Topic: Feedback on the beta boards

Greetings beta users of the hacker board!

Due to strong demand on the beta hackerboard, we've got to push up the schedule for the final release of the board. Before releasing the board for final production, however, I'd like to collect some feedback from existing users of the board. Please do post any comments or feedback you have on the boards!

In addition, for the final version, I'm considering dropping the Arduino connector headers. The headers aren't 100% compatible with Arduino (the hackerboard has fewer PWM's available so certain motor controller boards don't work exactly as they do on Arduino), and they are a bit tricky for assembly. Instead, we'll work with our distributors to make and stock a custom breakout board that plugs into the 44-pin header on the top-side of the board which will provide equivalent functions to many of the existing Arduino boards. Also, we should be able to make a breakout that plugs into the 44-pin header which can provide an Arduino interface for those who absolutely require a connector-compatible Arduino header.

Have any of the users on this forum made use of the Arduino headers, and if so, how have they been useful to you?

Re: Feedback on the beta boards

Hi,
I do not have a hacker board, I was put off by the dimensions. 20mm height? I would like to see a smaller version. Maybe use mini USB ports, or put the USB on headers.

Other than that, if you can make them free....(& open)
--pauL

Re: Feedback on the beta boards

bauer, half of the height is the Arduinoish headers. if bunnie removes them then the height will be ~10mm and eveything left is about the same height big_smile

4 (edited by neutron spin 2010-09-13 12:10:36)

Re: Feedback on the beta boards

OK here is my take on the board. It seems that it is only designed for the Arduino.  That is fine but some folks may want to interface it with their own hardware designs.  If it is only intended for the Arduino make it more compatible or make it more generic if that is the purpose of the design.  I suppose if I were developing Linux apps then a Beagleboard would would be more versatile...and of course more powerful.  Just what is the purpose of this board?...I can buy a Chumby and hack it for about the same price point when you add in the LCD screen and the rest of the components......If it is for hobby robots then it may be too large and a custom board would be better.....

5 (edited by caim 2010-09-13 12:35:30)

Re: Feedback on the beta boards

I haven't bought a hacker board yet, though I've hovered over the buy button on adafruit more times than I can count. I've also been playing around with the gen 1 Chumby Guts I got from Make a while back.

I like the idea of moving to a 44 pin header instead of the Arduino headers. It would make protoboard circuits a lot easier to interface.

That said, the thing that has kept me from buying a hacker board already is the price. I know bunnie's well experienced in procuring parts and I'm sure the hacker board is priced fairly considering the low(er) volume and prices of similar boards, but the stock Chumby One seems like a better target for hacking considering it comes with an LCD/touchscreen, wifi dongle, speaker, mic, larger SD card and fm radio for not much more money. The composite video and joystick on the hacker board as well as the cleanly broken-out GPIOs and USP ports are nice though.

The hacker board still looks great and I'm still strongly considering picking one up. It would be cleaner to work with for embedded use than a Chumby One and I really appreciate the simple tutorials on Adafruit for working with it. I'm looking forward to where this is going. Thanks for making it available.

Re: Feedback on the beta boards

I'm in the same boat as caim.  I've almost bought the hacker board several times but I've finally decided to get a BB8 instead.  For me the appeal of the chumby boards is the LCD + touchscreen integration.

7

Re: Feedback on the beta boards

I also haven't ordered a hacker board yet (though am regularly tempted and will eventually get one) and would echo the previous comments - loosing the Arduino headers (making the board thinner) and if possible reducing the price would make this more attractive.

8 (edited by tz 2010-09-15 14:00:02)

Re: Feedback on the beta boards

A Crosspost from Adafruit:

The one thing missing for really quick quickstart is that the serial console is the 4 pin connector in the corner diagonally opposite to the corner USB (i.e. not the joyswitch, usb, or power corner). From outside to center, the wires are TX, RX, 3v, GND and go to RX, TX, (nc), and Ground of a TTL adapter. It runs at 115200 baud.

Also, I don’t see anything out the NTSC video. I probably need to do something.
EDIT - use the RED connector - that is where the video comes out.  No console, but /dev/fb0 writes out there.

Wifi came up without any problems via the wiki tutorial page. The AdaFruit carried adapter is apparently one of the best for aircrack-ng as well.

