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Raspberry Pi Gertboard In Action

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the would-you-like-some-gpio-with-that dept.

Hardware Hacking 191

An anonymous reader writes with news from Geek.com on an expansion board for the Raspberry Pi. Quoting: "In the middle of December last year the Raspberry Pi Foundation made a surprising announcement that not only would we see the $25 PC released in 2012, it would also be getting an expansion board ... called the Gertboard, and is being developed by Broadcom employee Gert van Loo in his spare time. When completed, it will allow Raspberry Pi owners to play around with flashing LEDs, electric motors, and a range of different sensors. It effectively takes the $25 Raspberry Pi beyond just being a very cheap PC. There's a video of the Gertboard already working which demonstrates the 12 LEDs being lit up and the board powering an electric motor more than capable of lifting something like your garage door."

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191 comments

Raspberry Blob (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38637046)

Useless!

Re:Raspberry Blob (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38637124)

Plug it into your tv or ancient flatscreen. Wifi signal your video feed over the air for 25usd and some coding.

I think your imagination is useless.

Re:Raspberry Blob (4, Insightful)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637636)

The Raspberry Pi is a good litmus test for imagination. If you read or talk about it and have a tingle, you have an imagination. If you think it's pointless, you're dead inside.

Re:Raspberry Blob (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38639090)

Last time I checked, the manufacturer of the SoC that is on this board would not release the data-sheet to end users. If you don't have a proper data-sheet on the SoC, then I'd say it is the board that is pretty much dead. Oh wait, I'm supposed to *imagine* a data-sheet...

WHY DOESN'T BROADCOM RELEASE THE DATA SHEET FOR THE CPU? Not useful unless documented.

Re:Raspberry Blob (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38638112)

Combined with an old desktop monitor/speakers this will make an awesome streaming solution for my home gym and at a few hundred quid cheaper than most of the alternative solutions, agreed GP is the issue not the RPi.

Neat! (4, Funny)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637084)

Take that, Arduino.

Re:Neat! (4, Insightful)

glop (181086) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637234)

They have 13$ arduinos... That said, I prefer a Linux machine that can run python, java, apache and everything and then just talk to some IO library or something to take care of moving motors etc.
But that's because I am a software guy....

Re:Neat! (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637460)

Certainly makes it a lot simpler for the script kiddies to help you make use of your Pi/Gert, eh?

I'm much more interested in Arduino for blinkenlights. All sorts of gizmos out there to Wifi your video to whatever, like wallwart PCs. And they are no more or less secure than the distro they got running.

Of course, for $25-50, you can cheaply find out you don't care to code securely after all, unless you are already, in which case this is cheap cycles for ya. Wax on...

Re:Neat! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38637590)

Real question is: what's the power consumption? I have some home monitoring stuff that runs 24x7 with under a watt consumed. Can the rasp pi get down that low?

Re:Neat! (3, Informative)

randomErr (172078) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637854)

From http://www.raspberrypi.org/archives/260 [raspberrypi.org]

Model B owners using networking and high-current USB peripherals will require a supply which can source 700mA (many phone chargers meet this requirement). Model A owners with powered USB devices will be able to get away with a much lower current capacity (300mA feels like a reasonable safety margin).

model-A is damn close to 1 watt Re:Neat! (3, Informative)

Fubari (196373) | more than 2 years ago | (#38638844)

They're using 5v over micro usb. Model-A's 300mA works out to 0.3A*5V = 1.5 watts. Model-B's 700mA is 0.7A*5V=3.5 watts. (I'd go with Model B just to double the ram (256MB) + ethernet.)
While the gp will have to account for the efficiency of their power supply as well, I'm pretty impressed w/the rPi. It looks really cool. Here is a nice nice overview [raspberrypi.org] , the power-suppy section links to the parent's "archives/260" reference.

From http://www.raspberrypi.org/archives/260 [raspberrypi.org] Model B owners using networking and high-current USB peripherals will require a supply which can source 700mA (many phone chargers meet this requirement). Model A owners with powered USB devices will be able to get away with a much lower current capacity (300mA feels like a reasonable safety margin).

Re:Neat! (2)

RackinFrackin (152232) | more than 2 years ago | (#38638238)

They have 13$ arduinos.

If you're making more than one device you can go even cheaper if you just buy a bare ATMega328 + a couple of cheap components. Granted, you also need a USB to TTL cable which is another $20 or so, but you only need one of those.

Re:Neat! (2)

thejaq (2495514) | more than 2 years ago | (#38638368)

Knock off nokia phone data cable (CR42): $2.68 + free shipping. About $4.00-$20.00 to say 'USB TTL' or want some type of connector. In addition to arduinos I talk to a guruplug with one, an unfortunate POS device that will most assuredly be dumped in favor of a pi.

http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_nkw=nokia+ca+42+cable [ebay.com]

Re:Neat! (4, Funny)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637236)

Yeah, programming under Linux is way easier then programming an Arduino...

Re:Neat! (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637530)

Did you forget to escape your sarcasm tags or something? It's much easier to let someone else handle all the I/O for you and you just pull in libraries to perl or python or what have you.

Re:Neat! (2)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637552)

Did you forget to escape your sarcasm tags or something? It's much easier to let someone else handle all the I/O for you and you just pull in libraries to perl or python or what have you.

http://qt.gitorious.org/qtonpi [gitorious.org]

Re:Neat! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38638270)

Let's not arduino this or arduino that, it's not the same! unless you manage to run linux on an arduino (with fpu please)..
but i'm sure you can hookup an arduino as well

Re:Neat! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38638584)

Arduino programming language (Processing) is very similar to Python or interpreted C.
  (OK, include Perl in there if you like.. but whenever someone compares code to Perl, I think they mean it is "unintentionally obfuscated").

