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Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ Initial Tests & Benchmarks

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+
Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+

Yesterday, the Raspberry Pi community got a nice surprise – a new Pi! This one has some improved features over the previous RPi 3 Model B:

  • Improved CPU – 64-Bit 1.4GHz Quad-Core BCM2837B0
  • Improved WiFi – Dual Band 802.11b/g/n/ac. This is now under a shield on the top of the board.
  • Improved Ethernet – The USB/Ethernet IC has been replaced with a LAN7515, supporting gigabit ethernet. The backhaul is still over USB2 though, so this would max out at about 300Mbit/s
  • PoE Support – There’s a new 4-pin header, and a matching HAT for power over ethernet support.
Chipset
Chipset

The USB/LAN Controller is now a BGA package, supporting gigabit ethernet. The USB connections are still USB2 though, limiting total bandwidth. This shouldn’t be much of an issue though, since anything over the 100Mbit connection we’ve had previously is an improvement.

CPU & Radio
CPU & Radio

The CPU now has a metal heatspreader on top of the die, no doubt to help with cooling under heavy loads. As far as I know, it’s still the same silicon under the hood though. The WiFi radio is under the shielding can to the top left, with the PCB trace antenna down the left edge of the board.

Power Controller
Power Controller

The power supplies are handled on this new Pi by the MaxLinear MxL7704, from what I can tell from MaxLinear’s page, it seems to be somewhat of a collaborative effort to find something that would do the best job, since they apparently worked with the Foundation to get this one right. This IC apparently includes four synchronous step-down buck regulators that provide system, memory, I/O and core power from 1.5A to 4A. An on-board 100mA LDO provides clean 1.5V to 3.6V power for analog sub-systems. This PMIC utilizes a conditional sequencing state machine that is flexible enough to meet the requirements of virtually any processor.

PCB Bottom
PCB Bottom

The bottom of the PCB has the Elpida 1GB RAM package, which is LPDDR2, along with the MicroSD slot.

A quick benchmark running Raspbian Lite & a SanDisk Ultra 32GB Class 10 SD card gives some nice results:

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PiHole Status Display – Official Raspberry Pi LCD

PiHole Status Display

On my home network I have a system running PiHole – a DNS server that blocks all unwanted traffic, such as ads. Since I have an official Pi LCD with a broken touch panel, I decided to use the bare LCD as a status display for PiHole.

This requires some extra packages installing onto the base system after PiHole is installed & configured, and the interface automatically starts on bootup. I used the latest Raspbian Jessie Minimal image for this system, and ran everything over a SSH connection.

First thing, get the required packages installed onto the Pi:

Once these are installed, it’s time to configure the startup script for Midori to display the status page. Create StartMidori.sh in /home/pi and fill with the following:

This script disables all power management on the system to keep the LCD on, starts unclutter to hide the mouse pointer and finally starts the Matchbox Window Manager to run Midori, which itself is set to fullscreen mode, and the URL of the admin panel is provided.
The next step is to test, give the script executable permissions, and run the script:

Once this is run, the LCD should come to life after a short delay with the PiHole stats screen. Close the test & return to the terminal by hitting CTRL+C.

Now the Pi can be configured to autorun this script on boot, the first thing to do here is to enable autologin on the console. This can be done with raspi-config, select Option 3 (Boot Options), then Option B1 (Desktop/CLI), then Option B2 (Console Autologin). When prompted to reboot, select No, as we’ll be finishing off the config before we reboot the system.

The next file to edit is /etc/rc.local, add the command to start the status browser up:

Here I’ve added in the command just above “exit 0”. This will start the browser as the last thing on bootup. The Pi can now be rebooted, and the status display should start on boot!

PiHole Status Display
PiHole Status Display
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IC Decapping: The Process

As I’ve been posting some photos of decapped ICs lately, I thought I’d share the process I use personally for those that might want to give it a go 😉

The usual method for removing the epoxy package from the silicon is to use hot, concentrated Nitric Acid. Besides the obvious risks of having hot acids around, the decomposition products of the acid, namely NO² (Nitrogen Dioxide) & NO (Nitrogen Oxide), are toxic and corrosive. So until I can get the required fume hood together to make sure I’m not going to corrode the place away, I’ll leave this process to proper labs ;).

The method I use is heat based, using a Propane torch to destroy the epoxy package, without damaging the Silicon die too much.

TMS57002 Audio DSP
TMS57002 Audio DSP

I start off, obviously, with a desoldered IC, the one above an old audio DSP from TI. I usually desolder en-masse for this with a heat gun, stripping the entire board in one go.

FLAMES!
FLAMES!

