A20-OLinuXino-MICRO works hard inside Open Source Rover Octanis project in freezing Antarctica!

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One year ago we got request for sponsoring 5 pcs A20-OLinuXino-MICRO for Octanis project from group of students at EPFL, who are making an open source rover (http://octanis.org/rover) that will go to Antarctica.

Their goal was to use A20-OlinuXino-MICRO as a communications base station with LoRaWAN and to use it for onboard image processing of their stereoscopic camera images.

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Needless to say the magic words “open source rover project” closed the deal 🙂 We shipped the boards in December 2015 and yesterday got e-mail that the rover operates since February 2016, but he was moved to Antarctica in November and will stay there till February 2017.

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You can track the rover position right now at http://octanis.org/constellation/

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On GitHub you can see their 3D parts CAD files and all firmware running on the rover. You can reproduce this project with 3D printer.

 

 

 

Open Fest 2016 – Soldering of the Open Source Hardware GHOST

“A ghost is haunting Europe—the ghost of communism.” said Carl Marx in 1848

We can re-phrase “A Ghost is haunting OpenFest 2016 – the ghost of open source hardware” 😀

We created this Soldering Kit specially for Open Fest as third year in a row we do soldering workshops there:

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It’s a very simple board, specially made for novices with small PIC10F206 microcontroller which has only 512 words of Flash memory and 24 bytes of RAM, still enough to write C code like this.

In the good Olimex traditions being overwhelmed with work we totally forgot for the soldering workshop and started the project 3 weeks before OpenFest 🙂

The board was quickly routed with KiCAD and we sent to PCB manufacturer in China, who keep the promise to make the blank PCBs for 1 week and shipped on time but DHL late with the customs clearance and we got the board Friday morning! The workshop was Saturday and Sunday, right on time!

Then we had half Friday fun with Microchip’s MPLABX tools, which refused to re-program the PIC10F206 once it’s programmed.

After few hours we found that MPLABX version 3.35 can program and erase PIC10F206 just fine but MPLABX 3.45 don’t.

Still there was enough time till 20.00 o’clock and we managed to program 200 kits ready for soldering next day 🙂

The initial intention was to make LED breathe but after losing so much time with MPLABX we decided the first version to be simple 10 times blink!

Here you can see people assembling it on OpenFest:

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Girls, Boys, Kids all were not afraid and took the soldering irons:

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After OpenFest we continued to investigate why the newer MPLABX refused to program PIC10F206 more than once, the problem was trivial, to erase it the Vcc must be above 4.5V:

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Still interesting why MPLABX 3.35 was erasing it even without this voltage settings 🙂

This is why working with embedded systems is such fun. You never know where you can step aside and you have to worry not just for the code but also for the hardware as source of mistakes.

Needless to say we had no any assembly instructions for the kit at OpenFest, but now proudly we put them on the web site of the kit.

 

TuxCon 2016 highlights – two days fun with open source hardware and software

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TuxCon free and open source software and hardware conference was last weekend in Plovdiv.

This is local, small conference which once per year gather enthusiasts and people who love open technologies at one place.

The event started on July 9th at 11 o’clock with Trayan who spoke about Java Robotics or how do you program Lego Mindstorm in Java:

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then Yassen spoke about the future of Jitsi Meet

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Damyan followed with serious topic explaining how different Linux distributions deal with security updates in a quite a funny way involving such a famous Bulgarian folk singer like Mr. Milko Kalaydjiev in Linux Matter (the video will worth watching).

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Roland who come from Cambridge, UK specially for TuxCon presented us his ideas about the future of the education:

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Then we had lunch break with sandwitches and the famous TuxCon cookies:

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After the lunch was one of the most anticipated talk this year: about the Retro Computer Puldin.

Puldin is local Plovdiv pride, the only computer designed from scratch in Bulgaria both hardware and software. On TuxCon 2015 we invited people who designed the hardware to talk, this year we invited the software developer teams. Mr. Nedialko Todorov who was director for this project talk about how the idea to make Puldin come and how it was realized.

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Puldin design started in 1988 at that time already IBM-PC was on the market with 8088 processor from Intel working at the lighting speed 4.77Mhz. The developers decided to make the new computer software compatible with IBM-PC, so files from IBM-PC disk can be read/written and cross-compiled. At that time all electronic developments should have used Bulgarian electronic components so they choose CM601 which was copy of Motorola 6800 – 8-bit processor.

They made their own BIOS, DOS, Pascal compiler, BASIC, text editor same as famous PE2 (all this written in assembler!).

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Orlin Shopov who leaded the software development team at that time shared that they had to fit everything in 16KB of ROM memory and at the end they had no single byte free!

