New Product in Stock: Open Source Hardware Simon-85 game assembled and as kit

SIMON-85-KIT

Simon-85 is based on the popular Simon says game and check and train your short time memory. It’s sold as DIY kit but also as assembled and tested board:

SIMON-85-1

To run the game you need USB-A-B cable or LiPo battery. In case you want to use battery you may also need charger for it.

Inside the game there is ATiny85 microcontroller with micronucleus bootloader which allow the board to be re-programmed with Digispark’s Arduino IDE. All sources are on our web and you can download and modify the game yourself. No need for external programmers etc.

When power is applied after 5 seconds the four LEDs will flash for a while and the game will wait you to choose difficulties “Level”. There are 4 levels for sequencies of 10-20-30-40 LED blink patterns. Depend on which button you press BUT1,BUT2,BUT3,BUT4 the game will start at the corresponding level. You will hear Super Mario Bros theme and LEDs will blink then the game will start and you have to repeat the LED blink pattern you see.

If you make mistake the game will over and you can start it again. Each time you complete the pattern correctly the game will flash new one which is one more blink longer. Each new game starts with random pattern so you can’t memorize these.

Simon-85 assembled and tested cost EUR 7.95 the kit is EUR 5.95.

Assembling Simon-85-KIT is good way kids and beginners to learn basic electronics components and how to solder.

Radxa Rock Pro/Lite Is OSHW Now!

Radxa_oshw

Tom Cubie is an ex Allwinner software developer who helped a lot in the beginning Linux-Sunxi community with information about Allwinner chips, when the initial Linux support was done.

He together with another Allwinner employee made Cubie Tech startup and start developing low cost Cubie boards with Allwinner chips.

At one point of time Tom become interested in Allwinner direct competitor – Rockchip, but it was problem to implement inside Cubie Tech board with Rockchip as this would cut all connections between Cubie Tech and Allwinner, so he decided to split and made new startup Radxa dealing only with Rockchip boards.

I know that Tom as being Linux developer loves in his heart Open Source, but at the same time he was very afraid to take the final step and move his projects as OSHW as in China everyone copy everything.

It’s common practice when you have successful product other companies to make inferior quality clones, made with lower quality and lower grade components but at lower than your price, and because many people look at China just as low cost source they prefer to buy the lower cost clones than the originals although most of these clones are pure junk, (but hey I got Allwinner board for $12.34 and Arduino clone for $1.23 on Alibaba!). This makes the business in China very difficult and everyone hides his designs and knowledge to have advantage toward the copycat competition.

This is also big obstracle for the OSHW movement in China, if you check on Kickstarter/Indiegogo all projects which come from China and claim to be Open Source Hardware are just marketing and pseudo OSHW they publish just the schematics as PDF file and eventually software sources, and “promise” to release everything when they complete the project … which usually never happens.

Let’s take as example the populart Vocore project which inspired RT5350F-OLinuXino ;) they claim on Indiegogo this is OSHW project : https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/vocore-a-coin-sized-linux-computer-with-wifi

They got funded, produced the boards and shipped them, on their site vocore.io you can read:

You will not only get the VoCore but also its full hardware design including sch, pcb, bom; full source code including boot loader, os(openwrt), applications. You are able to control EVERY BIT of your VoCore

then on download page you have access just to PDF files.

I write all this above just to show you what big step Tom decided to move forward yesterday! He wrote on G+ :

tom

Here is the G+ original post.

Obviously Tom follow my blog posts and after my post yesterday for the differences between Pi and OLinuXino and what benefits OSHW gives to the Business he finally decided to go OSHW for his new Radxa Rock Pro/Lite design (at least looking at the commit timestamp). This is something I just could just applaude! Good work Tom and Welcome to OSHW movement!

Keep the good job going! Sharing the knowledge just increase our power!

RT5350F-OLinuXino Update

RT5350F-1

 

We startd our OLinuXino with RT5350F back in July right before our Summer vacation.

As soon as I blogged about it we got tons of useful tips and advices on the blog and by e-mails, like info about RT5350F frequency tunning, Antenna design, Overheating internals, which was not obvious from the skinny info on the web.

We decided to build two prototypes one with integrated and one with discrete baluns and on the picture above you can see the version with balun on left and discrete components on right side. Here is how the boards look on back side:

RT5350F-2

Our first intention was to make this board with 64MB of RAM and 8MB of Flash, but after reading more carefully the datasheet we found that this will require two RAM memory banks and two chips, which would increase the size of the board, so we decided to keep the size and make only 32MB RAM, but to increase the Serial Flash to 16MB.

