Linux Single Board Computers

Build an inexpensive spectrometer, and an inexpensive IR video camera, using a Raspberry Pi

(May 22, 2019) Regular spectrometers and infrared video cameras cost a lot of money. With a little effort, and a certain camera module for the Raspberry Pi, it is possible to build both an inexpensive Spectrometer and an inexpensive IR camera. The spectrometer is easily calibrated using light sources with known characteristics - for example a fluorescent light bulb has an emission spectrum governed by the mercury vapor in the bulb, which can be used in calibration. For the IR camera, the presenter found a cheap IR camera module that connects to the Raspberry Pi camera port, and then used Motion Eyes to view the video stream.

The Jetson Nano is a Linux SBC with AI hardware for DIY Artificial Intelligence projects

(May 14, 2019) The Jetson NANO board is a Linux Single Board computer, packaged with GPIO pins and other things meant to be attractive to DIY hardware hackers. While the main CPU is a Quad-core ARM A57 @ 1.43 GHz, what makes this interesting is the 128-core Maxwell GPU by Nvidia. Nvidia is the manufacturer of this board, and the GPU is there to support experimenters developing GPU-based artificial intelligence software.

NanoPi M4 can now be used as a multi-drive NAS with new HAT expansion board

(February 21, 2019) The NanoPi M4 is a powerful single board Linux computer, and with the addition of this new addon HAT it can directly power four SATA drives. With a suitable case you can easily build a RAID NAS using OpenMediaVault for a very cheap price. This combination should offer similar capabilities to the Drobo 5N I have - both run Linux on an ARM CPU and support several SATA drives. The difference being that with the NanoPi M4 one has an open system to configure as desired, whereas with the Drobo is closed and hard to customize.

NanoPi board and accessories buying guide.

(February 21, 2019) DIY makers around the world are building customized computerized gizmos thanks to the Raspberry Pi, and similar computers. These diminuitive computers pack a lot of computing power, at low energy requirements, and by running Linux they are more approachable than microcontrollers like the Arduino. The Raspberry Pi is the best known of this class of computer. Because of the very large user community, there is a ton of accessories, books, tutorials, and more focusing on the Raspberry Pi.

The UDOO Bolt - revolutionary single-board-computer w/ advanced AMD Ryzen CPU and GPU

(February 12, 2019)

UDOO single board computers are based on x86 CPU's, rather than the typical ARM CPU's used by other SBC's. Therefore UDOO boards have a significant performance advantage, at a cost. With the UDOO Bolt, they've outdone themselves thanks to the capabilities of the Ryzen V1000 family. The UDOO Bolt is the first Single Board Computer using an AMD processor, and the V1000 family gives it phenomenal performance thanks to a 4 core CPU design coupled with a high end GPU and direct support for ethernet, 2x SATA ports, eMMC and more.

pi-top [4] is a Raspberry Pi neatly integrated as a portable IoT computer with OLED display

(January 24, 2019) The latest pi-top product is a very nice case integrating a portable power pack, an OLED screen, four buttons, and access to the GPIO pins. The pi-top team has always sought to make it easier for youngsters to get started on IoT projects with Raspberry Pi's by offering easy-to-use cases. The pi-top [4] is about building portable hand-held gadgets that can interface with real hardware. The kit includes a Raspberry Pi 3B+, the aforementioned case, a battery pack for portable power, and a handful of sensors.

Helios4 ARM-based Linux SBC DIY NAS with 4 SATA ports

(July 19, 2018) The Helios4 is an open source NAS system based on a dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 CPU that includes 4 SATA3 ports. Because the board includes SATA ports, the hard drives run at full speed giving better NAS performance. The system runs operating system distributions based on either FreeBSD or Linux, which of course includes NAS systems like Open Media Vault. Finally, a single-board-computer with which to build a low cost low energy consumption do-it-yourself NAS system.

Build a DLP2000 based pocket projector with Raspberry Pi Zero

(June 17, 2018) The TI DLP2000 is a compact low power video projector, and while the evaluation board is meant for the Beaglebone it can be easily wired to a Raspberry Pi Zero W. This project, along with the custom adapter board, makes for a very compact video projector that's easily battery powered.

Build a security camera system with Raspberry Pi Zero and cheap webcams

(June 15, 2018) Implement a full security camera system supporting multiple cameras, with night vision, motion detection, uploading video to Google Drive, all built on the Raspberry Pi Zero platform. The Zero W makes a perfect security camera because of its small size, and the NO-IR camera supports night vision (with IR light source) in a slim case that directly supports the camera.

