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Hardware

Add-on board brings BACnet building control to the Raspberry Pi

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Linux
Hardware

Contemporary Controls is launching a “BASpi” Raspberry Pi add-on that supports the BACnet building control standard and Sedona Framework, and provides 6x relay outputs and 6x inputs, including analog, temp, contact closure, pulse, and resistance inputs.

Home automation is a new phenomenon compared to more established building automation technology, which largely follows the BACnet (Building Automation Control network) standard. We have seen various Linux-ready IoT products that offer some BACnet support, including Echelon’s IzoT Router. However, Contemporary Controls’ new BASpi Raspberry Pi 3 add-on board is the first product we’ve seen that is specifically designed for the standard.

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Devices: ROS, Taicenn, Mycroft Mark

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Linux
Hardware
  • Your first robot: The controller [3/5]

    This is the third blog post in this series about creating your first robot with ROS and Ubuntu Core. In the previous post you were introduced to the Robot Operating System (ROS), and got your robot moving by ROSifying one of the CamJam worksheets. Today we're going to move beyond the CamJam worksheets, and work toward having our robot remotely controlled by focusing on our wireless controller: getting data out of it and into ROS messages.

  • Tough, Atom-based box PC supports EtherCAT

    Taicenn’s Linux-ready “TBOX-4000” industrial box PC provides an Atom D2550, dual GbE ports with EtherCAT support, mSATA, optional wireless, and shock, vibration, and extended temperature resistance.

    Shenzhen based Taicenn Technology has launched a rugged industrial computer that runs Linux or Windows on an old school Intel Atom D2550 “Cedar Trail” processor with dual 1.86GHz cores, 640MHz Intel graphics, and a separate Intel NM10 controller chipset. The TBOX-4000’s D2550 chip has the advantage of being reasonably power efficient (10W TDP), leading to the computer’s under 20W total consumption. It’s also likely to make this computer more affordable than most, although no pricing was listed.

  • Developing an Open Source Voice Assistant: Interview with Mycroft AI’s Steve Penrod

    Mycroft is an industry first. Where Amazon Echo and Google Home are unsurprisingly closed-lipped about their data gathering, we know that recordings gathered from these devices are stored for later use (whatever that might be). Mycroft Mark II, by comparison, is an open source voice platform.

    This means that users of the Mycroft platform can opt into sharing their usage data and designers can then use that data to learn more about demographics, language, and voice recognition.

    On the other hand, users could choose to keep their data private.

    What we know about Mycroft Mark II's hardware is that it has a Xilinx quad-core processor, specifically a Zynq UltraScale+ EG MPSoC. It has an array of six far-field PDM-based MEMs microphones and has hardware acoustic echo cancellation (AEC) for beamforming and noise reduction. It has stereo sound with dual 2" drivers (10 Watts), a 4" IPS LCD touchscreen, BT 2.1+EDR and BLE 4.2 Bluetooth In, and single-band Wi-Fi (2.4 GHz).

PocketSprite With GNUBoy

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GNU
Hardware
Gaming
  • You Can Now Buy Keychain Game Boys & 2018 Never Looked So Retro
  • PocketSprite Tiny Handheld Game System Launches From $45

    PocketSprite is a new tiny retro handheld games system, which has this week launched via the Crowd Supply crowdfunding website, and has already nearly raised its required $20,000 pledge goal. Thanks to over 380 backers with still 41 days remaining on its campaign. The tiny keychain PocketSprite games console comes pre-loaded with two emulators in the form of the GNUBoy and SMS Plus. Allowing you to play “every single game” from the Nintendo Game Boy, Nintendo Game Boy Color, Sega Master System and Sega Game Gear consoles.

  • Retrogaming Dream Device PocketSprite is Almost Funded

    These days, dipping into the nostalgia pool is a surefire way to grab the attention of retro preservationists and lovers of geeky gadgetry. Team Pocket’s chibi-sized emulator is a case in point. The PocketSprite, a diminutive, open source emulation device, accomodates your old-school cravings with a lineup of Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Gear and Sega Master System Games within a colour OLED display. It doesn’t make sacrifices on framerates, either; Sonic runs loop de loops at 60+ FPS in PocketSprite’s 5:4 aspect ratio.

