LoRaWAN Gateway Offers a Choice of Orange Pi, Raspberry Pi or i.MX6 ULL

Moscow-based M2M IOT has launched a GW-01 LoRaWAN gateway built around an Orange Pi Zero H2+ SBC that supports outdoors installations. The GW-01 combines the Zero H2+ with an 8-channel LoRaWAN board based on the Semtech SX1301 LoRa concentrator.

The GW-01 is a modified version of the same board found on the company’s $95 GW-01 RPI add-on for the Raspberry Pi, as well as a $245, all-in-one GW-01 PoE gateway with Power-over-Ethernet support that runs on an i.MX6 ULL (see farther below). All three products ship with an open source Linux stack with LoRa gateway and packet-forwarder software pre-flashed on the board and posted on GitHub.


 
GW-01 with (left) and without the underlying Orange Pi Zero H2+
(click images to enlarge)

The new GW-01 gateway operates in the 868MHz or 915MHz LoRa frequencies and has -139 dBm sensitivity. The range is 2.5 kilometers when surrounded by buildings or up to 10 Km in open space. The 5V-powered GW-01 measures 80 х 50 х 20mm without the supplied antenna and can operate in 0 to 70°C temperatures.



GW-01 without the Orange Pi
(click image to enlarge)

The GW-01 runs OpenWrt or Armbian on the Orange Pi Zero H2+, a variant of the similarly open-spec, 48 x 46mm Orange Pi Zero with a slightly improved Allwinner H2+ instead of an H2. The H2+ SoC similarly provides 4x Cortex-A7 cores @ 1.2GHz and a Mali-400 MP2 GPU.


 
GW-01 gateway setup screen and Orange Pi Zero H2+
(click images to enlarge)

The Zero H2+ has only 256MB DDR3 RAM, and the only display interface is an AV-out header. There are also single USB 2.0 host, micro-USB OTG with 5V power input, and 10/100 Ethernet ports, as well as a microSD slot, WiFi, and a 26-pin header that supports early Raspberry Pi boards.

The Zero H2+ board on the GW-01 has 8MB serial flash instead of the usual 2MB in order to incorporate the 4.5MB OpenWrt image. The SBC has lower power consumption and a lower $8.50 price than any of the modern-era RPi boards.

For prototyping purposes, the gateway requires at least one LoRaWAN equipped end node and a web server. For the latter, M2M IOT recommends TheThingsNetwork or its own cloud.m2m-tele server.

GW-01 RPI and GW-01 PoE

The GW-01 RPI and GW-01 PoE have the same specs as the GW-01 except that the PoE model has a wider -35 to 70°C range. The GW-01 RPI requires any Raspberry Pi 2 or 3 board to operate.


 
GW-01 RPI board (left) and integrated with Raspberry Pi 3
(click images to enlarge)

The GW-01 PoE is a standalone product such as the GW-01, in this case, integrating an apparently homegrown SBC built around NXP’s power-sipping, single Cortex-A7 based i.MX6 ULL SoC. It has an Ethernet port with 48V PoE support for easier installation.

Like the GW-01, the RPI and PoE models have an 80 x 50mm footprint, and the SBC on the PoE model similarly adds 20mm on the vertical. They both ship with antennas. Like the GW-01, the PoE model runs on OpenWrt while the RPI shield uses Raspbian.


 
GW-01 PoE (left) and underyling i.MX6 ULL-based SBC
(click images to enlarge)

LoRa is a long-range, low-bandwidth wireless standard that can work in peer-to-peer fashion between low-cost, low-power LoRa nodes. LoRa nodes can also connect to the Internet via a LoRaWAN gateway.

Other LoRa gateway boards for the Raspberry Pi include Pi Supply’s IoT LoRa Gateway. We’ve also seen some LoRa ready gateways based on the i.MX6 UL, which is very similar to the i.MX6 ULL, such as Forlinx’s FCU1101.

 
Further information

The GW-01 is available now for $120 while the RPI and PoE models go for $95 and $245, respectively. More information may be found on the M2M IOT website and GitHub page, as well as the shopping pages for the GW-01GW-01 RPI, and GW-01 PoE.

This article originally appeared on LinuxGizmos.com on July 1.

M2M IOT | m2m-tele.com

Catalog of 125 Open-Spec Hacker Boards: Spring 2019 Edition!

Circuit Cellar’s sister website Linuxgizmos,com has posted its annual Spring edition catalog of hacker-friendly, open-spec SBCs that run Linux or Android.

The catalog includes summaries of 125 community-backed Linux/Android hacker boards under $200 are listed in alpha order.

They list specs and lowest available pricing recorded in the last two weeks of May 2019, with products either shipping or available for pre-order with expected ship date by the end of June.

CHECK IT OUT HERE!