And yeah, programming an Arduino IS easier than Linux (at least in MY opinion... I do both).

It will be interesting to check out those Qt and Python/Perl/etc packages on Raspberry... but you know what sucks about Linux programming? Portability. You can't assume your Python/etc. developed under Ubuntu or Fedora will just work under Raspberry.. probably not. As you say, interpreted languages handle the I/O for you... and I say that's where Arduino shines brighter. You know the Arduino code will run on any standard Arduino, as is. Your Python code might not, especially if you are the type to use modules/libraries.

Can't tell you how many times I've dealt with a call that this or that script fails on this or that Linux. There's only so many ways you can defensively code against "is this library not included" before you say "eff it" and copy/paste that library right into your code.. defeating the purpose of the lib.

Re:Neat! (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38638906)

Arduino programming language (Processing) is very similar to Python or interpreted C.

No, arduino programming is NOT very similar to python at all. Its not even close.

Arduino's native programming languages are C, C++ (with some limitations), and AVR assembler. That's it. The confusion comes from the fact Arduino purposely attempts to obscufate the fact you are using realatively low level languages behind a nice, high level API. None of these are close to python.

When I first started using Arduinos, it took me a week before I figured out the imaginary "script language" everyone talks about, which I could never seem to find, doesn't actually exist. Its completely imaginary. Its 100% marketing and obscufation for C and C++.

Re:Neat! (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637662)

Depends on the application. Arduinos make twiddling a few logic-level pins and some other useful interface-to-the-world logic quite simple, which is fantastic for certain applications(Linux devices aren't totally impossible in this regard, there are usually some GPIO pins hiding somewhere, and a 'sound card' is a quite capable ADC/DAC if you can manage to get reasonably non-mangled values out of whatever drivers where almost certainly designed for making noises, not sensory applications...).

On the other hand, while larger systems have (arguably) been getting increasingly hostile to simple sense-and-control, it sure is nice to be able to spin up some huge, luxuriously wasteful interpreter and bang away in the high level language of your choice, complete with all sorts of fun network and persistent storage stuff...

Re:Neat! (1)

psergiu (67614) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637784)

On RPi you will be just able to:

echo "value" > /sys/class/gpio/...

Re:Neat! (2)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 2 years ago | (#38638292)

Probably not. The CPU in the Pi is much more powerful than the Arduino.
Throw in that the PI has a Keyboard and HDMI out as well and things change a bit. With the Arduino you must have PC to program it. With the Pi you just need the Pi with a keyboard and monitor.
So lets say you wanted to make a video game with some custom controllers, the Pi would be a much better solution.
If you want to make a small weather station that runs on solar power and talks over ZigBee or even a low power HAM radio link with morse code. Than an Arduino might be the best choice.
If you want to use PSK over the radio link them back to the Pi.
If you want a device to steam audio from your samba share on your NAS the Pi makes a lot of sense.

Re:Neat! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38638886)

I have an Arduino, and I can't wait to get my hands on a RPi. I'm imagining having the Pi linked to the Arduino so you can program it directly from your bot (or whatever), just by plugging in your monitor and keyboard. This Gertboard looks quite interesting as well, and the idea of being able to control multiple Arduino or gertboards, from a PI, and offloading some of the processing that the Arduino can't handle well sounds very sexy indeed. I can't wait until they ship, and see what creative people come up with using this stuff. Really, they're almost cheap enough that building your own robot army doesn't seem so far fetched anymore.

Re:Neat! (2)

RicktheBrick (588466) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637420)

Will this lead to an automated house. Every device in the house should be communicating with a computer. For instance when on turns on a faucet the computer should know there is a reason for water flow so that if there is water flow without a reason it should be able to shut the flow off. I think there should be a computer in every room as long as it is on a network. They should be able to effectively maintain a house and save more energy than they cost.

Re:Neat! (2)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637626)

My neighbors toilet tank cracked while he was on vacation. Result, tons of damage to the house and months of renovations. Luckily, he was insured. Another neighbour had tenants move out and hook up the old washer incorrectly and experienced similar flooding. Anyway. I really had to wonder. A $5 (retail price most likely produced en masse) could easily have detected that water flow was excessive for that particular unit, and shut off the water within minutes, causing minimum damage. For around $50, you could probably outfit an entire house with sensor on the toilets, washing machine, dishwasher, hot water tank and one at the main inlet to detect abnormal water flow. I've looked around and haven't found anything great. Most things are purely mechanical, and prone to not working correctly, or are based on just sounding alarms when the floor is wet. Water damage due to burst pipes or faulty is a proplem that could be easily solved, yet it seems like nobody is bothering to create a device to do it.

Re:Neat! (1)

ArhcAngel (247594) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637770)

Seeing as you can already get this [thewateralarm.com] I'm certain this isn't the first time the thought had occurred to someone. [google.com]

Re:Neat! (2)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637640)

save more energy than they cost.

Ever pay a contractor to run a wire?

Re:Neat! (5, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637886)

I suspect that(while they will probably be of assistance to geeks brewing their own) this will suffer the same fate as all the prior 'automated house' widgetry(a market at which they've been hammering for bloody ages now, with comparatively little success).

