Turn-key PCB assembly services in prototype quantities or low-volume to mid-volume production runs

SlightBox extends display with light effects

Computer monitor is pretty strict device – is displays information withing its frame. Outside and behind its dark. To change that Sebastien has been working on several versions of SlightBox projects where it allows playing light effects behind screen that extends on-screen effects and somewhat removes limits between screen and outside world. Video demonstration speaks for itself. Watching movies and playing games become different with those effects. The heart of this system is Raspberry Pi which does video signal analysis and determines color pixels from captured frames. Python script uses OpenCV library to do this task. Once color data is gathered, it is sent over SPI to LPD8806 LEDs behind screen. Since analyzing HDMI signals is quite tricky, he split HDMI signal where one was converted to S-video which then was fed to Raspberry Pi with STK1160 adapter. Raspberry pi also has a standard LCD for fast control and monitoring parameters. Infrared channel allows remote control of SlightBox. Raspberry Pi also allows configuring devices via web interface. So this is fun device that vivid and extend any HDMI screen at… Continue reading

Comparing Linux boards for hobbyists

Hobbyists love Linux powered development boards, because they give lots of flexibility, network connectivity and other benefits OS can give. Linux driven development boards are great, because they already have I/O pins to interface physical world and build project at different level. Market already have over dozen great Linux-based development boards and sometimes you may get stuck thinking which is best to start with. We all are familiar with Raspberry Pi, but don’t get excited, and think your needs first before purchase. Tony Dicola, recently have made a comparison of four common Linux-based development boards: Arduino Yun, Beaglebone Black, Intel Galileo and Raspberry pi. He listed most of their parameters in to table so you could clearly compare them side by side. Then he takes to next part – performance test. He runs nbench tool, which was developed to measure performance of Pentium class computers. It is obvious even from parameter list that Beaglebone black and Raspberry Pi takes leading positions. Also he measures power usage when idling and running benchmark Raspberry Pi model A leads by maxing at 150mA.… Continue reading

Raspberry Pi clone wars begins

For quite long time Raspberry Pi was the only platform that was using BCM2835 processor. But recently it started selling it to anyone that opened gate for Rpi clones. So it seems that one of the first ones is ODROID-W miniature board. It is compatible with Raspberry Pi in several ways. Forst of all it carry same GPIO layout for connecting existing modules. Of course it doesn’t have pinheaders soldered to keep it’s initial profile low. It features same processor and memory as Raspberry Pi, so it can run any Rpi OS. Being small size allows it to be used as wearable electronics. To make things more easy, there are several additions made. First of all it has Li Polymer battery connector. Also board includes RTC chip with backup battery connector as well. To keep low profile there is no Ethernet connector, the HDMI port was replaced with Micro HDMI. It still has camera interface, but no display interface which still doesn’t have its module. The list continues with built in DC/DC step-down converter also with DC/DC step-up converter for… Continue reading

New Raspberry Pi Model B+

Raspberry Pi is a great Linux based development board that found its place in hobby market. It’s cheap, have all features required for small computer to be run and there is quite big ecosystem where you can find tons of tutorials, guides and projects. No matter ho good all boards are, we always love new stuff. So here it is – new version of Raspberry Pi called Model B+. This update is dedicated to layout improvements and extending some of its current features. So in one hand you may be a little bit disappointed because you will find same processor – BCM2835 running at 700MHz and 512RAM. As for processor this is OK because it’s very well understood and adapted. As for RAM 1GB wouldn’t hurt. But who love using this board for prototyping and building stuff should enjoy following improvements. First of all it got rid of sticking out SD card. Its been replaced with MicroSD socket which stays behind the board. GPIO was extended from 26 to 40 pins. First 26 pins are same as in model B.… Continue reading

Want more out of Raspberry Pi? – try Banana Pi

Raspberry Pi became pretty standard Linux based development board/minicomputer. It’s been quite a while since it’s been here and we would like to see some improvements in performance and functionality for same price. Single core 800MHz processor and 512MB of RAM sometimes is too slow especially when you are dealing with media or other heavy loads. Of course there are other alternatives to select from, but some of you probably would like to have same Raspberry Pi feel. And probably most of all same GPIO where you could attach your existing expansion boards. It appears that such improvement exists. It’s called Banana Pi. When comparing to Standard Raspberry Pi model B it has several significant improvements like dual core A20 CPU running at 1GHz, 1GB of DDR3 RAM, Gigabit Ethernet, built in microphone, IR receiver, SATA socket, three buttons and other same connectivity Raspberry Pi have. Its price tag is pretty same as Raspberry Pi same. So why not switch to Banana Pi if you need twice performance and still have same experience as before. Continue reading

Raspberry Pi Compute module

Raspberry Pi has been very popular small computer board. It’s initial layout is quite flexible that allows it to use as standalone computer or embedded device with controllable I/Os. Probably standard Raspberry Pi is more oriented to be small single board computer, where you can connect peripherals like keyboard, mouse, display, Ethernet. The I/O part seemed to be left on a side. Eventually extension boards started to appear to fill the need of functionality like ADC, DAC, more digital I/Os. Eventually you end up stacking stuff on top like Arduino. But we like elegant things don’t we? So Raspberry Pi team has been working on different Raspberry Pi concept – Compute module. This is smaller module which have same BCM2835 processor, same RAM. Instead of SD flash there is a 4Gbyte flash memory. Practically this is it. Module is traced on DDR2 SODIMM sized PCB which actually fits this connector. It has no external connectors like Ethernet, USB or audio but there are way more GPIOs. Module can be snapped in to any custom made I/O board that can have… Continue reading