Hardware

Category page of all posts on the web site that are tagged as related to hardware including PC / embedded and more

Orange Pi i96 Getting Started Guide

Orange Pi i96

Recently I reviewed the Orange Pi Zero 2 and thought it was a fantastic board. I really like the amount of polish that the Orange Pi line of products have as it is the closest I have seen to anything approaching a Raspberry Pi experience. We also benchmarked the Orange Pi Zero 2 and determined it’s a very capable board.

I recently got a Orange Pi i96 (thanks munecito!) and this board is very exciting because it was purchased on sale for ~$10! That is insanely cheap. The reason it’s so cheap is because it’s a headless board that doesn’t contain any display-out ports.

If you are going to be using the board headless anyways (I use most of my SBCs headlessly) you may be able to save a fortune with this board. Let’s get started!

Android Installation for Orange Pi Guide

Orange Pi Zero 2 Android First Startup

It’s quite a bit more tricky to install Android on the Orange Pi than Linux (which is as simple as writing the image to the SD card with Etcher).

As long as you know the right software to use and where to get it though it’s not too bad. In this guide I’ll show you how to set up Android on the Orange Pi from start to finish. Let’s begin!

eMMC to SD Card Adapters Explained

UUGear eMMC to SD Adapter

The eMMC to SD card adapter shows up a lot in IoT devices. I have owned one for my Raspberry Pi for a while and they are fantastic.

In this article I will explain what these devices are, the main advantages of them (speed/performance) and benchmark some eMMCs to show performance differences. By the end of this article this should give you an idea if this is a type of device you’d want to work with / use.

Let’s begin!

Different Shapes / Sizes / Features of Compute Module 4 Boards

Waveshare PoE CM4 IO Board - Standalone

One of my favorite things about the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 is that you basically get to choose your own IO board that the Compute Module 4 plugs into.

For illustration purposes imagine that the IO board is the “motherboard” and the Compute Module 4 is the CPU that you plug into the CPU socket. That’s essentially the relationship between the two!

They come in all shapes and sizes. Some of them even have PCIe and I’ve covered before how to take advantage of true NVMe on the CM4. Today I wanted to show you some of the different IO boards for the Compute Module 4 I have and what features / traits led me to want to try them. Let’s get started!

Getting Started Guide – Raspberry Pi Pico

Pico SDK - Hello World

This guide is meant to help get an environment configured to work with the Raspberry Pi Pico. It’s intended for Linux as even if you don’t use Linux as your main OS you presumably have a Pi that does run Linux and the Pi is a perfectly fine development environment for the Pico!

If you aren’t familiar with the Pico make sure you check out my Raspberry Pi Pico W Explained article as this guide is intended for people who already have the board.

Raspberry Pi Pico W Explained

Raspberry Pi Pico W

The Raspberry Pi Pico and Pico W boards are quite different from other Raspberry Pis. The price tag is very alluring at $6 but you will want to make sure you understand what it is and how it is different from a Raspberry Pi.

This will be a brief article I’ll explain these differences and give you an idea of what kind of uses a Pico is meant for so you can decide if it’s right for you and your project. Let’s get started!

Cryptocurrency ASIC Miners – Security and Hacking Audit

Eclipse - TCF Connection Manager

I’ve been mining cryptocurrency for a very long time. I’ve been recently building out my ASIC farm and I wanted to get an idea of how secure these are as I have a significant investment in this hardware. Considering that ASIC miners are machines that literally print money out of thin air (in the form of cryptocurrency) I figured they’d be quite secure. I haven’t seen any ASIC miner exploits found in years. That’s a good sign right?

Wrong. What happened was all of the ASIC manufacturers stopped releasing their source code. In the early days it was all available on GitHub. After the first set of hacks came out most of them close-sourced their firmware. But James, you might be saying, didn’t that work if there hasn’t been any exploits found this entire time?

Negative. Security through obscurity only slows them down but in the end you are more vulnerable as so few eyeballs will ever see the source code. As a result the security is a joke and today I’ll be presenting extremely serious vulnerabilities for multiple ASIC mining manufacturers. They are definitely *not* secure. They are making mistakes that there’s no way would have happened if the firmware was open source as I will prove to you.

The point will be that you need to upgrade to the latest firmware to protect yourself and that you should *NEVER* port forward a port from the internet to your miner or you are going to get hacked for sure, and you always were. We’re going to discuss everything you need to protect yourself against these vulnerabilities and other future vulnerabilities that have yet to be discovered. Let’s begin!

Orange Pi Zero 2 – Review / Benchmark / Tips – ~$35 Price

Orange Pi Zero 2 - Unboxed

Recently for my storage benchmarking site I had a GitHub issue opened about the Orange Pi Zero 2 not being able to complete the storage benchmark successfully. We were able to get the board going after a lot of troubleshooting but it was pretty difficult to troubleshoot as I had never had one of these boards before.

Until now! I recently received my first and only ever hardware donation to the site from munecito who graciously donated one of these boards to help improve the benchmark (it did not only for SBCs but it now supports PCs as well). Thank you munecito!

I was very interested in how this board compares to the Raspberry Pi experience and ecosystem because we are having a massive Raspberry Pi shortage right now and that is exactly what we are going to do. I also have some general tips for getting the most out of the Orange Pi based on our troubleshooting experience. Let’s proceed!

HackRF Software Defined Radio Guide for Linux

Cubic SDR - Main Screen

The term “software defined radio” simply means that parts of a radio that were traditionally hardware are implemented in software. This means that functions that used to require knobs, dials or some kind of physical mechanism can now be controlled via software. Essentially this makes using computers/ software with radios much easier and more accessible (cheaper) than it had ever been traditionally.