The result was that the BASIC code on Puldin (with 6800 @1Mhz) was running faster than same code written on IBM-PC (8088 @4.77Mhz).

The BASIC interpreter of Puldin was written by Todor Todorov more famous with the Eddie viruses he wrote later (a.k.a. Dark Avenger).

For this talk four members of the team come together:

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From Left to Right: Dimitar Georgiev, Ivo Nenov, Nedialko Todorov, Orlin Shopov

Puldin computers were at TuxCon also:

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people could see what is inside:

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or take autograph from the developers on the old user manuals 🙂

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The next talk was no less interesting. Edmund come from Vienna to talk about FOSS tools used in FPGAs:

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He explained why we also need open source IPs. The FPGA vendors offer IP blobs which are “free” to use, but they are huge and you actually pay them in the price of the bigger FPGAs you buy to use them. Good example was for HDMI IP which FPGA vendor give away for free but use many different modes and resolutions which you may not need but have to use. Open Source HDMI design tailored to your needs may fit in 10 times less resources.

In next lecture Lubomir talked how he is attempting to create 3D model based on 2D pictures taken with his phone, quite interesting topic and interesting results:

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Then Dimitar show us how to build custom Android images:

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Delian has announced to talk for OpenSCAD but instead of this he talked about his dream to move the manufacturing from China back to Bulgaria 🙂 and to do manufacture on demand with new technologies like 3D printers, DIY assembly machines.

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In the next talk George was talking for creating web sites with open source technology, he dedicated his talk to Ian Murdock

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Stoyan shared in the next talk his experience with setting up corporate servers. He wanted to bet that in 90% of the public administration running Microsoft server solutions are set to default configuration with no cache enabled etc etc which effectively kills more than half of the performance potential hardware has. Anyone want to contest his statement?

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The first day closed with Lighting talks and interesting Quiz.

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Day 2 continued in Olimex training building. We have just 50 seats there but around 70 people come 🙂

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Fortunately Dimitar Gamishev has bring 10 meter radio antenna with some Radio sniffer, so some people were there and enjoying listen to space stations communication and local police which obviously do not care to encrypt their channels 🙂

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meantime Trayan made practical workshop how Lego robot is programming

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Peter present our attempt to make Robotic arm programmable with JavaScript

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Then we learn how to program FPGAs with our new ICE40 boards:

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and we finished with the status of our DIY laptop:

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Special thanks to TuxCon organizers, sponsors and all people who come and were part of this wonderful event!

Bulgarian Government will require in future open source for software they pay for development

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via Bozhidar Bozhanov blog

Something positive is happening in Bulgaria! E-Government act was amended on July 1st, you can see full text here.

Art.58a. (New — SG. 50 of 2016, effective 01.07.2016) Upon preparation of technical and functional assignments for public procurement to develop, upgrade or implementation of information systems and e-services, administrative authorities must include the following requirements:

1. when the subject of the contract includes the development of computer programs:

a) computer programs must meet the criteria for open source software;

b) all copyright and related rights on the relevant computer programs, their source code, the design of interfaces and databases which are subject to the order should arise for the principal in full, without limitations in the use, modification and distribution;

c) development should be done in the repository maintained by the Agency in accordance with Art. 7c pt. 18;

What does this mean? For people who know how Bulgarian administration worked so far it hopefully clean the mess which is now.

Every administration was doing their own closed source IS non-maintainable and non compatible with other administrations. Tax administration has his own, customs has their own, etc etc not connected with each other.

Wanna silly examples?

#1 Border police and customs IS were made separately so people who cross the borders went to one desk give their passports, someone there scan them then give them USB Flash drive(!!!) which they carry with themon the next desk where another IS read the files 😀

#2 Electronic customs where you can fill the import and export declarations. When I first hear about this I said – good news we catch on Estonia where everything is online! Then I faced the sad reality with the  implementation. I went to customs web page and I couldn’t enter it … as my browser was not Internet Explorer with obsolete version which was not used for several years, but obviously the IS developers decided that they do not need to test their IS with other browsers so you have to install this version or not using the “electronic” customs. I found Windows computer and installed the obsolete IE browser with massive list of security holes, then made my first export declaration online and happy decided to send it for processing … I was too optimistic, to do this I had to have Acrobat reader 6 as the electronic customs IS couldn’t accept other version signed document !!!

At this point I gave up and send my docs to customs agency who took care for the export as I had no whole day to loose. This was several years ago when the system was introduced, it may be improved now but I’m not in mood to waste more time to check.

Bulgarian government has spent millions on non-senses like this, some IS were made several times by different companies, every time starting from scratch as the code was closed. Sites with broken security were not patched for months as the contract has expired and sources were closed, so it’s good to see that they finally look in the right direction!

