Tag Archives: Android

Banana Pi BPI-W2 SBC – A Multimedia Router And NAS Board That Runs Android Or Linux

SinoVoip has released Banana Pi BPI-W2 multimedia network and smart NAS router SBC. The BPI-W2 has a faster processor and more advanced features than last year’s Banana Pi BPI-R2. However, the new model has only two Gigabit Ethernet ports instead of four.

This SBC is designed for applications such as high wireless performance, home entertainment, home automation, and many more. The BPI-W2 runs on a Realtek RTD1296 SoC with 4x Cortex-A53 cores clocked at up to 1.5GHz with a high-end Mali-T820 MP3 GPU. By comparison, previous year’s BPI-R2 used a quad-core, Cortex-A7 MediaTek MT7623 with a Mali-450 MP4. SinoVoip confirms full support for Android 6.0CentOSDebian 9Raspbian, and Ubuntu 15.04, and the board is also said to support OpenWrt.

Banana Pi BPI-W2
Banana Pi BPI-W2

The updated I/O support is shown in the BPI-W2’s dual SATA III ports, compared to only one on the single SATA interface found on the MT7623-based BPI-R2 and RTD1295-based devices. The BPI-W2 also has 8-64GB eMMC, a microSD slot, and 2GB of DDR4.

Although limited to dual GbE ports, the board also has a GbE WAN port for router applications. Unlike the R2, there is an HDMI input in addition to the HDMI output, and a mini-DisplayPort has replaced the earlier MIPI-DSI connection. In either case, the output resolution is still limited to HD (1080p) only.

Four USB ports are available, including single USB 3.0 and Type-C ports. There is a 40-pin header that is claimed to support Raspberry Pi 3 add-on boards. Other features involve RTC, IR, debug, audio I/O, and a 12V input.

Like other Banana Pi boards, the BPI-W2 is open source, shipping with schematics and other documentation. The AliExpress and wiki pages list and show PCIe 2.0 and 1.1/SDIO slots on the front as well as a single M.2 slot on the back. Yet the PCIe slots are also tagged as M.2 slots (E-Key), and it’s unclear which slots are capable of what. The PCIe slots are capable to support up to 802.11ac WiFi, and there’s also a SIM card slot.

The Banana Pi BPI-W2 is available now for $93 plus shipping on AliExpress. More information may be found on the BPI-W2 wiki page.

New Mini-ITX Form Factor Open-X 8M Development Kit Is Built Around i.MX8M Module

The Canada based company Intrinsyc has announced the Open-X 8M System on Module (SOM) a month ago. Now Open-X 8M is followed up with a Mini-ITX form factor Open-X 8M Development Kit build. The kit includes a GbE port, dual USB 3.0 ports, M2 expansion, and much more user-friendly features.

Open-X 8M SOM

Intrinsyc Open-X 8M SOM front side
Intrinsyc Open-X 8M SOM front side

The Open-X 8M SOM can run Linux and Android 8.0 on the high-end Quad model of the i.MX8M, the same model used by most of the other i.MX8M boards. The i.MX8M Quad has 4x Cortex-A53 cores, single 266MHz Cortex-M4F, VPU, and Vivante GC7000Lite GPU chips. These CPU cores can be clocked in the range of 1.3GHz to 1.5GHz.

The Open-X 8M SOM comes with 3GB LPDDR4 RAM and 16GB eMMC. It includes a wireless module with 2.4/5.0GHz 802.11a/b/g/n/ac with the support of 2×2 MU-MIMO and Bluetooth 4.1. A Gigabit Ethernet controller is also there for wired connectivity. Visual output is available with the help of the module’s 3x 100-pin connectors. There is also support for HDMI 2.0a for up to 4096 x 2160 at a 60Hz resolution and 4-lane MIPI-DSI for up to 1920 x 1080 at 60Hz. There are also dual 4-lane MIPI-CSI2 camera inputs.

The Open-X 8M SOM is moreover equipped with 2x debug UART, 2x USB 3.0, 4-bit SDIO, JTAG, and PCIe Gen2 additional I/O ports. This 3.3V module has an NXP PF4210 PMIC, and it can operate in 0 to 70°C temperature range.

Open-X 8M Development Kit

Intrinsyc Open-X 8M Development Kit
Intrinsyc Open-X 8M Development Kit

The Open-X 8M SOM is the heart of the new Open-X 8M Development Kit. It has a footprint of 170 x 170mm, which classifies as Mini-ITX form factor. The board has a MIPI-DSI connector and choice for mounting an optional, smartphone-sized Open-X LCD/Touchscreen is available.

