Hardware

Category page of all posts on the web site that are tagged as related to hardware

PCIe 1x NVMe on Raspberry Pi?! Compute Module 4 Guide

CableCC Vertical Adapter in Compute Module 4 IO Board

I recently covered all the pieces you need for a complete setup to work with the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4. Today I want to cover the whole reason I wanted to investigate the Compute Module 4: The PCI express capabilities!

In this guide I’ll cover a couple of 1x PCIe to NVMe adapters I picked up to try doing this with as well as full configuration and setup instructions. Let us begin!

Full Compute Module 4 (Raspberry Pi) Setup / Imaging Guide

Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 mounted in IO Board

The Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 is primarily meant for embedded projects and didn’t catch my interest at first. That was until people started absolutely smashing previous records on my Pi storage benchmarking site pibenchmarks.com.

Upon further investigation it turns out that people are breaking these records using the Compute Module 4 since it allows running a NVMe drive through PCI express instead of having to use a USB adapter (the current bottleneck in other Pis).

Wanting to investigate these new capabilities for myself I got a hold of some gear and wanted to write a setup and configuration guide on everything you need for a full CM4 (Compute Module 4) setup and how to get it imaged and configured. Let’s get started!

Using Multiple M.2 NGFF 2280 SATA Drives Simultaneously

IOCREST NGFF 2230/2242/2260/2280/22110 SATA PCIe Enclosure

I’ve been running pibenchmarks.com for several years now so I’ve held on to any spare storage devices I can get my hands on for benchmarking/testing/cataloging purposes. This led to a big surplus of drives and no easy way to utilize them. That was before getting some new tools to be able to utilize lots of drives at once.

Last time I covered a monster 16 bay hot swappable 2.5″ SATA cage (as well as a more reasonable 8 bay option) in this “extreme storage” series of articles and in this article we’re going to cover M.2 SATA NGFF / M.2 NVMe drives. It’s also possible to do RAID!

Monster 16 Bay Hot-Swappable 2.5″ SATA Cage – ICY DOCK

ICY DOCK 16 Bay SAS/SATA Backplane Cage

I have a *lot* of 2.5″ SATA drives around the house that have collected from over the years from various devices. Often these drives have useful data on them or aren’t big enough to justify using on their own. The absolutely monstrous ICY DOCK 16 bay 2.5″ SAS/SATA backplane cage solves all of these problems and lets you hot swap (change out the drives while the OS is running) drives live in your OS!

In this guide I’ll cover how what I needed to actually set up something like this and my advice for people who are interested in these same type of hot swappable / RAID capabilities. I’ll also share the “sweet spot” recommendation to get the most bays for the least money if you’re on a tight budget. Let’s get started!

Ubertooth One Kali Linux Latest Tools / Firmware Setup Guide

Kismet Ubertooth One BTLE Capture

The world is full of devices communicating with Bluetooth even if (or maybe especially if) you don’t realize it. Most “smart” devices are advertising some Bluetooth services (some of them even publicly writable without a password!). Even my treadmill is advertising writeable Bluetooth endpoints!

The Ubertooth One is a bluetooth and bluetooth low-energy (BTLE) capture device intended for developers and security researchers/auditors. It has an external antenna and is able to communicate at much further distances than most BTLE devices by both transmitting more powerfully and having a more sensitive antenna to listen to the response. To find out what is nearby and happening over the air this is the device you want to have.

In this guide I’ll show you how to get the latest Ubertooth tools on Kali Linux as well as update the firmware for the Ubertooth device and actually use the device!

Hardware Technician Tool Gems: Precision Electric Screwdriver

wowStick w/ included accessories

This is the second in a series of articles about tools I’ve found during my IT hardware technician career that made my life much easier. These are all tools I have used for years that a lot of people have likely never seen or been exposed to before. Last time we covered a replacement for canned air / duster and this time we’re going to cover the wowStick fully electric precision screwdriver!

If you’ve ever opened a laptop or cell phone you know there are dozens of screws you have to remove. One of the best purchases I’ve ever made was an electric screwdriver. Let’s take a look at why!

My 2021 Aircooled Open Frame AMD Ryzen Threadripper Build

P5 Open Frame Threadripper Build

This year I’ve been doing more with technology than ever and I wanted to build a workstation. As most of you probably know building a computer is an absolute nightmare right now. After navigating the process I figured I would share what I ended up building as it may give some people some ideas on how to complete their build. I also think the open frame builds turn out really cool and have some benefits I wanted to talk about as well.

