Radxa Zero Debian SSD Boot Guide

Radxa Zero SSD Boot Guide

The Radxa Zero can definitely be set up to boot from USB storage / using a SSD. You can do this trick using both the eMMC and an SD card. Given that the board also has a quad-core processor you can actually make a tiny and pretty powerful server setup with something like this achieving pretty impressive I/O speeds for such a small package.

In this guide I’ll show you how to set up SSD booting on the Radxa Zero using their official Debian operating system. Let’s get started!

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Home Assistant Tiny WiFi Button Guide ft. Adafruit QT Py

Adafruit Tiny Home Assistant WiFi Button

I’ve been documenting my journey building out my smart home powered by Home Assistant here on the site. Home Assistant is an open-source system designed to let you easily manage and automate everything in your home.

That’s when I saw that Adafruit’s QT Py series of boards had a tiny IoT button available for it I immediately thought of Home Assistant. The button could be used to automate anything in your home you’d like. You could program it to turn off / turn on lights, open/close the garage door for you, turn on and off certain appliances or anything else you could imagine being able to do with a wireless-enabled button.

In this guide I’ll show you how to build and program a wireless button with Home Assistant. Let’s get started!

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Home Assistant Grove All-in-one Environmental Sensor Guide

Home Assistant SEN54 via ESPHome

I’ve been building out various sensor arrays for use with Home Assistant in my home using ESP32 modules and ESPHome and it has been working really well. One challenge though is that you have a limited number of connections (even when using expansion boards). This can be dealt with a few different ways but buying a whole bunch of individual sensor boards one at a time and connecting them can get messy to say the least.

Fortunately Seeed Studios has a unit powered by Sensirion that has 7 environmental sensors all in one: the SEN54! This includes measurements for particles of PM1.0/2.5/4/10, temperature and humidity and VOC (volatile organic compounds). All in one unit with a single connection.

In this guide I’ll show what adding a sensor like this to Home Assistant looks like using ESPHome and a ESP32-C3 module. Let’s get started!

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Orange Pi 800 Computer Kit Review

Orange Pi 800 Computer Kit Review

I’m certainly not the first to review the Orange Pi 800 computer kit. It has been available for a while now. That’s exactly why I wanted to take a look at the Orange Pi 800 as a more mature product today.

In this review we’ll take a look at the packaging, build quality, specifications and test the performance of the Orange Pi 800 and see how well it has matured since it’s initial release.

Let’s begin!

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Adafruit Re-programmable USB-C PD to Barrel Jack Cable

Adafruit Re-programmable USB-C PD Cable Review

I have been ordering a lot of gear from Adafruit lately to help build my Home Assistant sensor array for my home (as well as other projects I have going here on the site). I was very confused today when something showed up I didn’t recognize (and wasn’t even aware really existed).

It turns out to be a cable that you plug into a USB-C power adapter that supports PD (power delivery) and output a voltage you program in via a DC barrel jack. In other words this cable lets you turn a USB-PD capable power adapter into a programmable DC jack adapter that could theoretically work with almost anything!

This is a $19.50 cable I’m certain that I didn’t buy that I will return to Adafruit if they would like. Not before we review it first though. Let’s get started!

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Radxa Zero SBC Review

Radxa Zero SBC Review

The Radxa Zero has been extremely popular since release and is still pretty hard to find on many major retailers. After trying to get it from a couple of different places I finally received mine this week!

In this review we’ll dive into using the Radxa Zero including the available images, hardware capabilities and what kind of performance to expect. Will the Radxa Zero live up to how popular the board seems to be and how hard it is to get?

Let’s find out!

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Orange Pi 14 Inch 1080P Portable Monitor Review

Orange Pi Portable Monitor Review

I recently ordered many of the official Orange Pi accessories for review with my Orange Pi 800 order (also coming up for review). The first of these accessories to come was the Orange Pi 14″ 1080P portable monitor. This monitor is meant to be extremely portable and have a low footprint.

Today in this review we’ll take a close look at Orange Pi’s monitor offering and test it with several devices. We’ll examine the build quality, functionality and try to determine whether picking one of these up might be worth it for you and what situations they would be most appropriate for.

Let’s get started!

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Pine64 SOQuartz Blade Review

Pine64 SOQuartz Blade Review

I’ve previously reviewed the Pine64 SOQuartz here on the site and found that if you used Armbian it was a feasible alternative to the CM4. The compatibility with other IO boards varies wildly though. We’ve definitely seen mixed experiences using the CM4 Blade when using the SOQuartz for example.

I was curious if I got a hold of one of the official Pine64 SOQuartz Blade boards if the experience would be better. Today we will review the Pine64 SOQuartz Blade IO board and see how well things are working at time of writing.

Let’s begin!

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Using Kauf Smart Lights w/ ESPHome and Home Assistant

Kauf Smart Lights Web Interface

I’ve been integrating all of my smart home devices into Home Assistant to have everything managed by an open source system. I have a handful of Philips Hue lights but I had not upgraded the entire house to smart lighting yet. After some research I was delighted to find a set of smart bulbs that are able to be managed by ESPHome (the system that is controlling my smart sensors I’m placing around the house which I’ve covered here).