The Open-X 8M Development Kit includes USB 3.0 host, USB 3.0 Type-C, and HDMI 2.0a ports, as well as a microSD slot. A GbE port is available as an alternative to the module’s WiFi. There’s also a 3.5mm audio output jack. Dual MIPI-CSI2 connectors support is available for optional camera module attachment.

The Open-X 8M SOM and Open-X 8M Development Kit are available now. Though, pricing information is not available yet. More information may be found at Intrinsyc’s Open-X 8M SOM and Open-X 8M Development Kit product page.

Open-Q 845 HDK Development Board Integrates Snapdragon 845 SoC And Runs Android 8.0

Intrinsyc’s new Open-Q 845 HDK Development Kit has the same Mini-ITX (170 x 170mm) dimensions and sandwich-style design as the Open-Q 835 from the previous year. The main SoC, Snapdragon 845 is integrated into the board topped by a heatsink. This dev board includes a smartphone like 5.7-inch QHD (1440 x 2560) touchscreen controlled via MIPI-DSI, as well as a camera board with dual rear-facing cameras and a front-facing camera.

Open-Q 845 Development Board with optional touchscreen
Open-Q 845 Development Board with optional touchscreen

The Open-Q 845 runs Android 8.0 on the Snapdragon 845 SoC with 6GB LPDDR4x RAM. The Snapdragon 845 SoC is equipped with 4X high-performance Kryo cores (up to 2.80 GHz) and 4X low-power Kryo cores (up to 1.8 GHz) and the graphics processing is handled by the new Qualcomm Adreno 630 GPU. There’s also a microSD slot and a 128GB UFS 2.1 flash drive. Like the Open-Q 835, the board offers Bluetooth 5.0 + BLE along with 2.4/5GHz 2×2 802.11a/b/g/n/ac and the latest WiGig60 802.11ad WiFi with an onboard antenna.

This board is further enhanced with a GNSS daughter card with GPS, GLONASS, COMPASS, and Galileo support and a PCB antenna and SMA connector option. There are mini-PCIe and PCIe slots for further wireless and peripheral expansion.

Video ports include DSI-driven HDMI 1.4 port, USB 3.1 Type-C DisplayPort, and dual 4-lane MIPI-DSI connectors. There are also 3x 4- and 2-lane MIPI-CSI ports on a single 120-pin connector that support dual 16-megapixel or a single 32-megapixel front-facing camera. This kit supports the Snapdragon 845’s capability for 4K @ 60fps, 10-bit HDR video playback and capture using H.264 (AVC) and H.265 (HEVC) compression.

Open-Q 845, front view (with optional touchscreen)
Open-Q 845Development Board front view (with optional touchscreen)

The audio department is handled by Qualcomm audio codec driver. It supports a headset jack and analog audio input and output headers. There are several I/O ports like DP-ready USB 3.1 Type-C, 2X USB 2.0 host ports, and a micro-USB serial port. Other additional features include NFC and sensor expansion headers with I2C, SPI, UART, and GPIO. The dev kit includes a power management function, as well as 12V/3A input from wall adapter and a 3000mAh Li-Ion battery.

Intrinsyc’s Open-Q 845 HDK Development Kit is available for pre-order at $1,079. No shipping date information was published to this date. More information may be found on the Open-Q 845 product page.

Arduino Communication with an Android App via Bluetooth

With the arrival of the IoT and the need for control, devices now need to do more than perform the basic functions for which they are built, they need to be capable of communicating with other devices like a mobile phone among others. There are different communication systems which can be adapted for communication between devices, they include systems like WiFi, RF, Bluetooth among several others. Our focus will be on communication over Bluetooth.

Today we will be building an Arduino based project which communicates with an app running on a smartphone (Android) via Bluetooth.

Arduino Communication with an Android App via Bluetooth – [Link]

Odroid-N1 Features Gigabit Ethernet And Can Run Android 7.1, Ubuntu, Debian

The Rockchip RK3399 has revolutionized the open-spec single-board computer world. Hardkernel’s new Odroid project has made the multi-core SoC RK3399 to firm it’s grip further. Recently Hardkernel released images, specs, and extensive benchmarks on a prototype for its storage-oriented new Odroid-N1 board. The boards can be expected to launch for about $110 in May or June this year.