  • The keychain Game Boy is now a real crowdfunded gadget, and I want one

    Interestingly, the PocketSprite isn’t the only pocket-sized GameBoy out there. There’s a slew of competitors, including the PocketStar (which is also crowdfunding on Kickstarter), the Arduino-based 8-bit Arduboy, and the NES-copying BittBoy Mini handheld.

  • PocketSprite is a tiny open source ‘Game Boy’ for retro games

    Unlike the “pocket games” of old, which were preloaded with generic, unchangeable random games, PocketSprite lets users upload their own preferred content.

Automation controller debuts Linux-based PLCnext software

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Linux
Hardware

Phoenix Contact’s rugged, dual Cortex-A9 based “PLCnext AXC F 2152” controller for its Axioline F I/O field bus is the first field controller designed to run Phoenix’s Linux-based PLCnext control stack, which enables PLC control using high-level languages.

Today’s embedded engineers have a wider breadth of tech knowledge than their parents’ generation, but they are less likely to know the intricacies of the old-school Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) and field bus technologies that still drive much of the industrial automation world. As reported in Design & Control, Phoenix Contacts decided to reach out to younger engineers by providing a Real-Time Linux-based PLCnext Technology field controller stack, which supports multiple high-end programming languages in addition to traditional IEC 61131 PLC programming. A year after announcing PLCnext, Phoenix has launched the first controller based on the technology.

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Open Hardware/Modding: RISC-V, PIXO Pixel, Arduino

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Linux
Hardware
  • RISC-V gains momentum as it moves from MCUs to Linux-friendly SoCs

    The open source RISC-V ISA has evolved quickly into silicon, thanks to help from companies like SiFive and Microsemi. SiFive’s HiFive Unleashed board should arrive less than two years after SiFive announced its first Linux-driven Freedom SoCs.

    It’s been two years since the open source RISC-V architecture emerged from computer labs at UC Berkeley and elsewhere and began appearing in soft-core implementations designed for FPGAs, and over a year since the first commercial silicon arrived. So far, the focus has primarily been on MCU-like processors, but last October, SiFive announced the first Linux-driven RISC-V SoC with its quad-core, 64-bit bit Freedom U540 (AKA U54-MC Coreplex). A few days ago at FOSDEM, SiFive opened pre-sales for an open source HiFive Unleashed SBC that showcases the U540.

  • SiFive releases Linux SoC processor and board

    SiFive Inc. (San Mateo, Calif.), a startup that is offering processor cores that comply with the RISC-V open source architecture, has launched a Linux-capable RISC-V based processor chip, the Freedom U540 SoC.

  • Chip Embarks As First Linux-Capable RISC-V Based SoC

    SiFive launches what it calls the industry's first Linux-capable RISC-V based processor SoC. The company recently demonstrated the first real-world use of the HiFive Unleashed board featuring the Freedom U540 SoC, based on its U54-MC Core IP. During the demo, SiFive provided updates on the RISC-V Linux effort, surprising attendees with an announcement that the presentation had been run on the HiFive Unleashed development board. With the availability of the HiFive Unleashed board and Freedom U540 SoC, SiFive has brought to market the first multicore RISC-V chip designed for commercialization, and now offers the industry's widest array of RISC-V based Core IP.

  • PIXO Pixel - Open Source LED Display for Makers

    Sean Hodgins is an inventor and maker interested in purposing current technologies in new and different ways. He’s currently running a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter for the PIXO Pixel, an open source RGB display that controls 256 LEDs.

  • AFRL, NextFlex leverage open-source community to create flexible circuit system

    Lightweight, low-cost and flexible electronic systems are the key to next-generation smart technologies for military as well as consumer and commercial applications.

    An Air Force Research Laboratory-led project in conjunction with NextFlex, America’s Flexible Hybrid Electronics Institute, has resulted in the first ever, functional samples of flexible Arduino circuit board systems made by using a flexible hybrid electronics manufacturing process, setting the stage for smart technologies for the internet of things and sensor applications like wearable devices.

