This week’s roundup of new maker products looks at a bunch of new SBCs: Renegade Elite, ClearFog GT 8K, Banana Pi BPI-P2 Zero, BPI-R64, BPI-M2+ V1.2 & Khadas Edge. As well as the Google Edge TPU, and a bunch of cool things from Tindie.
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Over at Kickstarter you can pick up a tiny castellated module with a SAMD21
onboard. This is actually a pretty good idea as it handles all the support components for you such as reset button, 3.3v regulator, LEDs, crystal and filter caps. All you have to do is solder up the 22 by 18mm board and you’re home and hosed. The creator has also come out with an Arduino compatible PCB that you can solder it to.
This campaign is yet another debugger for a Cortex-M MCU. However this one claims to not only provide programming and debugging capabilities, but provide ZeroWireTrace, full GDB support, gang-loading for mini-production runs, multi-core support, lua based scripting and support for new MCUs can be provided without firmware updates. Nice! Another one I think I’ll back.
Here’s another Arduino shield that seems to have the lot. It provides a small breadboard area as well as dual headers on every pin so you can wire up your circuit while keeping an oscilloscope attached. Every GPIO also has an LED indicating the current state with very minimal pullups to avoid loading and can indicate pulses down to 1mS.
The MEGA-IO is a hat that provides a bunch of expansion options for your Pi. There’s opto-isolated digital inputs and outputs, 0 to 10v analog inputs and outputs, open-drain outputs, RS485, CAN, 1 wire, RTC and 240v/10A relays. Basically it has the lot.
OK, I originally thought that was just yet another fume extractor thingy, but heck, this one has a PCB driving it. It no only provides PWM control over a small extraction fan, but auto-shutdown and charging of an 18650 battery. You can charge via USB or also by a Qi pad. Nice.
Over at IndieGoGo there’s actually something interesting going on.
The Libre Computer guys have released another SBC called the Renegade Elite. This one runs the hexa-core Rockchip RK3399 SoC with 4G DDR4 RAM, eMMC socket, SD, SPI flash, GbE supporting PoE, (which is becoming become absolutely essential these days), USB Type C, (supporting both power and DisplayPort), HDMI, eDP, MIPI-CSI, RTC, IR and two 60 pin headers. One which supports PCIe and the other for low speed GPIOs. At US$99 it’s pretty cool for the base SBC.
Over at CrowdSupply in pre-launch …
… there’s the PixBlaster. This is an FPGA based RGB LED controller that is capable of controlling up to 16,384 WS2812 based RGB LEDs at 60 FPS. Wow. Not only that, but you can daisy chain multiple controllers which, (they claim), can control up to hundreds of thousands of LEDs. Supports most digital signage software and also plain HDMI input.
This is a pretty cool tiny spider robot. Made from 3D printed parts, SG90 servos and an ATmega328 as the brains. Each of the legs also has an ATtiny84 controlling the servo, an an optical sensor and piezo speaker, so I’m gathering it makes it easily extendable. It also has LiPo charging supporting a 250mAh battery.
Another tiny board. The Blyst Nano runs an nRF52832 MCU and breaks out 30 GPIOs on a tiny 10 by 7mm board.
Over at Groupgets …
Espressif have their ESP32 dev board up pretty cheaply. Only US$14. Nice.
And a contender to the Sonoff devices is this ESP8266 based power switch, but with a well needed glass fuse for protection.
You can also pick up the Elektor Uno R4 which runs the upgraded ATmega328PB, This gives you additional UARTs, SPI, I2C, PWM, timers and OCM.
The SolidRun guys are back with another SBC called the ClearFog GT 8K. This is a networking board running a quad-core Marvell Armada 8040 Cortex-A72 SoC with 16G DDR4 RAM, 5 GbE as well as a 10GbE uplink SFP, three miniPCIe slots, USB 3.0 and a bunch of GPIOs. You’d be expecting to pay a bucket load for this sort of thing, but the 8GB eMMC model comes in at US$209 which is pretty decent, but you can also get the 128GB eMMC model for US$612. Although that’s not really needed as you can pick up SSDs cheaper. I’ll pick up one of these and do a review on it.