Next is to apply the torch to the IC. A bit of practice is required here to get the heat level & time exactly right, overheating will cause the die to oxidize & blacken or residual epoxy to stick to the surface.
I usually apply the torch until the package just about stops emitting it’s own yellow flames, meaning the epoxy is almost completely burned away. I also keep the torch flame away from the centre of the IC, where the die is located.
Breathing the fumes from this process isn’t recommended, no doubt besides the obvious soot, the burning plastic will be emitting many compounds not brilliant for Human health!
Once the IC is roasted to taste, it’s quenched in cold water for a few seconds. Sometimes this causes such a high thermal shock that the leadframe cracks off the epoxy around the die perfectly.

All Your Die Belong To Us
All Your Die Belong To Us

Now that the epoxy has been destroyed, it breaks apart easily, and is picked away until I uncover the die itself. (It’s the silver bit in the middle of the left half). The heat from the torch usually destroys the Silver epoxy holding the die to the leadframe, and can be removed easily from the remaining package.

Decapped
Decapped

BGA packages are usually the easiest to decap, flip-chip packages are a total pain due to the solder balls being on the front side of the die, I haven’t managed to get a good result here yet, I’ll probably need to chemically remove the first layer of the die to get at the interesting bits 😉

Slide
Slide

Once the die has been rinsed in clean water & inspected, it’s mounted on a glass microscope slide with a small spot of Cyanoacrylate glue to make handling easier.

Some dies require some cleaning after decapping, for this I use 99% Isopropanol & 99% Acetone, on the end of a cotton bud. Any residual epoxy flakes or oxide stuck to the die can be relatively easily removed with a fingernail – turns out fingernails are hard enough to remove the contamination, but not hard enough to damage the die features.

Once cleaning is complete, the slide is marked with the die identification, and the photographing can begin.

Microscope Mods

I had bought a cheap eBay USB microscope to get started, as I can’t currently afford a proper metallurgical microscope, but I found the resolution of 640×480 very poor. Some modification was required!

Modified Microscope
Modified Microscope

I’ve removed the original sensor board from the back of the optics assembly & attached a Raspberry Pi camera board. The ring that held the original sensor board has been cut down to a minimum, as the Pi camera PCB is slightly too big to fit inside.
The stock ring of LEDs is run direct from the 3.3v power rail on the camera, through a 4.7Ω resistor, for ~80mA. I also added a 1000µF capacitor across the 3.3v supply to compensate a bit for the long cable – when a frame is captured the power draw of the camera increases & causes a bit of voltage drop.

The stock lens was removed from the Pi camera module by careful use of a razor blade – being too rough here *WILL* damage the sensor die or the gold bond wires, which are very close to the edge of the lens housing, so be gentle!

Mounting Base
Mounting Base

The existing mount for the microscope is pretty poor, so I’ve used a couple of surplus ceramic ring magnets as a better base, this also gives me the option of raising or lowering the base by adding or removing magnets.
To get more length between the Pi & the camera, I bought a 1-meter cable extension kit from Pi-Cables over at eBay, cables this long *definitely* require shielding in my space, which is a pretty aggressive RF environment, or interference appears on the display. Not surprising considering the high data rates the cable carries.
The FFC interface is hot-glued to the back of the microscope mount for stability, for handheld use the FFC is pretty flexible & doesn’t apply any force to the scope.

Die Photography

Since I modified the scope with a Raspberry Pi camera module, everything is done through the Pi itself, and the raspistill command.

Pi LCD
Pi LCD

The command I’m currently using to capture the images is:
raspistill -ex auto -awb auto -mm matrix -br 62 -q 100 -vf -hf -f -t 0 -k -v -o CHIPNAME_%03d.jpg

This command waits between each frame for the ENTER key to be pressed, allowing me to position the scope between shots. Pi control & file transfer is done via SSH, while I use the 7″ touch LCD as a viewfinder.

The direct overhead illumination provided by the stock ring of LEDs isn’t ideal for some die shots, so I’m planning on fitting some off-centre LEDs to improve the resulting images.

Image Processing

Obviously I can’t get an ultra-high resolution image with a single shot, due to the focal length, so I have to take many shots (30-180 per die), and stitch them together into a single image.
For this I use Hugin, an open-source panorama photo stitching package.

Hugin
Hugin

Here’s Hugin with the photos loaded in from the Raspberry Pi. To start with I use Hugin’s built in CPFind to process the images for control points. The trick with getting good control points is making sure the images have a high level of overlap, between 50-80%, this way the software doesn’t get confused & stick the images together incorrectly.

Optimiser
Optimiser

After the control points are generated, which for a large number of high resolution images can take some time, I run the optimiser with only Yaw & Pitch selected for all images.

Optimising
Optimising

If all goes well, the resulting optimisation will get the distance between control points to less than 0.3 pixels.

Panorama Preview
Panorama Preview

After the control points & optimisation is done, the resulting image can be previewed before generation.

Texas Instruments TMS67002
Texas Instruments TMS67002

After all the image processing, the resulting die image should look something like the above, with no noticeable gaps.

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Official Raspberry Pi 7″ Touch LCD

Raspberry Pi LCD
Raspberry Pi LCD

Finally the Raspberry Pi Foundation have released an official LCD for the DSI connector on the Pi. When these were announced, I placed an order straight away, but due to demand it’s taken quite a while for it to arrive in the post.

