Subject: General Tech | February 10, 2013 - 12:45 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: SFF, Raspberry Pi, camera, arm
The Raspberry Pi Foundation has been working on offering a camera attachment for Raspberry Pi boards for some time now. The developers began with a 41MP sensor, but have since moved to a smaller (and cheaper) camera with a 5MP sensor. That particular model is nearly complete and should be available for purchase sometime this spring, according to the developers.
The Raspberry Pi camera will be $25 which aligns itself well with the recently released Model A Raspberry Pi computer (which is also $25). The PCB hosting the camera module measures 20 x 25 x 10mm, while the camera module itself measures 8.5 x 8.5 x 5mm. It connects to the Raspberry Pi board via a flat cable into the CSI port below the Ethernet jack.
The $25 camera is capable of capturing HD video as well as stills. It uses the Omnivision OV5647 sensor and a fixed focus lens. The 5MP sensor is capable of capturing still photos with a pixel resolution of 2592 x 1944 and up to 1080p video. While the developers are still working on the kinks to ensure that it the camera can do this, the sensor itself is capable of 1080p30, 720p60, and 640x480p90 video capture. The Raspberry Pi Foundation has stated that at least the 1080p30 capture mode is working.
Interestingly, the Raspberry Pi ISP hardware can support two cameras, but the PCB only provides a single CSI connector (so no 3D image capture using two cameras). The Raspberry Pi Foundation is providing this little CSI camera as an alternative to USB cameras. While it is possible to use USB cameras with the Raspberry Pi, USB driver overhead and USB bandwidth issues specific to the Raspberry Pi limit the performance that you can get out of USB cameras. The $25 CSI camera add-on bypasses the USB interface in favor of the CSI port that feeds into the image processing parts of the ARM SoC.
The developers have not released an exact weight measurement, but have described it as being rather lightweight--making it ideal for use in drones, weather balloons, and other flying projects. For more information, the developers have set up a forum thread to answer questions and keep interested users updated on the project status.
Subject: General Tech | February 5, 2013 - 05:32 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, model a, cheap computer, arm
The Raspberry Pi Foundation has announced that its Model A computer is (finally) available for purchase in Europe. The Raspberry Pi Model A is the small computer that the foundation originally pitched as the low-cost $25 PC. The other computer is the Model B, which has been available for some time now. The Model A is a stripped down version of the Model B covered previously. It features a single USB port, and half of the RAM of the latest Model B at 256MB. Further, there is no Ethernet jack on the model B, so users wanting Internet access will have to grab a USB NIC.
The Model A PC. Notice the lack of Ethernet support.
The Model A is powered by the same Broadcom BCM2835 chipset as the Model B. That includes an ARM1176JZFS processor clocked at 700MHz and a Videocore 4 GPU. The GPU is capable of hardware accelerating H.264 video decodes at up to 1080p30 and 40Mbps video. The GPU is rated at 24 GLOPS general compute performance, and it supports the OpenGL ES2.0 and OpenVG libraries.
Interestingly, the Model A was originally planned to have a mere 128MB of RAM, but with the update of the Model B to 512MB RAM, the Raspberry Pi Foundation was also able to include twice the RAM in the Model A while maintaining the $25 price point.
The underside of the Raspberry Pi Model A.
The Model A reportedly uses as much as a third of the power as the Model B, which makes it ideal for projects that will run off of battery or renewable energy sources--like solar. The Raspberry Pi Foundation suggests that the Model A will be useful in robotics and networking projects, for example.
The Model A Raspberry Pi PC is currently available in Europe, but US availability is coming soon. It will cost $25, but you will also need at least an SD card for the operating system and a DC power source (like a cell phone wall charger with male micro USB connector). The promised $25 PC is finally here (at least for those on the other side of the pond). What will you be using it for?
Read more about the Raspberry Pi at PC Perspective.
Subject: General Tech | October 6, 2012 - 05:16 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, programming, IDE, adafruit
The popular, if elusive, Raspberry Pi had the original intent to be a cheap computer capable of introducing kids to programming. In furthering that goal, Adafruit has been working on a programming IDE (Integrated Development Environment) with a simple interface designed to be accessible to beginners. The so-called "WebIDE" is installed on the Raspberry Pi and then can be run on any other networked computers from within a web browser. It syncs your programming code with Github competitor Bitbucket as well.