Build your own inexpensive super-computing cluster with Raspberry Pi 3's

(April 15, 2018) Want a cheap super-computer farm? A Raspberry Pi cluster can pack a lot of computing power into a small space at low energy consumption. Single-board-computers like the Raspberry Pi 3 are inexpensive, consume a miniscule amount of power, run Linux making them instantly accessible by all programmers, and support all kinds of computing tasks, including supercomputing. The Raspberry Pi's themselves run off a USB power supply you might otherwise use to charge cell phones. Simply stack a bunch of them up, wire them to an ethernet switch, and you have a computing cluster on the cheap.

The SunFounder smart Video Car kit for Raspberry Pi

(April 6, 2018) This cool Raspberry Pi-based toy car can roam around, shoot video as it goes, panning and tilting the camera on 2-axes, all of which is sure to make any teenager go "WAY COOL".

Raspberry Pi board and accessories buying guide.

(March 3, 2018) DIY makers around the world are building customized computerized gizmos thanks to the Raspberry Pi, and similar computers. These diminuitive computers pack a lot of computing power, at low energy requirements, and by running Linux they are more approachable than microcontrollers like the Arduino. The Raspberry Pi is the best known of this class of computer. Because of the very large user community, there is a ton of accessories, books, tutorials, and more focusing on the Raspberry Pi.

Creating a Docker Swarm with Raspberry Pi Zero's for easy cluster computing

(November 18, 2017)

Docker is a powerful basis for cloud computing especially if you use Docker Swarm's. This tutorial shows how to autoscale Docker images over a cluster of inexpensive Raspberry Pi Zero computers. It's an interesting way to learn about Docker and using Docker Swarms. The example shows autodeployment of Node-RED instances to individual Pi Zero's which is raises interesting ideas in my mind.

A downside to this example is the laborious setup. Each Pi Zero must have a customized boot SD card created. Seems to me that marrying this idea with the "Cluster HAT" hardware might be easier to manage, since you don't create a customized SD card for each machine in the cluster.

Booting diskless Raspberry Pi remotely over USB to auto-create a Raspberry Pi cluster

(November 18, 2017)

The Raspberry Pi is a cool computer with one flaw - that it runs off an SD card. SD card's aren't terribly reliable, and it's tedious to create individuated SD cards for each Pi in a cluster. This guy came up with a "Cluster Hat" that not only creates a Pi Cluster using Raspberry Pi Zero's, but also has them booting over USB from a master controller Raspberry Pi 3.

Review of the Orange Pi Zero Plus2 - incredibly tiny but uncertain of its usability

(Sun Nov 05 2017 18:56:40 GMT-0800 (Pacific Standard Time))

The OrangePi series of computers look like a credible alternative to the Raspberry Pi. As cool as the Raspberry Pi is, it has a significant flaw in that you're running off an SD card. While an SD card is cool for prototype-projects, it's not suitable for things that will run for a long time sinde SD cards are simply not that reliable. The Orange Pi boards are similar in nature to the Raspberry Pi, but come with an eMMC storage unit built-in that's far more reliable (and faster) than an SD card.

For this project we'll go through the set-up of an Orange Pi Zero Plus2. This is an incredibly inexpensive board positioned similarly to the Raspberry Pi Zero. The board itself is $19.95, and gives you a 1.2 GHz CPU with 512 MB memory, an 8GB eMMC, built-in WiFi, HDMI, USB, etc. A few more dollars gives you a case, and an addon board containing two USB's.

The UDOO Advanced Plus versus Latte Panda - x86 SBC faceoff

(September 3, 2017)

For more information on the UDOO Advanced Plus. Both the UDOO and LattePanda are inexpensive single-board-computers that are useful for building custom computers. This video compares the two, and finds the UDOO is more powerful and more flexible. Both run Windows very well as long as your needs are somewhat modest. Both are more powerful and flexible than the Raspberry Pi, another favorite of building custom computers.

The UDOO Advanced Plus - x86 based single board computer running regular Linux

(August 14, 2017)

The UDOO Advanced Plus is so much higher priced than most single-board-computers that it doesn't fit the Maker Project idea. At $160 or so per board it's not like taking a $35 Raspberry Pi to toss into a project. Where the UDOO shines, though, is as a desktop computer. Because it has an x86 CPU, it runs regular operating systems, and the board includes normal ports for connecting to SSD's and hard disks and whatnot. The peripherals include a pair of M.2 ports for WiFi and SSD support, a SATA to connect up a regular disk, 3x USB3 for high speed peripherals, an HDMI and 2x Mini Display-Port connectors allowing you to connect three large screen monitors, etc. In other words, while the UDOO is a smallish computer, it's got a lot of powerful capabilities.

