ApplePi DAC Audio HAT Add-on For The Raspberry Pi Features 24-bit DAC And A 128dB SNR

Orchard Audio quickly exceeded its $5K Kickstarter goal for its ApplePi DAC HAT board, which it is promoted as “the most advanced and highest performance sound card hat for the Raspberry Pi.” You can order the add-on board from May 13 starting at $175. Options include a $5 stacking header and a $25 5.25V, 3A power supply. The ApplePi DAC supports the Asus Tinker Board and Allo.com’s Sparky in addition to the Raspberry Pi.

“ApplePi DAC” audio HAT
“ApplePi DAC” audio HAT

A fully assembled $374 system provides the new HAT board, header, and power supply plus a Raspberry Pi 3 SBC, an acrylic stand, and an SD card with a choice of preconfigured Volumio, Rune Audio, or Raspbian. For $574, you get the assembled system plus a 7-inch touchscreen. All the products ship in July.

The board is powered by dual TI Burr-Brown DACs (PCM1794A) configured in monaural mode. The system has a dynamic range of >135dB and a signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of 128dB, which can bump up to 132dB. Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise (THD+N) is listed as an impressively low <0.0005% (-106dB). The board supports both 16- and 24-bit bit rates, as well as sample rates of 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, and 192kHz.

Orchard highlights the board’s ultra-low noise linear regulation and low jitter PLL clock generation. The mentioned derives are not from the usual crystal, but rather from a CS2300 IC from Cirrus Logic. This clock chip integrates a crystal, PLL, and clock multiplier into a single device, the input jitter is attenuated by 60dB (1/1000). It is remarkable that the onboard balanced (Mini XLR) and unbalanced (RCA) outputs are driven by dual differential output circuit stages. Orchard says that most competing boards offer only single-ended outputs. So, this feature really makes it stand out.

The ApplePi DAC runs at 4.5W and can be powered by a Raspberry Pi, but the manufacturer recommends using the optional 5V adapter. In addition to Volumio and Rune Audio, the ApplePi DAC supports moOde Audio, piCorePlayer, and Roon Network Endpoint software.

The ApplePi DAC is available on Kickstarter through May 13 starting at $175, with shipments due in July. More information may be found at the ApplePi DAC Kickstarter page and Orchard Audio’s ApplePi DAC product page.

How to Get Started With The Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi is a low cost, credit-card sized computer that plugs into a computer monitor or TV and uses a standard keyboard and mouse. It is a capable device that enables people of all ages to explore computing and learn how to program in languages like Scratch and Python. It’s also capable of doing most things you’d expect a desktop computer to do, from browsing the internet and playing high-definition video, to making spreadsheets, word-documents as well as playing games. In this how-to, you will learn how to get the Raspberry Pi up and running!

The Raspberry Pi

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SOUNDCAM – The World First True Handheld Sound Camera for Everyone

Every day of our lives we get bombarded with different sounds around.  Loud music, radio, people talking on their phone, automobile, traffic, and those unknown late night quacking sounds. All of these sounds are what makes our day to day activities, and we have even gotten accustomed to most of them and rarely get disturbed by them. However, when an unwanted sound keeps popping into our life, altering our general state of mind and starts becoming a nuisance, we start looking for ways of finding the source of the sound in the hope of getting rid of it. The human ear does an excellent job of finding the source of sounds but can quickly get confused when their many sounds are popping around, or the sounds are slightly dense. Sound localization is a critical concept due to its numerous application and research has been poured into this. The team from CAE system are launching a first of its kind called SOUNDCAM that will allow one to visualize any sound source.

CAE Softwares and Systems, a Germany-based company, is launching SoundCam on KickstarterSOUNDCAM is the first camera that images sound and is affordable for everyone. The system is intuitive and as easy to use as a smartphone. SOUNDCAM locates sound sources in real time and immediately displays the results on the screen. SOUNDCAM visualizes complex acoustic information and creates a connection between hearing and seeing. Analyzing and understanding sound has never been easier! Not only does SoundCam does the job well, but it also comes cheap as compared to traditional acoustic cameras (could cost upwards of $100,000).

SoundCam Handheld Sound Camera

SOUNDCAM localizes every sound source. It is possible to analyze environmental noise, road traffic noise, aircraft noise, train noise, industrial noise, machinery noise, workplace noise, detect malfunctions or leakages, and evaluate vehicle emissions, home appliances, consumer electronics, and a million other noise sources!