New Odroid-N! based on Rockchip's RK3399
New Odroid-N1 based on Rockchip’s RK3399

The 90x90x20mm SBC is highlighted for offering dual channel SATA III interfaces and 4GB DDR3-1866 dual-channel RAM. The Odroid-N1 can run Android 7.1, as well as Ubuntu 18.04 or Debian 9 with Linux Kernel 4.4 LTS. This new board can also be open source as its previous flagship Odroid-XU4.

The RK3399 features two Cortex-A72 cores that are clocked at up to 2.0GHz, as well as four Cortex-A53 cores, which are clocked at 1.5GHz. (Some other RK3399 boards have listed 1.42GHz.) This board also includes a high-end ARM Mali-T864 GPU. Hardkernel’s benchmarks have shown the hexa-core RK3399 based Odroid-N1 is running significantly faster on most tests, beating the Odroid-XU4’s octa-core (4x Cortex-A15, 4x -A7).

The Odroid-N1 is equipped with a GbE port, 2x USB 3.0 ports, and 2x USB 2.0 ports, HDMI 2.0 port for up to 4K Video output. There’s also a 40-pin GPIO header. The Power input is mentioned at 12V/2A, although attaching two 3.5inch HDD will require a 12V/4A PSU. As with the other RK3399 boards, there are no hopes of Raspberry Pi add-on compatibility.

The RK3399 has powered many similar SBCs previously. The first major RK3399 SBC was Firefly’s Firefly-RK3399, soon followed by Vamrs’ similarly open source Rockchip RK3399 Sapphire. More recently we’ve seen Shenzhen Xunlong’s Orange Pi RK3399.

The RK3399 is also finding key roles among many commercial boards. We just saw Aaeon take the leap with its OEM-oriented RICO-3399 PICO-ITX SBC. Earlier, Videostrong announced a VS-RD-RK3399 SBC.

ODROID-N1 key features:

  • Rockchip AArch64 RK3399 Hexa-core processor
  • Dual-core ARM Cortex-A72 2Ghz processor and Quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 1.5Ghz processor, big-LITTLE architecture
  • Mali-T860MP4 GPU, support OpenGL ES1.1/2.0/3.0, OpenCL 1.2
  • 4Gbyte DDR3-1866 RAM, Dual channel interface for 64bit data bus width
  • 2 x SATA3 port, native SATA implementation via PCIe-gen2 to SATA3 interface
  • eMMC 5.0 (HS400) Flash storage and a UHS capable micro-SD slot.
  • 2 x USB 3.0 host port
  • 2 x USB 2.0 host port.
  • Gigabit Ethernet port
  • HDMI 2.0 for 4K display
  • 40-Pin GPIO port
  • OS: Ubuntu 18.04 or Debian Stretch with Kernel 4.4 LTS, Android 7.1
  • Size: 90 x 90 x 20 mm approx. (excluding cooler)
  • Power: 12V/2A input (Attaching two 3.5inch HDD requires a 12V/4A PSU)
  • Price: US$110 (To be adjusted based on DRAM market price changes)
  • Mass production schedule: TBD

More information is available in the Odroid-N1 announcement.

ARM-Android open source platform for Linaro By Huawei

A development platform for the Android open source project (AOSP) has been created by Huawei. The ARM-based hardware is part of the Linaro open source collaborative engineering organization developing software for the ARM ecosystem.

Recently, Huawei has launched the HiKey 960 96Boards development platform to provide access to the latest ARM mobile technology for AOSP developers. Fortunately, You can find this new board  listed on the 96Boards website and is available through global distribution channels.

In fact, initial software support for the board is provided in the AOSP source tree based on the Android Common Kernel using the Linux 4.4 kernel release. Meanwhile, Linaro and Huawei are also working on the Linux 4.9 based Android Common kernel and maintaining support for the Kirin 960 SoC in the mainline kernel.org tree, allowing for the availability of multiple Linux distributions for this board in the future.

In addition, Huawei has released the source code with Linux and other open source libraries and programs for their Huawei Mate 9 / Mate 9 Pro and Huawei P10 / P10 Plus models powered by Hisilicon Kirin 960 processor. You can the source from Huawei open source page.