Interface PCB
Interface PCB

The LCD itself is an RGB panel, to interface the Pi via the MIPI DSI port, some signal conversion is required. A small PCB is mounted on the back of the LCD to do this conversion. It also handles the power supply rails required by the LCD itself & interfacing the touch screen.

LCD Power Supply
LCD Power Supply

Taking care of the power supply is a Texas Instruments TPS65101 triple output LCD power supply IC. This also has a built in linear regulator to supply 3.3v for the rest of the circuitry on board. The large transistor to the left of the IC is the pass transistor for this regulator.

Main Controller
Main Controller

The video signal comes in on the FFC connector on the left, into the BGA IC. I’ve not managed to identify this component, but it’s doing the conversion from serial video from the Pi to parallel RGB for the LCD.
There’s also an Atmel ATtiny88 on the board below the main video conversion IC, not sure what this is doing.
The touch controller itself is mounted on the flex of the LCD, in this case it’s a FT5406.

Raspberry Pi LCD
Raspberry Pi LCD

Here’s the LCD in operation. It’s not the highest resolution out there, but it leaves the GPIO & HDMI ports free for other uses.

Pi Mounted
Pi Mounted

The Pi screws to the back of the LCD & is connected with a flat flex cable & a pair of power jumpers. I’ve added a couple of small speakers to the top edge of the LCD to provide sound. (More to come on this bit).

 

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Raspberry Pi Timelapse Video Generator Script & Full Script Pack Download

To cap off the series of scripts for doing easy timelapse video on the Raspberry Pi, here’s a script to generate a H.264 video from the images.

#!/bin/bash
INPUTFOLDER=$1
INPUTNAME=$2
OUTPUTNAME=$3

if [ -z $1 ]
    then
    	echo "Raspberry Pi Timelapse Video Generator Script v1.0"
		echo "2015 Ben Thomson 2E0GXE"
		echo "This script will take an image folder created by the timelapse script & convert it into H.264 Video"
		echo "This script expects some options in the following format:"
		echo "./makevid.sh <Folder> <File Prefix> <Output Video File Name>"
		echo "<Folder>"
		echo "The folder name with all the images"
		echo "<File Prefix>"
		echo "The file prefix before the frame number. Do not include the underscore before frame number."
		echo "<Output Video File Name>"
		echo "The output file name. The .mp4 file extension will be added by the script."
		echo "Running this script on the Raspberry Pi itself is likely to be very slow. Recommend running on a fast"
		echo "PC with a multicore CPU for high framerate."
		exit 0
fi

avconv -r 10 -i ./$INPUTFOLDER/"$INPUTNAME"_%d.jpg -r 10 -vcodec libx264 -crf 20 -g 15 $OUTPUTNAME.mp4

echo $INPUTNAME
echo $INPUTFOLDER
echo $OUTPUTNAME

This should be run on a powerful PC rather than the Pi – generating video on the Pi itself is likely to be very slow indeed.

I have also done a quick update to the timelapse generator script to generate images of the correct size. This helps save disk space & the video generation doesn’t have to resize the images first, saving CPU cycles.

#!/bin/bash

INPUTFILE="$1"
INPUTFILE+="_%d"
FRAME_INTERVAL="$2"
FRAME_INTERVAL_MIN="1250"
RUNTIME="2073600000"
DATE=$(date +"%T_%m-%d-%y")
if [ -z $1 ]
    then
		echo "Raspberry Pi Timelapse Script v1.2"
		echo "2015 Ben Thomson 2E0GXE"
		echo "Images will be taken in 1920x1080 format for transcoding into video."
		echo "This script expects some options in the following format:"
		echo "./timelapse.sh <File Prefix> <Frame Interval>"
		echo "<File Prefix> The script will prepend this name to every image as a unique capture session identifier."
		echo "A sequential number is appended to the end of the filename for frame identification."
		echo "<Frame Interval> This is the interval between frames, in milliseconds. Minimum 1250."
		echo "This minimum is required to retain stability & prevent dropped frames."
		echo "Every time the program is started, a new folder with the current date & time is created for the images."
		exit 0
fi
if [ $FRAME_INTERVAL -lt $FRAME_INTERVAL_MIN ]
	then
		echo Frame Interval Too Low!
		echo This will cause dropped frames! Exiting!
		exit 0
fi

mkdir -p ./$DATE-$1
echo Image Folder $DATE-$1 Created
echo Image Capture Interval $FRAME_INTERVAL ms 
echo Starting Timelapse Capture... CTRL+C To Exit...
raspistill -k -n -ex auto -awb auto -mm average -w 1920 -h 1080 -o ./$DATE-$1/$INPUTFILE.jpg -tl $FRAME_INTERVAL -t $RUNTIME

echo Timelapse Complete!
echo File Prefix: $INPUTFILE
echo Frame Interval: $FRAME_INTERVAL ms
echo Folder Name: $DATE-$1

[download id=”5595″]

73s for now!