The application of SOUNDCAM is endless. I remember sometimes ago; I notice a disturbing noise was coming from my car’s engine side when putting on reverse mode but goes off when on drive or other modes. This was always annoying, and when I took it to my mechanic, he wasn’t sure where the sounds were coming from. After guessing around and dismantling a few parts, still couldn’t find the source of the sound and he suggested to open up the whole engine to see if it was from inside the engine, well, of course, I wasn’t ready to allow anyone open up my whole engine without being sure of what he or she is looking for. I left the car like that until one day it either suddenly disappear or I got used to it that I didn’t observe it again. A perfect application of SOUNDCAM will have been in this scenario, SOUNDCAM will have possibly identified the location of the sound in a non-invasive mode saving hours of lost productivity, money, and precious time. SOUNDCAM can also find applications in buildings for detecting sound leakage in supposed sound-proof structures, in electronics, drones, noise analysis, factories, automobile testing and evaluation, military applications, and thousands of possibilities.

SOUNDCAM consists of 64 microphones, an optical camera, an integrated data acquisition and analysis system, as well as a display and control unit with touchscreen and hardware buttons. The system displays high-resolution results in real time on it’s screen. The algorithm running on SOUNDCAM analyze the time delays it takes for a sound propagated to travel from its source to the microphone array and calculates the accurate acoustic pictures and videos in real time. The optical camera is used to generate the needed optical information, and optical and acoustic pictures are overlayed. These overlayed results are then displayed on the screen.

The SOUNDCAM device is battery powered and waterproof IP54 rated which means there is a possibility it can even be used underwater (of course at your own risk). It is powered by quad-core ARM A53 running at 1.2GHz speed with 1GB of RAM. The display is touchscreen removing the need for keyboard or mouse, but those can still be added through its onboard USB board which is as well used for exporting data from the device. It runs Linux out of the box with an optional Windows support available. It provides support for interfacing with a computer unit through its ethernet port.

SOUNDCAM is launched on Kickstarter with the SOUNDCAM early bird starting at a discounted 3,999 EURO, a 50% from the expected retail price. Shipping is expected to commence in late 2018 to early 2019. SOUNDCAM will revolutionize a lot of work and will save hours of lost productivity in troubleshooting sound localization problems which will inevitably save cost.

BML GPIO-14 USB Board for PCs

BML project for using a $2 FTDI FT260Q for adding 14 bits of GPIO to any PC via USB with no device drivers required.

Ever miss the simple days of using a PC’s LPT1 parallel port to bit-bang GPIO over 8 output pins and 4 input pins of the DB-25 connector? I sure do. My first design project as a BSEE graduate in 1993 was to design a LPT1 controlled test fixture for the Motorola MDT-9100-T data terminal (shown below). Those were the days. By multiplexing 12 parallel port pins into 74HC dip CMOS latches and transceivers my test jig tested all the IO signals of the MDT-9100s 386sx motherboard. All of the diagnostic software could be written in C on my Windows 3.1 desktop thanx to this versatile interface. Those were the glorious simple days of computing. Sigh…. Then USB came along and killed the wonderfully easy parallel port interface.

BML GPIO-14 USB Board for PCs – [Link]

Hardkernel Launches A Single-unit Version Of Its 32-core Odroid-MC1 Cluster Computer

Hardkernel has produced a single-unit version of its four-unit, 32-core Odroid-MC1 cluster computer for running Docker SwarmBuild Farm, and other parallel computing applications. The design offers greater flexibility for users to combine Odroid-MC1 Solo units for a “single unit, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or n stackable cluster”. The octa-core Odroid-MC1 Solo costs $48. Combing one or more Solo units with the original 4-unit MC1 acts as a single cluster.

Odroid-MC1 Solo
Odroid-MC1 Solo

The Odroid-MC1 Solo and Odroid-MC1 use an Odroid-XU4S SBC that is similar to the SBC that powers the Odroid-HC2 network attached storage (NAS) device. Both boards are smaller, stripped-down, headless version of the open-spec Odroid-XU4 SBC.

Like the Odroid-HC2 board, the MC1 board has removed the XU4’s HDMI port, 2x USB 3.0 ports, optional eMMC, and 30- and 12-pin GPIO connectors. Like the Odroid-XU4, the boards are powered by the Samsung Exynos5422 SoC with four Cortex-A15, four Cortex-A7 cores, and Mali-T628 GPU.