Full specifications of Hikey 960

  • SOC: Kirin 960 octa-core CPU
  • CPU: 4x Cortex-A53 cores to 1.8 GHz, 4x Cortex-A73 cores to 2.4 GHz
  • GPU: Mali-G71 MP8 GPU
  • Software: AOSP with 4.4 AOSP common kernel
  • Storage: 32GB UFS 2.0 flash storage, MicroSD card
  • Display interface: HDMI 1.2a up to 1080p plus 4-lane MIPI DSI
  • USB: 1 x USB 2.0 type C OTG port, 2 x USB 3.0 type A host ports
  • Connectivity: Dual-band 802.11 b/g/n/ac WiFi and Bluetooth 4.1 with on board antennas
  • Camera: 1x 2-lane MIPI CSI, 1x 4-lane MIPI CSI
  • IO extended interface: 40 pin low speed expansion connector +1.8V, +5V, DC power, GND, 2x UART, 2x I2C, SPI, I2S, 12x GPIO, 60 pin high speed expansion connector 4L MIPI DSI, 2L+4L MIPI CSI, 2x I2C, SPI (48M), USB 2.0, PCIe Gen2 on M.2 M Key connector
  • MISC: 4x user LEDs, LEDs for WiFi & Bluetooth, Power button
  • Power supply: 12V/2A power supply recommended, 8V-18V/2A via 4.75/1.7mm power barrel (EIAJ-3 Compliant)
  • Dimensions: 85mm x 55mm

At this point, Hikey 960 is available for $239 on Amazon (USA), Seeed, Lenovator and many other stores.

“The HiKey 960 delivers on the goal of 96Boards to provide access to the latest ARM technology to the developer community, with support for the latest Huawei mobile SoC featuring high performance ARM Cortex-A73 cores coupled with the latest generation of ARM Mali GPU technology.” – George Grey, CEO of Linaro

Moreover, you can find information about the HiKey 960 board here and about running Android from here: http://source.android.com/source/devices.html. Also, Linaro is providing instructions for developers here: http://linaro.co/hikey960-start.

PCB Droid – First Mobile PCB Designer App

The applications available nowadays serve our everyday life well. Would it be the need of our entertainment, business life or lifestyle. However, there is one special field where we could face a serious shortcoming and it is the engineering field. I’ve come across a demand through forums specialized in electronics for a mobile application, designing printed circuits on your mobile device.

The goal was to create an application, which can be used as a designer tool for printed circuits and exporting those into different formats in an Android and Windows 10 environment. The consumption of these mobile devices is a fraction of their desktop sidekicks and an app such makes designing easier, even in your daily commute. This realization gave birth to PCB Droid application. As an electronic hobbyist as far as I’m concerned others engaged in DIY electronics usually don’t utilize the possibilities and professionalism of these programs. In practice, PC printed circuits designers are using circuit diagrams as an input. Hobbyists pretend to prefer designer programs where they can draw the marginal strips themselves and adjust them on the printed circuits. PCB Droid doesn’t require any kind of previously made circuits diagrams. The parts can be drawn onto the printed circuit by the user starting from the basic elements to the most complex components.

PCB Droid – First Mobile PCB Designer App – [Link]

PandwaRF, A Portable Radio Analysis Tool

PandwaRF, is a portable low-power RF device that captures, analyses and re-transmits RF signals via an Android device or a Linux PC. It uses Bluetooth (BLE) or USB connection to transmit data in a simple and fast way, comes in the form of a controllable housing from a smartphone or a computer.

This pocket-size device operates at sub-1 GHz range, and it replaced the ‘standard SDR Grind’ of capturing, demodulating, analyzing, modifying and replaying by hand with a simple powerful interface.

The PandwaRF consists of a capable hardware device, tailored for beginners and advanced users, with an application that runs either on an Android device or on a PC. The Android interface provides full functionality to control and customize the PandwaRF easily using JavaScript.

Technical details of the PandwaRF:

  • Bluetooth Smart Module ISP130301, based on nRF51
  • CC1111 Low-Power SoC with Sub-1 GHz RF Transceiver
  • Multi frequencies (from 300 MHz to 928 MHz)
  • Multi modulation (ASK/OOK/MSK/2-FSK/GFSK)
  • Transmit and receive in half duplex mode
  • Support data rates up to 500 kBaud
  • Open hardware
  • Full speed USB: 12 Mbps (Linux or Android)
  • Bluetooth Smart 4.0 (Android/iOS)
  • USB charging & battery powered
  • 4 buttons to assign codes
  • 4 Status LEDs
  • 16 Mbit Flash Memory to save custom RF protocols
  • Rechargeable battery powered for stand-alone operation
  • Battery fuel gauge
  • RX amplifier for improved sensitivity: +13dB from 300MHz-1GHz
  • TX amplifier for higher output power: +20dB @ 433MHz & +17dB @ 900MHz
  • SMA connector for external antenna
  • Antenna port power control for external LNA
  • 22-pin expansion and programming header
  • Included: Battery and injection molded plastic enclosure

PandwaRF features are not fully complete yet, the developers had finished captured data processing offload, radio scripting (JavaScript & Python), RF packet sniffer, and spectrum analyzer. Other features are still in development process.