Generally iwconfig wlan0 essid XXXX is sufficient if the AP is open (I filter MAC for security)
zd1211b based USB adapters work, as might rtl8187 based though it or somethign caused a crash (two from dealextreme I got long ago). A new dlink dual-band N failed for lack of firmware, I suspect adding it would make things work.

Linksys Etherfast 10/100 compact is also recognized and apparently works (I haven’t done the full DHCP stuff)

Bluetooth is also recognized. I don’t think the bluetooth stack is there, but that should be easy to add.
EDIT - the rest of the stack as modules is there, but not the command line tools and they aren't loaded automatically as far as I can tell, so you need to Modprobe.

I’m going to be busy, but so far this is a big winner.

9 (edited by ladyada 2010-09-15 14:11:43)

Re: Feedback on the beta boards

tz wrote:

A Crosspost from Adafruit:

The one thing missing for really quick quickstart is that the serial console is the 4 pin connector in the corner diagonally opposite to the corner USB (i.e. not the joyswitch, usb, or power corner). From outside to center, the wires are TX, RX, 3v, GND and go to RX, TX, (nc), and Ground of a TTL adapter. It runs at 115200 baud.

tz, we think the tutorial is pretty clear – and so far everyone else who has used them seems to as well – that said, we’re always improving our tutorials check back from time to time as we make edits continuously. regardless, it's a wiki - edit away smile

"The chumby has a four-pin, 3v level TTL serial connection port running at 115.2 Kbps." is the first sentence. then later,

"Rearrange the wires as shown, so you have Black (GND) then a space, Orange (TX) and Yellow (RX). You can clip the unused pins or cover them with heatshrink. They wont be used. Just make sure you don’t have the conductive pins accidentally touch your Hacker Board!!! "

then right after that is a photo showing where to plug in the cable. The pinout is also printed on the back of the Chumby Hacker board

10

Re: Feedback on the beta boards

Next problem - the SD card appears to have overlapping partitions.  I need to find out how it was built since I want to use a larger one (SDHC).

It seems to work if I use linux fdisk to delete and recreate the first partition (so it ends at the end of allocated space).  Now I have a working 8G card.  gparted wouldn't work with overlapping partitions.

The DLink dual band failed even with the firmware copied.

11

Re: Feedback on the beta boards

ladyada wrote:

tz, we think the tutorial is pretty clear – and so far everyone else who has used them seems to as well – that said, we’re always improving our tutorials check back from time to time as we make edits continuously. regardless, it's a wiki - edit away smile

"The chumby has a four-pin, 3v level TTL serial connection port running at 115.2 Kbps." is the first sentence. then later,

"Rearrange the wires as shown, so you have Black (GND) then a space, Orange (TX) and Yellow (RX). You can clip the unused pins or cover them with heatshrink. They wont be used. Just make sure you don’t have the conductive pins accidentally touch your Hacker Board!!! "

then right after that is a photo showing where to plug in the cable. The pinout is also printed on the back of the Chumby Hacker board

I never find it clear when anyone says TX or RX - does TX go to TX and RX to RX or TX to RX?  Usually it is the latter but not always.

The photo, even magnified, doesn't quite show which wires by color go where.  The clipped wires - or maybe they are the real wires - are going somewhere, but I can't see which pins they actually attach to.  I might assume something, but you have a 6 pin connector going into a 4 pin connector.

I don't happen to have that cable (but have others - one for a nokia phone, the other is an FTDI for Arduino).  I don't easily assume that anything is identical without an actual pinout which you don't include.  You might know it by heart but I've never seen it before.

I will try to edit the wiki when I get a chance.

Meanwhile, here is how I did it with 3 MF jumpers - any 3.3v arduino FTDI would work.  I could (and probably should) use one of those female headers with long pins and do a bit of bending

http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/9V … directlink

http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/ZO … directlink

12

Re: Feedback on the beta boards

Why are there 4 red plastic dots over the connectors on the bottom?  Am I supposed to remove them or do they protect something?