Booting a Raspberry Pi from a regular disk, avoiding the flaky SD card

(August 7, 2017)

The Raspberry Pi is a cool little computer allowing you to do lots of crazy DIY projects interfaced through the GPIO port. While the Raspberry Pi is a small embeddable computer, because it runs Linux the Raspberry Pi is instantly approachable by any programmer. The biggest flaw in this picture is that it uses an SD card as the boot device. SD cards are not exactly fast nor reliable, preventing the Raspberry Pi from being used in serious production situations.

In April 2017 the Raspberry Pi foundation released the ability for the Raspberry Pi Model 3 to boot off a drive connected via USB. That instantly opens the door to using reliable regular disks rather than unreliable SD cards. The downside is that disks must connect via USB2 limiting disk throughput speed. As with anything there are plusses and minuses, but this is an interesting step forward.

For those seriously interested in using a Linux-Single-Board-Computer with a regular disk, some of the other devices will be a better choice. For example the Orange Pi Plus 2 has a SATA connector.

FireFly RK3399 Plus Development Board / Single Board computer - unboxing and review

(April 14, 2017) The FireFly RK3399 is a high-end ARM-based single board computer. It comes with 2GB memory up to 4GB, and up to 32GB of eMMC on-board flash storage, dual WiFi, a long list of ports including dual cameras, USB3 plus USB2, PCIe, and more. With 4GB of memory this unit is equivalent in performance to the ChromeOS devices, but is open enough you control the operating system and more. The PCIe brings the option of using regular hard disks or SSD's.

Inexpensively stream your MP3 collection with Raspberry Pi and Pi MusicBox

(April 10, 2017) Why pay megabucks to buy a commercialized music streaming gizmo that requires a monthly fee? You may already have the MP3 files, and with the right software a simple computer like the Raspberry Pi is sufficient to stream the music anywhere on your home network. The Pi MusicBox software makes it incredibly easy to setup, the only wrinkle being to have a large enough storage device. Fortunately the Raspberry Pi can easily use a USB hard drive.

Build your own security camera system with Raspberry Pi and cheap webcams

(April 7, 2017) You can build a powerful and flexible motion sensing security camera system using open source software on a Raspberry Pi and similar single board computers. The key is the MotionEyeOS that neatly bundles everything you need into a Raspberry Pi image. Simply burn it to an SD card, attach cameras, boot the Raspberry Pi, and start configuring. It easily supports monitoring multiple cameras, which can be USB webcams, WiFi cameras, the Raspberry Pi camera, or other MotionEyeOS instances. I have an original-version Raspberry Pi (low CPU power) driving two cameras and it handles things just fine.

Installing OpenVPN on a Raspberry Pi Zero W, inexpensive security for your peace of mind

(March 31, 2017) Nowadays our personal privacy is being threatened by new government policies. Fortunately the open source world gives us tools with which to secure our lives. This tutorial goes over installing OpenVPN on your home network, giving you a secure method to access resources on your home network from anywhere else. Suppose you have a NAS with many terabytes of data at home, but you're traveling thousands of miles away and need to access that data. A VPN service on your home network provides a porthole through which to do so, provided you have VPN software on the computer you're carrying.

Raspberry Pi Zero W, inexpensive Zero goodness, now with WiFi for just $10

(February 28, 2017) The original Raspberry Pi Zero was a game-changer for inexpensive computers, offering a full-fledged for just $5. The biggest problem was the lack of WiFi. The Raspberry Pi foundation have now fixed that, unveiling the new Zero W with both WiFi and Bluetooth.

OpenMediaVault on Raspberry PI 3 - Plex Media Server Plugin

(Sep 24, 2016) A short video showing you how to setup openmediavault on raspberry pi 3. How to enable Plex Media Server plugin.

How to back up your Raspberry Pi SD card, or copy it to another (larger?) Raspberry Pi SD card

(December 15, 2015) SD Cards aren't exactly the most reliable of data storage devices. What happens if you've put hundreds of hours of work into a Raspberry Pi system, it's all on your SD Card, and the card craps out. Have you saved your work? Or maybe you need to move to a larger SD Card because you've run out of space. Or maybe you want to duplicate the card to have additional systems. These tasks are pretty easy, but not intuitively obvious. It'll take some time at the command line, but fortunately the commands are easy.

NanoPi-M3: 8 blazing cores, but... // Review

(February 12, 2011) The NanoPi-M3 has 8 1.4GHz ARM cores, 1 GB data, 1+ GHz CPU, 1GHZ Ethernet, and a number of useful ports. The CPU generates a lot of heat so a heat-sink is necessary, except it's danged difficult to mount one. It has more GPIO pins than the Raspberry Pi. There's a number of ports on various chips that aren't exposed to users. It has enough warts that one might not want to use this, unless high parallel computation rate is needed thanks to the 8 cores.