The Raspberry Pi WebIDE is currently in alpha and can now be downloaded by the public for those Raspberry Pi users adventurous enough to test it out. Adafruit has put together an installation guide as well as made an install script available to simplify installation. The WbIDE acts like any other programming environment in that you can add and edit files as well as test code on the Raspberry Pi hardware. Hitting "Run" on a program will open up a terminal on the Pi and execute your program, allowing you to develop your code on the hardware it will be used on. Further, it has an automatic update feature for the IDE software itself.
Because of its in-development alpha status, the current release is likely to be somewhat buggy and rough around the edges. Adafruit recommends that only experienced users install it at this time. While there is no ETA on a final release, Adafruit has stated that "it is certainly our intention to get this solid and ready for all users, and we will let everyone know when we think it is at that point."
This definitely seems like a useful piece of software if you picked up a Raspberry Pi to learn programming. You can find the full Raspberry Pi WebIDE guide in PDF form on the Adafruit website.
Subject: General Tech | September 20, 2012 - 11:53 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, overclocking, arm
The Raspberry Pi has proved a popular – if difficult to get a hold of – low-cost computer. The Pi is powered by a Broadcom BCM2835 ARM system on a chip that features a VideoCore IV GPU and ARM1176JZFS CPU core. By default, the processor runs at 700MHz, but enthusiasts put it through its paces and found there to be more than a bit of headroom. Unfortunately, if your particular chip required a bit of extra voltage to run at higher frequencies, it would mean voiding your warranty in order to get the extra performance – until now, that is.
In a bit of good news for overclockers, the Raspberry Pi Foundation has announced that official overclocking will now be supported even when the processor has been over-volted. In the raspi-config file, you will be able to choose from one of five overclocking presets where the highest overclock will run the processor at 1GHz.
Interestingly, the overclocked frequency is managed by the cpufreq driver and can be dynamically adjusted. The processor will run at up to the frequency defined in your chosen preset as long as the temperature of the chip does not reach 85 °C. Also, the overclocked frequencies will only be applied when the SoC is under load. When idling, it will happily use less power by turning the clockspeed down. Further, when applying the higher clocks, you are also adjusting the GPU Core, SDRAM, and system bus speed.
When combined with other software fixes (below), the Raspberry Pi Foundation is claiming various performance improvements. According to the site, Linux benchmark nbench reports 52% better integer performance, 64% increased floating point performance, and a 55% improvement in memory.
Left: default clockspeeds, right: 1GHz overclock
Should your particular Raspberry Pi not boot after applying a higher overclocking preset, you can hold down the Shift key during boot to force the Raspberry Pi to revert to default clockspeeds. Then, you can back down to the next-highest preset to see if the Raspberry Pi is capable of running at that (though it would be a better idea to start at the lowest preset and work your way up). The Raspberry Pi Foundation recommends playing through a bit of Quake 3 as it is a good indicator of a stable overclock.
In addition to the new turbo mode, a fix has been applied to the USB driver to reduce the USB interrupt rate, which improves performance approximately 10%. Because even the LAN port is on the USB bus, reducing CPU load should help a lot in freeing up the limited resources of the ARM processor for other tasks. If you have Wi-Fi devices based on the RTL8188CUS chipset or is otherwise supported by Linux, it should now work with the Raspberry Pi out of the box.
In order to get all of the above improvements (among a couple of other minor tweaks), you can run the following command to update to the latest image:
“sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade”
It’s nice to see continued support for the Raspberry Pi, and the ‘free’ overclocking performance is always a plus!
Image of Raspberry Pi hardware courtesy Gijsbert Peijs via Flickr Creative Commons. Thank you.
Read more about the $35 Linux-powered Raspberry Pi computer at PC Perspective!
Subject: General Tech | August 2, 2012 - 11:33 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: sff hardware, Raspberry Pi, android 4.0, Android, $35 game console
The $35 Raspberry Pi computer has received a great deal of attention from enthusiasts and support from developers. In fact, it has a number of Linux-based distributions available, and even more planned or already in development. One of the more recent reveals is that developer Naren has been working hard on porting the Android 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich” mobile operating system to the small ARM computer.
According to the Raspberry Pi blog, the Android 4.0 build is going fairly well and it is currently running on the Raspberry Pi hardware, with some caveats. Also, Naren has been able to get hardware-accelerated graphics and video playback running on the Raspberry Pi. Reportedly, the final major hurdle is getting AudioFlinger support working. The other caveat is that the Android 4.0 build has been compiled using a different kernel and VideoCore (the GPU in the Raspberry Pi) binary than the GitHub hosted files that are publicly available.