13 (edited by ladyada 2010-09-15 15:47:02)

Re: Feedback on the beta boards

tz wrote:
ladyada wrote:

tz, we think the tutorial is pretty clear – and so far everyone else who has used them seems to as well – that said, we’re always improving our tutorials check back from time to time as we make edits continuously. regardless, it's a wiki - edit away smile

"The chumby has a four-pin, 3v level TTL serial connection port running at 115.2 Kbps." is the first sentence. then later,

"Rearrange the wires as shown, so you have Black (GND) then a space, Orange (TX) and Yellow (RX). You can clip the unused pins or cover them with heatshrink. They wont be used. Just make sure you don’t have the conductive pins accidentally touch your Hacker Board!!! "

then right after that is a photo showing where to plug in the cable. The pinout is also printed on the back of the Chumby Hacker board


The photo, even magnified, doesn't quite show which wires by color go where.  The clipped wires - or maybe they are the real wires - are going somewhere, but I can't see which pins they actually attach to.  I might assume something, but you have a 6 pin connector going into a 4 pin connector.

the clipped wires dont go anywhere, thats why they are clipped smile
the only wires in use are ground (black), tx (orange) and rx (yellow)
in the tutorial we write "Connect a 5V regulated supply into the chumby and your FTDI cable so that the black wire lines up with the GND labeled pin " as long as you do that you should be fine.

I never find it clear when anyone says TX or RX - does TX go to TX and RX to RX or TX to RX?  Usually it is the latter but not always.

I don't happen to have that cable (but have others - one for a nokia phone, the other is an FTDI for Arduino).  I don't easily assume that anything is identical without an actual pinout which you don't include.  You might know it by heart but I've never seen it before.

if you look at the bottom of the chumby board, the pinout is "GND 3V RX TX". In the tutorial we have the cable connected in the order "GND <space> TX RX" which means TX goes to RX and RX goes to TX. ground is common.
Pretty much every FTDI adapter/cable has the same pinout.

if you look at your adapter you will see little labels next to the pins. TX is called TXo and RX is called RXi. So where we say "orange (TX)" you would substitute the TXo pin and where we say yellow (RX) you would substitute the RXi pin

if you have a nokia cable or some other cable, it will be something else.

please update the wiki with what you find! thanks smile

14 (edited by tz 2010-09-16 08:50:39)

Re: Feedback on the beta boards

after bootup, Video is 720x480, 16 bit  xxxBBBxxRRRxxGGG, at least for fb0 and fb1.  I think something is using ram for fb2 - it crashes but flashes like it is in memory.

UPDATE - fbset clarifies things.  It is little endian unsigned shorts, so ends up being something like: unsigned short framebuf[480][720]; // RRRrrGGG|gggBBBbb - I don't see anything if the lowercased bits are set though.
I need to try a mmap later)

15

Re: Feedback on the beta boards

To clarify, I figured it out before I posted, but I had to go back and forth -  there was no RXI/TXD in your cable or any of the pictures.  Just pull out all the pins (maybe except ground), shift or shuffle two, clip the others - (so I have to look several times to see what moved, or just try direct or crossed) and plug it in.

Looking at the pictures, it seems you pulled out the orange and yellow, and put them back in the same locations - you could have just pulled the brown one out, moved the black over, and clipped the others.

Re: Feedback on the beta boards

tz, the RXi, TXo labels are on your adapter, look at the red PCB-at the edge- the pins are labeled there (altho its quite small!) That way you can orient which pin is TX and RX and match it up to the wires in the photo - Orange (TX) and Yellow (RX) are the same as your adapters TXo and RXi

http://yfrog.com/mudsci0028ebj

the final connector uses only 3 wires, in order: ground (black), blank, tx (orange) and rx (yellow) the wires themselves dont have printed text labels which is why we talk about them by  color - orange is TX and yellow is RX. If you use another cable, once you figure out which is TX, RX and Ground you can just follow the pinout of the block (Ground, space, TX and RX)

smile

Re: Feedback on the beta boards

Regarding overlapping partitions: There shouldn't be.  Make sure you're using sector addressing, not CHS addressing.  fdisk -u will put you in this mode.

The framebuffer is in RGB565 mode, so it should be RRRRRGGGGGGBBBBB.

18 (edited by tz 2010-09-16 08:56:59)

Re: Feedback on the beta boards

The board resurrected itself somehow.  I didn't do anything but maybe something had to discharge for a half-hour.

Originally:


The board just died.  I inserted a USB micro SD since I was writing up how to clone and expand the microSD and it stopped working, and won't boot.  Lights come on, but no video and no serial bootup stuff - neither from the original nor the clone card and both worked (and are readable on my linux system - the original is unchanged).