RISC-V Coverage (Libre Hardware)

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Hardware
  • Hi-Five Unleashed: The first Linux-capable RISC-V single board computer is here

    For roughly a decade, x86-64 has held hegemony over the desktop and server market. In the mobile space, ARM is the popular platform—for which a glut of cheap ARM processors have led to the rise of mass-produced single-board computers (SBCs) like the Raspberry Pi and competitors. However, proprietary "binary blob" drivers make using these devices somewhat more cumbersome, particularly for developers attempting to learn how devices work or ensuring complete device control.

  • The State of RISC-V Hardware & Software In Early 2018

    Palmer Dabbelt who maintains the RISC-V ports of GCC, Binutils, Linux, and glibc while working at RISC-V company SiFive spoke at FOSDEM 2018 this weekend about the software/hardware state of this royalty-free open-source CPU ISA.

    Palmer's presentation covers the RISC-V instruction set, the origins of it, a brief comparison to other CPU architectures, and the Linux state.

Latest on Meltdown/Spectre in Linux

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Linux
Hardware
Security

Open Hardware: Raspberry Pi, Arduino, and RISC-V

Filed under
Hardware
OSS
  • Raspberry-Pi DVB transmitter: The benefits of open-source hardware

    I was first alerted to the benefits of open-source some years ago while talking to a couple of very experienced engineers. These guys, who worked for a multi-billion-dollar company with a global footprint, had been asked by their manager to complete a project in a ridiculously short time frame.

    They concluded that their only hope was to use open-source, which was an unusual decision for a company of that size and a bit of a culture shock. Open-source software has a long pedigree, of course, but most companies do not open up their hardware designs.

  • AFRL, NextFlex leverage open-source community to create flexible circuit system

    An Air Force Research Laboratory-led project in conjunction with NextFlex, America’s Flexible Hybrid Electronics Institute, has resulted in the first ever, functional samples of flexible Arduino circuit board systems made by using a flexible hybrid electronics manufacturing process, setting the stage for smart technologies for the internet of things (IoT) and sensor applications like wearable devices.

  • Pics from the FOSDEM SiFive talk
  • SiFive unleashed board
  • SiFive Introduces RISC-V Linux-Capable Multicore Processor

    Slowly but surely, RISC-V, the Open Source architecture for everything from microcontrollers to server CPUs is making inroads in the community. Now SiFive, the major company behind putting RISC-V chips into actual silicon, is releasing a chip that’s even more powerful. At FOSDEM this weekend, SiFive announced the release of a Linux-capable Single Board Computer built around the RISC-V ISA. It’s called the HiFive Unleashed, and it’s the first piece of silicon capable or running Linux on a RISC-V core.

Custom Embedded Linux Distributions

Filed under
GNU
Linux
Hardware

In the past, many embedded projects used off-the-shelf distributions and stripped them down to bare essentials for a number of reasons. First, removing unused packages reduced storage requirements. Embedded systems are typically shy of large amounts of storage at boot time, and the storage available, in non-volatile memory, can require copying large amounts of the OS to memory to run. Second, removing unused packages reduced possible attack vectors. There is no sense hanging on to potentially vulnerable packages if you don't need them. Finally, removing unused packages reduced distribution management overhead. Having dependencies between packages means keeping them in sync if any one package requires an update from the upstream distribution. That can be a validation nightmare.

Yet, starting with an existing distribution and removing packages isn't as easy as it sounds. Removing one package might break dependencies held by a variety of other packages, and dependencies can change in the upstream distribution management. Additionally, some packages simply cannot be removed without great pain due to their integrated nature within the boot or runtime process. All of this takes control of the platform outside the project and can lead to unexpected delays in development.

A popular alternative is to build a custom distribution using build tools available from an upstream distribution provider. Both Gentoo and Debian provide options for this type of bottom-up build. The most popular of these is probably the Debian debootstrap utility. It retrieves prebuilt core components and allows users to cherry-pick the packages of interest in building their platforms. But, debootstrap originally was only for x86 platforms. Although there are ARM (and possibly other) options now, debootstrap and Gentoo's catalyst still take dependency management away from the local project.

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Also: Open-Source Adreno A6xx GPU Support Posted

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