Firms Collaborate on Edge Gateway and Other IoT Solutions

U-blox and SolidRun have announced a collaboration on a range of connectivity products for the IoT, including turnkey IoT Edge Gateways for indoor and outdoor use, SBCs and System‑on‑Modules (SOMs). Each of the new solutions incorporate a u-blox NINA stand‑alone single-, dual- or multi‑radio module, providing the connectivity required by IoT applications in a small, low power and fully certified format.

During Embedded World 2019, SolidRun formally introduced its latest product: the SolidSense N6 Edge Gateway (shown), an enterprise‑grade IoT M2M gateway designed to manage a local network of IoT endpoints. The N6 Edge Gateway is a fully enclosed fan‑less design in configurations suitable for either indoor or outdoor installation, making it simpler than ever to introduce Internet connectivity in a distributed network of smart sensors and actuators.

The gateways and SBCs from SolidRun feature Wi‑Fi and Bluetooth Personal Area Networking, Wirepas Mesh, cellular connectivity, as well as USB and a 10/100/1000 wired Ethernet interface. They are powered by the NXP’s i.MX6 ARM Cortex-A9 processor in either a single-, dual- or quad‑core configuration (depending on the application’s needs) and also integrate up to 2 GB of DDR3 memory.

U‑blox | www.u‑blox.com

SolidRun | www.solid‑run.com

 

April Circuit Cellar: Sneak Preview

The April issue of Circuit Cellar magazine is out next week (March 20th)!. We’ve worked hard to cook up a tasty selection of in-depth embedded electronics articles just for you. We’ll be serving them up to in our 84-page magazine.

Not a Circuit Cellar subscriber?  Don’t be left out! Sign up today:

 

Here’s a sneak preview of April 2019 Circuit Cellar:

VIDEO AND DISPLAY TECHNOLOGIES IN ACTION

Video Technology in Drones
Because video is the main mission of the majority of commercial drones, video technology has become a center of gravity in today’s drone design decisions. The topic covers everything including single-chip video processing, 4k HD video capture, image stabilization, complex board-level video processing, drone-mounted cameras, hybrid IR/video camera and mesh-networks. In this article, Circuit Cellar’s Editor-in-Chief, Jeff Child, looks at the technology and trends in video technology for drones.

Building an All-in-One Serial Terminal
Many embedded systems require as least some sort of human interface. While Jeff Bachiochi was researching alternatives to mechanical keypads, he came across the touchscreen display products from 4D Systems. He chose their inexpensive, low-power 2.4-inch, resistive touch screen as the basis for his display subsystem project. He makes use of the display’s Espressif Systems ESP8266 processor and Arduino IDE support to turn the display module into a serial terminal with a serial TTL connection to other equipment.

MICROCONTROLLERS ARE EVERYWHERE

Product Focus: 32-Bit Microcontrollers
As the workhorse of today’s embedded systems, 32-bit microcontrollers serve a wide variety of embedded applications-including the IoT. MCU vendors continue to add more connectivity, security and I/O functionality to their 32-bit product families. This Product Focus section updates readers on these trends and provides a product album of representative 32-bit MCU products.

Build a PIC32-Based Recording Studio
In this project article, learn how Cornell students Radhika Chinni, Brandon Quinlan, Raymond Xu built a miniature recording studio using the Microchip PIC32. It can be used as an electric keyboard with the additional functionality of recording and playing back multiple layers of sounds. There is also a microphone that the user can use to make custom recordings.

WONDERFUL WORLD OF WIRELESS

Low-Power Wireless Comms
The growth in demand for IoT solutions has fueled the need for products and technology to do wireless communication from low-power edge devices. Using technologies including Bluetooth Low-Energy (BLE), wireless radio frequency technology (LoRa) and others, embedded system developers are searching for ways to get efficient IoT connectivity while drawing as little power as possible. Circuit Cellar Chief Editor Jeff Child explores the latest technology trends and product developments in low-power wireless communications.

Bluetooth Mesh (Part 2)
Continuing his article series on Bluetooth mesh, this month Bob Japenga looks at the provisioning process required to get a device onto a Bluetooth mesh network. Then he examines two application examples and evaluates the various options for each example.

Build a Prescription Reminder
Pharmaceuticals prescribed by physicians are important to patients both old and young. But these medications will only do their job if taken according to a proper schedule. In this article, Devlin Gualtieri describes his Raspberry-Rx Prescription Reminder project, a network-accessible, the Wi-Fi connected, Raspberry Pi-based device that alerts a person when a particular medication should be administered. It also keeps a log of the actual times when medications were administered.

ENGINEERING TIPS, TRICKS AND TECHNIQUES

The Art of Current Probing
In his February column, Robert Lacoste talked about oscilloscope probes—or more specifically, voltage measurement probes. He explained how selecting the correct probe for a given measurement, and using it as it properly, is as important as having a good scope. In this article, Robert continues the discussion with another common measurement task: Accurately measuring current using an oscilloscope.