All these boards are equipped with 2GB LPDDR3 (in a PoP configuration), as well as a GbE port, USB 2.0 host port, and a bootable microSD slot with UHS-1 support. The XU4s used on the Odroid-MC1 lacks the one additional feature found on the HC2 NAS computer that is a USB 3.0-based SATA port.

The new Odroid-MC1 Solo board, including the stacking case, measures 92 x 42 x 29mm. These boards are powered by a 5V/4A power supply. A UART, an RTC with battery connector, as well as “M3 x 8mm” self-tapping screws are also there on this board. The XU4-compatible Linux image is based on Kernel 4.14 LTS.

Key Specs:

  • CPU  Samsung Exynos5422 ARM® Cortex™-A15 Quad 2.0GHz/Cortex™-A7 Quad 1.4GHz
  • DRAM Memory  2Gbyte LPDDR3 RAM PoP (750Mhz, 12GB/s memory bandwidth, 2x32bit bus)
  • GPU  Mali™-T628 MP6 OpenGL ES 3.1 / 3.0 / 2.0 / 1.1 and OpenCL 1.2 Full profile
  • Micro-SD Slot  UHS-1 compatible micro-SD slot up to 128GB/SDXC
  • USB2.0 Host  HighSpeed USB standard A type connector x 1 port
  • LEDs  Power, System-status
  • Gbit Ethernet LAN  10/100/1000Mbps Ethernet with RJ-45 Jack ( Auto-MDIX support)
  • Power Input  DC Barrel Jack Socket 5.5/21.mm for 4.8V~5.2V input
  • Size   92 x 42 x 29 mm

The Odroid-MC1 Solo is available now for $48. More information may be found at Hardkernel’s Odroid-MC1 Solo shopping page.

AIOT-MSSP01 – AAEON’s Intelligent Vending Development Kit & UP Board

(Taipei, Taiwan – April 24, 2018) – AAEON, a leading developer of industrial computers and intelligent retail systems, releases an updated version of its Intelligent Vending Development Kit. The kit is a complete hardware solution that makes it easier than ever before for retailers to implement the latest smart vending technologies.

The kit includes a vending machine controller unit, a separate UP Board PC unit to handle the interactive retail functions, a motor for the machine’s internal mechanisms, a camera, a QR Code device, and all the cables needed to connect these components. Additional WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity components are also available on request.

AAEON is now offering two versions of its Intelligent Vending Development Kit, but both come with the Windows 10 IoT Enterprise OS and a customer-friendly API pre-installed. The kits also utilize the power of the UP Board and its Intel® Atom™ x5-z8350 processor and DDR3L memory to manage a fast, effective facial recognition program.

As a customer approaches the vending machine, an image of their face is captured and their age range, gender and mood are detected. Based on the results, a particular set of products are recommended. Crucially, the process happens almost instantaneously, so there’s no risk of the customer being inconvenienced.

The latest version of the development kit also incorporates Microsoft Azure and Power BI services. With this service, information about every product sold and the gender, age range and mood of each buyer is collated by Azure and broken down by Power BI’s data analytics tools. The result is real-time inventory control information and a series of insightful customer behavior reports and charts that operators can access at any time. Users who buy this version of the development kit will also receive a 60-day free trial for the Power BI Pro service.

“Intelligent vending machines represent the future of automatic retailing,” AAEON design manufacturing product manager Brenda Huang said. “Increasingly, customers are both expecting and relying on intelligent, interactive systems, and the data these machines collect will also give businesses an edge over their competitors.”

Banana Pi BPI-W2 – A Multimedia Powerhouse SBC for Media, Storage, and Networking Applications

SinoVoIP, the makers of the DIY Raspberry Pi lookalike board, the BananaPi has unveiled a new maker board designed for media, storage, and networking applications called the Banana Pi BPI-W2. The Banana Pi BPI-W2 is based on the Realtek RTD1296 processor. Recently, Realtek worked on the first RTD1296 processor with extra Gigabit Ethernet, SATA interfaces and USB 3.0. The Realtek RTD1296 is a high-end processor which already powers some Android TV Boxes like the Zidoo X9S and some others but there is little adoption in the general maker’s ecosystem. SinoVoIP is hoping to bring the powerful Realtek processor to the maker’s world with the introduction of the BananaPi BPI-W2 which is a friendly maker’s board.