Suitably motivated geeks, with some major time and pains, and more money than they initially expected to shell out, will indeed hammer out home automation systems. Fundamentally, home automation is a series of really-not-all-that-ghastly problems in AC wiring, switching, sensors, and logic. It will be utterly non-inter-operable with anything else(save perhaps the geek's cellphone of choice, for which he will build a website/app, and possibly an appliance or two into which he will hack directly. Nothing else.)

Joe User, on the other hand, will discover that specific home automation products(eg. cheap programmable thermostats) can be purchased at any hardware store; but more sophisticated systems either pretty much suck, enough that they are really just starting parts for dedicated geeks(eg. X10), or can be purchased, from an installer, in one big, shiny, expensive, bespoke, proprietary package. It'll start at $10,000, be really slick, and interoperate with absolutely nothing that isn't itself.

The various utility companies attempting to deploy "smart meters" for some combination of PR, easier meter reading, and customer behavior metrics will utterly ignore this, since it doesn't comply with their alphabet soup of semi-open-for-interoperability's-sake-but-not-at-all-talked-about-outside-the-industry-or-intended-for-you-to-know-anything-about wireline and wireless protocols(their status seems rather analogous to the state of various 'standards' in the wireless telco wars. Some of them are just totally proprietary, dreamed up by some company large enough that its service area qualifies as a large scale deployment. Others, GSM-like, are standardized cross-industry things; but are really not intended to be fiddled with by end users.

All in all, no difference:

There will still be nothing resembling manufacturer support for appliances that can report and control intelligently(as opposed to just having an external relay cut them on and off, with the exception of a few horrible manufacturer gimmicks that will probably be badly broken and tied to some manufacturer 'portal'. Geeks will continue to homebrew functional, if slightly rough, systems; and it will still be possible to buy very shiny, tightly integrated, totally proprietary widgets for large buildings and custom installs of various sorts.

What dogs 'the automated house' seems not to be a lack of cheap computing power(wireless and fast CPUs certainly helps; but ASM coded PICs communicating over some primitive serial bus through your house's telephone wiring back in the late 80's could have handled it, with some sort of frontend/master-control widget similar to the x86/DOS based CNC machine control systems that persist to this day. Expensive? Yeah. Doable? Yeah.) It seems to be a combination of limited incremental benefit(power just doesn't cost that much, in many locations, doing it manually works OK, for most tasks, setup is currently complex, many locations charge residential customers the same for on and off peak power, so who cares?), complete lack of anything resembling standardization(minimal standardization of even simple things like remote control switches, never mind any sort of direct intelligence built into appliances that can be exposed. PCs have it, in a somewhat clusterfucked way, with ACPI; and some individual devices, like higher end furnaces, might have a manufacturer specific control panel on an HTTP server somewhere; but everything else is largely silent), and some degree of sinister intent by certain entities(the intentions of the power-rationing, 'consumer-metric'-gathering, and similar 'smart-meter' entities are largely not in your interest...)

It's a pity: If it were a primarily technological problem, technology would have curb-stomped it by now. It isn't.

Re:Neat! (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#38638158)

I'll say it again:

Ever pay a contractor to run a wire?

My last call to a "professional Licensed electrician" got me a fairly reasonable quote of $150 to run a wire from the breaker box through the attic to a new hot-tub installation. Then I asked him to make it 10 gauge instead of 12, and the quote increased to $250, when a box of 10 gauge wire that would make the run only cost about $30 (and the 12 gauge cost about $25).

Now, take these same guys and hand them a drawing that involves more than 3 types of conductors, what do you think happens?

With contractors as gatekeepers on home construction and renovation, it doesn't matter that the industry can't unify home automation. If you're not running the wires yourself, $10K for the components is going to be the cheap part of the system.

Re:Neat! (3, Informative)

Xenkar (580240) | more than 2 years ago | (#38638746)

I used to be an electrician, but then I took an arrow to the knee. Just kidding, a bone tumor broke off, caused an false aneurism, and doctors played copay ping pong with me for a month. I was left unable to work due to nerve damage.

But before that, I used to work with 14 gauge wire, 12 gauge wire, and 10 gauge wire. It is significantly harder to route 10 gauge wire. Even more so if you already have insulation and drywall up. Perhaps things will be different with the 10 gauge equivalent graphene wire gets mass produced at a reasonable price, but until that day you'll need to accept that electricians will charge you extra for the inconvenience of having to deal with 10 gauge when 12 gauge probably more than met the hot tub's requirements.

Re:Neat! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38638732)

I think you are describing the status quo -- not where open source hardware and software is taking us. There was a good conversation about this on the 12/31/11 Adafruit podcast.

Open source projects like Tweet-a-watt is a proof of concept. The design is public domain. That's PRECISELY why Crestron etc. won't touch it, but in the end some other open hardware manufacturer WILL... and that manufacturer will bundle in just enough friendly support to start pulling market share from Crestron. At that point you'll see the proprietary vendors adopting open APIs and open protocols just to keep their platform viable (and also put off the inevitable).

I worked with embedded developers 11 years ago who LAUGHED at Linux as an embedded platform saying NO WAY would it ever compete with vxWorks: no self respecting developer would use it, no "standards", poor memory utilization. the latter 2 things only need incremental fixing JUST ENOUGH for the first statement. Nowadays, Linux is given equal footing with vxWorks on many projects, and vx licenses have come WAY down to the point where you decide to you pay a little extra manufacturing for extra RAM on Linux, or pay extra for the license? It's pretty common to ship rev 1 and 2 on Linux, and only go to xvworks when the product's a runaway seller and vx becomes worth the effort (just look at the revision history of any Linksys etc. router)

Re:Neat! (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 2 years ago | (#38638162)

And that information should be logged so you can sell the information to advertisers. ...er wait.