The prototypes start working from the very first time, which makes me to worry about what we did wrong :)

The schematics and CAD files are on GitHub. Note these are preliminary and we have to update them with the latest components exchanges like SPI memory now is W25Q128FVSSIG and RAM is W9825G6JH-6.

Although we got tip for the tendency RT5350F to overheat (it uses internal LDO for 1.2V which dissipates enormous amount of heat and can cause the chip to desolder from the high temperature, we are non-believers and wanted to try ourself… well the result is that RT5350F really overheats :) as this 1.2V could be feed from outside too, this will be solved in the next revision and we will put small external DCDC to release RT5350F from this heat source inside the chip.

This is our test setup we made small carrier board with 5 Ethernet ports and USB host to may test the board functionality, do you see the big heatsink :) :

RT5350F-3

the cable on the left side is JTAG for initial uboot programming to the SPI Flash, the small board on the right side is the USB-Serial for the console.

The OpenWRT is running fine, so after all tests are done next week we will experiment to lower the heating and make new prototypes.

What we still didn’t decided yet is what EVB to make for this board?

Initial though is:

  • x1 or 2 Ethernet ports
  • x1 USB host
  • x2 RELAYs
  • few GPIOs with optical isolation
  • UEXT with UART/SPI/I2C for connecting UEXT modules
  • small 4 digits 7-segment display
  • all this put in nice compact DIN enclosure

it will be easy to put on DIN rail and to measure things and connect to Internet:

RT5350F-4

Definitely with these problems of the overheating the board will have no problem to run on negative temperatures, just the problem will be if the ambient temperature rise above 40-50C :) but let’s see what will happen with external DCDC in the next revision.

As always we are open to hear your suggestions :)

OLinuXino and Raspberry Pi compare

A10-OLinuXino-LIME-1RaspberryPi

While we have been on Linux Con lot of people came to our table where we had our OLinuXino boards.

One of the most asked question was: What is the difference between OLinuXino and Raspberry Pi?

This is self understandable as Raspberry Pi is the most popular small Linux board and it’s natural people to have heard of it – RPi Foundation with the Broadcom support made sure it’s all over the news, while OLinuXino is still small project.

As we hear this question again and again I though it would be good idea to blog about it so people can read and instead to tell them one and same thing again and again to just refer them to this blog post.

Raspberry Pi Foundation goal is to teach kids programming for this purpose they have created small and low cost Linux board, which helps them to reach their goal. Many people use this small computer for other purposes as well, this is not the best design in the world, nor fastest and the richest in features, but it’s just good enough for RPi foundation to achieve their targets and this is why they do not develop/improve it more since their start.

What they have is one board which they were selling half populated as Model A and completely populated as Model B, then recently they made some small improvements and named the model B+ to name the changes they add some more GPIOs and replaced the linear power supply with DCDC to make it more power efficient, sure they have also module which though is with almost same price like the Model B but having less functionality as complete product, so I guess its not so popular as less usable for most of RPi community.

When we designed our first OLinuXino based on imx233 we wanted to make Linux board which everyone could make even alone at home (the project was inspired by Raspberry Pi, but looking from aside all the troubles they had with deliveries and manufacturing at the beginning we wanted to give option to people to MAKE their own LINUX computer at home).
OLinuXino is Open Source Hardware project so soon after we made our first boards we got lot of feedback, tips and suggestions from our small but efficient community which was formed around OLinuXino, so we continued to experiment and went to less DIY chipsets as our collaborators wanted to see more and more power, so we switch to A13 SoC which is the first TQFP Cortex-A8 processor, then to A10s, A20 Dual Core chips and this process don’t stop even at the moment.
For the last 2 years we made more than 20 different OLinuXino boards with prices from EUR 18 to EUR 65 and with processors from ARM9 to Dual Core Cortex-A7.
Now We have Rockchip RK3188 prepared for production with Quad Core Cortex-A9, in the design pipeline is our first big.LITTLE octa core Cortex-A15/A7 A80 design and probably next year we will have Cortex-A57 64 bit ARM OSHW board.

So let’s start with the major difference:

OLinuXino project is completely Open Source Hardware project, this means everyone can look at our CAD files, see how we have done them, learn, study and modify them for his own need, and even later to manufacture and sell products based on it. For these two years there are hundreds of derivative designs made by individuals and companies, thousands of people learned that to create Linux computer running at 1Ghz is not so difficult!