BananaPI BPI-W2

BananaPi BPI-W2 is going to be SinoVoIP’s fourth board so far and comes with some improved features and modifications. The board integrates a Realtek RTD1296 SoC with 4x Cortex-A53 cores clocked at up to 1.5GHz with a high-end Mali-T820 MP3 GPU. It also incorporates dual GbE ports and a GbE WAN Port for router applications. It includes a variety of peripherals, including an HDMI input in addition to the HDMI output, and a mini-DisplayPort. A single PCIe2.0, PCIe1.1 & SDIO, M.2 interface, USB 2.0, USB 3.0 Port, SATA port, the WAN port provides support for 802.11ac/n WLAN connection through PCI-e port. From this onboard features, it is obvious the board is designed for media, storage, and networking applications.

Just like other Banana Pi boards in the past, the BananaPi BPI-W2 provides support for popular Raspberry Pi add-on boards through a 40-pin header. Some of its other features include an RTC, IR, debug, audio I/O, and a 12V input.

BananaPi BPI – W2 is expected to work with Android 6.0 and 7.0 as well as multiple OS such as Open WRT, Debian, Linux, Ubuntu Linux and many more. The router can be used for home entertainment, high wireless performance, automation of a building and so on.

Below are some of the specifications of the BananaPi BPI-W2 board:

  • SoC – Realtek RTD1296 quad-core Cortex A53 processor with ARM Mali-T820 MP3 GPU
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR4 RAM
  • Storage – 8GB eMMC flash (optional 16, 32 or 64GB), 2x SATA 3.0 interfaces,  micro SD slot up to 256GB
  • Video
    • Output – HDMI 2.0a up to 4K @ 60 Hz, mini DP
    • Input – HDMI 2.0 input up to 1080p60
    • Playback – HDR, 10-bit HEVC/H.265 up to 4K @ 60fps, H.264 up to 4K @ 24 fps, VP9 up to 4K @ 30 fps, BDISO/MKV, etc…
  • Audio I/O – HDMI, mini DP, 3.5mm audio jack
  • Connectivity
    • 2x Gigabit Ethernet
    • SIM card slot (requires mPCIe modem)
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0 ports, USB type C interface (still no idea if video and power are supported)
  • Expansions
    • 1x M.2 Key E “PCIe 1.1/SDIO” slot
    • 1x M.2 Key E “PCIe 2.0” slot
    • 40-pin “Raspberry Pi” GPIO header
  • Debugging – 3-pin UART connector
  • Misc – Power, reset and LSADC keys; RTC battery connector; IR receiver; fan header
  • Power Supply – 12V /2A via power barrel connector
  • Dimensions – 148 x 100.5 mm (same as Banana Pi R2 board)

Banana Pi BPI-W2 SBC is billed as open source, and should eventually ship with schematics and other documentation. The board is available and can be purchased for $93  on Aliexpress. More information about the board can be found here.

HioTron IoT Kit – A Modular and Enterprise IoT Development Kit

HioTron IoT Kit is a modular and enterprise IoT kit that is entirely pre-programmed prototyping kit for quickly building and testing IoT concepts. All modules are plug-n-play, allowing for flexible prototyping, customization & production. This set of kit is made by the Indian based company HioTron, which specializes in IoT solutions development. This Kit includes Hardware, IoT Platform & User App/Dashboard needed to build quickly any IoT application right from Scratch to Production.

Hiotron Development Kit

One of the challenges that come with embarking on IoT project is that of the platform, software, wireless standard, API, and hardware selection. We have numerous IoT enabled hardware in the market, with each having their own software stack and also several IoT platforms available to pick from. The process of going through these selection pools, valuable and productivity time could be lost and still not arrive at something that genuinely works or is efficient. Hiotron’s goal is to solve this by providing a complete package that can be used from PoC (Proof Of Concept) to Production. HioTron complete IoT solution which includes not only the hardware building blocks (Nodes & Gateway) needed to quickly prototype a wireless IoT system from scratch but most importantly hIOTron enterprise IoT™ Platform is integrated with custom mobile application & GUI dashboard that enable user to get up and run PoC of any idea as easily and quickly as possible.

The IoT Kit is ideal for makers, enthuthat siast, startups and even organization that wants to embark on IoT projects in the areas of smart cities, agriculture, industrial & smart factories, energy, healthcare, logistics, and several others. The kit is modular which means you can easily stack in add-ons on top of existing ones or add another device to the network infrastructure. The kit includes the following:

  • Hi-Node
  • Hi-Gate
  • hIOTron IoT Platform
  • Dashboard and Mobile App

Hi-Node

Hi-Node is a battery (2700 mAh Li-ion) or USB [Optional] powered wireless node which comes with 4 output channels to control real-world devices using 4 relays (Output 5A 230VAC) with 4 connectors and 4 universal (Analog/Digital) input channels to communicate with real-world sensors and transmit this information to IoT gateway using wireless (Zig-bee & BLE4.0) protocols.