Software Engineering
There’s no doubt that achieving high software quality is human-driven endeavor. No amount of automated code development can substitute for best practices. A great tool for such efforts is the IEEE Computer Society’s Guide to the Software Engineering Body of Knowledge. In this article, George Novacek discusses some highlights of this resource, and why he has frequently consulted this document when preparing development plans.

HV Differential Probe
A high-voltage differential probe is a critical piece of test equipment for anyone who wants to safely examine high voltage signals on a standard oscilloscope. In his article, Andrew Levido describes his design of a high-voltage differential probe with features similar to commercial devices, but at a considerably lower cost. It uses just three op amps in a classic instrumentation amplifier configuration and provides a great exercise in precision analog design.

March Circuit Cellar: Sneak Preview

The March issue of Circuit Cellar magazine is out next week!. We’ve rounded up an outstanding selection of in-depth embedded electronics articles just for you, and rustled them all into our 84-page magazine.

Not a Circuit Cellar subscriber?  Don’t be left out! Sign up today:

 

Here’s a sneak preview of March 2019 Circuit Cellar:

POWER MAKES IT POSSIBLE

Power Issues for Wearables
Wearable devices put extreme demands on the embedded electronics that make them work—and power is front and center among those demands. Devices spanning across the consumer, fitness and medical markets all need an advanced power source and power management technologies to perform as expected. Circuit Cellar Chief Editor Jeff Child examines how today’s microcontroller and power electronics are enabling today’s wearable products.

Power Supplies for Medical Systems
Over the past year, there’s been an increasing trend toward new products that have some sort of application or industry focus. That means supplies that include either certifications, special performance specs or tailored packaging intended for a specific application area such as medical. This Product Focus section updates readers on these technology trends and provides a product gallery of representative medical-focused power supplies.

DESIGN RESOURCES, ISSUES AND CHALLENGES

Flex PCB Design Services
While not exactly a brand-new technology, flexible printed circuit boards are a critical part of many of today’s challenging embedded system applications from wearable devices to mobile healthcare electronics. Circuit Cellar’s Editor-in-Chief, Jeff Child, explores the Flex PCB design capabilities available today and whose providing them.

Design Flow Ensures Automotive Safety
Fault analysis has been around for years, and many methods have been created to optimize evaluation of hundreds of concurrent faults in specialized simulators. However, there are many challenges in running a fault campaign. Mentor’s Doug Smith presents an improved formal verification flow that reduces the number of faults while simultaneously providing much higher quality of results.

Cooling Electronic Systems
Any good embedded system engineer knows that heat is the enemy of reliability. As new systems cram more functionality at higher speeds into ever smaller packages, it’s no wonder an increasing amount of engineering mindshare is focusing on cooling electronic systems. In this article, George Novacek reviews some of the essential math and science around cooling and looks are several cooling technologies—from cold pates to heat pipes.

MICROCONTROLLER PROJECTS WITH ALL THE DETAILS

MCU-Based Solution Links USB to Legacy PC I/O
In PCs, serial interfaces have now been just about completely replaced by USB. But many of those interfaces are still used in control and monitoring embedded systems. In this project article, Hossam Abdelbaki describes his ATSTAMP design. ATSTAMP is an MCS-51 (8051) compatible microcontroller chip that can be connected to the USB port of any PC via any USB-to-serial bridge currently available in the market.

Pet Collar Uses GPS and Wi-Fi
The PIC32 has proven effective for a myriad of applications, so why not a dog collar? Learn how Cornell graduates Vidya Ramesh and Vaidehi Garg built a GPS-enabled pet collar prototype. The article discusses the hardware peripherals used in the project, the setup, and the software. It also describes the motivation behind the project, and possibilities to expand the project in the future.

Guitar Video Game Uses PIC32
While music-playing video games are fun, their user interfaces tend leave a lot to be desired. Learn how Cornell students Jake Podell and Jonah Wexler designed and built a musical video game that’s interfaced with using a custom-built wireless guitar controller. The game is run on a Microchip PIC32 MCU and uses a TFT LCD display to show notes that move across the screen towards a strum region.

… AND MORE FROM OUR EXPERT COLUMNISTS

Non-Evasive Current Sensor
Gone are the days when you could do most of your own maintenance on your car’s engine. Today they’re sophisticated electronic systems. But there are some things you can do with the right tools. In his article, By Jeff Bachiochi talks about how using the timing light on his car engine introduced him to non-contact sensor technology. He talks about the types of probes available and how to use them to read the magnitude of alternating current (AC

Impedance Spectroscopy using the AD5933
Impedance spectroscopy is the measurement of a device’s impedance (or resistance) over a range of frequencies. Brian Millier has designed many voltammographs and conductivity meters over the years. But he recently came across the Analog Devices AD5933 chip made by which performs most all the functions needed to do impedance spectroscopy. In this article, explores the technology, circuit design and software that serve these efforts.

