Cubical Monolith 2014 07

2014-07-29

I have been having problems with hard disks on the master cpu (Monolith.) I was seeing intermittent journal errors on the SSD but once I switched to standard 2.5" sata disk it got much worse.

Originally I tried 2 different ssd disks and assumed I was just having issues with problematic ssd but earlier this week I installed a standard 2.5" sata disk and started testing.

I immediately began to see the same issues I'd had with the SSD.

At first I swapped disks, changed sata and power cables, and tested everything on another cpu since I refused to believe I had a power issue.

Like "everyone knows" you need a good power supply on the Cubieboard to use a hard disk. I knew that too, and since I had a power supply that was seeming to handle all 33 cpu boards, three ethernet switches (12vdc), USB hub, and an LED display I mentally dismissed "power supply issues".

However I finally got around to checking the power supply (Occams' Razor!) and the +5VDC line was only at 4.9vdc and would not adjust higher.

I did have a power issue and I've already removed the power supply and terminal boards. I plan on redesigning this system to use direct 12vdc input (from a deep-cycle battery) with dc-dc converters to provide +5vdc to everything. I have a lot of off-grid power stuff up and running here at my lab and I have tremendous +12 power.

I can still use 12vdc to power my ethernet switches (I don't want to replace them now) and use the DC-DC converters. I am thinking I will use (3) of them since I like to over-engineer power systems. They are rated at 20A but the spec sheet that they will burn up if you use that much power so I'm going to make sure each one has less than 10A on it.

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I run all my computing and network equipment full-time from an inverter so this is a no-brainer. I don't mind saying that the Cubical Monolith is "green powered" or some nonsense like that, heh.

So, I have come to learn a lot about Cubieboard version 1 systems, and the hard disk should be very reliable. Please check your voltage and power if you find otherwise. I've been having problems for awhile and was just too stubborn to check. Sometimes being human is a burden.

2014-07-25

It has been quite some time since I've had time to work on anything interesting as my real job took precedence.

I have been investigating Android very closely on the Cubie Board, I now have a Dell Venue 8" Android tablet which sort of inspired me to look into Android a bit using the Cubie as a platform for various functionality.

I have it plugged into an HDMI monitor of course.

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As you can see I still use my earlier projects for various purposes, nowadays mostly related to testing some automated security scanning and test harness development.

I have also been using the older projects for design and implementation of distributed control (configuration management projects mostly) and since it is debian I can use it with other variants easily.

Enough about the old stuff I am interested in Android now.

I have been curious about the Android operating system for some time and would like to try writing some software for it so I fired up one of the extra cpus, attached an HDMI monitor and a wireless keyboard and mouse.

I installed a little wifi-dongle (Airlink) (as well as a hard-wired ethernet connection) and configured it to use a new account on Google Play (to purchase and/or download applications.

I installed a 32gb micro-sd card on it for storage.

The screenshot is of the Android 'settings' panel for networking which is also different from the wifi setup. The ability to act as a portable hotspot and as a router is impressive but I have no firewall capability on it at the moment (under linux I do but this is Android, remember?) but maybe I should see about writing one at some point.

I have been streaming video through it (any sort, divx, avi, mp4, mkv, etc) as it has hardware acceleration (under Android you can use MX Player (free version has embedded advertising and it cost 3.99 to get rid of those.)

MX Player directly supports ARMv7 with an add-on codec but also uses the hardware video accelerator so it works very well.

Music streaming is simple as there are a plethora of free audio players (and standard player in Android) not to mention all the players in the various file management applications you can get for Android.

I connect it to a mixer where all the other computer sound outputs are and it kicks butt viewing movies and listening to music. I've had no issues with network streaming of the highest resolution video so far.

I've had zero network issues (unlike the raspberry pi) using these boards, they rock. They are so versatile I could turn one into any dedicated "thing" I need.

Right now I am building a portable video system (based on Android!) that will allow you watch video/listen to stereo music (audio codec/analog out) or HDMI audio! that you can also use the net (keyboard and mouse) as well so it's quite the workstation.

I installed an ssh client on it and have been using it to connect to other unix servers all over the world.

Right now I am just familiarizing myself with the environment as I have only used Android on a Dell tablet so far (KitKat.)

I am having an issue copying files from a remote SMB share using Root File Manager (all cubie boards ship with a 'rooted' operating system onto the 32gb micro sd card.

I get errors as if I had no write permissions. However using any application I can create files, folders, edit files, delete files and folders on the same 32-gb micro sd card so I am unsure what is going on.

I will delve deeper into this problem at some point but right now I have just ejected the micro sd card and copied what I needed from another system and then just re-insert to get whatever data I wanted.