Re:Neat! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38638428)

IF this device materializes in mass produced quantities, it would have me re-thinking my obsession with Arduino. But only SOME of the time...

$25 is about the same price as the official Arduino (tho you can get Barebones Arduinos for $13... and you can build a breadboard Arduino for HALF that... and it gets even cheaper if you can use an ATTiny45 or ATTiny85 MCU).

The Arduino isn't just about low price... it's also ease of use, with a bundled IDE that takes care of most of the details.
Arduino certainly isn't my favorite IDE... and I'm on the fence about Processing language.. ... but then again I'm a programmer NOT an artist or designer, and those are the people specifically targeted (enabled) by Arduino 1.0.
(On the other hand, ARM development's always been intriguing to me, but I've been put off by expensive ARM "development boards" which have a short manufacturing lifecycle...)

Also, there is no way this device can compete with Arduino (or PIC) in terms of power-management.
Arduinos are often used as sensor relays, RF, and data logging.
Properly configured, you can run such an Arduino for MONTHS on a single AA battery cell (see JeeNode at Modern Device), or run it off tiny energy harvesting devices like a $9 solar panel and small LiPo charger.

I don't see this as a major game changer for systems/sensor/interactivity. Raspberry Pi looks awesome, but it needs more if it is to compete with Arduino's strengths...

Quit yer yapping and start producing! (2, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637108)

I'll tell you what I told those bastards at Tesla Motors: I don't want to see it in action, I want to see it in PRODUCTION.

Re:Quit yer yapping and start producing! (5, Informative)

Speare (84249) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637276)

It IS in production, it just hasn't come out of the production pipeline yet. The working beta boards (with a hand-applied last-minute fix) are being auctioned off, proceeds for the charity recipients for which Raspberry Pi was created: making classroom computing happen.

I will be happy to buy a bunch when they're available too, but let's watch the development. As for Tesla, did you buy the Roadster, seeing as how it's been available in showrooms for some time now?

Re:Quit yer yapping and start producing! (1)

randomErr (172078) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637544)

The pre-production versions are available on eBay now. There only one circuit difference between them and the final model. I think they're in production now but will not be sold until they get a significant inventory built up, about the end of the month.

Re:Quit yer yapping and start producing! (0)

delinear (991444) | more than 2 years ago | (#38638188)

They're a long way away from $25 [ebay.co.uk] though.

Re:Quit yer yapping and start producing! (1)

Squiddie (1942230) | more than 2 years ago | (#38639050)

It's for charity.

Excellent! (4, Interesting)

homb (82455) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637110)

I'm very excited about this.
Especially as a learning tool for my kids, I think that by seeing what is happening they'll get very excited about learning to program.
I already have arduino boards, but it's not the same thing. Here we have a completely self-contained computer with great practical I/O interfaces.

Re:Excellent! (2, Interesting)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38638000)

counterargument:

Why do you expect this thing will be any better or easier for your kids to program over any other linux on a box?

Re:Excellent! (2)

delinear (991444) | more than 2 years ago | (#38638204)

It's cheap enough that you can give it to kids without worrying if they break it and the expansion board will let them see and play around with some real world applications without everything being on the screen, dry and abstract.

Re:Excellent! (1)

homb (82455) | more than 2 years ago | (#38638840)

Exactly. And you can carry it around.
Think external applications, like checking soil humidity, motion sensors, etc...

Re:Excellent! (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 2 years ago | (#38638870)

Actually you make an interesting point.
A board like this but that connected to you PC with a USB interface could be very useful.
With proper libraries and bindings for things like Python, Perl, Ruby, Lua, C, C++, and so on would be very cool tool for people to play with.
Of course one could make such a device from a Pi and even have it be networked. Realtime control would be a challenge but for none realtime control it could be kind of cool.

Through-hole (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38637112)

Who are these people who keep on insisting on using through-hole components? That board could easily be the same size as the Raspberry-pi board itself simply by using SOIC packages as opposed to DIP for all of the ICs. Soldering a 1.27mm pitch SMT component is really easy, it takes about the same amount of time as a DIP component, and is much, much, smaller.

I understand from the Raspberry-pi website that it's gonna be supplied as a bare board + components, but like I said, soldering SMT stuff is really easy. Also if the whole point of this Raspberry-pi stuff is to teach people new skills, why not teach them how to solder stuff that the rest of the world is now using.

Re:Through-hole (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38637194)

Soldering a 1.27mm pitch SMT component is really easy, it takes about the same amount of time as a DIP component, and is much, much, smaller.

No.

Perhaps to a seasoned EE or hobbyist who gets his hands dirty on a daily basis, but otherwise, no.

The best way to turn the Raspberry Pi to shit (apart from its name - "Acorn", the obvious predecessor to this whole project, sounded much better) would be to set the bar at a level which assumes you already know what you're doing before you've even started.

Re:Through-hole (4, Informative)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637280)

Who are these people who keep on insisting on using through-hole components? That board could easily be the same size as the Raspberry-pi board itself simply by using SOIC packages as opposed to DIP for all of the ICs. Soldering a 1.27mm pitch SMT component is really easy, it takes about the same amount of time as a DIP component, and is much, much, smaller.