Now with that background I can explain what the HackRF device is. The HackRF is a software defined radio device that is designed to let you access *all* of the radio spectrum all the way from 1 MHz up to 6 GHz! Think of it like a FM radio where the frequency controls don’t stop at 88 MHz or 108 MHz and you could turn it way below or above that. That is exactly what a HackRF is!

You are definitely not limited to listening to radio stations though. You can basically receive all types of signals with the HackRF (depending on your antenna) including video and data signals which can be processed by your computer. In this guide I’m going to cover how to get started with a device like this in Ubuntu Linux and give you an idea of what kind of things you can do with it!

Pwnagotchi WiFi Audit Tool Build / Guide

Pwnagotchi Raspberry Pi Zero W Build

A “pwnagotchi” is a device used for wireless security auditing / hacking that captures the handshakes of any WiFi access points in range of the device. These handshakes can later be cracked. How difficult these are to crack depends on how secure the wireless network is. If the network is set up with the latest encryption standards and an extremely secure password (or is using WPA encryption) it can be nearly/essentially impossible. If the password is a common dictionary word it may crack within seconds.

It’s common and smart security practice for both enterprises and home users to check what kind of networks are operating within range. It’s common to find devices that are “broadcasting” a wireless access point used to share internet but this is often not intended / authorized. It’s also very common to find devices using extremely insecure passwords that will crack in seconds that are authorized to be on the network but need a more secure password. These are basically backdoors into your home / company and they can go for a long time without being caught when this is never checked for.

The “pwnagotchi” tool automates this process. It will capture anything in range to be easily checked later for extremely insecure hashes (typically using hashcat or there are even online tools to find common hashes which we will cover). This saves a ton of time and can greatly improve your security. Today I’ll cover how to build a pwnagotchi setup as well as the steps to use it. Let’s begin!

Raspberry Pi Shortage Survival Guide

rpilocator - Raspberry Pi Stock Locator Tool

The Raspberry Pi shortage is extremely bad. As a site that covers a lot of topics related to the Raspberry Pi I’ve actually seen a major decline in traffic because people are having such a hard time getting these.

Stock on Amazon is limited and it’s being scalped with prices such as $99 for a Zero 2 W and $187 for a Pi 4 8GB. Those are absurd prices.

There are some Pis that are smarter to buy right now than others that you may not be thinking about. Today I’d like to cover additional places to get your Raspberry Pis during the shortage as well as recommend an alternative Pi (a more powerful one actually) you may not necessarily be thinking of!

Why GPU / Ethereum Mining Is Toast – Stop Buying GPUs

whattomine.com

One way I keep up with the developments in cryptocurrency is I do watch some of the YouTubers since the YouTubers are generally following the juiciest developments to farm views. With the continued news that Ethereum is going to launch Eth 2.0 and is more or less on time (now called the “Ethereum consensus layer”, how catchy) how much denial there is around this fact.

Except we are way past that point now. It’s literally these YouTuber’s job to know that GPU mining is toast and today I’m going to expose how big of frauds they are, how they really built their mining farms, what they are actually doing vs. what they’re telling you and why, as well as explain what exactly is going on with Ethereum and why if you’re planning on being able to mine with those GPUs (at least above the cost of your electricity / profitably) the math is not looking good.

Let’s break down what neither the miners or the Ethereum developers want to talk about / remember and break it down!

Bulk Management of Multiple Goldshell ASIC Miners w/ Yotta BC

Yotta BC - Official Goldshell ASIC Bulk Management Tool

One reality of cryptocurrency mining is that you are almost certainly going to need multiple units to reach whatever goals you have. The way most people do this is pay for / ROI on their existing units and then they will add more units and repeat the cycle again.

At first this is easy when you only have a few units but it gets more complex as you add more units. You will need better infrastructure and management tools as you scale up.
I’ve been going through this process for a ASIC farm build-out and wanted to share some of the tools I’ve found and used to make scaling up much more effective.

Today I’m going to cover an official tool from Goldshell called YottaBC that lets you do a lot of cool things like tell all of your miners to change pools at once, view the status of all miners in one fell swoop, fix miners that have lost their IP address and lots of other critical functions. Let’s take a look!

Goldshell BOX ASIC Miner Firmware Recovery Guide

Goldshell Hub - Introduced in firmware 2.2.0

Recently Goldshell released the 2.2.0 update which includes the new “Goldshell Hub” (featured above) which is basically a cloud control center for your miners. I was able to upgrade 23 miners successfully but I had one Mini DOGE and one ST-BOX fail during the upgrade.

After a substantial Google journey and finding some very helpful posts on reddit I was able to recover both of them without waiting for Goldshell’s response on the situation. I will cover what I used to do so and where to find them in the guide but it is at your own risk and if you aren’t outside of your warranty support period you should almost certainly contact Goldshell instead.

With that caveat/warning given, I have 25 of these miners and only 1-2 were bought directly from Goldshell in the first place so I was not worried about losing my warranty or support period from them but you should be careful here and only proceed if you understand this. Let’s begin!

Fix Home Assistant / HAOS Raspberry Pi USB/SSD Boot Freeze

Home Assistant / HAOS

There are few things I dislike more in this world than getting questions on my setup guides that I don’t know the answer to, but thanks to an investigation by Bill Schatzow we can strike one of those issues off the list!

We’ve had a few comments of people who have encountered this issue over the years. Given that at best only 1% of people who visit the site leave a comment I think it’s safe to say that this issue has plagued thousands of people over the past 10-12 months.

Let’s take a look!