Running FreeBSD on Open Source Hardware RT5350F-OLinuXino MIPS board

csm_freebsd308x260_1_a0f81edad2

via Twitter

Emmanuel Vadot posted nice tutorial how to run FreeBSD on RT5350F-OLinuXino on his blog.

Part2 – GPIOs

OLinuXino roadmap 2015 :)

RT5350-OLinuXino-DIN

Many people ask us about what we do with Open Source Hardware OLinuXino project. Indeed we didn’t blog about OLinuXino boards often, but this doesn’t mean we do not have fun and working on them.

So let’s make brief update:

RT5350F – the DIN rail version is already complete and wait for assembly, the issue is trivial the plastic box, it will take us most of the time to complete.

Other OpenWRT boards:

We completed and now prototype MT7620N @580Mhz with some more RAM – 64MB and two WIFI bands 2.4G + 5G and 5 10/100Mb Ethernet and prepare board with MT7620A @580Mhz and little bit more RAM 256MB, x2 Gigabit and x4 10/100Mb Ethernets.

When these will be released – we don’t know, RT5350F software took us about year to get NDA info about WiFi tunning, we don’t know what it will be with MT7620, so do not hold your breath 🙂

Allwinner:

A33-OLinuXino (Quad Cortex-A7) now is complete and on prototype stage, still had no time to check if Linux-Sunxi community have Linux for A33 and at what stage it is.

Now we route H3-OLinuXino (with Quad Cortex-A7 and which have Ethernet and HDMI) and A64-OLinuXino (with Quad Cortex-A53, HDMI, Camera, MIPI/LVDS/RGB, Gigabit Ethernet).

Why we stopped to blog or announce so often the new boards we working on?

Because when we blog that we start working on new OLinuXino board many people start to make commercial plans with them and how they will obtain OSHW designs for free for their commercial idea/project. Sure this have nothing wrong, if some of them didn’t became too impatient, annoying and noisy if the release time do not match their expectations. They forget that we do this for fun and we do not have any firm release dates, so they try any forms of social engineering posting challenging or abusive messages thinking they would influence us somehow this way, well soon or later they realize they can’t but anyway this is annoying for us as we want to work in rest calm environment and enjoy what we do.

We learn while we do this stuff, AM3352 software support took us year and half, we couldn’t find vital info for RT5350F for more than year, I have no idea when MT7620, A33, H3 or A64 will have proper Linux support, so please do not hold your breath, these boards will be released when they are ready, if you are capable to help with Linux on these please let me know, we can send you preliminary prototypes, so we can work together to speed up the release.

 

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 🙂

RT5350F board update

RT5350F

We got heap of good tips and suggestions about RT5350F some posted on the blog more by e-mails. Thanks guys!

What we also saw is that all these devices on the market are just PCBs and missing something important to complete project – plastic enclosure.

So as next step after finishing RT5350F-OLinuXino prototypes and test them will be to try to fit it inside the DB25 plastic shell like PIC-MICRO-WEB:

PIC-MICRO-WEB-1PIC-MICRO-WEB-3

With just one Ethernet connector and GPIOs and power supply on the 25 pin connector.

And another version with WIFI with external SMA connector on the place of the Ethernet connector, so antenna like this one could be connected:

ANT-2.4-CW-RAH-SMA

 

This way RT5350F-OLinuXino will become much more useful and easy to PLUG-AND-PLAY with simple DB25 connector to other boards

On the DB25 connector there will be UARTs, I2C, I2S, SPI, GPIOs. If we find space we may add I2C ADC as well.

Still is not clear if this will be good solution as we may not have enough space or the RT5350 may not cool well inside plastic box, we will see after we complete first prototypes.

RT5350F-DB25

RT5350F-OLinuXino design is almost complete

RT5350F

 

This one was inspired by the VoCore project which recently ran on Indiegogo.
We have not hear for RT5350F before, but when we saw it we instantly though it’s good candidate for tiny OLinuXino.
RT5350 is nice small MIPS architecture chip running on 360Mhz and specially made for routers.
It have build-in 802.11n WIFI, 5x 10/100 Ethernet MAC+PHYs, 28x GPIOs, 2x UARTs, 1xSPI and 1x I2C.
Perfect for IoT tiny Linux running board collecting data from sensors and logging or sending it to the Cloud.

What we like in VoCore is that they commit to release it as OSHW design, but the schematic they made available on their page have few significant errors compared to the reference design from Ralink, if these errors are intentional or not we do not know, but the schematic they publish will not work for sure and this is not so good sign 🙂

Another thing is that they decide to use 32MB RAM while the chip can support more, and to make size as small as possible they didn’t break out all Ethernet interfaces.

Also they decided to use chip antenna, which are well known with their bad performance, so probably their design will be with very limited WIFI range.

This is why we decided to make it properly and our preliminary schematic is now complete.

Our version is with 64MB of RAM, 8MB Flash and all RT5350F pins are available on 2x 34 pin 0.1″ step connectors.

We put proven design for PCB antenna + option for external antenna on connector.

The PCB size become 40×40 mm vs. 25 x 25 mm but we think the benefits are more compared to the bigger size.

We probably will have the first prototypes in September taking into account our Summer Break 1-15 of August.

The price of RT5350F-OLinuXino module will be EUR 15 for single quantities and will drop to EUR 10 for 1000 pcs. i.e. less than Arduino but with 64MB RAM, Linux and WIFI on board!