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Raspberry Pi Timelapse – Resequencing Images

Sometimes while taking timelapse video on the Pi, it misses frames, for no apparent reason. I have been playing with various combinations of disks/SATA cases to see what the bottleneck is. Oddly enough a faster drive actually made the problem worse!

Really Bad Frame Skipping
Really Bad Frame Skipping

Here’s an example of some really bad frame skipping, this is with a frame interval of 1250ms, which has worked fine in the past. The disk used is a 750GB WD Black 7200RPM, so disk access time shouldn’t be an issue.

Since frame skipping is rarely a problem in timelapse video I do, I’ve been searching for something to automatically renumber all the frames for processing into video – after writing my own script, which was a bit crusty, I came across a very handy script on SourceForge. It required a couple of small modifications to work correctly with what I want, but here’s the slightly modified version.

#!/bin/bash
################################################################################################
# Author:     	Paul Weibert (paul.weibert@gmail.com)
# Version:		0.1
# Dependencies: ls, sort, printf, mv, grep
# Features: 	Performs numbering of files from the specified input folder. 
#				Input files are sorted before numbering. Leading zeros can be added
# 				to the targetnumber (option -L <number of digits>).  Also a pre- and a suffix can be 
#				added to the target name (-p and -s). The sorting method can be specified (-o); 				
################################################################################################

PATHTOFOLDER=""
PREFIX=""
SUFFIX=".jpg"
SORT="modtime"
NUMBER=$(( 0 ))
LSCOMMAND="ls -1"
DIGITFORMAT="%d";
RENAME=0
GREPCMD="grep"
FILTER="\'.*\'" #match all by default

# define print function for error messages
echoerr(){ echo "$@" 1>&2;}

# prints usage information
printUsage(){ 
	echoerr "usage: numerate -d \"<path to filefolder>\" [-p \"<file prefix>\"] [-s \"<file suffix>\"] [-b <first number of target file>] [-o <order input={numerically/extension/modtime/none}>] [-L <number of digits in target number>] [-f <filename filter in grep syntax>]";
}

OPTIND=1 #Reset (just in case of prior usage)
while getopts "d:p:s:b:L:o:rf:" opt 
do
#Parse arguments
	case $opt in
		d) PATHTOFOLDER="$OPTARG";;
		p) PREFIX="$OPTARG";;
		s) SUFFIX="$OPTARG";;
		b) NUMBER="$OPTARG";;
		o) SORT="$OPTARG";;
		L) DIGITFORMAT="%0""$OPTARG""d";;
		r) RENAME=1;;
		f) FILTER="$OPTARG";;
		?) printUsage;
		   exit 1;;
	esac
done

#directory parameter is mandatory
if [ "$PATHTOFOLDER" == "" ] || [ ! -d "$PATHTOFOLDER" ]; then
	printUsage
exit 1;
fi

#parse sorting parameter for the input files
echo "Set file filter to: $FILTER"
case $SORT in 
	"modtime") 
		files=$($LSCOMMAND $PATHTOFOLDER -tr | $GREPCMD "$FILTER");;
	"extension") 
		files=$($LSCOMMAND $PATHTOFOLDER -X | $GREPCMD "$FILTER");;
	"none") 
		files=$($LSCOMMAND $PATHTOFOLDER -U | $GREPCMD "$FILTER");;
	"numerically") 
		files=$($LSCOMMAND $PATHTOFOLDER -U | $GREPCMD "$FILTER" | sort -n );;
	*) 
		echoerr "unvalid order parameter -o <param>!"
		printUsage;
		exit 1;;
esac


# save value before changing it
TMPIFS=$IFS
IFS=$( echo -en "\n\b")
# perform / simulate rename operations
for f in $files;
do
		## format number
		NUMBERSTR=$( printf "$DIGITFORMAT" $NUMBER ) 
		SOURCE="$PATHTOFOLDER/$f"
		TARGET="$PATHTOFOLDER/$PREFIX$NUMBERSTR$SUFFIX"
		PROCESSDESCRIPTION="simulating rename"
		
		if [ $RENAME == 1 ];
		then 
			PROCESSDESCRIPTION="performing rename"
			mv $SOURCE $TARGET
		fi
		
		echo "$PROCESSDESCRIPTION \"$SOURCE\" to \"$TARGET\"";
		
		NUMBER=$(( $NUMBER + 1 ))
done

IFS=$TMPIFS

With the small modifications, it renumbers the images correctly for processing by AVConv.

More scripting to come when I sort out an automatic transcode kludge!

73s for now

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Raspberry Pi Timelapse Script

To make my timelapse video capture a little easier, I wrote a small script that handles creation of a new folder for every timelapse instance, deals with the runtime & frame interval flags & generally makes everything a little cleaner.