These are WiFi-based lights described as “made for Home Assistant” running a ESP32 chip. This worked well for my setup as my home has 6 Unifi access points all throughout the house/garage/etc. which is why I didn’t go with a Zigbee or Z-wave solution for the lighting (although I may for my window and door sensors, that’s still a work in progress).

In this guide I’ll show you what it looks like to set up and configure these to work with Home Assistant and ESPHome. Let’s get started!

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Elikliv 7″ LCD Digital Microscope Review

Elikliv 7" LCD Digital Microscope Review

Recently on the site I’ve been covering my journey exploring the world of microcontrollers. This has been a fun journey but it has required me to work with technology a lot smaller than what I’m used to working with. The boards I’m routinely working with now are so small I can barely see them and read the features on them.

This has exposed some gaps in my tool set such as my former very poor quality soldering iron which I recently replaced with the Pinecil. That was only about a $40 upgrade from Amazon including shipping.

Just today I received the Elikliv 7″ Digital Microscope. It’s one of the most popular selling digital microscopes on Amazon and it cost me less than $100. This was not something I wanted to spend a ton of money on. I just wanted a basic digital microscope to make it much easier to read and work with the smaller microcontrollers / PCBs.

In this review I’ll cover this digital microscope and tell you the pros / cons and whether it’s worth your money if you have a similar use case. Let’s get started!

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XAIO ESP32-C3 Expansion Board Getting Started Guide

Seeed Studios XAIO Expansion Board Getting Started Guide

I recently covered using the XAIO-ESP32-C3 with the Grove Expansion shield to create a sensor panel to be used within Home Assistant via ESPHome. That shield is only around $7 and doesn’t have very many bells and whistles on it. That is a really fantastic and inexpensive solution to expand your available Grove ports and add more sensors or other Grove accessories to your build.

Today I want to cover Seeed Studio’s larger and more capable expansion shield. Instead of using ESPHome to program the device for us though we’re going to set up the Arduino IDE to work with the XAIO-ESP32-C3. That means we’ll be able to run our own code and test out the various capabilities of the larger expansion board.

Let’s get started!

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Pine64 Pinecil Soldering Iron Review

Pine64 Pinecil Mini Soldering Iron Review

The Pine64 Pinecil is described as a “smart mini portable soldering iron”. It’s very popular and has incredible Amazon ratings among a crowd that largely is probably unfamiliar with Pine64 as a company that makes single board computers.

I was in dire need of a soldering iron upgrade and Razor Burn mentioned to me in one of the comments on the site that he had the Pinecil and loved it. I’ve investigated other Pine64 products before on the site as well and have other hardware from them. It’s also a RISC-V device!

Today I’ll review the Pinecil and cover why this soldering iron is so popular. Let’s get started!

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Using Seeed’s XAIO ESP32C3 with Home Assistant / ESPHome

Home Assistant - ESPHome Sensors Installed

I’ve been working with the Grove series of sensors lately as I previously covered in my K1100 Grove Sensor prototyping kit article. The next step after getting my prototyping kit set up was to try some of the expansion shields for the Seeed Studios XAIO modules such as the ESP32-C3. This will allow me to connect a whole bunch of sensors to a single board.

We used LoRa in the last article to upload sensor data to the cloud. Today we’re going to take the complete opposite approach. We are going to use the open-source Home Assistant suite to upload data to a locally running Home Assistant server. Home Assistant already integrates nicely with everything in my home letting me access it all in one place.

In this article we’re going to take the next step after prototyping one sensor at a time and try using a XAIO Grove expansion shield to connect a whole bunch of sensors to a single board and then view all of their data within Home Assistant. Let’s get started!

Using Seeed’s XAIO ESP32C3 with Home Assistant / ESPHome Read More »

Converting Minecraft Bedrock / Java Worlds with Chunker

Convert Minecraft Bedrock and Java Worlds Using Chunker

People have been asking me for years how they can convert a Minecraft Bedrock world to Java edition (or vice versa). The answer in the past was that you needed to use one of the tools that could read both formats and convert between them such as Amulet. It wasn’t a very fun process though and not many had succeeded over the years.

Recently I was asked this question again though and when I went to look up what the current map editors supporting both formats were I found a surprise: Chunker! If you look at the text in the bottom of the screenshot above you’ll see “Proudly made by Hive Games under exclusive license to Minecraft”. This is actually an officially sanctioned tool with official Microsoft documentation.

In this guide I’ll show you the current capabilities of Chunker and how to use it to convert a Minecraft world between editions. Let’s get started!

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All Hail the Rock 5B: SBC King of 2023

Radxa Rock 5B Review

With the Raspberry Pi 5 delayed until 2024 and older models unable to be kept in stock the single board computer market is wide open for competitors to really shine this generation. I’ve reviewed dozens of board and spent literally thousands of dollars trying to find boards worthy of your money and that are good enough to step into a lot of the roles people were using Raspberry Pis for.

Today I’m going to be reviewing the Radxa Rock 5B and I couldn’t be more excited. I’ve been waiting for years for a single board computer to come along that is powerful enough to squarely beat the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4. The Rock 5B not only beats it but leaves one wondering how Raspberry Pi is going to catch up.

Let’s get started!

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