OSHW business model is more attractive not only for hobby users, who benefit from the knowledge sharing, but also for companies as it gives them INDEPENDANCY. They are FREE to buy from the creator Olimex, or to make the project themself, or if they can’t manufacture to HIRE someone else to make it for them! This secure their business. Even if Olimex decide to stop producing OLinuXino (hypothetically) at one moment of time, this will not hurt them as they have ALTERNATIVES.
If I have company which want to make commercial product I would go with project where everything is UNDER MY CONTROL and this is what OSHW gives to the business.

To get back to the comparison, A10-OLinuXino-LIME selling for EUR 30 is close to Raspberry PI $35 selling price so let’s see what are the similarities and differences:

Similarities:

  • both boards run Linux
  • have SD-card for boot
  • both boards have native HDMI with Full HD for connection to TVs
  • two USB hosts, Ethernet
  • about same size

Differences:

  • Cortex-A8 1Ghz ARMv7 processor vs. ARM11 ARMv6 obsolete technology makes A10-OLinuXino-LIME to run up to x4 times faster than Raspberry Pi
  • OLinuXino can run standard Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, Arch etc as use ARMv7 and is officially supported and have access to the standard repositories and packages for these distributions
  • USB hosts can source up to 1A current for the USB devices connected, allowing such devices like USB-3G modems to be connected
  • OLinuxino have USB-OTG
  • OLinuXino have Native 100Mb Ethernet interface not USB to Ethernet converter like RPi
  • OLinuXino have Native SATA and SATA power supply which allow Hard disks to be attached directly!
  • OLinuXino have 2 MIPI parallel camera interfaces
  • OLinuXino uses power efficient DCDC converters, while RPi uses linear regulators (fixed in Model B+)
  • OLinuXino have 160 GPIOs available for the user while RPi have 17
  • OLinuXino can drive directly LCDs with parallel and LVDS and touchscreen, while RPi count only on HDMI displays
  • OLinuXino have build in Lithium Polymer battery charger and step up converter, so when you attach LiPo battery to OLInuXino it will charge it, and if external power supply is removed the battery power will be used to generate all power voltages includein these for the USB host and SATA, i.e. you can run OLinuXino for hours on single 3.7V LiPo battery.
  • OLinuXino can run Android 4.x while PRi have no power to do this
  • OLinuXino community is smaller
  • OLinuXino LIME can have DUAL-CORE Cortex-A7 A20 SOC which not only increases the speed with 40% but also decreases the power consumption by 30% vs. A10 Cortex-A8 processor
  • OLinuXino LIME2 have 1GB RAM memory and Gigabit Ethernet interface.

So overall OLinuXino offers more security for the business, more different products with different features which to match different use cases.

Olimex is OSHWA member now

cropped-OSHWA_Logo_2012B_1000

I already blogged for my visit in Rome for the OSHW Summit 2014.

While chatting there with Drew Fustini he asked me if Olimex is OSHWA member and I reallized that while being busy with developing OSHW projects Olimex actually forgot to become an formal OSHWA member, so when I returned back I quickly rectified this and applied for Supporting Corporate Membership.

Few weeks later I got this in my post box these nice stickers!

OSHWA

Now I just have to figure out  where to place them proudly!

Linux Con Europe 2014

LINUX-CON1

I’m just back in office from Linux Con Europe. For these who do wonder why last week there was no Weekend Challenge and Friday Giveaway Quiz – we, 5 people had to fly to Germany.

This year Linux Conference Europe, Embedded Linux Conference Europe, Cloud Open were held together in Duesseldorf Germany.
We at OLIMEX decided that we learned so much from Linux community in the last two years around OLinuXino that we should give back what we can and become Bronze sponsor was our way to say “Thanks” to Linus and Co. about the great work they do!

It’s nice to see your name among other companies which support Linux:

SPONSORS

sure we are still small and barely seen hehe :)

OLIMEX

For these who never have been on Linux Con, its a smaller than FOSDEM for instance. I guess because the entry ticket for the conference is $600 while FOSDEM is free and attracts more students, Linux Con is more Corporate oriented.

What you can see here is Intel, Samsung, Freescale, Texas Instruments, Mediatek, Red Hat and many others of the big companies which support Linux development.

You can make *very* useful contacts there.