Side-Channel Power Analysis
Side-channel power analysis is a method of breaking security on embedded systems, and something Colin O’Flynn has covered extensively in his column. This time Colin shows how you can prove some of the fundamental assumptions that underpin side-channel power analysis. He uses the open-source ChipWhisperer project with Jupyter notebooks for easy interactive evaluation.

Free IoT Security Platform Runs on OpenWrt Routers and the Raspberry Pi

By Eric Brown

At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Minim announced a free spin-off of Minim, its cloud-managed Wi-Fi and security Software as a Service (SaaS) platform. Minim Labs is designed to work with a new open source software agent called Unum that runs on Raspbian and OpenWrt Linux devices. Optimized images are available for the OpenWrt-based Gli.Net GL-B1300 router and Raspberry Pi. The first 50 sign-ups will get the B1300 router for free (see below).


Minim Labs setup screen
(click image to enlarge)
The Minim Labs toolkit “secures and manages all connected devices in the home, such as the Google Home Hub, Sony Smart TV, and FreeRTOS devices,” providing “device fingerprinting, security scans, AI-powered recommendations, router management, analytics, and parental controls,” says Minim. By signing up to a Minim Labs account you receive a MAC address to register an Unum-enabled device.

The GitHub hosted Unum agent runs on the Linux router where it identifies connected devices and securely streams device telemetry to the Minim platform. Users can open a free Minim Labs account to register up to 10 Unum-enabled devices, offering access to Minim WiFi management apps and APIs. Alternately, you can use Unum with your own application server.

The GL-B1300 and Raspberry Pi builds are designed to walk “home network tinkerers” through the process of protecting devices with Unum and Minim Labs. More advanced developers can download a Unum SDK to modify the software for any OpenWrt-based router.

“By open sourcing our agent and giving technologists free access to our platform, we hope to build a global community that’ll contribute valuable product feedback and code,” stated Jeremy Hitchcock, Founder and CEO of Minim.

Gli.Net’s OpenWrt routers

Gli.Net’s GL-B1300 router runs OpenWrt on a quad-core, Cortex-A7 Qualcomm Atheros IPQ4028 SoC clocked to 717 MHz. The SoC is equipped with a DSP, 256MB RAM, 32 MB flash, and dual-band 802.11ac with 2×2 MIMO. The SoC and supports up to 5-port Ethernet routers abd provides Qualcomm TEE, Crypto Engine, and Secure Boot technologies.


 
GL-B1300 (left) and GL-AR750S
(click images to enlarge)
The GL-B1300 router has dual GbE ports, a WAN port, and a USB 3.0 port. The $89 price includes a 12V adapter and Ethernet cable.

The testimonial quote below says that the GL-AR750S Slate router, which is a CES 2019 Innovation Awards Honoree, will also support Unum and Minim Labs out of the box. The $70 GL-AR750S Slate runs on a MIPS-based, 775MHz Qualcomm QCA9563 processor and is equipped with 128MB RAM, 128MB NAND flash, and a microSD slot.

The Slate router provides 3x GbE ports and dual-band 802.11ac with dual external antennas. Other features include USB 2.0 and micro-USB power ports plus a UART and GPIO. The router supports WireGuard, OpenVPN, and Cloudflare DNS over TLS.


Gli.Net router comparison chart, including GL-B1300 and GL-AR750S
(click image to enlarge)
In addition to its routers, Gli.Net also sells the OpenWrt-on-Atheros/MIPS Domino Core computer-on-module. The Domino Core shipped in a Kickstarter launched Domino.IO IoT kit back in 2015.

“We are glad that Minim is going to launch open-source tools for DIY users and increase awareness of personal Internet security,” stated GL.iNet CTO Dr. Alfie Zhao. “This initiative shows shared value and vision with GL.iNet. We are happy to provide support for Minim tools on our GL-AR750S Slate router and GL-B1300 router, both of which have support to the latest OpenWrt.”

Further information

The free Minim Labs security platform is available for signup now, and the open source Unum agent is available for download. Minim is offering the first 50 Minim Labs signups with a free startup kit containing the GL-B1300 router. More information may be found at the Minim Labs product page.

This article originally appeared on LinuxGizmos.com on January 9.

Minim | www.minim.co

 

February Circuit Cellar: Sneak Preview

The February issue of Circuit Cellar magazine is coming soon. We’ve raised up a bumper crop of in-depth embedded electronics articles just for you, and packed ’em into our 84-page magazine.

Not a Circuit Cellar subscriber?  Don’t be left out! Sign up today:

 

Here’s a sneak preview of February 2019 Circuit Cellar:

MCUs ARE EVERYWHERE, DOING EVERYTHING

Electronics for Automotive Infotainment
As automotive dashboard displays get more sophisticated, information and entertainment are merging into so-called infotainment systems. That’s driving a need for powerful MCU- and MPU-based solutions that support the connectivity, computing and interfacing needs particular to these system designs. In this article, Circuit Cellar’s Editor-in-Chief, Jeff Child, looks at the technology and trends feuling automotive infotainment.