Because Naren is working with different code, the Raspberry Pi is not willing to release the source code at this time as they fear severe forking in the code. They have stated that “we’re investigating the feasibility of converging the two code lines to produce a single common platform as soon as we can.” Once they figure that out, the Raspberry Pi Foundation hopes to be able to present the source code to the public so that enthusiasts can play around with Android 4.0 on their Raspberry Pis.
While it is no version 4.1 “Jelly Bean,” bringing Android of any variety is a positive step for the Raspberry Pi. It allows access to a large library of applications and games. Also, the Raspberry Pi becomes a super-cheap board to use for developing Android apps.
For now, the Raspberry Pi Foundation suggests users check out the Razdroid project to play around with Android on the Pi. Alternatively, you can try testing one of the CyanogenMOD images on the Raspberry Pi.
Are you excited about Ice Cream Sandwich on your Raspberry Pi?
You can find more of our Raspberry Pi coverage by following our Raspberry Pi tag.
Image courtesy salmon92 via Flickr Creative Commons
Subject: General Tech | July 4, 2012 - 11:39 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: streaming, Raspberry Pi, nexus q, media, google, android transporter, Android
Last week at Google I/O 2012, the company announced a new high-end media streaming device that taps into the Google Play cloud to bring music, movies, and TV shows to your living room television. Launched as the Nexus Q, the Android-powered sphere connects to the internet and multiple Android phones to bring a social media sharing aspect to the big screen, for a hefty $299 price tag (available from the Google Play Store).
Granted, it does contain a high end built-in amplifier for connecting to bookshelf speakers – at 12.5 watts per channel – and is made in the United States. Even so, that’s a high price to pay for a media streaming box, and especially one that can only play media from Google Play and not any locally stored content.
Enter the Raspberry Pi, the small Linux-powered $35 computer that is still not easy to get a hold of (at least not with my luck!). Coupled with a piece of new software developed by E.S.R. Labs called Android Transporter, the Raspberry Pi can wirelessly stream media and more from your Android devices to your TV screen for a much lower price.
There are some caveats, however if you are just after the wireless streaming aspects the Raspberry Pi has you covered. The Nexus Q, on the other hand, further brings in a social interface that allows friends to pool their Google Play content and build a playlist. It also has a very nice case with touchscreen controls and LEDs. The Nexus Q also offers an analog amplifier for speakers and optical audio outputs as well as regular HDMI. The Raspberry Pi only has HDMI for high-quality digital audio. Neither device supports HDMI pass through for connecting it between your audio kit and/or HDMI switcher and the TV though.
The Android Transporter software also has a noticeable bit of lag, which isn't really a problem for watching movies or streaming music but may make using the phone as a gaming controller as E.S.R proposed difficult. According to Bit-Tech, the developers are working on reducing latency from the current 150ms to less than 100ms.
To me, this seems like a good compromise between the cool wireless streaming technology (I can never find that darn MHL adapter when I need it!) and the $299 Nexus Q hardware. For the cost of a Raspberry Pi, you can get wireless streaming and screen sharing as well as the ability to stream local content as well as streamed-from-the-internet media. That gets you most of the way to the Nexus Q (while adding local content!) for about an eighth of the cost! I will concede that the Nexus Q's hardware is a lot sleeker looking that that of the Raspberry Pi!
As soon as I get my Pi, I'm definitely going to try this out! Have you gotten your hands on a Raspberry Pi yet? Are you using it as a cheap HTPC/streaming box?
You can find all of our Raspberry Pi coverage on the site by searching for the "Raspberry Pi" tag.
Subject: General Tech | May 4, 2012 - 12:02 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, hardware, embedded systems, arm
It is not often the tech community gets excited about a minimalist piece of hardware like the Raspberry Pi; unless you follow Limor Fried it is unlikely you are even aware of the last time a new Arduino shield was released or just what you can stick in an Altoids tin. Be that as it may, the $35 Raspberry Pi has been making news and peaking the interest of a large range of people. The specs don't stand up if you compare them to a netbook but the footprint on the Pi is much smaller, at 85.60mm x 53.98mm x 17mm. Both models are powered with a 700MHz ARM1176JZF-S CPU core, 256MB of RAM and a Broadcom VideoCore IV GPU with the Model A lacking ethernet and a single USB 2.0 port, the Model B has 2 USB ports and ethernet. Tim has been covering the troubled path to retail for the Pi but has yet to get his hands on one. TechSpot did get a hold of the Model B and put together a brief tutorial covering the basics of setting up your Pi but they can't really show you how to use it, as the entire point of the Pi is that it is a flexible platform that is probably capable of fulfilling anything you can imagine a low powered system could do.