For instance these two guys are Rockchip and Mediatek Linux Kernel maintainers:

rockmedia

We finally met there a developer who is working on Texas Instruments Sitara SDK, which we desperately trying to approach with our AM3352 board Linux problems, so we may finally solve all remaining issues ( I will blog more for this later!).

Also we got contacts with Qualcomm/Artheros and Mediatek Home Entertainment unit … soooo maybe in near future we will have 64 bit OSHW ARM development board for mortals, crossing fingers this to be sooner :))

As being sponsors we got table to present our OSHW Linux computer boards:

table-3

Around our table most of the time there was crowd starting from 8.00

table-1

even during the lunch time:

table-2

here we got visitors from Google interested in OLinuXino for their University Program:

google

Sure Linux Con had tons of interesting talks, thanks to Linux-Sunxi community now Allwinner chips are well recognized, there were several lectures about what Linux-Sunxi did in the past year:

allwinner

Overall Linux Con is great event worth visiting, where else you can see Linus Torvald passing by you few meters away and even taking picture next to him ;)

linus

(sure this is fake, I guess all of the thousands Linux Con attendees want picture with Linus, so the organizers solved this very elegant – there was photo corner where they take picture of you then mix with Linus on background :) so he even doesn’t know how many people took picture with him – do not tell anyone!)

At the end of the Linux Con there were contest with prizes:

games

Three A10-OLinuXino-LIME were given away as prizes :)

oli

Open Source Hardware Summit 2014 Roma, Italy

oli

I’ve always wanted to go to OSHW Summit but it was held only in USA and this rises some difficulties for me like having entry visa to visit the country of the unlimited opportunities, so I skipped.

When I learned that this year it will be here in Europe I put it in my calendar for “must visit” events.

I always though this is big event with thousands of people to participate like FOSDEM where around 8-10000 Open Source Software enthusiasts come together, but I was surprised to see it’s a rather small only around 100-200 people were there. For comparison OpenFest the local Open Source Technology Event in Sofia last year had about 3200 unique IPs logged to the wifi routers, so we guess at least about 3000 people from small Bulgaria (population less than NY) attended this local event.

Open Source Hardware is still not so popular like Open Source Software, but do not get me wrong, this is not underestimation of this event, where else you can see on the same place and talk to Massimo Banzi, David Cuartielles, Jason Krinder and Adrian Bowyer?

The weather in Rome was sunny and nice, food is great, so the organizers picked up the right place :)

What I found really odd is that the organizers has locked the access to the WIFi at the OSHW Summit with some strange long registration procedure involving you to call with your phone some other phone in Italy in order to “verify” you, well I couldn’t complete this procedure no matter how many times I called this phone, so this really suck. I’m still puzzled why do you close your WiFi access when you make Open Source event and you are in the middle of nowhere (the event was held in big complex of Museo del Musica Auditorium) i.e. in 100-150 meters around you there is no one who could eventually use your WIFI access from outside.

The most remarkable lecture was the one from Mr. Adrian Bowyer – the father of RepRap and 3D printing. This man is real visionary and thinks out of the box. It was pleasure to follow his thoughts of mapping RepRap to Living organism which could reproduce itself. “Bees pollinate plants and help them to reproduce because they have benefit -> Bees get nectar from the plants – we made RepRap which can re-produce itself, but people wouldn’t re-produce it if there was no benefit for them -> they can print objects which is equal of the nectar for the Bees”

One other odd thing is that the lectures were very short and with no time for discussions and interactions on the lecture topics. Some of the lectures were totally out of Open Source Hardware topic (for instance the lecture of two Israeli architects which share how they put on public discussion some of their project which may be related to “open” but not to electronics hardware) and could be skipped to leave more time for discussions to the lectures which were really interesting and could provoke discussions.

In the second summit day there were interesting discussions like: choosing Open vs Closed, which Licensee to choose, Documentation, Education, all of them interesting topics, too bad people were separated in groups so you can’t attend more than one group at the same time while these are all interesting topics to discuss. I will try to post my opinion on these in few blog posts to follow.

So to summarize the Open Source Hardware Summit is very interesting event with great potential. What OSHW does to popularize the Open Source Hardware ideas is great and should keep going.

What I would like to see is such event every year held here in Europe, as traveling at 5000 km and spending EUR 1000 for plane tickets is not within the budged for the many small startups and students I’ve seen this year in Rome coming from Greece, France, Germany etc and who make their first steps in OSHW. I believe the same apply for the US and Asia, so why there is no yearly OSHW Summits to be held in US,EU and Asia?

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