Inductive Sensing with PSoC MCUs
Inductive sensing is shaping up to be the next big thing for touch technology. It’s suited for applications involving metal-over-touch situations in automotive, industrial and other similar systems. In his article, Nishant Mittal explores the science and technology of inductive sensing. He then describes a complete system design, along with firmware, for an inductive sensing solution based on Cypress Semiconductor’s PSoC microcontroller.

Build a Self-Correcting LED Clock
In North America, most radio-controlled clocks use WWVB’s transmissions to set the correct time. WWVB is a Colorado-based time signal radio station near. Learn how Cornell graduates Eldar Slobodyan and Jason Ben Nathan designed and built a prototype of a Digital WWVB Clock. The project’s main components include a Microchip PIC32 MCU, an external oscillator and a display.

WE’VE GOT THE POWER

Product Focus: ADCs and DACs
Analog-to-digital converters (ADCs) and digital-to-analog converters (DACs) are two of the key IC components that enable digital systems to interact with the real world. Makers of analog ICs are constantly evolving their DAC and ADC chips pushing the barriers of resolution and speeds. This new Product Focus section updates readers on this technology and provides a product album of representative ADC and DAC products.

Building a Generator Control System
Three phase electrical power is a critical technology for heavy machinery. Learn how US Coast Guard Academy students Kent Altobelli and Caleb Stewart built a physical generator set model capable of producing three phase electricity. The article steps through the power sensors, master controller and DC-DC conversion design choices they faced with this project.

EMBEDDED COMPUTING FOR YOUR SYSTEM DESIGN

Non-Standard Single Board Computers
Although standard-form factor embedded computers provide a lot of value, many applications demand that form take priority over function. That’s where non-standard boards shine. The majority of non-standard boards tend to be extremely compact, and well suited for size-constrained system designs. Circuit Cellar Chief Editor Jeff Child explores the latest technology trends and product developments in non-standard SBCs.

Thermal Management in machine learning
Artificial intelligence and machine learning continue to move toward center stage. But the powerful processing they require is tied to high power dissipation that results in a lot of heat to manage. In his article, Tom Gregory from 6SigmaET explores the alternatives available today with a special look at cooling Google’s Tensor Processor Unit 3.0 (TPUv3) which was designed with machine learning in mind.

… AND MORE FROM OUR EXPERT COLUMNISTS

Bluetooth Mesh (Part 1)
Wireless mesh networks are being widely deployed in a wide variety of settings. In this article, Bob Japenga begins his series on Bluetooth mesh. He starts with defining what a mesh network is, then looks at two alternatives available to you as embedded systems designers.

Implementing Time Technology
Many embedded systems need to make use of synchronized time information. In this article, Jeff Bachiochi explores the history of time measurement and how it’s led to NTP and other modern technologies for coordinating universal date and time. Using Arduino and the Espressif System’s ESP32, Jeff then goes through the steps needed to enable your embedded system to request, retrieve and display the synchronized date and time to a display.

Infrared Sensors
Infrared sensing technology has broad application ranging from motion detection in security systems to proximity switches in consumer devices. In this article, George Novacek looks at the science, technology and circuitry of infrared sensors. He also discusses the various types of infrared sensing technologies and how to use them.

The Art of Voltage Probing
Using the right tool for the right job is a basic tenant of electronics engineering. In this article, Robert Lacoste explores one of the most common tools on an engineer’s bench: oscilloscope probes, and in particular the voltage measurement probe. He looks and the different types of voltage probes as well as the techniques to use them effectively and safely.

Catalog of 122 Open-Spec Linux Hacker Boards

Circuit Cellar’s sister website Linuxgizmos,com has posted its 2019 New Year’s edition catalog of hacker-friendly, open-spec SBCs that run Linux or Android. The catalog provides recently updated descriptions, specs, pricing, and links to details for all 122 SBCs.

CHECK IT OUT HERE!

NanoPi Neo4 SBC Breaks RK3399 Records for Size and Price

By Eric Brown

In August, FriendlyElec introduced the NanoPi M4, which was then the smallest, most affordable Rockchip RK3399 based SBC yet. The company has now eclipsed the Raspberry Pi style, 85 mm x 5 6 mm NanoPi M4 on both counts, with a 60 mm x 45 mm size and $45 promotional price ($50 standard). The similarly open-spec, Linux and Android-ready NanoPi Neo4, however, is not likely to beat the M4 on performance, as it ships with only 1 GB of DDR3-1866 instead of 2 GB or 4 GB of LPDDR3.