This is a workstation grade build so it is not going to be cheap. Everything in the build (except for the GPU and you probably won’t want to pick that one anyway, but more on that later) is generally attainable at reasonable prices. Here’s what I ended up going with!

A Good Alternative to Canned Air / Duster for Electronics

OPOLAR Air Duster for Electronics / Computers

As a computer technician / technology enthusiast I have a lot of electronics that need to be kept clean. I used to use canned air / duster for this task but it’s pretty nasty stuff to work with. It is extremely cold, you don’t want to contact any coolant with any components, the bottles run out at the most inconvenient times and generate a bunch of waste, etc.

For this article I just wanted to share a tool I found a couple of years ago that made my life a lot easier. It is also cheaper over time and much more environmentally friendly!

Modding IT Racks for Sound / Noise Reduction w/ Acoustic Foam

TUFFIOM 15U Full Side View w/ Hanging Foam

Extremely powerful hardware tends to be very loud. Enterprise servers, networking equipment, cryptocurrency miners are three major offenders. This type of equipment tends to have very small fans that rotate extremely fast and emit a high pitched “whine”. This is fine if you are stuffing all of your equipment in a closet somewhere but for some deployments and situations this isn’t always possible

There are extremely expensive racks that have sound dampening foam and other materials preinstalled for situations like this but they are extremely expensive (thousands vs . what we will be doing which only costs hundreds). In this article I’ll show you how I modified some (relatively) cheap racks available from Amazon with acoustic foam to reduce noise from ASIC cryptocurrency miners as well as other loud equipment

2020’s Fastest Raspberry Pi 4 Storage SD / SSD Benchmarks

Raspberry Pi Storage Benchmark 2020

We’ve now received over 20,000 benchmarks at https://pibenchmarks.com/! These are submitted by regular people from all over the world.

In celebration of that milestone as well as the launch of the 8GB Raspberry Pi 4 take a closer look at which device you should choose for your Raspberry Pi 4 as determined by science and measurement!

Telecom Monopoly CenturyLink’s Static IP / Modem / UPS Scam Outlined

CenturyLink Tower of Shame

I’m really sorry to say that I was excited when I found out CenturyLink offered gigabit 1000 up 1000 down fiber to the home in the neighborhood I just moved into. Dreams of things like having enough upload speed to leave the cloud and operate jamesachambers.com independently in my own home seemed like they could finally be a reality. Dreams were quickly shattered when I realized what kind of incompetence and dishonesty I would be dealing with.

Raspberry Pi 4 USB Boot Config Guide for SSD / Flash Drives

Raspberry Pi 4 with Samsung 950 Pro NVME SSD

The Raspberry Pi 4 is finally here and has a lot of exciting changes. One very major downside is that it doesn’t support true USB booting yet out of the box (like the 3 series did).
The Raspberry Pi foundation states that it is being worked on and will be added back with a future update. No timeline has been given yet for that to happen but they state it’s one of their top priorities.

Most of my projects heavily depend on having good performing storage so sitting and waiting was not an acceptable solution. In this guide I’ll show you a workaround to use USB devices as your rootfs device and use a Micro SD card as bootloader only which gives us full SSD performance after boot!

My Early Bitcoin ASIC Miners (2013-2014) – Pictures / History

Block Erupter ASIC setup

The most competitive Bitcoin mining operations today consist of entire warehouses of large ASIC miners usually located near sources of renewable energy or power plants selling off excess energy production for cheap. To get seriously involved in the Bitcoin mining space of today will require you to already be quite wealthy and to put up some *serious* cash.

But things were not always this way. I found a bunch of pictures in my photo library of my old mining rigs back from the dawn of Bitcoin ASIC mining and wanted to share them. Let’s go on a journey together back to the year of 2013 and explore what old school Bitcoin mining ASIC hardware looked like, how much it cost, and what we can learn from them today!

Install Ubuntu Server 20.04 on Intel Compute Stick Guide

Intel Compute Stick

My primary purpose for buying the Intel Compute Stick was to have an ultra portable x86_64 server to get around ARM limitations. Therefore the dated Ubuntu 14.04 GUI install had to go. In this guide we will walk through installing Ubuntu Server 18.04 on the Intel Compute Stick!

Raspberry Pi Cheap SSD Upgrade Guide

SSD now cheaper than Micro SD cards

I’ve covered the benefits of taking your Raspberry Pi to a solid state drive (SSD) before extensively in this article but in a nutshell you get around a 280% increase in raw throughput and a 1000% increase in 4k random read/writes over a MicroSD card.

In this article I will teach you how to upgrade to a SSD on your Raspberry Pi for under $30.