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

Radxa Rock Pi 4C Plus SSD Boot Guide

Radxa Rock Pi 4C Plus SSD Boot Guide

The Rock Pi 4C Plus is a bit different to boot with a SSD than it’s predecessors. It does not have a SPI flash (nor can you solder one onto the board) so to use the NVMe slot for our root filesystem we need to use a SD card as the boot loader.

In this guide I’ll walk you through the process to clone a working SD card installation to your NVMe drive and then use some tricks with the drive’s UUID identifiers and essentially pass the boot process off from the SD card and have the NVMe SSD take over.

Let’s get started!

Rock Pi 4C Plus w/ NVMe SBC Review

Radxa Rock Pi 4C Plus w/ NVMe Review

We continue to see a storage technology evolution take place with single board computers. NVMe slots are becoming more and more prevalent on newer models. This is great news for consumers as a M.2 NVMe SSD can actually be cheaper than a SD card (and is much cheaper GB per GB).

Today I’m taking a look at the Radxa Rock Pi 4C Plus single board computer. Previous iterations of this board have had NVMe slots but it has been moved to the top of the board on this model and can properly mount a 2230 NVMe SSD. The SSD I’m using today was only $12 for a 128GB capacity drive.

The board is quite powerful hardware-wise having 4GB of RAM and an hexa-core (6 cores) CPU configuration. We’ll be benchmarking what kind of performance we get using a configuration like this.

Let’s get started!

Pine64 SOQuartz CM4 Alternative Review

Pine64 SOQuartz CM4 Alternative Review

I recently reviewed the BIGTREETECH CB1 alternative to the Compute Module 4 and I was very surprised how well it worked with my existing I/O boards. Today we’re going to review my second one which is the Pine64 SOQuartz V1.1 module. This module features 2GB of RAM (with 4GB and 8GB options available). With twice as much RAM (or more) the hardware at least has the potential to outperform the CB1.

We will run the same benchmarking tool using the same SD card to get a direct I/O performance comparison between the CB1 and the SOQuartz. We’ll compare BIGTREETECH’s open-sourced kernel and image offerings to Pine64s and test the CM4 reference I/O board for compatibility. I was comfortable recommending the CB1 as an alternative to the CM4 (as long as running Raspbian isn’t necessary). Will the Pine64 SOQuartz get a similar recommendation?

Let’s find out!

Mango Pi MQ Pro D1 Ubuntu (P)review

MangoPi MQ-Pro D1 w/ Ubuntu (P)review

Recently Ubuntu has received official preview images for some RISC-V boards. One of those boards is (indirectly) the MangoPi MQ Pro! RISC-V boards have been available for a while but the software support lags that of ARM substantially. It’s steadily catching up though with an official Ubuntu preview out as well as official OpenJDK support coming soon.

Today I wanted to review the MangoPi MQ Pro D1 (Revision 1.4) as well as look at the experience of the Ubuntu preview version on it acknowledging that this isn’t the final release of Ubuntu for RISC-V boards yet and is just a developer preview. My intent is to simply see what the experience is like and get an idea of what is already working and what isn’t ready yet.

Let’s get started!

BIGTREETECH CB1 (CM4 Alternative) w/ Pi4B Adapter Review

BIGTREETECH CB1 with Pi4B Adapter Review

I’ve recently been reviewing many different single board computers that are outside of the Raspberry Pi ecosystem due to the ongoing pricing and availability issues with the Pi. Today will be my first review of a product that is meant to be an alternative to the Compute Module 4! There are several different CM4 knockoffs/alternatives available and I’ve already also received a Pine64 SOQuartz which I’ll be reviewing in the near future.

Today we will be examining the BIGTREETECH CB1(revision 2.2) as well as the official Pi4B adapter (meant to be one choice of IO board for the device). These are generally meant to be used with 3D printers as BIGTREETECH’s catalog is largely geared toward 3D printing.

I will not be reviewing the device for that purpose today. I will be examining it as a more general-purpose CM4 alternative. We’ll look at the images available, try plugging it into some other I/O boards meant for the CM4 and seeing what works and what doesn’t, benchmarking the performance and try to reach a conclusion about what a board like this will work for and what it won’t.

Let’s begin!

Libre “Renegade” SSD Booting Guide

Libre Computers "Renegade" SSD Boot Guide

The “Renegade” by Libre Computers is a $50 single board computer. You actually get USB 3.0 with the “Renegade” which is going to make it even more worth it to use a SSD with than the “Le Potato”.

This method requires a sacrificial SD card to serve as the bootloader. After booting though it will use your SSD for the system’s root filesystem. We will then benchmark it to measure the improvement/gains.

In this guide I’ll walk you through the process. Let’s get started!

Libre Computers ROC-RK3328-CC “Renegade” SBC Review

Libre Computers "Renegade" ROC-RK3328-CC Firefly Review

Recently I reviewed the Libre Computers “Le Potato” and I really like it. Libre Computers offers very up to date images (and takes pride in it) and the build quality on the board was rock solid. I also like that it is actually widely available to order for only $40.

I’m very excited that today I received the “Renegade” ROC-RK3328-CC Firefly board from Libre Computers which is available for only $50. One very interesting feature this board has that the “Le Potato” doesn’t is a USB 3.0 port. Since I love writing USB booting guides for all my single board computers having a USB 3.0 port means that the “Renegade” has the potential to hit much higher I/O performance scores using USB 3.0.