 
NanoPi Neo4 and detail view
(click images to enlarge)

This is the first SBC built around the hexa-core RK3399 that doesn’t offer 2GB RAM at a minimum. That includes the still unpriced Khadas Edge, which will soon launch on Indiegogo, and Vamrs’ $99 and up, 96Boards form factor Rock960, in addition to the many other RK3399 based entries listed in our June catalog of 116 hacker boards.

NanoPi M4

Considering that folks are complaining that the quad -A53, 1.4 GHz Raspberry Pi 3+ is limited to only 1GB, it’s hard to imagine the RK3399 is going to perform up to par with only 1GB. The SoC has a pair of up to 2GHz Cortex-A72 cores and four Cortex -A53 cores clocked to up to 1.5GHz plus a high-end Mali-T864 GPU.

Perhaps size was a determining factor in limiting the board to 1 GB along with price. Indeed, the 60 mm x 45 mm footprint ushers the RK3399 into new space-constrained environments. Still, this is larger than the earlier 40 mm x 40 mm Neo boards or the newer, 52 mm x 40mm NanoPi Neo Plus2, which is based on an Allwinner H5.

We’re not sure why FriendlyElec decided against calling the new SBC the NanoPi Neo 3, but there have been several Neo boards that have shipped since the Neo2, including the NanoPi Neo2-LTS and somewhat Neo-like, 50 x 25.4mm NanoPi Duo.

The NanoPi Neo4 differs from other Neo boards in that it has a coastline video port, in this case an HDMI 2.0a port with support for up to [email protected] video with HDCP 1.4/2.2 and audio out. Another Neo novelty is the 4-lane MIPI-CSI interface for up to a 13-megapixel camera input.


 
NanoPi Neo4 with and without optional heatsink
(click images to enlarge)
You can boot a variety of Linux and Android distributions from the microSD slot or eMMC socket (add $12 for 16GB eMMC). Thanks to the RK3399, you get native Gigabit Ethernet. There’s also a wireless module with 802.11n (now called Wi-Fi 4) limited to 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.

The NanoPi Neo4 is equipped with coastline USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 host ports plus a Type-C power and OTG port and an onboard USB 2.0 header. The latter is found on one of the two smaller GPIO connectors that augment the usual 40-pin header, which like other RK3399 boards, comes with no claims of Raspberry Pi compatibility. Other highlights include an RTC and -20 to 70℃ support.

Specifications listed for the NanoPi Neo4 include:

  • Processor — Rockchip RK3399 (2x Cortex-A72 at up to 2.0 GHz, 4x Cortex-A53 at up to 1.5 GHz); Mali-T864 GPU
  • Memory:
    • 1GB DDR3-1866 RAM
    • eMMC socket with optional ($12) 16GB eMMC
    • MicroSD slot for up to 128GB
  • Wireless — 802.11n (2.4GHz) with Bluetooth 4.0; ext. antenna
  • Networking — Gigabit Ethernet port
  • Media:
    • HDMI 2.0a port (with audio and HDCP 1.4/2.2) for up to 4K at 60 Hz
    • 1x 4-lane MIPI-CSI (up to 13MP);
  • Other I/O:
    • USB 3.0 host port
    • USB 2.0 Type-C port (USB 2.0 OTG or power input)
    • USB 2.0 host port
  • Expansion:
    • GPIO 1: 40-pin header — 3x 3V/1.8V I2C, 3V UART, SPDIF_TX, up to 8x 3V GPIOs, PCIe x2, PWM, PowerKey
    • GPIO 2: 1.8V 8-ch. I2S
    • GPIO 3: Debug UART, USB 2.0
  • Other features — RTC; 2x LEDs; optional $6 heatsink, LCD, and cameras
  • Power — DC 5V/3A input or USB Type-C; optional $9 adapter
  • Operating temperature — -20 to 70℃
  • Dimensions — 60 x 45mm; 8-layer PCB
  • Weight – 30.25 g
  • Operating system — Linux 4.4 LTS with U-boot 2014.10; Android 7.1.2 or 8.1 (requires eMMC module); Lubuntu 16.04 (32-bit); FriendlyCore 18.04 (64-bit), FriendlyDesktop 18.04 (64-bit); Armbian via third party;

Further information

The NanoPi Neo4 is available for a promotional price of $45 (regularly $50) plus shipping, which ranges from $16 to $20. More information may be found on FriendlyElec’s NanoPi Neo4 product page and wiki, which includes schematics, CAD files, and OS download links.

This article originally appeared on LinuxGizmos.com on October 9.

FriendlyElec | www.friendlyarm.com

COM Express Card Sports 3 GHz Core i3 Processor

Congatec has introduced a Computer-on-Module for the entry-level of high-end embedded computing based on Intel’s latest Core i3-8100H processor platform. The board’s fast 16 PCIe Gen 3.0 lanes make it suited for all new artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning applications requiring multiple GPUs for massive parallel processing.