As with most of my code, it’s rough, but functional

#!/bin/bash

INPUTFILE="$1"
INPUTFILE+="_%d"
FRAME_INTERVAL="$2"
FRAME_INTERVAL_MIN="1250"
RUNTIME="2073600000"
DATE=$(date +"%T_%m-%d-%y")
if [ -z $1 ]
    then
		echo "Raspberry Pi Timelapse Script v1.2"
		echo "2015 Ben Thomson 2E0GXE"
		echo "Images will be taken in 1920x1080 format for transcoding into video."
		echo "This script expects some options in the following format:"
		echo "./timelapse.sh <File Prefix> <Frame Interval>"
		echo "<File Prefix> The script will prepend this name to every image as a unique capture session identifier."
		echo "A sequential number is appended to the end of the filename for frame identification."
		echo "<Frame Interval> This is the interval between frames, in milliseconds. Minimum 1250."
		echo "This minimum is required to retain stability & prevent dropped frames."
		echo "Every time the program is started, a new folder with the current date & time is created for the images."
		exit 0
fi
if [ $FRAME_INTERVAL -lt $FRAME_INTERVAL_MIN ]
	then
		echo Frame Interval Too Low!
		echo This will cause dropped frames! Exiting!
		exit 0
fi

mkdir -p ./$DATE-$1
echo Image Folder $DATE-$1 Created
echo Image Capture Interval $FRAME_INTERVAL ms 
echo Starting Timelapse Capture... CTRL+C To Exit...
raspistill -k -n -ex auto -awb auto -mm average -w 1920 -h 1080 -o ./$DATE-$1/$INPUTFILE.jpg -tl $FRAME_INTERVAL -t $RUNTIME

echo Timelapse Complete!
echo File Prefix: $INPUTFILE
echo Frame Interval: $FRAME_INTERVAL ms
echo Folder Name: $DATE-$1

[download id=”5593″]

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3M Microtouch 17″ Raspberry Pi Touch PC

A while back I posted about a 3M Touch Systems industrial monitor that I’d been given. I had previously paired it with a Raspberry Pi Model B+, but for general desktop use it was just a little on the slow side.

Since the release of the Raspberry Pi 2, with it’s 4-core ARM Cortex CPU, things are much improved, so I figured I’d post an update with the latest on the system.

The monitor I’ve used is a commercial one, used in such things as POS terminals, service kiosks, etc. It’s a fairly old unit, but it’s built like a tank.

3M Panel
3M Panel

It’s built around a Samsung LTM170EI-A01 System-On-Panel, these are unusual in that all the control electronics & backlighting are built into the panel itself, instead of requiring an external converter board to take VGA to the required LVDS that LCD panels use for their interface.

The touch section is a 3M Microtouch EXII series controller, with a surface capacitive touch overlay.

Touch Controller
Touch Controller

Above is the touch controller PCB, with it’s USB-Serial converter to interface with the Pi.

As there is much spare space inside the back of this monitor, I have mounted the Pi on a couple of spare screw posts, fitted USB ports where the original VGA & Serial connectors were in the casing, and added voltage regulation to provide the Pi with it’s required 5v.

Overview
Overview

Here’s the entire back of the panel, the Pi in the middle interfaces with a HDMI-VGA adaptor for the monitor, and the serial adaptor on the right for the touch. A small voltage regulator at the bottom of the unit is providing the 5v rail. There’s a switch at the bottom next to one of the USB ports to control power to the Pi itself. The panel won’t detect the resolution properly if they’re both powered on at the same time.

At 13.8v, the device pulls about 2A from the supply, which seems to be typical for a CCFL backlighted LCD.
Now the Raspberry Pi 2 has been released, it’s much more responsive for desktop applications, especially with a slight overclock.

Shameless Plug
Shameless Plug

A full disk image enabled for Desktop & 3M touch monitors is available below for others that have similar panels. This image only works for the Pi 2!

[download id=”5591″]

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Raspberry Pi Timelapse Setup

Here is the setup used to create the previous videos, the PiCE from Elson Designs makes the Pi water resistant, the only slight modification being to install a 2.5mm DC Barrel Jack into one of the grommet holes in the rear coupled with a custom DC-DC converter to power the setup.

CamPi_1

CamPi_2

CamPi_3

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Raspberry Pi Timelapse Video – Canal Cruising

A break from normal programming now to show a weekend canal cruise on the Macclesfield canal. Going from Marple to Poynton & returning later in the afternoon. This video was shot with the Raspberry Pi waterproofed with the PiCE From Elson Designs.

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Raspberry Pi Touchscreen Kernel Support

Here is a compiled version of the Linux kernel for the Raspberry Pi useful for those who have USB/Serial touchscreens of the 3M Microtouch or eloTouch variety.

Works with a freshly installed & fully updated Raspbian image.

I have tested this only with a 3M Microtouch EXII controller currently.

Simply overwrite the /lib folder with the new modules & overwrite the main kernel image in /boot to install.