"When the first 10,000 devices shipped in mid-April, the organization graciously sent us a sample for coverage. Along with a hands-on review of the Pi, today we'll be covering basic steps for setting up the computer and other elemental post-installation tasks to get you up and running with applications. In other words, this should serve as a starting point no matter what you want to do with your Raspberry Pi."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Emilio Ghilardi leaves AMD @ SemiAccurate
- AMD may be able to increase server platform global market share through joining OCP @ DigiTimes
- DeployStudio: Heavy-duty imaging software for OS X @ Ars Technica
- AMD’s Chuck Moore has passed away @ SemiAccurate
- Fairly simple hack makes Samsung TVs reboot forever @ Hack a Day
- Printing point-to-point circuits on a 3D printer @ Hack a Day
- Microsoft Windows 8: Mostly A Crap Wreck @ Phoronix
- Samsung Galaxy SIII / S3: Product Overview, Specs and Pricing @ Tech-Reviews
Subject: General Tech | April 24, 2012 - 08:28 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, hardware, embedded systems, arm
We’ve been covering the Raspberry Pi computer for quite some time now, and after a slew of delays the boards are finally shipping. UK based hardware site Bit-Tech has managed to snag one of the Model B Raspberry Pi boards and recently posted a review of the small ARM computer.
They do note that the ARM11 processor leaves a lot of performance to be desired, but no other boards offer the same features for the price. Once software matures to the point that hardware accelerated drivers are available out of the box, the user experience should improve. Also, the relatively powerful Videocore IV GPU will really start to shine.
Head on over to see how they tested the board, what sort of overclocking headroom the SoC has, and what their final verdict is!
Further Raspberry Pi coverage:
- Raspberry Pi Delays
- Raspberry Pi Passes EM Interference Testing
- Raspberry Pi Computers Have an Operating System For Everyone
- A Case for the Raspberry Pi
- Raspberry Pi Deliveries Finally Going Out
Anyone else still waiting on their slice of Pi to arrive in the mail?
Subject: General Tech | April 16, 2012 - 11:27 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, htpc
The UK charity behind the little computer that could -- The Raspberry Pi Foundation -- announced on Sunday that their Raspberry Pi computers are [finally!] shipping out to customers that pre-ordered the Model B boards. Creator Eben Upton hand delivered the first batch of Raspberry Pi computers to distributor RS Components in Corby which you can see in the video embedded below.
Some users have already reported receiving their boards, and the charity is starting to hold lectures and classes for students in the UK using the Raspberry Pi computers. In other good news, serial production of the Raspberry Pi computers has begun at the factories which means that the backlog of pre-orders should now be taken care of faster than previously estimated by RS and Farnell. More specific estimates on when you should be getting your Raspberry Pi should be provided to you later int he week from the distributor you ordered from.
I have yet to receive any e-mail from Farnell on the status of my Raspberry Pi since the first order verification email so I have a feeling I’m at the end of the line but at least they are shipping now and I’ll have some testing to do shorty!
Subject: General Tech, Systems | April 8, 2012 - 08:38 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, pcb, emc test, computer, compliance testing, arm
The highly anticipated Raspberry Pi ARM computer has run into several launch hiccups, the most recent being that the distributors -- RS and Farnell -- refused to sell and ship the devices without the Raspberry Pi passing the proper electromagnetic interference testing. While such certification is not required for Arduino or Beagle Boards, the companies stated that because the Raspberry Pi was (more) likely to be used as a final consumer product (and not a development board) it needed to obtain and pass EMC testing to ensure that it would not interfere with (or be interfered by) other electronic devices.
According to a recent blog post by the charity behind the ARM powered Linux computer, the Raspberry Pi has passed the EMC compliance testing with flying colors -- after a few hiccups with a network hub used to test the Raspberry Pi while it was being hit with an EM field were sorted out.
The team has been working out of Panasonic’s facility in South Wales to test the Raspberry Pi. Due to having the lab area for a whole week, they managed to knock out consumer product inference testing for several other countries as well. Mainly, the Raspberry Pi is now compliant with the UK CE requirements, the United States’ FCC, Australia’s CTick, and Canada’s Technical Acceptance Certificate (TAC).
Assuming the paper work is properly filed and RS and Farnell accept the certifications, the Raspberry Pi units should begin winging their way to customers shortly. Are you still waiting on your Raspberry Pi, and if so have you decided what you intend to use it for yet?
If you are interested in the Raspberry Pi, be sure to check out some of our other coverage of the little ARM computer!