The new conga-TS370 COM Express Basic Type 6 Computer-on-Module with quad-core Intel Core i3 8100H processor offers a 45 W TDP configurable to 35 W, supports 6 MB cache and provides up to 32 GB dual-channel DDR4 2400 memory. Compared to the preceding 7th generation of Intel Core processors, the improved memory bandwidth also helps to increase the graphics and GPGPU performance of the integrated new Intel UHD630 graphics, which additionally features an increased maximum dynamic frequency of up to 1.0 GHz for its 24 execution units. It supports up to three independent 4K displays with up to 60 Hz via DP 1.4, HDMI, eDP and LVDS.

Embedded system designers can now switch from eDP to LVDS purely by modifying the software without any hardware changes. The module further provides exceptionally high bandwidth I/Os including 4x USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10 Gbit/s), 8x USB 2.0 and 1x PEG and 8 PCIe Gen 3.0 lanes for powerful system extensions including Intel Optane memory. All common Linux operating systems as well as the 64-bit versions of Microsoft Windows 10 and Windows 10 IoT are supported. Congatec’s personal integration support rounds off the feature set. Additionally, Congatec also offers an extensive range of accessories and comprehensive technical services, which simplify the integration of new modules into customer-specific solutions.

Congatec | www.congatec.com

Pico-ITX and 3.5-inch SBCs Feature Dual-Core i.MX6 SoCs

IBASE Technology has announced two SBCs, both powered by an NXP i.MX 6Dual Cortex-A9 1.0GHz high performance processor. The IBR115 2.5-inch SBC and the IBR117 3.5-inch SBC are designed for use in applications in the automation, smart building, transportation and medical markets.
IBR115 and IBR117 are highly scalable SBCs with extended operating temperature support of -40°C to 85°C and an optional heatsink. Supporting 1 GB DDR3 memory on board, the boards provide a number of interfaces for HDMI and single LVDS display interface, 4 GB eMMC, Micro SD, COM, GPIO, USB, USB-OTG, Gbit Ethernet and a M.2 Key-E interface. These embedded I/Os provide connection to peripherals such as WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, storage, displays, and camera sensors for use in a variety of application environment while consuming low levels of power.

Both models ship with BSPs for Yocto Project 2.0 Linux and Android 6.0. They both run on dual-core, 1 GHz i.MX6 SoCs, but the IBR115 uses the DualLite while the IBR117 has a Dual with a slightly more advanced Vivante GPU.

IBR115/IBR117 Features:

  • With NXP Cortex-A9, i.MX 6Dual-Lite (IBR115) / i.MX 6Dual (IBR117) 1GHz processor
  • Supports HDMI and Dual-channel LVDS interface
  • Supports 1 GB DDR3, 4 GB eMMC and Micro SD (IBR115) / SD (IBR117) socket for expansion
  • Embedded I/O as COM, GPIO, USB, USB-OTG, audio and Ethernet
  • 2 Key-E (2230) and Mini PCI-E w/ SIM socket (IBR117) for wireless connectivity
  • OpenGL ES 2.0 for 3D BitBlt for 2D and OpenVG 1.1
  • Wide-range operating temperature from -40°C to 85°C

IBASE Technology | www.ibase.com.tw

Cavium Octeon-Based SBCs Provide Networking Solution

Gateworks has announced the release of the Newport GW6400 SBC, featuring the Cavium Octeon TX Dual/Quad Core ARM processor running up to 1.5 GHz. The GW6400 is the latest Newport family member with an extensive list of features, including five Gigabit Ethernet ports and two SFP fiber ports. The GW6400 comes in two standard stocking models, the Dual Core GW6400 and the fully loaded Quad Core GW6404 (shown)..

The GW6400 and GW6404 are members of the Gateworks 6th generation Newport family of single board computers targeted for a wide range of indoor and outdoor networking applications. The SBCs feature the Cavium OcteonTX ARMv8 SoC processor, up to five Gigabit Ethernet ports, and four Mini-PCIe expansion sockets for supporting 802.11abgn/ac wireless radios, LTE/4G/3G CDMA/GSM cellular modems, mSATA drives and other PCI Express peripherals. A wide-range DC input power supply provides up to 15 W to the Mini-PCIe sockets for supporting the latest high-power radios and up to 10 W to the USB 2.0/3.0 jacks for powering external devices. Power is applied through a barrel jack or an Ethernet jack with either 802.3at or Passive Power over Ethernet. The GW6400 does not have SFP Ports loaded.

Gateworks | www.gateworks.com

The Voting Results are in. We Have a Winner!

Circuit Cellar’s sister website LinuxGizmos.com has completed its 2018 hacker board survey, which ran on SurveyMonkey in partnership with Linux.com. Survey participants chose the new Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+, as the favorite board from among 116 community-backed SBCs that run Linux or Android and sell for under $200.
All 116 SBCs are summarized in LinuxGizmos’ recently updated hacker board catalog and feature comparison spreadsheet.