[download id=”5568″]

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Raspberry Pi Geiger Counter

Geiger Counter Setup
Geiger Counter Setup

Here’s my latest project with the Pi: interfacing it with the Sparkfun Geiger counter & outputting the resulting data to a character LCD.

The geiger counter is interfaced with it’s USB port, with the random number generator firmware. A Python script reads from the serial port & every minute outputs CPM & µSv/h data to the display.

The Python code is a mash of a few different projects I found online, for different geiger counters & some of my own customisations & code to write the info to the display & convert CPM into µSv/h.

This also writes all the data into a file at /var/log/radlog.txt

The code for this is below:

import time
import sys
import serial
import os
import RPIO
from RPLCD import CharLCD
from subprocess import * 
from datetime import datetime

# configuration settings

logfile = "/var/log/radlog" # location to save log data
serial_port = "/dev/ttyUSB0"
lcd = CharLCD(pin_rs=15, pin_rw=18, pin_e=16, pins_data=[21, 22, 23, 24], numbering_mode=RPIO.BOARD, cols=16, rows=4, dotsize=10) #Init LCD with physical parameters

f = open(logfile,"a")

ser = serial.Serial(serial_port,9600,timeout=1)

one = 0

#Init LCD with initial values.
lcd.cursor_pos = (0, 1)
lcd.write_string("Geiger Counter")
lcd.cursor_pos = (1, 2)
lcd.write_string("Initializing")
lcd.cursor_pos = (2,-3)
lcd.write_string("Please Wait...")
lcd.cursor_pos = (3, 0)
lcd.write_string(str(0) +" uSv/h")
f.write("Geiger Counter Initialized\n")
f.flush()
while 1==1:
  stamp = int(time.time())
  stamp == round(stamp,0)
  stamp = stamp + 60
  count = 0  
  while 1==1:
      ct = int(time.time())
      ct == round(ct,0)
      if ct > stamp:  break
      #Read from serial port
      bit = ser.read(1)
      if bit != "":
          count = count + 1
          #Conversion of counts per minute to uSv/hr
          usvh = count * 0.01
  at = str(time.asctime())
  t = str(time.time())
  #Write line to log file & print info to console
  f.write("["+at+"."+t+"] "+str(count) + " CPM " +str(usvh) + " uSv/h\n")
  f.flush()
  print "["+at+"."+t+"] Count "+str(count) + " " + str(usvh) +" uSv/hr"
  #Send measurement info to LCD
  lcd.clear()
  lcd.cursor_pos = (0, 0)
  lcd.write_string(datetime.now().strftime('%b %d  %H:%M:%S\n'))
  lcd.cursor_pos = (1, 0)
  lcd.write_string("Radiation Level:")
  lcd.cursor_pos = (2, 1)
  lcd.write_string(str(count) +" CPM")
  lcd.cursor_pos = (3, -1)
  lcd.write_string(str(usvh) +" uSv/h")
Info Display
Info Display
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Wearable Raspberry Pi – Some Adjustments

USB Hub
USB Hub

As the first USB hub I was using was certainly not stable – it would not enumerate between boots & to get it working again would require waiting around 12 hours before applying power, it has been replaced. This is a cheapie eBay USB hub, of the type shown below.

These hubs are fantastic for hobbyists, as the connections for power & data are broken out on the internal PCB into a very convenient row of pads, perfect for integration into many projects.

Breakout Hub
Breakout Hub

I now have two internal spare USB ports, for the inbuilt keyboard/mouse receiver & the GPS receiver I plan to integrate into the build.

These hubs are also made in 7-port versions, however I am not sure if these have the same kind of breakout board internally. As they have the same cable layout, I would assume so.

 

Connector Panel
Connector Panel

Here is a closeup of the back of the connectors, showing a couple of additions.

I have added a pair of 470µF capacitors across the power rails, to further smooth out the ripple in the switching power supply, as I was having noise issues on the display.

Also, there is a new reset button added between the main interface connectors, which will be wired into the pair of pads that the Raspberry Pi has to reset the CPU.
This can be used as a power switch in the event the Pi is powered down when not in use & also to reset the unit if it becomes unresponsive.

 

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Wearable Raspberry Pi Part 2.5 – Battery Pack PCM

Battery PCM
Battery PCM

The final part for the battery pack has finally arrived, the PCM boards. These modules protect the cells by cutting off the power at overcharge, undercharge & overcurrent. Each cell is connected individually on the right, 12v power appears on the left connections. These modules also ensure that all the cells in the pack are balanced.

 

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Wearable Raspberry Pi SMPS Modifications

SMPS Mods
SMPS Mods

A few modifications were required to the SMPS modules to make the power rails stable enough to run the Pi & it’s monitor. Without these the rails were so noisy that instability was being caused.

I have replaced the 100µF output capacitors & replaced them with 35v 4700µF caps. This provides a much lower output ripple.

There are also heatsinks attached to the converter ICs to help spread the heat.

