The Raspberry Pi 4 represents a significant performance increase over previous generations, unlocking potential applications that were simply beyond the abilities of these diminutive Single Board Computers (SBCs) in the past. Some would even argue that the Pi 4, with a quad-core Cortex-A72 running at 1.5 GHz, now holds its own as a lightweight ARM desktop computer for those interested in finally breaking free from x86.
For those who are invested in the 1 GB model, have no fear. Rather than delete the product from the lineup entirely, the company will be keeping it available for anyone who needs it. So if you’ve got a commercial or industrial application that might not take kindly to the hardware getting switched out, you’ll still have a source of spares. That said, the pricing for the 1 GB model won’t be changing, so there’s no cost advantage to using it in new designs.
His exceptionally comprehensive write-up takes us through the entire process, from creating a rather useful set of 3D-printed brackets for a Pi and camera through deciding the combination of artificial intelligence software components required, to making the eventual decision to offload part of the processing to a cloud service through a 4G mobile phone link. In this he used Cortex, a system designed for easy deployment of machine learning models, which he is very impressed with.
The result is a camera in his car that identifies and reads the plates on the vehicles around it. Which in a way has something of the Big Brother about it, but in another way points to a future in which ever more accessible AI applications self-contained without a cloud service become possible that aren’t quite so sinister. It’s an inevitable progression whose privacy questions may go beyond a Hackaday piece, but it’s also a fascinating area of our remit that should be available at our level.
When the Raspberry Pi people release a fresh model in their line of fruity single board computers, it’s always an event of great interest. The Raspberry Pi 4 brought some significant changes to the formula: they moved to mini micro HDMI and USB-C power sockets, for instance. The early adopters who scored one of those Pi 4s were in for a shock though, if they had all but the most basic USB C power cables the device wouldn’t power up. Now the Register has news that they have slipped out with little fanfare an updated version of the board containing a fix for this problem.
Our colleague Maya Posch delved deeply into the USB C specification and delivered a pithy analysis at the time which demonstrated that the fault lay with the configuration of the sense resistors used by intelligent USB C power sources to determine what power to supply. For the addition of a single surface mount resistor the problem need never have existed, and we’re guessing that’s how they fixed it.
There’s no need to despair should you have one of the older boards, though. They will still work as they always have done with the so-called “dumb” power supplies and cables, and meanwhile we’re sure that future Pi boards will have had a lot of attention paid to their USB power circuitry.
Projects that turn the Raspberry Pi into a low-cost Network Attached Storage (NAS) solution are very common; all you need is the right software, the Pi itself, and some USB storage devices. But unless you particularly like the “Medusa” look, with loose cables running all over the place, you’ll probably want to put the hardware into a suitable enclosure. Unfortunately, that’s where the somewhat unusual layout of the Pi can make things tricky.
Which is why [AraymBox] came up with this unique “capsule” enclosure for the Raspberry Pi and two USB-attached hard drives. Every effort has been made to keep the outside of this design as clean and streamlined as possible. The asymmetrical loops of wires that we so often see on other projects are gone, with everything been brought inside thanks to some clever wiring. This enclosure looks like a professional product, and if you’re willing to put in the effort, you can have one to call your own.
The good news is that the 3D printed enclosure only has four parts, albeit rather large ones, and none of which require support material. So it should be an easy print even on a relatively low-end machine. Of course, you’re not going to get that futuristic metallic look without a little work. You’ll need to do a considerable amount of sanding, filling, and paint work to get that kind of a surface finish. Then again, that rough “just printed” look has a certain cyberpunk appeal to it as well.
But the printed enclosure is only half the battle. Inside, [AraymBox] has soldered the USB to SATA adapter cables directly to the Raspberry Pi to keep things tight and compact. A micro USB breakout board was then used to add a power connector on the back of the device where the Ethernet and USB ports are, solving the issue of having one lonely USB cable coming out of the side of the case.
With the Raspberry Pi and a digital modulator, he’s got the only house on the block that’s wired to show The Simpsons all day. He has absolutely no control over which episode plays next, he can’t pause it, and its in presented in standard definition (a nightmare for anyone who grew up in the Netflix era) but a familiar viewing experience for the rest of us.
The key to this project is the Channel Plus Model 3025 modulator. It takes the feed from the antenna and mixes in two composite video sources on user-defined channels. All [probnot] had to do was find a channel that wouldn’t interfere with any of the over-the-air stations. The modulator has been spliced into the house’s coax wiring, so any TV connected to the wall can get in on the action. There’s no special setup required: when he wants to watch The Simpsons he just tunes the nearest TV to the appropriate channel.
Providing the video for the modulator is a Raspberry Pi, specifically, the original model that featured composite video output. While the first generation Pi is a bit long in the tooth these days, playing standard definition video is certainly within its capabilities. With a USB flash drive filled with a few hundred episodes and a bit of scripting it’s able to deliver a never-ending stream direct from Springfield. There’s still that second channel available on the modulator as well, which we’re thinking could be perfect for Seinfeld or maybe The X-Files.
[Matteo] bought a new Raspberry Pi 4. Why not? You get a quad-core ARM processor, up to 4 GB of RAM, and a gigabit Ethernet port for $35 $35-55. However, the default operating system is still a 32-bit system and doesn’t take advantage of the Pi 4’s 64-bit capable CPU. So he installed a light version of 64-bit Debian and ran some benchmarks for the Raspberry Pi 4 running both 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems.
It really shouldn’t be surprising that the 64-bit OS did better in nearly every test. If anything is surprising, it may be that the difference is so pronounced. Some of the benchmarks, like Dhrystones, probably don’t relate much to real-life usage. But some things, like computing a hash, is something you probably do pretty often in normal usage, and the timing difference is pronounced.
These days you can order a kit that has pre-cut panels to build your cabinet with, but looking for a completely custom build, [Dawid] decided to first model his design in SketchUp and then cut out the panels himself with a jigsaw. This obviously is quite a bit more work, and assumes you’ve got sufficient woodworking tools, but we think the final result looks great. Not to mention the fact that it’s going to be a lot stronger than something made out of MDF.
He also created the side artwork himself, taking the logos and names from his favorite arcade and Amiga games and putting them on a retro-looking gradient pattern. The marquee on the top has an acrylic front and is illuminated from behind with strips of LEDs. It’s mounted on a hinge so that it can be lifted up and a new piece of art slid in without taking apart the whole cabinet. While it might be a little more labor intensive to switch out than some of the electronic marquees we’ve seen, we do like that you still have the ability to change the artwork on a whim.
With the cabinet itself completed, [Dawid] turned his attention to the electronics. Inside you’ve got the aforementioned Raspberry Pi 4 (with a Noctua fan to keep it cool), an external hard drive, a HDMI to VGA converter with scanline generator to drive the 4:3 ratio Eizo Flex Scan S2100 monitor, and a rather beefy amplifier hanging off the Pi’s 3.5 mm analog audio output. All of which is easily accessible via a maintenance hatch built into the cabinet so [Dawid] doesn’t need to tear everything down when he wants to tweak something.