Hi-Node

Hi-Node provides standard interface that offers not only remote monitoring but also control capability for managing many types of devices and it also offers advanced Edge Analytics & Local storage. The Hi-Node ZigBee is based on the Digikey Wired XBee module which boasts a range of about 80 – 100 meters line of sight and about 40 meters indoor. The Hi-Node is based around the ATmega328P with 2KB of SRAM, 32KB of Flash memory, and 1KB of EEPROM.

Hi-Gate

Hi-Gate is the brain of this kit which is fully Modular & Enterprise IoT gateway and which doesn’t only translate the protocol [RF/ NON-RF –To– REST/MQTT] but has TI CC3200 at its heart. The Gateway device comes with Zig-Bee and BLE4.0 to support its local network infrastructure with the Hi-Nodes and an outbound connectivity for connecting to the outside world using Wi-Fi 802.11 B/G/N Radio, Ethernet, and Cellular connectivity (2G, 3G, and 4G).

Hi-Gate

The Gateway device supports dual mode of operation – As a Node or Gateway. The Hi-Gate can support up to 25 wireless Hi-Nodes and offers an auto-reconnect for Wi-Fi and GSM network.

The following are the specification of the Hi-Gate:

Hardware System
  • Controller: ARM Cortex-M4 Core at 80 MHz
  • Flash: 1MB Serial Flash Memory
  • RAM: 256KB
  • EEPROM: 512KB External
Interface
  • Power input: 9-12V DC
  • 2-GPIO Port Pins
  • 2-Analog Port Pins
  • RTC
WiFi Specs
  • IEEE 802.11 b/g/n
  • Frequency Band: 2.4 ~ 2.462 GHz

HioTron IoT Platform

The hIOTron IoT Platform supports five major D’s such as Device Management, Device Connectivity, Data Storage, Data Analytics and Dashboard/Application enabled for the management of an IoT project life cycle. The Hi-Gate stream data to the hIOTron platform where all the analytics, storage, automation will be carried out.

The Hiotron IOT Platform

Dashboard & Mobile App

You can monitor & control your project application through the Dashboard & Mobile Application provide by HioTron and do unlimited customization from anywhere, anytime.

The Modular & Enterprise IoT development kit comes in 3 versions are Standard, Advance & Customized which can be selected based on applications requirement. The kit pricing is currently not disclosed. More information about the Kit can be found here and for more details on about getting started with the kit can be found here.

Researchers Develop New Hybrid Solar Panel That Can Generate Power From Rain Too

The researchers at Soochow University in China, have published a paper on the hybrid device that is able to harness the power of sun and rain using a hybrid panel. By attaching a transparent nanogenerator to a silicon solar cell, researchers have designed a device that harvests solar energy in sunny conditions and the mechanical energy of falling raindrops in rainy conditions. The dual functionality of this hybrid panel may provide a way to collect energy with greater efficiency in the midst of constantly changing weather conditions.

Hybrid solar panel can generate power fro rain too
The hybrid solar panel can generate power fro rain too

The hybrid device consists of a conventional silicon solar cell and a Triboelectric Nanogenerator (TENG), which turns the mechanical energy of falling raindrops into electricity. Although previous research has shown that these two types of devices can be connected with an extra wire, in the new design the solar cell and TENG are integrated by sharing a mutual electrode.

The biggest breakthrough in this work is that an integrated generator composed of a solar cell and a TENG was demonstrated through sharing a mutual electrode,

Zhen Wen at Soochow University said,

Compared to previous work, the simple design of the mutual electrode reduces the number of functional layers, which greatly improves the output efficiency.

The mutual electrode not only results in a more compact design, but it also offers advantages to both the solar cell and TENG. In particular, the TENG protects the solar cell by acting as a waterproof barrier and prevents water from penetrating the silicon. The textured electrode surface also greatly overcomes unwanted reflection of light, enhancing light harvesting of the solar panel. The textured surface results in a greater contact area between the TENG and falling raindrops, which improves the overall performance of the nanogenerator.

Due to the unique design, it has advantages of being lightweight and having a high efficiency, The team is now designing a fiber-shaped device and expect to weave them together as a fabric. In near future, it is possible to fabricate such clothing that can generate electricity from sunshine and raindrops, and then use this electricity to power wearable electronic devices.