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Wearable Raspberry Pi Part 2 – Power Supply

All Fitted
All Fitted

Progress is finally starting on the power supply unit for the Pi, fitted into the same case style as the Pi itself, this is an 8Ah Li-Poly battery pack with built in voltage regulation.

Regulator Boards
Regulator Boards

Here are the regulators, fixed to the top of the enclosure. These provide the 12v & 5v power rails for the Pi unit, at a max 3A per rail.

Battery Pack
Battery Pack

In the main body of the case the battery pack is fitted. This is made up of 4 3-cell Li-Poly RC battery packs, rated at 2Ah each. All wired in parallel this will provide a total of 8Ah at 12.6v when fully charged.

Powered Up
Powered Up

Here the regulators are powered up from a 13v supply for testing. I have discovered at full load these modules have very bad ripple, so I will be adding extra smoothing capacitors to the power rails to compensate for this.

I/O
I/O

Here are the connectors on the top of the unit, outputting the two power rails to the Pi & the DC barrel jack that will be used to charge the pack.

 

 

 

 

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Wearable Raspberry Pi Part 1.75

USB Hub
USB Hub

The hub for the external USB ports has been fitted here, with the two ports hardwired to the pads where once there were USB A sockets. This hub will also accommodate the wireless receiver for the mini keyboard & mouse, in the remaining port that will sit between the external USB ports.

USB Ports
USB Ports

In this gap between the ports is where the wireless receiver will sit for the keyboard & mouse, the pair of screws securing the external ports in the centre have been shortened to make more room.

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Wearable Raspberry Pi Part 1.5

USB Ports
USB Ports

For convenience, a pair of USB ports have been fitted to the wearable Pi, which open on the bottom of the unit. These will be hardwired into a 4-port USB hub which will also support the wireless adaptor for the mini-keyboard that is to be used with the device.

USBs
USBs

The two USB ports on the bottom of the casing.

External Connections
External Connections

The external connectors are also complete. The audio jack & second WiFi antenna port are fitted.

The audio is normally routed to the LCD display speaker, until a jack is plugged into the 3.5mm socket.

 

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Wearable Raspberry Pi Part 1

Overview
Overview

Here is the project I’m currently working on. A completely wearable computing platform based on the Raspberry Pi & the WiFi Pineapple.

Above can be seen the general overview of the current unit.

On the left:

  • Alfa AWUS036NHA USB High Power WiFi Network Interface
  • 512MB Model B Raspberry Pi, 16GB SD card, running Raspbian & LXDE Desktop. Overclocked to 1GHz.

On the right:

  • WiFi Pineapple router board
  • USB 3G card.

The WiFi, Pineapple & 3G all have external antenna connections for a better signal & the whole unit locks onto the belt with a pair of clips.
The Raspberry Pi is using the composite video output to the 7″ LCD I am using, running at a resolution of 640×480. This gives a decent amount of desktop space while retaining readability of the display.

The case itself is a Pelican 1050 hard case, with it’s rubber lining removed. The belt clips are also a custom addition.

Connections
Connections

Here are the connections to the main unit, on the left is the main power connector, supplying +5v & +12v DC. The plug on the right is an 8-pin connection that carries two channels of video, mono audio & +12v power to the display.
Currently the only antenna fitted is the 3G.

Connectors
Connectors

Closeup of the connections for power, audio & video. The toggle switch is redundant & will soon be replaced with a 3.5mm stereo jack for headphones, as an alternative to the mono audio built into the display.

Test Run
Test Run

Current state of test. Here the unit is running, provided with an internet connection through the Pineapple’s 3G radio, funneled into the Pi via it’s ethernet connection.

Pi Goodness!
Pi Goodness!

Running on a car reversing camera monitor at 640×480 resolution. This works fairly well for the size of the monitor & the text is still large enough to be readable.

 

Stay tuned for Part 2 where I will build the power supply unit.

 

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Raspberry Pi GPIO Experiment Board Improvements

First Mods
First Mods

Here are the first set of mods & improvements to the RasPi Experiment board. Instead of the solder-point experiment space, I have added a standard mini-breadboard, even though it’s a little too long to fit on the board properly.

In the DIP breakout, is a MAX232 TTL-RS232 interface IC, useful for interfacing directly to the Pi’s UART, made available on the GPIO breakout. I will be hardwiring the MAX232 IC into the GPIO port, & fitting headers to the relevant pins on the IC breakout to make interfacing to the Pi easier.

All the MAX232 requires to operate are a 5v supply & 4 1µF capacitors.

The new TO220 device next to the breadboard is a TIP121 darlington power transistor.This is rated at 80v 5A continuous. Useful for driving large loads from a GPIO output.

 

More to come soon!

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Raspberry Pi GPIO Breakout

Board Built
Board Built

After seeing these on eBay for £8.99 I thought it might be a good deal – interfacing with the RasPi’s GPIO & it has built in power supplies.