Its a meme that just won't die. As a guy who's been doing SMD at home on and off since the 80s for ham radio microwave gear, it gets tiring hearing for about three decades that what I find easy to do and enjoyable is "impossible" and will be the "death of homebrewing" and all that rot. Its right up there with "PL-259s are impossible to install" and "power poles are impossible to install", you only hear about it over and over from the 0.1% of the population who really can't do it.

I'm willing to bet there are some very young hardware hackers on /. right now emulating their elders by rambling about how impossible it is to do SMD at home, despite my experience doing it for years before they were born.

Re:Through-hole (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637400)

Its right up there with "PL-259s are impossible to install" and "power poles are impossible to install",

Is that the EE's equivalent of "parallel computing will never take off, it's just too hard for developers" that gets my programming goat so much?

Re:Through-hole (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38637470)

Its right up there with "PL-259s are impossible to install"

Well the problem with PL-259s are most people have undersized soldering irons. Not to mention there are better connectors out there nowadays anyways.

Re:Through-hole (3, Insightful)

Defenestrar (1773808) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637574)

I've soldered plenty of SM components myself, but you may be overlooking the novice oriented aspects of this system (and the comments you dismiss), especially when it comes to the tools available. Besides, practice only takes you so far; even an experienced plastic surgeon may have a hard time making something look pretty if he's only got leather-working tools available.

If you consider that the computer is marketed as cheap, and this board is an educational add on (presumably also cheap) (well the board is functional, but the article points out the educational advantages, including the population), then it would probably be safe to assume that the soldering iron will also be cheap. A soldering iron allowing comfortable SM work is easily double or triple the cost of the computer - over an order of magnitude for the good ones. So, if one were to use a soldering iron of comparable or less cost than the system (what a novice may choose to start with), SM could be very hard if not impossible.

Re:Through-hole (1)

evanbd (210358) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637930)

SparkFun sells a temperature-controlled iron perfectly suitable for general SMD work for $40 [sparkfun.com] . Sure, that's more than the cost of the computer, but I suspect it's less than computer + addon board. Yes, a good iron used to cost $150, but that's simple no longer true. (Sure, the $150 iron is somewhat better, but the $40 one can do 1.27mm gull wing packages just fine.)

Re:Through-hole (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38638026)

ugh sparkfun china garbage get a xytronic 45 bucks, made in the USA, wont melt in your hand

Re:Through-hole (1)

Defenestrar (1773808) | more than 2 years ago | (#38638410)

Would that be the Xytronic [xytronic-usa.com] which sells some really cute soldering irons with identical pictures to those in the catalog of Xytronic [xytronic.com] who states "Ninety percent of XYTRONIC product is exported with major customers in the US, Canada, Australia, Japan and Western Europe"?

Re:Through-hole (1)

Defenestrar (1773808) | more than 2 years ago | (#38638320)

Didn't know we had capable irons down in that range. Thanks for the tip.

Re:Through-hole (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38637946)

Are you completely stupid? Yeah, let's make this hobbyist kit exclusive to fat, slobbering old fart geeks with unwarranted superiority complexes who can solder fine pitch SMDs. What an absolute dumb shit you are.

Re:Through-hole (2)

daid303 (843777) | more than 2 years ago | (#38638388)

Yes you can. Even I can solder SMD with my 15 year old soldering iron. However, soldering through hole is much easier, less error prone and requires simpler tools.

I've seen someone fix an audio system with just a 12V soldering iron in the middle of a field, on a wobbly table. Try that with SMD. Usually I want my stuff to last and to be easy to fix/modify. From a hackers point of view, trough hole is just better. More expensive, but better.

Re:Through-hole (2)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637514)

soldering SMT stuff is really easy

Speak for yerself, whippersnapper.

I did all my own tech assembly work when through-hole was the only option. As the years wore on, my eyesight got worse and the parts got smaller, rapidly taking me out of the tech arena - which is fine, but I can still do through hole, whereas mounting an 0402 is... unrealistic for me.

Re:Through-hole (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38637558)

*disclaimer* I work for Broadcom in the team that did 2835, however I am not involved with the Pi, so posted anon to not to be accused of karma-ing

Reasons For through hole:
1) Hobbyists aren't scared of them - some are scared of SMT (and some SMT is used on Gertboard)
2) Requires less skilled soldering - yes a skilled solderer can do smt with ease, but half the point of this project is that it should be unintimidating to everyone.
3) More mechanically sturdy. Useful for many hobby projects

The Pi mainboard got in trouble for being none through-hole, and not available as a kit of parts, now Gertboard is in trouble for being exactly that.
*sigh* this is why we can't have nice things.

Re:Through-hole (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38637792)

I guess it's obvious to say but you seem to have decided who your audience are and found out what is best for them.

Self-diagnosed experts who tell you you're doing it wrong can make a lot of noise but you'll be OK if you stay confident in your aims and don't allow the occasional pompous article or comment to sway your company. The geek world is notorious for "what works for me should work for everyone" and in every established tech site you'll find an echo chamber of negative reinforcement. Recall that Acorn was a trailblazer in the '80s with its BBC Microcomputers because it applied technical brilliance to deliver the required system and didn't get bogged down by heckling from Statler and Waldorf.

Yay through-hole (2)

Medievalist (16032) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637622)

Yeah, we're all very proud of you, that you can solder teeny tiny little things. I can solder with a gasoline torch, you whippersnapper. Now get off my lawn.

