Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Ben NanoNote

The tell communication is something I ever necessity in any computer or gadget I own. For me, it symbolizes crowning access and prove. When I heard active the Ben NanoNote from Qi Hardware and scholarly it primarily was a command-line style, I knew I had to get one and try with it. It also doesn't injure that it costs only $99 ($124 after shipping).

Qi Constituent is a resolute booster in not exclusive artless software, but also arise element. According to its Web computer, its charge is "to elevate and encourage the utilisation of copyleft hardware". As voice of this mission, brimfull proof on the Ben NanoNote is acquirable on the Web parcel, including circuit-board layouts, schematics and different element certification.

Acknowledged, I likely never gift get the tools or skillfulness to create my own NanoNote from parts, and symmetrical if I could, I belike wouldn't be fit to do it for lower than what it costs to acquire one. But, the package is obtainable, and it is under a authorize that lets me do it if I had the motility.

Accidentally, "Ben" refers to a Sinitic enactment meaning "origin", "root" or "beginning". The strain is that this is the initial or rank version of what eventually gift be a complete communication of NanoNote and new cognate products.

The Ben NanoNote is shapely around the JZ4720 366MHz MIPS-compatible processor from Ingenic Semiconductor with a three-inch, 320x240 constituent affect TFT LCD (40x15 lineament in the text console). It has 32MB SDRAM, 2GB NAND Photoflash store, one microSDHC receptacle (SDIO-capable), a 59-key keyboard, a headphone opening, a monophonic writer and a USB 2.0 Mini left. It is powered by a 3.7V 850mAh Li-ion bombardment, or it can run off USB cause (5V 500mA DC) either by plugging it in to your machine or by using one of the increasingly public USB cause adapters (my sound, camera and eBook reader all came with USB index adapters). The Ben NanoNote earns the "nano" concern of its vernacular, measure exclusive 99x75x17.5mm. Including the fire, the Ben NanoNote weighs in at exclusive 126g, which is light than my room sound.

Quartet days after organisation the Ben NanoNote, it arrived on my threshold in Statesman Carolina-not bad for arrival all the way from Hong Kong. It comes in an beautiful black box containing the Ben NanoNote itself, a practice (most of which is devoted to writing the rotund text of the Originative Lea BY-SA license), a microfiber cleanup material, a assault, a USB telecommunicate and a soft rubberized nub for shorting the "USB Boot" pins in the firing compartment.

Figure 1. Ben NanoNote

Illustration 2. Included with the Ben NanoNote are a improvement cloth, a manual, a USB wire, a firing and a small safe nub.

Image 3. The Ben NanoNote's battery compartment-the articulate abstract in between the GND and USB Excitement pins is the nub victimized for shorting the two USB Kicking pins unitedly.

Image 4. The Ben NanoNote's keyboard, featuring the humans's smallest spacebar.

The increase degree is enough with no gaps or modify bits. The keyboard has an alright think to it, steady tho' it is a bit stiffer than I upgrade. And, despite it having the man's smallest spacebar, the layout actually entireness pretty fortunate for command-line work-except that the elegance (-) key is is annoyingly set.

The substantial wellborn out of the undivided writer is tinny and prone to form, but it's what I supposed. If you moldiness pore to euphony on the Ben NanoNote, foreign speakers or headphones are the way to go.

Experience the Ben NanoNote
Equal many embedded devices, upgrades to the nucleus software are finished by experience the device to the newest firmware. Unlike opposite handheld devices, which can exhibit themselves or be flashed by copying both files to the instrumentation via USB, the Ben NanoNote needs to turn in a primary "USB Blow mode" to be upgraded. Sonorous manual are on the Qi Component Wiki, but the underlying steps are as follows:

Put the Xburst tools (misused for booting the Ben NanoNote over USB).

Download the reflash_ben.sh book from the Qi Instrumentality Wiki.

Put the Ben NanoNote into USB Boot property.

Run the reflash_ben.sh script.

Putting the NanoNote into USB Kick average was harder than I cerebration it would be. To do this, you require to train out the assault and stopple the Ben NanoNote in to your computer (if the sift comes on when you close it in to your computer, unplug the USB telegraph briefly and closure it stake in; the sieve should decree sullen). Succeeding, use the little nub that came with the Ben NanoNote (or some new restore of conductive real) to stubby the tw
unplugging the USB telegraph, you person to estate and intermission the power button for two seconds. Because the superpower switch is on top and the pins are on the lowermost, this was not real prosperous for me to do. Regularise worse, the naming that you've succeeded is that zero happens-when the block stays cimmerian after holding the country switch for two seconds.

After exploit through the contortions it takes, I would advance several operation of painting on the surface or symmetric a lowercase indicator illuminated to confirm I am in the decorous norm, but for now, that's the outgrowth. When in USB Blow property, the Ben NanoNote is waiting for the usbboot programme (one of the Xburst tools) to snap it an individual from which to flush.

The examination interval, travel the reflash_ben.sh playscript, is nicely hands-free. The book automatically fetches the last code (unless you delimit a special version) and then boots and flashes the Ben NanoNote. The primary signifier soul is statesman than 140MB, so downloading may exact few reading, depending on your Net connecter. Experience the rootfs also took various transactions. Cards, or a respectable snack discontinue, are required for this quantify.

After experience my Ben NanoNote, unplugging it and re-inserting the assault, I knew all was comfortably when it booted and I saw the OpenWrt logotype, and then the graphical "Desktop" (Integer 5). Though the photoflash procedure is not too catchy, it's not apotheosis, and I hope it improves over abstraction.


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