The work on our most complex Open Source Hardware Linux board started – meet the Tukhla iMX8QuadMax SOC based board to be designed with KiCAD

We started working on our most complex OSHW board with KiCAD.

iMX8 is broad range of very different ARM architectures under same name which some people may find quite confusing.
Here is the table chart:

You can see by yourself:

  • iMX8X is quite humble with up to x4 Cortex-A35+Cortex-M4F cores, something less capable than Allwinner A13 or STM32MP1XX
  • iMX8M, Nano/Mini/Plus is x4 Cortex-A53 + Cortex-A7/M4F something in the range of power of Allwinner A64
  • finally iMX8QuadMax comes with different configurations, but the high end is Octa-core with x2 Cortex-A72 + x4 Cortex-A53 + x2 Cortex-M4F and is more powerful than the popular Rockchip RK3399

Why we did started working on such monster?

Company from EU which values the OSHW recognized the absence of high end open source Linux board and asked us to design one. They offered to cover all associated design costs. They specially requested this to be not yet another RK3399 board, but based on SOC with proper documentation and software support. NXP’s high end iMX8QuadMax matched their requirements perfectly.

Currently all powerful Cortex-A72 comes from Chinese or Korean origin and are always closed projects, the only published info in best case is PDF schematic which can’t be verified i.e. the final product may or may not match what they publish. The popular Raspberry Pi go even further and their “schemaitcs” are just connector diagrams.

This is how the Tukhla project was born, it will have:

  • MIMX8QM5AVUFFAB Octa-core SOC with: ( x2 Cortex-A72, x4 Cortex-A53, x2 Cortex-M4F, x4 GPUs with 16 Vec4-Shader GPU, 32 compute units OpenGL® ES 3.2 and Vulkan® support Tessellation and Geometry Shading, Split-GPU architecture enables 2x 8 Shader Cores, 4k h.265 Decode, 1080p h.264 encode)
  • x2 LPDDR4 x32 databus RAM memory with up to 16GB of RAM configuration
  • PMU taking all power lines from single 12V/4A source
  • micro SD card
  • eMMC Flash with differnt sizes
  • QSPI Flash
  • x1 SATA for external HDD/SSD drives
  • x2 single lane PCIe with M2 connectors for NVMe
  • HDMI input 1.4 RX with HDCP 2.2
  • HDMI output 2.0 TX with HDCP 2.2 4K
  • USB 2.0 OTG
  • USB 3.0 HOST
  • x2 Gigabit Ethernet
  • x2 MIPI CSI camera connectors

The price of MIMX8QM5AVUFFAB alone is around EUR 100 in small quantities and currently LPDDR4 4GB cost EUR 35, LPDDR4 8GB cost EUR 50, LPDDR4 16GB cost EUR 180.

So with BOM over EUR 200 this board will not be affordable for the most of Raspberry Pi $35 price range users.

This board targets professionals, who need high performance board and being not dependent by Chinese SOC vendors. With all hardware open, which gives them security for their business as the design is public.

iMX8QuadMax SOC is available in automotive AEC-Q100 Grade 3 (-40° to 125° C Tj), Industrial (-40° to 105° C Tj), Consumer (-20° to 105° C Tj)

Some of the features like HDMI input are not present in the Chinese SOCs at all.

iMX8QuadMax may have DSP and incorporate Vision and Speech Recognition interactivity via a powerful vision pipeline and audio processing subsystem.

The Software support include: Android™, Linux®, FreeRTOS, QNX™, Green Hills®, Dornerworks XEN™.

iMX8QuadMax is fully supported on NXP’s 10 and 15-year Longevity Program

Tukhla means Brick in Bulgarian (and other Slavish languages) and it will be the OSHW building block for whole range of different solutions.

How long it will take to finish this design?

We honestly don’t know. It took more than month just to capture the schematic in the state it is now:

There is long path now to create and verify all component packages (just the SOC is in 1313 BGA ball package), verify the schematic signals, place the components on the PCB, route high speed signals manually.

It may be 6 months or more. We got unofficial info that NXP engineers spent more than year to make the NXP iMX8QMax demo board.

Build your own CPU and tools for it like Assembler, High level language compiler, simple OS, then write Pong game on it using only open source software and hardware. Check nand2tetris-13 project with iCE40HX8K-EVB + MOD-LCD2.8RTP + IceStorm

pong

Michael Schröder sent us link to his project nand2tetris-13 yesterday.

He managed to build his own CPU, to write Assembler, Jack high level language, OS and then write Fibonacci demo and Pong game. All this done on Open Source Hardware FPGA  board iCE40HX8K-EVB with MOD-LCD2.8RTP as display and FOSS tools IceStorm project. Keyboard is done by UART but my guess is that it could be easily implemented by iCE40-IO .

This is perfect project to teach students about so many things: Combinatory Logic, Sequential Logic, Computer Achitecture, Machine code to Assembler, High level language Compilers, simple OS and so on.

And the best here is that you can see this working on hardware not just boring lectures. Student can experiment with their own CPU and write applications like small games etc.

IchigoJam – Single ARM chip PC with Video and Keyboard support

PC

Everyone who has made their first steps with Apple ][, BBC micro, or Commodore 64 remembers the BASIC language, which nowadays is used by almost no one.

A few days ago, I was directed to an interesting project named IchigoJam BASIC. It was made in Japan and it was about creating a small computer with a BASIC interpreter, made on single LPC1114 Cortex-M0 ARM controller from NXP with only 32KB of Flash and 4KB of RAM.

