Wednesday 22 January 2014

BeagleBone Black Ubuntu 13.10 with desktop... another UBUNTU FAILURE!!

Recently I saw that Ubuntu 13.10 was still available. I downloaded ubuntu-saucy-13.10-armhf-3.8.13-bone30.img.xz  from  unzipped it and wrote the image to an 8GB microsd card using win32diskimager programme on my windows machine

The microsd booted and gave me the welcome and login. (ubuntu, ubuntu) which resulted in the Ubuntu command line prompt. I expanded the file system using the instructions at to maximise the space available for the desktop. I did another

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install ubuntu-desktop

and off it went installing again.  Four hours later I came back and saw the install was finished and rebooted the BBB and up came the familiar Ubuntu desktop and login prompt. However the mouse cursor was twitching and the video flickering. I typed in the password, moved the mouse and the BBB froze and all the blue LED stopped flashing. I powered off the BBB and repeated the process and it still twitched and froze when the mouse was moved.

I did retry without expanding the file system, same result.I think I will still stick with 12.04 if I want a desktop!!

Just  to make sure of no issues with the BBB I loaded a previously saved 12.04LTE with desktop Image onto a microsd card and booted the BBB and it worked perfectly

Tuesday 21 January 2014

Intel Galileo: Super charged Arduino

Last November I came across the Intel Galileo Board which can be considered as a "Super-charged arduino" For starters it has a 32 bit 400MHz CPU.

Also onboard:-

Ethernet port
Microsd card slot
USB Host Port
USB Device Port
Full PCI Express mini card slot
2nd serial port

Any of these as a shield (Yes Galileo has the connectors for an Arduino shield board) would cost the price of the Galileo.

I ordered one from Mouser Nov 20 for $69.99+shipping. It was on backorder with a delivery date on Jan 19, much the same as everywhere else. I checked with them Jan 6, they were still quoting Jan 19. Checked online Jan 17, delivery slipped to Feb 10, so I started to look elsewhere! I found Newegg had them in stock for only $59.99 shipped so I ordered one. It arrived 2 days later, great service!

It came with a power supply (with adaptors for different worldwide mains plugs, The quickstart guide had to be downloaded from the Internet (no CD provided)

Managed to load the usual "flash the LED" code and make it work through the IDE. I also managed to programme an AVR needed for another project through the ISP shield

I ordered a mini PCIe WIFI Card for the next round of experiments, but other projects call!
Galileo Board with Quarter for Scale

With AVR Programming shield

Sunday 5 January 2014

$20 Oscilloscope under Android

While downloading the windows version of software for my $20 Oscilloscope I noticed there was a version for Android at Having shown the unit to be well behaved under windows I decided it was worth a try. I spent my $7.99 and installed the app without issues and connected up the Board via an OTG cable to my 2013 Nexus 7. Worked well, the noise showing up on the squarewave trace is from the AWG, you dont see it when feeding in an external square wave.
Now I have a very portable Oscilloscope/Logic Analyser/Logic analyser/ Protocol Analyser!

$20 Oscilloscope

A need arose to use an Oscilloscope to debug some Arduino projects. I had disposed of my Tektronix Mainframe and plugins and needed something more transportable. I looked on ebay and saw some 2 channel boxed units for around $70. I then came across what is claimed to be the worlds smallest oscilloscope, at called the XMEGA Xprotolab. The module is 1"x1.6" with a 0.96" square lcd display, has an two oscilloscope channels, onboard Arbitrary waveform generator(AWG) and 8 channel logic analyser. It is based on an ATMEGA32 chip.  The display would be a strain on the eyes to say the least. The good news is that the module has a USB port allowing a (bigger) version of the display to be seen on a computer. There is a larger version 3.3 x 1.75" with a 2.4x2.4" display called the XMEGA Xminilab which had an awful orange LCD; still too small. Looking around the site I found the Xprotoplain which has no display and relies totally on the computer display. The good news was the cost ...$20! It has the capability of a Bluetooth interface so I paid the extra $2 for the BT connector and placed an order.It arrived in 3 days (despite the christmas holiday). 
Small size PCB!
The drivers and PC display software were easily installed following the instructions at here.I connected a wire from the AWG to channel 1 input. 

Oscilloscope Display Window

AWG Window