19

Re: Feedback on the beta boards

The nokia CA-42 chopped:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000M8 … K6GEFSI075 
also works.

Colors of the lines vary (google , but on mine it was green to ground, skip, yellow (rx), then white (tx).
http://buffalo.nas-central.org/wiki/Use … inkstation
I soldered it to a 6 pin female header and if I'm brave I'll clip the sides and/or add an edge indicator

20 (edited by ecurtz 2010-09-16 08:08:55)

Re: Feedback on the beta boards

Unfortunately I haven't really gotten a chance to play with it, so I don't have too many comments.

It would be nice if the serial connector was keyed somehow, I need to triple check the alignment every time I plug the cable in (I'm using the Adafruit cable, although it looks like their new FTDI friend would be cleaner.)

Maybe a female header over by the SD card so the thing would be more stable when I have it sitting on the table? wink

I admit I didn't check, so this may be happening already, but it would really appeal to my 8bit nostalgia if there was a console on the video out at boot, so I could hook up my keyboard and tv and go.

21 (edited by tz 2010-09-16 09:04:07)

Re: Feedback on the beta boards

ChumbyLurker wrote:

Regarding overlapping partitions: There shouldn't be.  Make sure you're using sector addressing, not CHS addressing.  fdisk -u will put you in this mode.

The framebuffer is in RGB565 mode, so it should be RRRRRGGGGGGBBBBB.

The framebuffer turned out to be little-endian, and the low order bits don't seem to change color.

gparted does not use CHS, or at least the LBA and CHS need to be consistent and it reported the error.  fdisk in either mode noted the anomaly.  It might just be my SD card but it was there.

Here's the output from fdisk:

$ sudo fdisk -u /dev/sdb

WARNING: DOS-compatible mode is deprecated. It's strongly recommended to
         switch off the mode (command 'c').

Command (m for help): p

Disk /dev/sdb: 1018 MB, 1018691584 bytes
5 heads, 4 sectors/track, 99481 cylinders, total 1989632 sectors
Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disk identifier: 0x00000000

   Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sdb1               4      293398      146697+  53  OnTrack DM6 Aux3
/dev/sdb2           31255      281255      125000+  83  Linux
/dev/sdb3          281256      531256      125000+  83  Linux
/dev/sdb4          531257     1981440      725092    5  Extended
/dev/sdb5          531261      781257      124998+  83  Linux
/dev/sdb6          781262     1981440      600089+  83  Linux

Re: Feedback on the beta boards

Have any of the users on this forum made use of the Arduino headers, and if so, how have they been useful to you?

I have a lot of arduino shield but i didn't use any of them with my chumby hacker bord, but you can make more compatible i think it's a good idea to preserve it.

Add a ethernet on the final board (if it's not too expensive) could be great because you can access with SSH to the shell without use FTDI cable.

23 (edited by johngineer 2010-09-16 09:40:13)

Re: Feedback on the beta boards

I don't own the CHB (yet), but I wanted to give my own thoughts.

I think the Arduino headers are unnecessary, though I appreciate why they are there. I think the idea of a breakout board with level shifters and hardware to make it entirely compatible with the Arduino is a much better option.

Re: Feedback on the beta boards

I would say the same, get rid of the Arduino headers and add an Ethernet port if possible. Those headers make the board a lot thicker than it needs to be (since they are on the "back" of the board).

Re: Feedback on the beta boards

My first suggestion is to add a 5V signal to the 44 pin "LCD" connector so that you can provide power to the hackerboard from an add on board without using the barrel connector (JP300).  Another suggestion is to make the expansion pins much more fault tolerant.  The I/O are not even 5 volt tolerant but I am thinking that these pins should have some over voltage and ESD protection.  This board is intended to be used by hackers to build all kinds of prototype circuits and they will most certainly connect things to the wrong pins, plug stuff in backwards and at the wrong voltage.  I know the extra protection circuitry will add cost but I think it might be worth it on a hacker board.  I would also like to see board outline dimensions for the drill holes as well as dimension to the expansion connectors to help with making add on boards.  I am creating a base library for the dimensions by using the gerber files but it makes it more difficult.  Also the board outline in the gerber files seems to be for the Chumby one board (Falconwing MP1?), the OEM1b does not have the cutouts on the sides.  I have done nothing but power up my hacker board so I may have more suggestions once I get into it more.