In Weekly Roundup #51 we’re taking a look at a bunch of new RK3399 SBCs, FPGAs and the world is still AI mad.
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This is a fairly lengthy Weekly Roundup, so sit back and put your feet up.
First up on Kickstarter we have the MyCroft Mark II. The MyCroft is an open source voice assistant which handles all the grunt work on the device itself instead of in the cloud. The Mark II is similar to the Mark I, but now sports a snazzy touch display, SD slot and USB. As yet there’s no indication of what SoC they’re using.
I joined the live broadcast to find out, but unfortunately this wasn’t made clear.
One of their goals of the product is to be completely open. That is: You have complete control over the device and the persona that responds on MyCroft will send you data only you want to hear. Which can be good and bad.
If you’re in to metal detection, then there’s this campaign based on the Analog Devices AD5933 for around 5 euros.
And there’s the Sensorless BLDC motor controller. This is a modular motor controller based on the humble MSP430, and a bunch of MOSFETs allowing control over a 3.3 to 8.4v, 6A motor. Not sure where the “sensorless” bit comes in, as it has a current sensor, but anyway… Looks good.
This is an interesting campaign that has been created by Bootlin. A little research shows up that this is the new company name for the defunct Free Electrons. So, what do they want to do in this campaign? They want to free up the AllWinner SoCs completely from all those pesky closed source binary blobs and provide true support for all the AllWinner VPU.
If they can pull this off, then suddenly all those cheap AllWinner based boards from fruit shops suddenly become a whole more attractive.
Over at IndieGoGo, there’s the …
BigClown IoT sensor kit. This kit starts with the “Core” running an STM32 with sub-GHz RF, temperature and 3DOF IMU. They also have the Cloony, no not him, but this, which is the same but smaller. From that you can build up with a variety of modules that provide every sensor you can think of, with their starter kit all the way up to their Premium Kit.
We’ve seen a lot of these in the past, but the ones that end up being good are the ones that provide a full end to end product making it easy for you to get on-board. BigClown have offered me a review unit, so I’ll be putting it through it’s paces when I get it.
Over at CrowdSupply, there’s a few interesting things in pre-launch…
The Infinite Noise TRNG aims to provide true random number generation. Why is this important? A lot of crypto engines rely very heavily on random number generation and computers are very good at being predictable. So a decent TRNG source is critical for security. This board is similar to Peter Allen’s design from back in 1999, so it’s been around for a while. You can also pick this up from Tindie.
Back in my youth, when I was writing firmware for production test environments, I would often use LEDs to send 300 BAUD data indicating any errors encountered. A simple Light Dependent Resistor and RS232 circuit attached to my PC would show up what was being sent. The OpticSpy is doing pretty much that, but this one is claiming to get up to 800kbps.
TinyFPGA BX is yet another fantastic FPGA board from Luke Valenty. This one is based on the Lattice ICE40LP8K. There’s not much to say about this one, except Luke is continually producing some decent and inexpensive Maker products.
While we’re on the topic of Luke, he tweeted the other day that he is designing a Hardware Description Language to make it easier for Makers to work with FPGAs. This is a fantastic idea and I’m looking forward to seeing this develop over time.
SiFive is back again with yet another cool product. This time there’s the HiFive Unleashed. The unleashed part comes from, I suspect, the fact that it runs the SiFive U540, which is a quad core SoC running at 1.5GHz. Also has 8G DDR4 RAM with ECC, 32M SPI flash, SD, GbE, FMC expansion header all powered from a 12v DC supply.
This board is a bit of a screamer and unfortunately has the price tag to match. However, it is the first Maker SBC that I’ve seen providing DDR4 ECC RAM.