GO HERE TO READ THE SURVEY RESULTS WITH ANALYSIS

Deadline Extended to June 22 — Vote Now!

UPDATE: We’ve extended our 2018 reader survey on open-spec Linux/Android hacker boards through this Friday, June 22.   Vote now!

Circuit Cellar’s sister website LinuxGizmos.com has launched its fourth annual reader survey of open-spec, Linux- or Android-ready single board computers priced under $200. In coordination with Linux.com, LinuxGizmos has identified 116 SBCs that fit its requirements, up from 98 boards in its June 2017 survey.

Vote for your favorites from LG’s freshly updated catalog of 116 sub-$200, hacker-friendly SBCs that run Linux or Android, and you could win one of 15 prizes.

Check out LinuxGizmos’ freshly updated summaries of 116 SBCs, as well as its spreadsheet that compares key features of all the boards.

Explore this great collection of Linux SBC information. To find out how to participate in the survey–and be entered to win a free board–click here:

GO HERE TO TAKE THE SURVEY AND VOTE

 

 

Linux and Coming Full Circle

Input Voltage

–Jeff Child, Editor-in-Chief

JeffHeadShot

In terms of technology, the line between embedded computing and IT/desktop computing has always been a moving target. Certainty the computing power in small embedded devices today have vastly more compute muscle than even a server of 15 years ago. While there’s many ways to look at that phenomena, it’s interesting to look at it through the lens of Linux. The quick rise in the popularity of Linux in the 90s happened on the server/IT side pretty much simultaneously with the embrace of Linux in the embedded market.

I’ve talked before in this column about the embedded Linux start-up bubble of the late 90s. That’s when a number of start-ups emerged as “embedded Linux” companies. It was a new business model for our industry, because Linux is a free, open-source OS. As a result, these companies didn’t sell Linux, but rather provided services to help customers create and support implementations of open-source Linux. This market disruption spurred the established embedded RTOS vendors to push back. Like most embedded technology journalists back then, I loved having a conflict to cover. There were spirited debates on the “Linux vs. RTOS topic” on conference panels and in articles of time—and I enjoyed participating in both.

It’s amusing to me to remember that Wind River at the time was the most vocal anti-Linux voice of the day. Fast forward to today and there’s a double irony. Most of those embedded Linux startups are long gone. And yet, most major OS vendors offer full-blown embedded Linux support alongside their RTOS offerings. In fact, in a research report released in January by VDC Research, Wind River was named as the market leader in the global embedded software market for both its RTOS and commercial Linux segments.

According the VDC report, global unit shipments of IoT and embedded OSs, including free/non-commercial OSs, will grow to reach 11.1 billion units by 2021, driven primarily by ECU-targeted RTOS shipments in the automotive market, and free Linux installs on higher-resource systems. After accounting for systems with no OS, bare-metal OS, or an in-house developed OS, the total yearly units shipped will grow beyond 17 billion units in 2021 according to the report. VDC research findings also predict that unit growth will be driven primarily by free and low-cost operating systems such as Amazon FreeRTOS, Express Logic ThreadX and Mentor Graphics Nucleus on constrained devices, along with free, open source Linux distributions for resource-rich embedded systems.

Shifting gears, let me indulge myself by talking about some recent Circuit Cellar news—though still on the Linux theme. Circuit Cellar has formed a strategic partnership with LinuxGizmos.com. LinuxGizmos is a well-establish, trusted website that provides up-to-the-minute, detailed and insightful coverage of the latest developer- and maker-friendly, embedded oriented chips, modules, boards, small systems and IoT devices—and the software technologies that make them tick. As its name in implies, LinuxGizmos features coverage of open source, high-level operating systems including Linux and its derivatives (such as Android), as well as lower-level software platforms such as OpenWRT and FreeRTOS.

LinuxGizmos.com was founded by Rick Lehrbaum—but that’s only the latest of his accolades. I know Rick from way back when I first started writing about embedded computing in 1990. Most people in the embedded computing industry remember him as the “Father of PC/104.” Rick co-founded Ampro Computers in 1983 (now part of ADLINK), authored the PC/104 standard and founded the PC/104 Consortium in 1991, created LinuxDevices.com in 1999 and guided the formation of the Embedded Linux Consortium in 2000. In 2003, he launched LinuxGizmos.com to fill the void created when LinuxDevices was retired by Quinstreet Media.

Bringing things full circle, Rick says he’s long been a fan of Circuit Cellar, and even wrote a series of articles about PC/104 technology for it in the late 90s. I’m thrilled to be teaming up with LinuxGizmos.com and am looking forward to combing our strengths to better serve you.

This appears in the April (333) issue of Circuit Cellar magazine

Not a Circuit Cellar subscriber?  Don’t be left out! Sign up today: