Tag Archives: Raspberry Pi 3

Use the Raspberry Pi for the Internet of Things

Barriers are coming down between operational technologies. Barriers such as were existing between industrial hardware and software for monitoring and controlling machines and the ERP systems and other information technology people typically use when operating and supporting their business. Manufacturers are having an exciting time as new opportunities are emerging every day for improving the productivity. Along with the rise in the challenges, there are innovations in creating new sources of customer value.

Data is not a new thing for manufacturers. In fact, there was enough data with manufacturers long before the Internet of Things and Big Data came into existence. Although manufacturers have been collecting and analyzing machine data for ages, they can now replace their legacy equipment and systems. With the explosion of the Internet of Things, the flow of data on the customers’ side is also ramping up. Networked products are tightening the connection between customers and manufacturers, with service capabilities expanding and creating entirely new revenue models.

With every organization wanting to participate in the Internet of Things, and IT professionals wanting to know how to add IoT skills to their resume, it is time to look at the different options for learning about IoT. Although there are many ways to gather this knowledge, nothing really can beat the hands-on experience.

The tiny single board computer, the Raspberry Pi or RBPi is one of the key learning platforms for IoT. Not only because this involves very low cost, but also because it offers a complete Linux server in its tiny platform. When you use the RBPi for learning about IoT, you will find that the most difficult thing to face is the picking the right project to make a start.
On the Web, you can find several thousand projects based on the RBPi. They involve the ambitious types, silly types, while some are really great for learning about Linux, RBPi, and the intricacies of the IoT.

When starting out with IoT projects and the RBPi, it is prudent to keep to a boundary – use some common sensors and or controller types. Custom-built hardware is fine for geeks, but for those who are just starting out with IoT, going wild with hardware builds can lead you astray.

While selecting a project, choose one that has something interesting going on for the control software. While it would be foolish to start with an epic development project, just to make a meaningful learning experience, simply calling pre-existing scripts and applications is also likely to cause a loss of interest.

Choose a fun project to start with. Of course, you will be training for the IoT. Nevertheless, training in the form of drudgery is no fun. Therefore, select a project that will want to make you move forward and continue your journey with the education.

You can buy individual sensors from the market and hook them up to your RBPi. However, as a beginner, you might be well off buying a kit for a specific use such as a single wire temperature sensor or a humidity sensor. Later, when more confident, you could move on to Hardware Attached on Top or HATs for the RBPi.

Driving Motors and Servos with the ZeroPi

If you are looking for a development board for the 3-D printer you are designing, ZeroPi may be the best fit. Suitable for use with the Arduino and the Raspberry Pi (RBPi) single board computers, ZeroPi offers an integrated solution allowing makers to build projects easier and faster.

This miniature board for the Arduino and RBPi is a next generation development kit ideal for maker projects that involve any type of robotic motion control including CNC milling and 3-D printers. According to technical specifications, the ZeroPi runs on an Atmel 32-bit, ARM Cortex M0+ processor the SAMD21J18 operating at 48 MHz. This MCU is fully compatible with the RBPi, the Arduino Zero, and so many more hardware resources that drive robots.

Capabilities of the ZeroPi include driving and controlling 11 micro servos and 8 DC motors simultaneously. Alternatively, you can use ZeroPi to control four stepper motors. The four-channel SLOT module is compatible with the regular DC motor and stepper motor drivers such as the TB6612 DC motor driver and the A4988 or DRV8825 Stepper motor drivers.

According to the team that developed ZeroPi, the board works perfectly for a 3-D printer, acting as its mainboard. Additionally, with the ZeroPi and a web interface, it is possible to control the 3-D printer remotely. The team claims to have successfully ported the Repetier and Marlin firmware to ZeroPi. They have tested the combination on Delta and I3 open source 3-D printers, with success. The combination directly controls the printer without requiring any additional expansion boards. Compared to the Mega2560, ZeroPi is all open-source, cheaper and four times faster. In addition, it is only half the size of the Mega 2560. All board schematics, Repetier and Marlin firmware, and the user manual for the ZeroPi is available on GitHub.

Apart from 3-D printers, you can also use the ZeroPi for driving laser cutters and CNC mills. In fact, it is perfectly possible to use the ZeroPi for developing an all-in-one mainboard suitable for all three. This open-source mainboard can serve the creativity and innovation of an entire community, advancing their ambitions. That makes the ZeroPi useful to several people and projects.

Some key features of the ZeroPi are operating voltage of 3.3 V, 2 UARTs, 35 general-purpose IO pins, 4 analog input pins, 12-bit ADC channels, 1 analog output pin, 10-bit DAC. Other features include external interrupts on any pin except pin 4, 7-mADC current per IO pin, Flash memory of 256 KB, SRAM of 32 KB. The ZeroPi board has dimensions of 73 x 61 mm.

You can program the ZeroPi from the Arduino IDE using example codes available for specific functions such as temperature monitoring and encoder readout. By connecting the ZeroPi to the GPIO connector of the RBPi, it is possible to add further functionality such as controlling the ZeroPi via Bluetooth, wireless control, and tablet. By installing a web interface, it is possible to control the motors and servos remotely. The interface can use Java Script as well.

Does the NexDock Work With The Raspberry Pi 3?