Re:Through-hole (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637624)

Soldering a 1.27mm pitch SMT component is really easy, it takes about the same amount of time as a DIP component, and is much, much, smaller.

The thing I find takes the time with SOIC components is getting them aligned and keeping them aligned while I do the first couple of pins (diagonally opposite of coutse). Once you've done that first pin the rest is pretty easy but i've always found the first pin a PITA.

Re:Through-hole (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637738)

Also another BIG advantage of DIL is that it can be socketed. That means it's much easier to replace a part if you fry it. It also means if a board doesn't work you can pull chips out either to let you test the board itself for shorts etc or to allow you to test sections of the circuit in isolation.

I'll use surface mount if i'm space constrained or can't get the part I need in a DIL package but I much preffer DIL.

"Winging a pin" (removing the pin from the board and connecting to a wire) to change the circuit is also much easier on a socketed dil than on a SOIC.

Unsure about the gert... (3, Insightful)

Crookdotter (1297179) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637118)

I know, it's great and all, but if you're using the pi to do the heavy lifting, and the gert as simply a way to output, doesn't an arduino already do this, and with linux too? Is this redundant, or have I missed something?

Re:Unsure about the gert... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38637160)

>or have I missed something?

competition

Re:Unsure about the gert... (5, Informative)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637164)

Arduino doesn't run Linux.

This is more similar to a BeagleBone prototype cape - except with the Gertboard don't expect to be able to use any features in the chip that aren't put into the kernel by Eben and Gert. Unlike the CPU in the Arduino (ATMegaXX8) and the CPU in the BeagleBone (TI AM335x), the technical reference manual for the Broadcom chip in the Pi is completely unavailable. If support for anything is left out of the kernel, whether intentionally or simply due to lack of time, you will not be able to implement it yourself. If support for anything is broken in the kernel, you will have to live with it due to lack of documentation and the fact that Broadcom never comments their damn kernel code for anything. (Look at the BCM4330 driver for mobile devices as an example - if it misbehaves, you're screwed.)

Re:Unsure about the gert... (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637618)

except with the Gertboard don't expect to be able to use any features in the chip that aren't put into the kernel by Eben and Gert.

Except the Gertboard is just using GPIOs are presented as standard file interfaces. You can toggle them with any programming language, shellscript, or just typing 'echo 1 > /sys/class/gpio/gpio1/value' at the CLI.

The GPU may be locked down and worthless for hacking, but the expansion pins are anything but.

Re:Unsure about the gert... (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637796)

Good luck using anything like I2C, SPI, etc. then if they aren't implemented in the kernel.

On most CPUs like this, GPIO vs. SPI vs. something else for a pin needs to be configured using a pinmux tool - the pinmux for this device will be fully undocumented.

Re:Unsure about the gert... (2)

lahvak (69490) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637896)

I don't get it. I am not a hardware hacker, but why would you need an access to GPU to program input/output?

Re:Unsure about the gert... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38638336)

Good luck using anything like I2C, SPI, etc. then if they aren't implemented in the kernel.

Any moron can turn a few GPIOs into SPI by just bitbanging [wikipedia.org] . Fortunately. for people like you, they've included SPI and I2C.

Frankly, the Gertboard is overkill(like most demo boards), but those without imagination need to be shown.

Re:Unsure about the gert... (1)

Defenestrar (1773808) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637666)

You forgot to mention the bandwidth differences between embedded software on a microprocessor and an OS controlled I/O system. There is a (theoretical) huge performance difference in high speed/response between the two.

And to the AC mentioning competition: these are not really in the same product class. There are probably a large number of applications where the end goal could be achieved with either set of hardware, but there are probably more projects which do not overlap (especially if your concerned with efficiency or practicality - perhaps a really ambitious person could assemble the Linux kernel and make a Beowulf cluster of Audrinos..., but QED).

Re:Unsure about the gert... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38637168)

Not for $25

I haven't seen pricing for the Gert board anywhere (haven't really looked), but if the Pi is only $25 - I don't imagine that the Gert would be much more. Some of the nicer arduino boards cost much more.

Re:Unsure about the gert... (1)

surgen (1145449) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637216)

There is more than one way to skin a cat. And if your particular project has your arduino always connected to a PC, this may be exactly what you want.

Re:Unsure about the gert... (2)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637222)

Arduino does not run linux. You can run the editor / compiler / loader on linux, but its just a bare metal controller.
The pi literally runs linux, so you develop on board.

Stereotypically, you'd use something like a gert or a usb connected arduino as the hardware interface. Then you'd simply "apt-get install octave" or whatever on the pi, write a tiny little perl script or whatever to talk to your hardware interface, and write your PID loop or whatever in octave script on the pi. Along with probably running a web server on the pi to remotely monitor your PID loop, maybe R and gnuplot to make some pretty graphs and stats of how your PID loop is working.

Of course its more fun to do something much more complicated than a PID loop. Plenty of linux based neural network support, fuzzy logic libraries, etc, just an apt-get install away.

Re:Unsure about the gert... (3, Informative)

Crookdotter (1297179) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637284)

Yes, that's my point. You've got the choice of:

R pi + Gertboard

or

R pi + Arduino

Both would be developed on the host linux PC, but Arduino is already rather mature and well supported, and connects via USB with no soldering to your shiny new Raspberry pi. What's the gertboard bringing to the table in addition to what the arduino does already?

Re:Unsure about the gert... (2)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637520)

Yes, that's my point. You've got the choice of:

R pi + Gertboard

or

R pi + Arduino

I don't have to choose. I'll take both.