Ichigo means Strawberry, so this keeps the tradition PCs to be named on fruits.

Although it is built on tiny resources, IchigoJam BASIC has quite an impressive list of commands including I2C read and write!

The schematic is quite simple.

The composite video generation is made via a couple of resistors, and the keyboard is connected with a simple USB-A connector, so with just a few components you have a small personal computer!

And this is not everything, the same hardware has firmware for Javascript called IchigoLatte , for Ruby called IchigoRuby, for IchigoFORTH and here.

On top of this, if you want to try IchigoBASIC you can do it on the web. How cool is that?

Needless to say, I wanted to try this project. I choose our LPC-H1114 board as it has almost everything already pre-soldered.

I had to connect:

for power supply:

LPC-H1114.pin50 – to GND
LPC-H1114.pin49 – PWR to +5V DC

for firmware update:

LPC-H1114.pin46 – to USB-Serial Tx
LPC-H1114.pin47 – to USB-Serial Rx
LPC-H1114.pin4  – to GND

for Videop output

LPC-H1114.pin27 – 470 ohm to video connector
LPC-H1114.pin28 – 100 ohm to video connector

for USB keyboard connector:

LPC-H1114.pin23 – DP
LPC-H1114.pin14 – DM

You can update the firmware using the instructions here.

If you did everything correctly when you apply the power supply you will see on the monitor the text “IchigoJam BASIC 1.4.2 by jig.jp”:

IchigoJam

Then you can use the keyboard to write your program!

You can repeat the project with quick dirty wire connections like I did:

LPC

What you need is a LPC-H1114, a Video RCA jack, a USB connector for the keyboard, a small monitor, a keyboard, and some jumper wires.

This project would be a very good fit for some next Soldering workshop as it has few components but it completes a fully functional BASIC/Ruby/JavaScript/Forth computer.

With the current state of COVID-19 probably TuxCon would be postponed for the Autumn, so there is plenty of time to make a small PCB for soldering 🙂

IchigoBASIC has a button, an LED, plays music on a buzzer and you have access to 4 Digital Inputs and 6 Digital outputs and I2C interface connector.

Too bad most of the educational stuff is in Japanese and needs translation.

 

OSHW Audi style Bike Turn Signal LED Lights soldering kit is ready for Open Fest Workshop

Bike-TSL-Kit

Bike-TSL-Kit now is ready and we are looking forward to see you at Open Fest Workshop.

As always the workshop will be free to participate.

Do not forget to book kit by e-mail to info@olimex.com for Open Fest Workshop, as we will have just 100 kits for the workshop.

If you have soldering iron, twizzers and cutters take them with you as we will provide 6 sets, but previous workshops proven there will be long tail of people wanting to participate/solder and having soldering tools will spare you the waiting.

Here is small video clip how Bike-TSL-Kit works when assembled:

We are looking forward to see you there and have fun together!

Bulgarian Open Source Hardware Smoke and Movement IoT sensor project on Kickstarter

f6c12ab6245ea0bb96290644647bf862_original

The Bulgarian Kickstarter projects are rare, this is why it was pleasure to see one there and on top it’s Open Source Hardware and Software project!

The project is announced as Open Source, but the sources are not published yet, although from the description they work on it since 2016, which I reported to the team as mistake.

Not releasing the sources from the start of OSHW project deprives the team from valuable feed back and tips from potential collaborators, but as far I understand this is their first such project, so let’s wish them luck!

Ground Penetration Radar with LIME2 the ultimate tool for all treasure hunters

Screenshot from 2017-04-04 11-45-57

Ground penetration radar is cool device which allows you to see what is below earth surface. The principle is same as the radars which operates at air. They send pulses and sense the reflections of this pulses back. When the surface is not consistent you get reflections which allow you to “see” cavities of metals under the surface, some GPRs can scan as deep as hundred meters below the surface. This is ultimate tool for all treasure hunters, but also very useful if you want to see water and other fluids underground.

We spotted interesting post at our forum for GPR made by company from Plovdiv with LIME2.

The device looks very nice in the custom box they made:

7-small

The GPR has antenna and WIFi connection so you can connect and visualize the results with any device:

10-small

 

CT800 – embedded FLOSS Chess computer made with STM32-H405 OSHW board

sideview

We got interesting project link from Rasmus Althoff: CT800 is Free/Libre Open Source Software CHESS computer made with STM32-H405 Open Source Hardware board inside.

It has around 2100 ELO, maximum search depth 20 plies. The software is done in C and released under GPL3 licensee.

Smart WiFi Thermostat with MOD-WIFI-ESP8266-DEV

layout2_assembled

Flavio sent us interesting project done with our MOD-WIFI-ESP8266-DEV.

Smart WiFi thermostat with official repo on Github: https://github.com/souliss/smart-thermostat and development repo: https://github.com/mcbittech/souliss-smart-thermostat-WiFi

Here is video how it works:

 

A20-OLinuXino-MICRO project – How to set up a raid 1 filesystem

A20-OLinuXino-MICRO-0

Flayol Frédéric submitted on our project page link to his interesting project, he setup Raid 1 file system with two USB Flash drives.

There are also many other interesting projects on his blog!

New Project: freoMOST – Free and Open Microcontroller Operating System Tool

freo

freoMOST is free and open Microcontroller Operating System Tool. It is designed to develop embedded system applications for 16 and 32 bit MCUs without MMU and with at least 16 KB RAM and 64 KB FLASH, better more.

Here is detailed video how to install freoMOST.

sent via Olimex.com Project page.

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