The Banana guys have planned to release a new SBC called the Banana Pi P2 Zero. This runs an Allwinner H2+ with 512M DDR3 RAM, 8GB eMMC, SD slot, 100MbE, WiFi, Bluetooth, HDMI and a who knows if it’s a Pi compatible 40 pin GPIO. This board can be powered not only from a 5v/2A micro USB connector, but also over PoE. Nice!
Another SBC that’s in the planning stage is the Banana Pi R64, which is an upgrade from the previous R2. It runs the dual-core MediaTek MT7622 Cortex-A53 with 1G DDR3 RAM, SD, SATA, 5 GbE, WiFi, Bluetooth and also takes an optional 4G mini PCIe module. Has the handy dandy 40 pin GPIO header which may or may not be a Pi header and power is either from a 12v/2A DC jack or PoE.
And they also have a small upgrade on their Banana Pi M2+ which fixes their questionable power management design of the original M2. This now sports a PMIC, which is very much required for proper management of power on a SoC, but also gives people the opportunity to overclock or underclock the board. Finally!
So if you’re thinking of getting an M2, make sure it’s Rev 1.2 of the M2+.
Not be left out, the Pine64 guys have made available an enclosure that houses a RockPro64 and compatible PCIe SATA card giving you a pretty decent NAS setup. They provide not only the case, but power supply, heatsink, fan and SATA cables but you’ll have to provide your own SATA card.
The Khadas guys are back again with a new SBC called the Khadas Edge. Well, it’s actually a hybrid SBC and SOM as it not only has a SOM edge connector, but breaks out USB and HDMI ports on the other edge. The board runs the hexa-core Rockchip RK3399 with either 2 or 4G DDR4 RAM, 16, 32 or 64G eMMC, GbE, WiFi, Bluetooth, USB Type C, HDMI, PWM controlled cooling fan header and also an STM8 MCU for power and boot management. Power is from either 5 to 20v over USB Type C, SOM header, or solderable pads.
Google is upping the ante on hardware with a new ASIC called the Google Edge TPU. It’s designed for machine learning with some of the processing happening onboard, or you can connect to Google Cloud to greatly expand it’s capabilities. SkyNet here we come!
If you want to get into it, they’re also releasing the AIY Edge TPU dev board. This comes as a SOM and baseboard setup, with the SOM running a quad-core NXP 8M Cortex-A53 SoC with 1G DDR4 RAM, 8G eMMC, SD, TPU co-processor, WiFi, Bluetooth, GbE, HDMI, USB Type C, mic and speaker terminal blocks and a probably, maybe Pi compatible 40 pin GPIO header. Even though it’s exactly the same footprint as the Pi, I doubt it’d fit into any Pi cases with those different connectors onboard.
Over at the Olimex blog they mentioned a new ESP32 based board. Yeah, I know it’s yet another ESP32 based board, but this one is slightly different as it provides a 100MbE port that also has PoE capability. Nice! Apart from that it also contains all the usual LiPo charging, GPIO headers and USB port that you see on all ESP32 boards.
Over at RAK Wireless they have a new mini PCIe card that packs in a Quectel BG96 NB-IoT and LTE Cat M1 module, which also supports GPS. Pretty cool little card for only US$40 and for an additional US$10 you can get a USB carrier for it.
NXElec has launched another take on an SBC with the Innostick 6. The board looks suspiciously like a Pi Zero, but not really as it has a 50 pin GPIO header and runs a 900MHz i.MX6 UltraLite Cortex-A7 SoC with 512M RAM, 16 or 32G eMMC, WiFi, Bluetooth, USB and micro USB ports, MIPI-CSI and LCD interfaces.