Re:Unsure about the gert... (1)

Crookdotter (1297179) | more than 2 years ago | (#38638276)

Fair point.

Re:Unsure about the gert... (2)

SpinyNorman (33776) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637702)

Arduino is a computer, not in of itself an I/O peripheral, so if you wanted to do I/O from a Raperberry Pi via an Arduino you'd basically be sending software commands from the Pi to the Arduino then have a program running on the Arduino to do the actual I/O... it's way more efficient just to use a Gertboard and do I/O directly from the Pi.

Compare the two:

Pi + Gertboard - runs at Pi speed (>> Arduino speed), and no need for a seperate I/O program

Pi + Arduino - I/O constrained by Arduino speed, amnd requires an I/O program on the Arduino in addition to the main program on the Pi

I can't think of any situation where Pi + Arduino really makes sense. Other than Gertboard for GPIO, using USB peripherals (e.g. servo driver, etc) with Pi makes more sense.

Re:Unsure about the gert... (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637354)

The pi literally runs linux, so you develop on board.

Question is: Will you want to?

Given a choice, would you want your development environment to be running on such a limited machine? I'm not putting the Pi down, it's great for what it is, but at the the end of the day it's a $25 computer. Anybody who thinks it will compare well to the desktop PC they normally use is deluded.

Re:Unsure about the gert... (2)

Crookdotter (1297179) | more than 2 years ago | (#38638356)

Good enough for browsing? Because I could see myslelf with one behind this LCD monitor hooked up to the spare HDMI slot. A PC that runs on effectively battery power for when I only need a browser sounds good to me. Saves me having this i7 on all the time. And I'm sure it could download through the night onto an external HDD for very little power overhead.

Re:Unsure about the gert... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38637298)

The difference is spec. While with the gert expansion, it may become possibly become the same price as an Ardino, the Raspberry Pi still has orders of magnitude more processing power and ram. While for applications, this may be pointless but for other things, it's a god send. Take a robot for example, it may needs lots of calculations before determining the value to send to the motor (especially when dealing with a lot of sensors). Having more processing capabilities just gives your projects that extra room to program in. Also, the Raspberry Pi still has more features like direct support to output to hdmi and having a card reader.

The raspberry pi already a some gpio pins on it, the gert board just makes things easier to drive basic stuff with less effort.

Re:Unsure about the gert... (5, Informative)

Vairon (17314) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637516)

There are some aspects that are redundant but there is a lot more that is not. Here are some major differences:

Arduinos do not run Linux. Their code is written in Assembly, C or C++ but WITHOUT the STL. There is no OS or kernel. It's pure monolithic code running on a Atmel Atmega328, ATmega2560 or similar processor. They support Analog I/O, Digital I/O, I2C, SPI, 1-wire, EEPROM, Serial communication via digital i/o lines or Serial over USB, typical 16Mhz clock speed and 8k of RAM, 32-256K of program storage. It probably uses slightly less power than the Raspberry Pi.

Raspberry Pi do run Linux. Their code is written in any language supported by an ARM 1176JZF-S CPU with a Linux kernel such as Assembly, C, C++ with STL, Python, Perl, etc. There is a OS such as Debian, Arch with more to follow and a Linux kernel. Code written is traditional Linux code running in a multi-tasking system such as Linux provides. It's run on an ARM 1176JZF-S CPU. They support Digital I/O I2C, SPI, Serial communication via digital i/o (gpio) lines, SD card support, composite video out, HDMI video out, RCA audio out. 700Mhz clock speed, 128-256MB of RAM, 1-32GB of program storage (depending of SD card size).

Unlike the Raspberry Pi, the Arduino cannot be developed on by itself. It requires another computer running Linux, OS X or Windows in order to develop on them.

The Gertboard is more akin to what an Arduino shield is for an Arduino. It's just something you plug into a Raspberry Pi to provide access to more of the GPIO pins of the Raspberry Pi's SOC and it has some convenience functionality like LEDs built-in. Like an Arduino shield, it's optional. You can still use GPIO pins on the Raspberry Pi without it.

A fairly general purpose board, not SPI, not pi (2)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637150)

I looked at the pcb pix and saw the SPI interface lines and incorrectly guessed the whole thing runs off one SPI connection, which would be kind of cool, since pretty much every microcontroller made in the past 30 years is either has SPI hardware support or is at least easy to bit bang SPI. So it would not really be a pi board, but a generic board that works with everything that merely has support to directly plug a pi into it.

However I read the comments and the deal is the breakout board brings 18 GPIO ports from the pi, and you wire the GPIO ports however you want to various peripherals at the GPIO level, one of which is a SPI interface port expander, other things you could wire to are the motor drivers, etc.

So its really a mostly GPIO board with exactly one SPI part, not a board run entirely off just one SPI port. For example, if you have an old fashioned parallel port on your PC, plus or minus some level conversions you could wire that up to this board, etc.

The other interesting comment I read was something similar to "if you want arduino shield support on a pi, simply plug an arduino into the USB port and plug the shield into the arduino and talk to the Ardunino using the linux usb drivers", which is brilliantly simple.

Re:A fairly general purpose board, not SPI, not pi (2)

Zerth (26112) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637714)

As parallel ports become rarer(if not extinct already), I could see this becoming the best way to control CNC/3d printers once somebody ports a RTOS version of Linux to it.