Although smartphones are getting smarter all the time, some of their landmark features limit their use as a laptop, two of them standing out prominently. One is the lack of a full-fledged keyboard and the other, a reasonably sized display screen. Therefore, although the smartphone has nearly the same computing powers as your laptop, it fails to compete successfully with a laptop or netbook.

To remedy the situation, you can take recourse to the lapdock. This is a mobile docking station with a built-in battery, a Bluetooth keyboard, and a 14” LCD monitor. While you can connect your smartphone or tablet to the lapdock, it also allows you to dock your single board computer such as the Raspberry Pi or RBPi with equal ease. The lapdock can make use of any device that has an HDMI output.

NexDock is a budget lapdock with a built-in battery that supplies 3.8 V with a capacity of 10,000 mAH. It provides the user with a Bluetooth keyboard, a 14” display, two USB ports, and one micro SD card slot. NexDock has two small loudspeakers built-in, but you can use headphones on the 3.5 mm socket. This is a revolutionary concept helping to harness the productivity of single board computers, tablets, and smartphones.

Single board computers such as the RBPi3 come with an HDMI output. That makes the RBPi3 a suitable candidate for use with the NexDock. As the NexDock uses the operating system of the RBPi, you can use either Linux or Windows 10 easily. An advantage with using the Windows 10 is its Continuum feature, which allows switching between touch and desktop modes. Using NexDock with the iPhone or Android provides the user with a substantial screen size and upgrades the productivity.

This revolutionary budget concept allows you to have the best of both worlds with an SBC, a smartphone, tablet or mini PC. Simply plug in your device and continue to work with it without fear of the battery running out of juice. The massive battery in the NexDock lasts for days on one charge. That means you now have a powerful laptop to take anywhere and do anything along the way. The device measures 351 x 233 x 20 mm, and weighs 1,490 gm. Most of this weight is due to the generously sized battery with a capacity of 10,000 mAH. The display screen is 14.1 inch TN, with a resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels.

Although the main functionality of the NexDock is boosting mobile productivity, it can also serve to turn your RBPi into a full-fledged computer. However, you can also use it as a secondary portable monitor, a game controller for your iPhone or use it as a dual-screen for AirPlay-enabled games.

For the future, the company is planning to build high-end mini-computers, where you can swap parts. These will have the capability to connect with devices via a single USB-C port. This will serve to reduce the cost of upgrading your computer, as the process serves to separate components that need frequent updates from those that do not. Therefore, while you retain the keyboard, display and the battery, you can update the processor, memory, and operating system as you wish.

Does the Raspberry Pi 3 Run Hotter than the Raspberry Pi 2?

Several people are now eagerly using and testing the new SBC or single board computer from the Raspberry Pi Foundation, the Raspberry Pi Model 3, or RBPi3. Although the overall response has been of enthusiastic welcome, there are some notes of concern as to the new board running rather warm under load. Michael Larabel has run some tests to compare and show just how warm the RBPi3 can get when compared to what the RBPi2 does. Finally, we suggest some remedies for cooling down the RBPi3.

Michael has used the Phoronix Test Suite while monitoring the SoC temperature on both, the RBPi3 and RBPi2, when running the same benchmarks in the same manner for both. One important point to note is the RBPi2 was running inside its case, while the RBPi3 ran completely exposed.

The average temperature of the SoC on the RBPi3 under load was 61∞C, peaking at 82∞C. Under the same conditions, the RBPi2 (within its case), recorded an average temperature of 48.9∞C, peaking at 59∞C. That means the RBPi3 under load, operating in open air, was peaking at more than 20∞C, over its predecessor. That also means if you are planning to put the RBPi3 inside a case when operating, it might make matters worse.

Therefore, if you are planning to stress your RBPi3 routinely, you might consider the following options to keep the RBPi3 temperature down.

Wait for the Linux 4.6 kernel

According to Eric Anholt from Broadcom, the VC4 DRM driver is undergoing an update to get into the Linux 4.6 kernel merge window. This will include a significant 3D improvement in performance and a fix to the HDMI hotplug detection for the RBPi2 and RBPi3. The improvement in performance comes from the RBPi kernel DRM driver pairing with the user-space driver of the VC4 Gallium3D.

Better performance is mainly due to the pipelining, binning and rendering jobs from using xllperf or GLAMOR over OpenGL, which boosts the performance by over 20-30%. The hardware is capable of running separate threads simultaneously for binning and rendering, while OpenGl waits for them to complete before it submits the next job.

Wait for the 64-bit Raspbian

Michael has done some tests to show that there is a conclusive evidence of performance difference between using 64-bit software on supported hardware over a 32-bit operating system. Since the new RBPi3 is a 64-bit system at hardware level, the results should apply to this SBC as well.

For the test, Michael has used an Intel UX301LAA ultrabook with 8GB of RAM and 128GB SanDisk SSD. The operating system was Ubuntu 16.04 daily ISO build, in 64-bit and 32-bits version.

The average power used by the 64-bit system was 30.1W compared to 31.9W by the 32-bit system. Lowest power consumption with 64-bit build was 8.5W compared to 9.4W. The peak power consumed by the 32-bit system was higher at 54.3W compared to 49.7W by the 64-bit system.

Use a Heat Sink to Cool the RBPi3 immediately

For immediate relief, you can use the passive heatsink available that fits the RBPi2 as well as the RBPi3. At $5 from Amazon, this solution is cost-effective in addition to being immediately available. Moreover, the heatsink will drop the temperature of the SoC by almost half.