Over at Tindie you can pick up an 8085 based SBC. Cool. It’s an old school through-hole kit with 8085 CPU, 62KB RAM, 32KB ROM, UART and support components. Can be powered from a 5v/1A DC supply.
This is cool. Now you can use any stock ATX PC power supply to drive your Pi. The board has some basic power control, screw terminals and a stacking header so you can still add other Pi hats on top.
The DACBerry guys are now selling their RDY board on Tindie. This is a Pi hat with on-board PCM5142 DAC providing up to 384kHz at 32bit resolution and an IR sensor. Nice.
The PiProjector is a board I designed. It allows you to use a PiZeroW on the DLP2000 mini projector which was originally designed for the BeagleBone Black. Rev 2.0 of the PiProjector adds in LiPo battery management. You can get 1 hour of video per Ah of battery. So a 5 Ah battery will get you 5 hours of continuous video playback. Audio is played back over Bluetooth and there’s a bunch of GPIOs broken out. So, it really is a portable NetFlix and chill device. I don’t have any in stock at the moment, but taking expressions of interest. If there’s enough people I can order a larger quantity and reduce the price.
Back in Weekly Roundup #46
we saw the Exen Mini on IndieGoGo. Well, now it’s up on Tindie. It’s a pretty tiny board running the SAMD21 and pushing out 11 GPIOs.
AdaFruit, Seeed, SparkFun, DFRobot, DigiKey
Over at DFRobot they have a handy 212 by 104 pixel eink display that fits straight on to a FireBeetle and accessed over SPI.
They also have a handy LCD display with RGB backlight controlled by I2C and running off 3.3 or 5v.
There’s also the SIM7000E based Arduino shield which gives you GNSS, LTE CAT-M1, NB-IoT, EDGE and GPRS. Nice to see prices of mobile communication boards coming down.
The BME680 is a MEMS sensor capable of providing general air quality info with onboard temperature, humidity, atmospheric and IAQ sensors. Access via I2C and runs off 3.3 or 5v.
I really need to get a bunch of these since I need a grunty switch mode power supply to handle all those LED panels I got from a dumpster dive a while ago.
This one can push out a steady 5v DC at up to 8A and it’s a Meanwell after all. So pretty good stuff!
SparkFun also have this tiny castellated board running an ATtiny84 and breaking out 9 GPIOs. Programming is over standard USB with the pre-loaded firmware and power either by USB or via castellated pad.
I used to have a bunch of these in my stock of electronics components but I tossed them out during a tidy up. Shame really. I have a use for them now.
Over at AdaFruit they have a 152 by 152 pixel, 1.54" eink display. What’s really cool about this one is that it has onboard static RAM to hold display frames so you don’t have to code up any complicated frame buffering. Not only that but there’s an onboard SD slot to hold data. Access to RAM, display and SD card are, of course, via SPI.
Over at Seeed Studio they have an FM receiver module based on the RDA5807M. Capable of receiving your favourite FM channel on a wide 50 to 115MHz frequency range. Control is via I2C and runs off a 3.3 to 5v DC supply. What would be really cool is a board that can transmit on unregulated FM frequencies. Let me know in the comments below if you find one.
GAPUINO is a pretty cool Arduino format board from Seeed Studio which runs the GAP8 IoT SoC. This little beast contains 8 RISC-V compute cores and one RISC-V controller core. Combined with 512Mbit flash and 64Mbit DRAM on a hyperbus it makes it an ideal board for AI or Machine Learning. Not only does it support the standard Arduino GPIO headers but a Himax connector supporting 5 cameras. This allows you to do object detection and tracking. The other good thing about this SoC is that it has a very low power consumption.
Over at Pololu they have a motor driver Pi hat capable of driving two DC motors or one Bipolar servo at up to 2.6A from a 4.5 to 28v DC supply. The board can also power the Pi and contains reverse polarity protection, just in case you stuff up somewhere.