As a kit, it was very easy to assemble, the PCB quality is high, and is a fairly good design. It worked first time, the regulators hold the rails at the right voltages.
However there are some issues with this board that bug me.

The documentation for the kit is *AWFUL*. No mention of the regulators on the parts list & which goes where – I had to carefully examine the schematics to find out those details.
The 4x 1N1007 diodes required weren’t even included in the kit! Luckily I had some 1N4148 high speed diodes lying around & even though they’re rated for 200mA continuous rather than the specified part’s 1A rating, the lack of heatsinking on the regulators wouldn’t allow use anywhere near 1A, so this isn’t much of a problem.

Component numbering on the silkscreen isn’t consistent – it jumps from R3 straight to R6! These issues could be slightly confusing for the novice builder, and considering the demographic of the RasPi, could be seen as big issues.

On the far left of the board are the 5v & 3.3v regulators, well placed on the edge of the board in case a heatsink may be required in the future. However the LM317 adjustable regulator is stuck right in the middle of the PCB – no chance of being able to fit a heatsink, & the device itself seems incredibly cheap – the heatsink tab on the back of the TO-220 is the thinnest I have ever seen. Not the usual 2-3mm thick copper of the 5v & 3.3v parts – but barely more than a mm thick, so it’s not going to be able to cope with much power dissipation without overheating quickly.

As the adjustable rail can go between ~2.5v – 10v, at the low end of the range the power dissipation is going to shoot through the roof.

The GPIO connector – this could have been done the other way, at the moment the ribbon cable has to be twisted to get both the Pi & the GPIO board the same way up. Just a slight fail there. See the image below

Plugged In
Plugged In

The power rails are not isolated out of the box – there is no connection between the 5v & 3.3v rails & the Pi’s GPIO, but the GND connections are linked together on the board.

Getting the ribbon cable through the  hole in the ModMyPi case was a bit of a faff – the connector is too big! I had to squeeze the connector through at a 45° angle. The case is also remarkably tight around the connector once it’s fitted to the board – clearly the designers of the case didn’t test the an IDC connector in the case before making them!
Everything does fit though, after a little modification.

All Cased Up
All Cased Up

Here is the unit all built up with the case. The top cover just about fits with the IDC connector on the GPIO header.

More to come once I get some time to do some interfacing!

 

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OMXPlayer Series Play

This is a little script to make OMXPlayer on the Raspberry Pi cycle through every file in a specified folder, useful for playing sequential movies or series of episodes.

 

Example:
[root@raspbian ~]# omxseries hdmi /media/stuff/videos
would play everything in /media/stuff/videos and send the audio over the HDMI port.

Download the script to your Pi with this code:

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ModMyPi Raspberry Pi Case

Fitted Pi
Fitted Pi

Finally, some protection for my Raspberry Pi! The PCB fit is slightly loose, but that was quickly sorted with the application of a couple of spots of hot glue in the corners.

Unfortunately, the case is a couple of mm too small to fit the main board from the Pico Projector inside, so I won’t be butchering that into the case with the Pi as yet. What is required is an interface to the display engine from the Pi’s DSI interface.

 

Pi Cased Up
Pi Cased Up

The pi all boxed. up. The only thing that this case would now require is a lightpipe to direct the LED’s light to the openings in the case, as they are very difficult to see at present.

 

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ShowWX+ Pico Projector First Light

Projection
Projection

Above is the image projected from the Pi, on the default login screen. Distance from the projector is approx 10 feet.

Projector
Projector

State of the art projector mount, fashioned from several cable ties. HDMI cable is plugged into the right hand side of the projector.

Unfortunately the projector cannot handle audio on the HDMI connector, the 3.5mm headphone jack on the projector is for splitting audio out of the iDevice connection only, and does not make the HDMI audio stream available.

 

 

 

Pi
Pi

The Raspberry Pi, hosting a USB keyboard, & USB powered speakers. Running the standard Debian release, on a 16GB card, with omxplayer installed for media functions.

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The Perfect Companion To The Raspberry Pi

As I’m building a portable “media center” with my first Pi, I was looking for a suitable screen. I remembered the existence of these:

ShowWX+ HDMI Pico Projector
ShowWX+ HDMI Pico Projector

A laser pico projector combined with a Pi, in a small enough package would make a fantastic
little portable media player. So £220 was shelled out 🙂

Along with the case for my Pi coming from Mod My Pi, I am aiming for a device as small as possible. At some point I will fit the Pi into the same package as the projector, if it can be cannibalised in such a way 🙂

Check back for an update with running images of the projector, powered from the Pi’s HDMI output.

I will also be doing the standard teardown of the projector when time allows 🙂

Bootnote:
Micro HDMI Connections: These are CRAP. They don’t stand up to any form of day-to-day use, and the projector began displaying a blue screen with “INVALID VIDEO MODE” as soon as anything was plugged into the Micro HDMI port. A quick attack with a jeweller’s screwdriver fixed the port, as it had become loose.