Re:A fairly general purpose board, not SPI, not pi (1)

daid303 (843777) | more than 2 years ago | (#38638482)

They are already using the Arduino to do this . Which gives good results. Controlling a CNC any other way strikes me as stupid. Because you want some very hard real-time timing.

Example: https://github.com/bkubicek/Marlin [github.com]

Better Boards From Open Source Friendly Devs (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38637332)

These boards are only a few weeks away, far more powerful, low priced and have nothing to do with broadcommm

http://rhombus-tech.net/ [rhombus-tech.net]

http://elinux.org/Embedded_Open_Modular_Architecture/PCMCIA [elinux.org]

Re:Better Boards From Open Source Friendly Devs (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38637526)

Uuum, I looked at those sites. And all I see is "in the pipeline", "if you have any ideas", "mailing list" and "could potentially be developed as X".
There are no ways to order anything, not even a name to call whatever they are doing. Not even pictures.

Either I overlooked something, or this is the king of vaporware and hasn't passed the "Well, we thought it would be cool to have X. But we haven't anything more to offer." stage.

Can you point me to a link where I can put my money and get a Raspberry-Pi-like board that I can plug my keyboard, display, sound, storage and network into, and install Linux on?

Re:Better Boards From Open Source Friendly Devs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38638274)

My goodness! The preorder page is on the wiki:

http://rhombus-tech.net/allwinner_a10/orders/ [rhombus-tech.net]

Do you work for Broadcommm?

Re:Better Boards From Open Source Friendly Devs (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38638568)

Hrm. Preorder something that hasn't even had a demo board, or even a finalized pinout yet, and costs "somewhere between $15(for 100k units) and $100", or wait to buy from a charity that has repeatedly refused to take orders until they had a shipping product and already has a firm price based on components that they have already purchased by mortgaging their own homes.

I know which one utterly fails to inspire trust.

Do you work for Broadcommm?

Do you work in the Allwinner tech writing department?

Re:Better Boards From Open Source Friendly Devs (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38638668)

Anyone that has ever dealt with Boardcom knows how the Pi project will end up. You just can't expect pigs to fly or a leopard to change its spots. Who in their right minds would trust anything touched by broadcommm? Victims of abuse and torture? People that watch Glee?

Re:Better Boards From Open Source Friendly Devs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38638978)

Do you mean Broadcommm or Broadcom?

Bearing in mind I can pretty much guarantee you have some device in your possession that has some sort of Broadcom chip in it, are you sure YOU are in your right mind?

Re:Better Boards From Open Source Friendly Devs (1)

Narishma (822073) | more than 2 years ago | (#38638014)

By weeks I suppose you mean months or years.

Postfix increment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38637560)

Tut tut. What do I spy on that screen?
Yes indeed, a postfix increment in the for() loop.

Amateurs!

Re:Postfix increment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38639096)

Congrats, your reason for existing has been satisfied for today. Continue about your business, and see you tomorrow!

Hardware folk shouldn't write code (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38637600)

The board and hardware are great and all that, but looking at the screen and following the explanation I think this serves as yet another excellent example why hardware people should stick to designing hardware and get someone else to write the software.

Re:Hardware folk shouldn't write code (3, Informative)

FunkyELF (609131) | more than 2 years ago | (#38638110)

Python makes everything cleaner.

# Make the 17 GPIO file systems & set them to output mode
for g in gpiotbl:
        with open('/sys/class/gpio/export', 'w') as fout:
                print >> fout, "%d" % g
        with open('/sys/class/gpio%d/direction' % g, 'w') as fout:
                print >> fout, "out"

# light effect on buffers
for rep in xrange(5):
        for g in gpiotbl[:12]:
                with open('/sys/class/gpio/gpio%d/value' % g, 'w') as fout:
                        print >> fout, "1"
                sleep(TIME)
        for g in gpiotbl[:12]:
                with open('/sys/class/gpio/gpio%d/value' % g, 'w') as fout:
                        print >> fout, "0"
                sleep(TIME)

test_motor()
test_motor()

sys.exit(0)

Re:Hardware folk shouldn't write code (1)

rufty_tufty (888596) | more than 2 years ago | (#38638458)

Speaking as an ignorant hardware engineer, where's the problem with the original (as a method for driving LEDs for a test program)?
Pick your battles and all that...

Can't wait! (1)

slashmojo (818930) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637932)

These things are going to fly off the shelves like hot pies!

Will be interesting to see if the makers at LMR put them to good use.. http://letsmakerobots.com/ [letsmakerobots.com]

I may have to dust off the soldering iron and "electronics for dummies" soon to join the fun.

Knight Rider? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38637978)

Well we have the flashing led, and the motor to control the steering. Just need the voice synthesiser (pull apart a c64 for that) and you have yourself one turbo-boosty, sarcastic car!

ECN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38638022)

Might need a few changes before it hits the big time
- add mounting holes
- reroute power gnd so its not like some sweet ass comb the fonz would use
- move non-isolated to220 parts away from 0.1" headers so they don't short if bent
- move smd capacitors / resistors away from heatsink so this doesn't short
- teardrop traces that connect to commonly used / terminated breakout pads so they don't break if rework is required
- consider series resistors between mcu and ics to reduce emi
- consider better ground / power routing
- figure out use for random tracks that seem to go nowhere
Not sure why a board like this hits front page... Slashdot has plenty of good EE readers, boards like this burns their eyes.

Re:ECN (1)

psergiu (67614) | more than 2 years ago | (#38638264)

You're free to come on the Raspberry Pi forum and help Gert to make the board better - he's open to constructive comments & ideas.

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