Will the “Renegade” live up to the high expectations set by the “Le Potato”? Let’s find out!

DataVac ED500: Powerful Dust Remover

DataVac ED500 Dust Remover Review

In the past I’ve written about my rechargeable handheld dust removal tool I’ve used to clean dust from electronics. This has completely eliminated “canned air” from my life and paid for itself many times over not to mention the vastly reduced environmental impact.

After years of operation my OPOLAR dust removal tool is starting to have issues with the switch that turns on the blower. Since I was very happy having a powered dust removal tool and it had paid for itself previously I decided to try taking a step up this time and get a more powerful model.

I decided to try out the DataVac Electric Duster and oh boy is it powerful. It honestly feels like a cannon! Today I’ll cover how this compared to my previous tool and why these are so great. Let’s get started!

Banana Pi M2 Zero SBC Review

Banana Pi M2 Zero Review

The Banana Pi M2 Zero definitely has a very familiar form factor. It looks just like the Raspberry Pi Zero but is a much cheaper alternative in these market conditions. Would you actually want to buy and use it as a Pi alternative? The answer is maybe.

Today I’ll explain the strengths and weaknesses of the Banana Pi M2 Zero and explain who may be able to save a lot of money using a board like this (and who should stay away from it). There are definitely some things you should know about the board before buying one and we’ll be covering those in this review.

Let’s get started!

Libre “Le Potato” SSD Boot Guide

Libre "Le Potato" SSD Boot Guide

The “Le Potato” by Libre Computers is a $40 single board computer. That is incredibly cheap in 2022 as anyone who has tried to buy a Raspberry Pi recently can tell you. There aren’t a lot of guides out there for how to best utilize it though so today I’d like to publish a guide for it for one of the best upgrades you can do with any SBC: upgrade to SSD storage!

This method requires a sacrificial SD card to serve as the bootloader. After booting though it will use your SSD for the system’s root filesystem. We will then benchmark it to measure the improvement/gains.

Let’s begin!

ODROID XU4/XU4Q SSD Booting Guide

ODROID XU4 / XU4Q SSD Boot Guide

The ODROID XU4 and XU4Q can be a bit more tricky to boot from USB drives such as a SSD due to them not using the fantastic Petitboot bootloader like many of their newer boards have. It is still completely achievable though using an old trick and a sacrificial SD card.

The performance gains as well as access to much higher capacity drives can makes it more than worth it to set up SSD storage (as it is on nearly all single board computers).

Let’s get started!

Libre Computers “Le Potato” SBC Review

Libre Computers "Le Potato" Review

The “Le Potato” single board computer available from Libre Computers is an alternative to the Raspberry Pi. It is modeled after the Raspberry Pi 3 and is largely compatible with the Raspberry Pi 3 and it’s accessories (with some limitations/caveats). It can even run Raspberry Pi OS / Raspbian.

It costs about 1/3rd of what a Raspberry Pi does while coming with 2GB of memory. It’s widely available as well (I got mine from Amazon Prime with overnight delivery). Today we’ll be taking a look at the “Le Potato” as well as benchmarking it to see how well it can perform.

Let’s get started!

Tinker Board SSD / USB Booting Guide

Tinker Board SSD Booting Guide

I recently wrote a getting started guide for the Tinker Board as even though the newer models tend to be quite expensive the older models can often be found for a lot cheaper. In this guide we are going to do something more advanced and are going to actually move our root filesystem to a SSD!

I have the original variant (the Tinker Board 1 S) and that is what I will be using for this guide but this should work on all Tinker Boards (including models without the eMMC). The Tinker Board 2 will have faster performance as the USB ports are USB 3.0 vs. USB 2.0 on the original Tinker Board. If you don’t have the S model with the eMMC this method will require a sacrificial SD card to serve as the bootloader.

This is an old method that I first covered for the Raspberry Pi before it supported native USB booting. I’ve also covered it here for the Orange Pi Zero 2. The SD card/eMMC serves as the bootloader but our root filesystem will be on the SSD. This is a fantastic method for any board that doesn’t natively support booting the OS from a USB storage device.

Let’s begin!

Legendary ODROID M1 Ubuntu 22.04.1 Images

Legendary ODROID M1 Images

Recently I reviewed the ODROID M1 and it’s a fantastic board. One problem with it though is that the image available for it is still only Ubuntu 20.04.

It’s possible to upgrade the server version to 22.04 and then install Ubuntu Desktop which I covered in my review. It’s painful though and takes a very long time especially if you want to install a desktop environment afterward.

I figured by now the updated image would be out and it still isn’t so today I’m releasing my Legendary ODROID M1 Ubuntu 22.04.1 images as well as the system I used to build the images!

Raspberry Pi Zero 2 Review (It Sucks)

This is what not giving a shit about your product looks like

It’s no secret that there’s a massive Raspberry Pi shortage right now for consumers due to the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s strategy of allocating boards to business and IoT projects first and then official resellers get whatever is left. Since I own one of every Raspberry Pi that has ever been made I ended up buying one of these scalped from eBay for about $57 (all the way from Europe) which is much better than the street price of $80-$90+ I can get it in the United States.

In other words I payed the scalpers to get my hands on this board so you don’t have to and let me tell you folks, it is honestly garbage and literally the dumbest purchase I’ve ever made. Today I will show and explain why the Raspberry Pi Zero 2 is the lamest and most disappointing product release that the Raspberry Pi Foundation has ever done. Let’s get started!