Showing posts from December, 2011

Raspberry Pi - the fun starts tonight!

You can start bidding for a numbered Raspberry Pi beta board tonight! The two highest numbered boards go on auction on eBay at 10pm. More boards will be auctioned, with board number one the last to be offered. Details  here .

Another slice of Pi for Christmas

The Raspberry Pi team are taking a well-earned break over Christmas, but they've left a few more snippets to keep us happy. New photos , a facelift for the Forum, and an informative update to the About page . Let's hope the testing of the beta boards continues to go well. I'm still hoping for the limited edition auction before the end of the year, and a chance for everyone to buy one in in January!

One Raspberry Pi coming up...

You can see one of the first Raspberry Pi beta boards booting on the RasbPi website.  Amazing Video performance. It looks as if there's an easy-to-fix issue with the current layout. Liz has promised us more info tomorrow. The testing is going well, and with any luck we'll see the first few boards auctioned this year. Fantastic! Congratulations, Pi cooks. Have an excellent Christmas.

Raspberry Pi - the tension mounts!

The Raspberry Pi site has pictures of the first populated (beta) boards. If all goes well, ten of the boards will be auctioned this year, with production boards hitting their on-line store in January.

Gertboard - expansion board for Raspberry Pi

The Gertboard is coming - a capable, inexpensive expansion board for the soon-to-ship Raspberry Pi. The Gertboard is will make it much simpler to interface the Raspberry Pi to the outside world. It provides  access to the Pi's GPIO pins, and can include a motor driver. Gert van Loo of Fen Logic Ltd , the board's designer, will publish all the design documents once the design is stable. Raspberry Pi expect to sell a bare board in their shop. That means that you'll need to buy the components yourself, program the on-board PIC if required, and solder the components. Since many of the components are SMT (surface mount) you will need to be a proficient constructor to assemble your own board. Gert hopes that someone will start making per-build boards. I suspect there will be quite a market once the Pi starts to shop in volume next year.

Open Bench Logic Sniffer - what you need to know

I've just started using the Open Bench Logic Sniffer . It's a very capable bit of open source hardware and it's supported by a highly functional Java client. Together they give you have access to the features of a commercial logic analyser at a fraction of the price. In the UK the board costs just under £50 including VAT. The software is free. There is one minor pitfall, though. The product's home page has a prominent link to the original SUMP client. That takes you to an old version which is no linger actively maintained - indeed I could not even fire it up. There is an actively maintained alternative which worked straight out of the box. There are also a number of firmware upgrades. I don't yet know if I need to apply any of these; I'll report when I do. The sniffer needs at least one accessory: a cable which connects the board headers to the circuit under test.   A single cable gives you 8 connections; if you want to use 16 channels you

Beaglebone - first impressions

Farnell delivered my Beaglebone this morning. The bone is powered up and running; I'll describe the startup process in a later post. The Beaglebone is compact; the board is about 2.1" by 3.4", although the Ethernet socket protrudes by another 0.1". It comes with a demo image on a micro SD card already in its SD slot; there's a second micro SD card supplied, which I haven't investigated yet. Like the BeagleBoard, the Beaglebone comes with the Angstrom Linux distribution, but you've several other options, including Ubuntu. Unlike its big brother, the Beaglebone has no HDMI socket, so you cannot intereface the bare board with a DVD-I monitor. The bone will soon be supported by a number of Capes ( the Beaglebone equivalent of Arduino's shields), and one of these will provide DVD-I support. As you'd expect, you can connect to your board via the Serial USB link. You can also use SSH or VNC to provide a console or GUI session over Ethernet. Ho

RaspberryPi boards in Hi-res

Raspberry Pi have posted some higher-resolution picture s of bare (unpopulated) boards from their first batch. The images are fascinating, not least because they show the scarily compact BGA connections which will link the main Broadcom processor to the board. There are hundreds of pads in a footprint the size of a postage stamp. The post makes clear that these are not the boards as customers will see them ; the board you get will be sold fully populated, with components soldered on. These images are there to whet our appetite and keep us informed about the march towards shipment.

Raspberry Pi supporters - own a bit of history

A few days ago I found an old friend - an Acorn Microcomputer dating back to the late 1970s. You might know it by its later name of Acorn System 1. It's arguably the great-great-grandfather of Raspberry Pi ( though several orders of magnitude less powerful). Acorn fathered ARM , whose design lies at the heart of RasbPi's processor; the processor is made by Broadcom , who also trace their ancestry back to Acorn. The Acorn Microcomputer has an led display, a keyboard, a 6502 processor, 512 bytes of rom and an amazing 1k of ram. The monitor (a minimalist operating system) lives in rom; programs can be saved and then reloaded using a cassette recorder. It will run off a 9v battery. Somehow I've managed to hang on to its documentation, though you'll find a lot more information, and an emulator, on Mike Colishaw's website . I've done nothing with this early micro for years, and I'd pretty much decided to give it to a museum. I suspect it still works, tho

The Arduino makeover

Not only do we have a new version of the Arduino software, but the hardware has new retail packaging . Italian style at its best. Congratulations! And Kudos to the designers .

The value of (Raspberry) Pi

Raspberry Pi have just released pictures of the first batch of  PCBs for Raspberry Pi. This amazing £25 system on a chip should be shipping in low volume before the end of the year. It's built up a huge following already, and the initial production run of 10,000 is likely to sell out fast. The pictures of the PBC layout were amazing, and the actual PCB is just as remarkable. The computer has the potential to change IT education, in this country and elsewhere, but much of its value lies in the way that it's motivated the community. The open source movement has shown that there is a huge pool of talented, motivated people who like to share their work. Raspberry Pi is a focus for those of us who would like to share with the next generation of technologists. It's a product for optimists.

Arduino 1.0 is out - first impressions

Arduino have released version 1.0 of the Arduino development environment. There's a lot of new functionality in the new release, and there are some significant changes. This blog post  talks about an earlier release candidate, but presumably still applies. At the time of posting, the release notes stop at release 23, but that may be fixed by the time you read this. A quick test showed some of the new features, and some of the issues involved in migrating existing projects. The new IDE looks subtly different. Below you'll see a 'verify' button (shown as a tick) which you can use to compile a sketch without trying to upload it. I found that handy when checking the compatibility of existing code. You'll find changes in several libraries. In most cases these are improvements in functionality. Examples: the Serial library is now asynchronous Serial now contains functions for parsing input data the String class is now more efficient and robust the E