The device is available in three options, the Bare version is about $120 and comes without housing and without battery, the standard version is about $142 with battery and black case, in addition the extended version with enhanced features.

You can reach more information and order your PandwaRF on the official website.

Virtualette V1, A Tiny Powerful Microcomputer

Designed by SRKH Designs, Virtualette V1 is a small dual stack microcomputer that can run Android and Linux operating systems, for network-wide IoT and mobile edge computing solutions and electronics DIY projects.

Virtualette V1 is designed based on the dual-core Cortex-A7 Allwinner A20 SoC, with 1GB DDR3L base memory, 8GB onboard NAND flash, and a 32GB microSD card. It also includes a real time clock, onboard battery and wakeup function, and 80 IO pins.

The microcomputer is consist of dual connected PCBs with 7.6cm x 3.7cm x 1.8cm size including mounting feet. It has an Ethernet jack, a USB port to connect mouse or keyboard, microSD card slot, SATA port, and mini USB ports.

Virtualette V1 is a low energy device with a typical 2.4W of energy draw with three power options; 9-48V PoE (Powered over Ethernet), 5V USB OTG, and a lithium battery.

You can run any of linux-based operating system on the V1, in addition to the optimized linux distribution that will be shipped with it. Users can change the OS by swapping over the micro SD card and they have the option of booting from an external microSD card or from the onboard NAND 8GB flash.

Additional storage can be added by inserting a USB2 drive or external hard drive (SATA compatible). V1 can be optionally booted by USB or a dedicated SPI ROM port.

Virtualette V1 Playing DVD via SATA

Examples of V1’s potential capabilities are:

  • As an individual desktop device or controller for a drone or robot.
  • As a liquid-cooled computer inside a 40mm PVC pipe.
  • As M2M nodes in a distributed intelligent security system.
  • Deployed as a peer-to-peer, machine-to-machine network in applications such as display information systems in airports or train stations.

With the launch of their Kickstarter campaign, SRKH Designs aims to raise funding of US$22.5k, offering backers Virtualette V1 devices from the first production run as their reward.

Post campaign, a roadmap of hardware products for the Virtualette range is planned. This includes future quad-core and octa-core versions, an add-on FPGA-based development board, a desktop platform, popular video adaptor interfaces and an ‘All in One’ peripheral board designed to embed V1 inside a slimline display case.

Android Things, Google’s IoT Platform

Google had launched Android Things,  a new comprehensive IoT platform for building smart devices on top of Android APIs and Google’s own services. Android Things is now available as a developer preview.

Android Things was basically launched as an enhancement for Brillo, Android based OS used for embedded development in particular for low-power IoT devices, and it is based on its feedback and best practices. Google had announced Android Things as re-branding of Brillo to solve many issues like the security of IoT devices.

Platform Architecture

Both work in conjunction with Weave, an open, standardized communications protocol that supports various discovery, provisioning, and authentication functions. Weave enables device setup, phone-to-device-to-cloud communication, and user interaction from mobile devices and the web. The chief benefit is allowing a “standardized” way for consumers to set up devices. Belkin WeMo, LiFX, Honeywell, Wink, TP-Link and First Alert will adopt Weave to make their devices able to interact with some Google products like Google Assistant.

One of the great things about Brillo was the security issue with IoT applications solved by choosing to use secure boot and signed over-the-air updates and providing timely patches at the OS level. Partnered with hardware manufacturers to build new devices based on Intel Edison, NXP Pico and the Raspberry Pi 3, Google will build the needed infrastructure to run the OS updates and fix security issues respectively on these devices.

Android Things makes developing connected embedded devices easy by providing the same Android development tools, best-in-class Android framework, and Google APIs that make developers successful on mobile. For more details about Android Things you can check the documentation provided here, where you can find also the developer’s preview.