You can read the original article here

 

TuxCon conference about free and open source software and hardware technologies is this weekend!

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TuxCon 2016 will be this weekend 9th and 10th of July in Plovdiv. Be prepared it will be hot weather, prognosis are for 30-31C in the weekend!

BNR (Bulgarian National Radio) posted about TuxCon today.

The conference start at 11 o’clock with Reactive Java Robotics, Jitsi Meet, Security updates in GNU/Linux distributions and Open source in Education Welearners  project.

After the lunch we will continue with Retro Computing, Open Source tools for FPGA, How to calculate 3D coordinates with 2D camera, Android customization, Open SCAD, How to use Open Source for corporate needs, MOVI voice recognition with Arduino.

Lighting talks at 18.00 will close the first day and we will move to the traditional beer party in popular Plovdiv pub with Free Beer from TuxCon sponsors (Free as Beer not as Speech 😀 ).

In Sunday three workshops will be held in Olimex training building, starting again at 11 o’clock.

Reactive Java robotics, Open Source Hardware Robotics and First steps in FPGA for absolute beginners.

Open Source Hardware Robotics – we will talk about our attempt to re-invent the popular mechanical robot hand from the past Robko, but with complete new mechanics and controlled via Internet with ESP8266 WiFi and JavaScript API. We will show the problems electronic engineers face when attempt to do mechanical projects.

FPGA for absolute beginners will introduce in popular way what FPGAs are and how they evolved with time, how they are programmed. We will emphasis on the first FOSS tool to work with FPGAs – IceStorm and we will make our first blink LED demo, then will take look at more sophisticated code of video generation and how to make small game like Flappy Bird on iCE40HX1K-EVB.

TuxCon is free to attend, everyone with interests in Open Source Software and Hardware is invited.

iCE40HX1K-EVB open source hardware FPGA board designed with KiCAD and working with ICESTORM FOSS toolchain first prototypes are ready and run!

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iCE40HX1K-EVB is our first iCE40 FPGA which works with ICESTORM FOSS toolchain.

It’s 5×5 cm 4 layer board with iCE40HX1K on it, 512KB 10 nS fast SRAM, UEXT as programming connector, so you can program it with OLinuXino (which can run also the tool chain on it) or with Olimexino-328 or any other boards we have with UEXT.

The original ICE40 development board from Lattice has FTDI on it, which we skip as to program it you need just SPI signals to load the bitstream to the on board Serial SPI Flash. Having the sources we easily modified the programming part and now all our Arduino and Olimexino boards can load the code generated by ICESTORM.

All free iCE40HX1K singals are available on right angle bus connector, to this bus connector we designed 4 additional boards:

  • iCE40-ADC fast 100Mhz ADC with BNC input connector so you can make Digital Storage Oscilloscope with p to 512 KB buffer
  • iCE40-DAC fast 100Mhz DAC with BNC output connector will allow you to make DDS generator with odd forms using the on board SRAM
  • iCE40-DIO fast IO with level shifter  with programmable by I2C DAC threshold in range 1.5-5.5V, so you can capture digital signals with different levels making inexpensive Logic Analizer
  • iCE40-IO with VGA and PS2 keyboard connectors board

iCE40-IO will allow you to emulate small retro computers.

All additional modules are stackable and the bus pass through them, so you can stack more than one ADCs or more than one DACs etc if you need more IO.

Next week we will test all modules, make corrections (if necessary) and run production. The price of iCE40HX1K-EVB will be EUR 22.00 and if everything goes smoothly we will have them in stock by June 1st.

These same boards will be used in the Tuxcon workshop “First steps with FPGAs” on July 10th.

TuxCon 2016 – Free Open Source Software and Hardware event in Plovdiv is 9-10 of July

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TuxCon 2016 will be on 9th and 10th of July 2016 in Plovdiv 🙂

This year will be the third issue of this conference dedicated to Open Source Hardware and Software.

Many people are confused and think that Olimex is the organizer of TuxCon, which probably caused the mistake in the Hackaday article.

The real credits should be for the people who stand behind TuxCon organization and they are these 10 enthusiasts: Leon Anavi, Vladimir Dzhuvinov, Rangel Ivanov, Atanas Palavrov, Dimitar Gamishev, Stefan Saraev, Stoyan Germanov, Radoslav Kolev, Nikolay Apostolov, Tsvetomir Denchev.

We at Olimex are just helping as we love to support such even in our city.

As always the event will be free to participate, Friday 8th of July evening there will be traditional beer welcome party for the guests and lecturers.

On 10th of July in Olimex training building there will be traditional soldering Hackathon and FPGA basics course for beginners.

If you want to make talk at TuxCon send proposal to the organizers at info@tuxcon.mobi

 

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