Hackaday Links: April 6, 2014


Back in September we saw this awesomesauce wristwatch. Well, [Zak] is now kitting it up. Learn more about the current version, or order one. [Thanks Petr]

Home automation is from the future, right? Well at [boltzmann138's] house it’s actually from The Next Generation. His home automation dashboard is based on the LCARS interface; he hit the mark perfectly! Anyone thinking what we’re thinking? This should be entered in the Hackaday Sci-Fi Contest, right? [via Adafruit]

PCB fab can vary greatly depending on board size, number of layers, number of copies, and turn time. PCBShopper will perform a meta-search and let you know what all of your options are. We ran a couple of tests and like what we saw. But we haven’t verified the information is all good so do leave a note about your own experience with the site in the comments below. [via Galactic Studios]

We recently mentioned our own woes about acquiring BeagleBone Black boards. It looks like an authorized clone board is poised to enter the market.

Speaking of the BBB, check out this wireless remote wireless sensor hack which [Chirag Nagpal] is interfacing with the BBB.

We haven’t tried to set up any long-range microwave communications systems. Neither has [Kenneth Finnegan] but that didn’t stop him from giving it a whirl. He’s using Nanobridge M5 hardware to help set up a system for a triathlon happening near him.


  1. Ralph says:

    Hackvana doesn’t seem to be included in the pcbshopper comparisons.


  2. SavannahLion says:

    Am I not understanding something here? I was under the impression the BeagleBone Blacks are in short supply because they’re having a hard time getting parts from manufacturers who, for whatever reason, are slow in ramping up production of part whatever.

    So if a clone uses the same parts for compatibility, would they not also be subject to the same shortages? On the flip side, if the clone manages to use substitute parts for the same compatibility, couldn’t the BBB also use those same components to circumvent the parts shortages.

  3. Hirudinea says:

    That LCARS interface is so cool it’s almost worth not getting laid!

  4. garym53 says:

    That PCBShopper is useless – it only supports some tinpot fifth world country with a 10th grade currency…

    • Bob says:

      Hi Gary,

      I’m not sure how far your tongue is in your cheek, but I am, indeed, thinking of adding more countries. Do you have a suggestion which country I should add first? I don’t want my next country to be a “tinpot fifth world country with a 10th grade currency”. Perhaps I should add Ukraine (while it still exists)? ;-)

      – Bob

  5. Truth says:

    Does anyone know if there are any cheap low power open boards using the BBB CPU (TI AM3359) and with dual 1Gbit/sec Ethernet ports. The TI AM3359 in the BBB supports dual gigabit but for some reason only has the support chips for 10/100 Ethernet. And the “AM335x Starter Kit” which has both gigabit ports is $218.9/€181.85 (excluding shipping). I was thinking of setting up an OpenBSD box to shape my network traffic (see: http://www.benzedrine.cx/ackpri.html). Every time I see mention of BBB it always make me think, great CPU, why isn’t there a bare bones cheap dual gigabit port board yet. Maybe it is time to make one.

    • Mike Szczys says:

      You have such specific hardware requirements I’d say you’re right, time to make your own. Why not start with the BBB design and open source your project along the way?

    • chango says:

      The AM3359 can talk to two gigabit PHYs at a time but has only one MAC. There’s a built in switch connecting the two.

      You’d get the same effect with an offboard switch that does VLAN.

      • Truth says:

        That is very sly (EMAC 2 port 10/100/1000, w/switch, MII/RMII,RGMII) , so if both ports were setup the maximum output is 1Gb/sec cumulative. I really need to start reading the datasheets with a lot more care.

        So as you suggest a offchip RGMII switch (w/VLAN) with any cheap CPU with a single gigabit port would give the same effective throughput.

        I suppose it is one way to keep costs down, half the data throughput and half the licensing fees for gigabit.

        • chango says:

          A 1GHz Cortex-A8 is not going to saturate a single GbE interface by itself, much less two. The Sitara parts are targeted at industrial applications, and I imagine the main application for two interfaces is redundancy.

          Not sure why it’s on-chip, since GbE managed switch chips with an RGMII port and multiple integrated PHYs are fairly cheap nowadays, probably comparable to two separate PHYs.

          • Truth says:

            I did a bit more checking and just copying data from A to B alone no processing, just straight memory to memory copy on a 720-MHz Cortex-A8 is at maximum 227MiB/sec.


            So a 1GHz Cortex-A8 should be able to copy at about 315MiB/sec within memory. And a 1Gbit/sec NIC, assuming jumbo packet frames should be able to transfer about 112MiB/sec in (and out at the same time). So I can see your point shoving data about with no processing whatsoever it may be able to saturate a single Gigabit NIC. But any processing at all and it will never be able to saturate the single link.

            Thanks for opening my eyes about that chip a bit more, time for me to move on and look for a better low power chip with more grunt.

  6. danieljlouw says:

    In my hometown (Pretoria, South Africa) we have a massive ~1500 node microwave based mesh network. Membership to this network does not cost anything, just the hardware to get hooked up. It’s not-for-profit and completely community driven. We use Nanobridges for backbone communications between main towers, and MicroTik’s 5GHz hardware for communication between clients and towers.

    We have a couple of dish to dish links stretching over 15km last time I checked. Dish to sector links rarely go beyond 7km (Pretoria is _very_ hilly). For what you pay you really get a lot. I have a stable connection of ~5MB/s (fastest affordable landline internet here is 10Mb/s) and we have our own little internet running on this network. Everything from torrents, youtube clone, internet radio, Ubuntu and other linux distro update servers, Windows update servers and tons and tons of game servers.

  7. nullpointr says:

    Oh ffs! Element14 / Farnell are at it again.
    It’s great that someone supplies BBB boards, but in germany, only companies and registered students can order from Farnell.
    Had the same problem when the RasPi came out. We waited till the early morning and tried to order some for our hackerspace but no dice. Only companies.

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