 2017.11 feels like a very buggy product. While I do like the Nvidia setup right from the start, this little gem is offset by pretty much everything else. Most other recent distros rarely had any issues with the LG RD510 laptop - apart from the ATA link reset on wake after suspend, which affects all of them - but KaOS is an exception to that rule with a rather depressing hardware record - Bluetooth, Wireless no-reconnect, smartphone support. And let's not even talk about Samba. The responsiveness was quite bad, Kaptan did not work, and I wasn't enjoying the visual side of things one bit. In fact, I really do not understand the eye-killing choices that go with the default theme. All in all, there are very few redeeming factors to KaOS. If you're looking for something avant-garde, the Arch-based Antergos or Manjaro fit the bill rather well. If you want mainstream, Mint or Ubuntu or whatever. This falls somewhere in between, with nothing amazing in return. 2/10. Perhaps next time. Read more