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Posts posted by Strider

  1. Yeah, MSRP will rise on some goods I'm sure, so I don't expect everything to drop back to pre-craziness prices, but for what I'm interested in, it should still drop significantly compared to the height of the craziness.

    Gas I am not so sure on, only time will tell, but even that should still drop below $3 for what I use, regular. At least I hope. lol

    During all of this, I have spent more time on eBay than I have in years.

    It also makes me thankful I have a good paying job in a profession that's in no danger of disappearing.

    • Like 1
  2. @TomXP411 The NUC is the one mini PC that actually sparked my interest when it was introduced, just not enough to make me want to invest in one. Now that I've actually had time to play around with this ZBox, I may very well look into getting one. I have no issues buying used on eBay, that's where this one came from. I'm thinking of getting one as an HTPC/Steam Link/Emulator replacement.


    @hardrockhero I did look at the chromeboxes, some were even cheaper than the ZBox. What stopped me is my unfamiliarity with them, not sure they could run what I wanted. Also, I wanted as much USB connectivity as I could get without using a hub. Lastly, I would want one that uses traditional SODIMM's and SSD storage that can be swapped or upgraded. I don't care of eMMC or running off SD cards on anything outside of a Pi3 or older. Still, for the price, one would be fun to play with.

    • Like 1
  3. I got it setup, just as yet another bench computer configuration. Works like a charm. Fits well on my desk. 😉

    I bought a 19V 3.4A 65W power supply off Amazon to run it, though like most of these cheap power bricks, it only outputs 18.84V, but the ZBox runs stable under load so no complaints as of yet. 

    Now I just need to pick up an 8GB stick of DDR3L RAM, the 2GB it came with works, but I don't want to rely on a swap file on the SSD.




  4. The chip shortage has pushed me to look at alternatives for some of my projects, needs, ideas, and just for fun. One such change was really looking at older used x86 hardware, more specifically, SFF PCs. I never had any interest in them in the past, too slow for my needs, or so I thought. I used them at work like most people, and they never impressed me, but I also never had one I could mess with.

    For about $50, you can buy a quad-core (AMD E-Series, Atom, Celeron) SFF PC and bypass many of the shortcomings of ARM based computers. So, I did just that, buying a Zotac Intel Celeron N2930 (ZBOX-CI320NANO-P), it only came with a 2GB stick of RAM and no HDD or PSU, but that's more than enough to get me started. Now I just need to buy a proper PSU for it, I'm currently using my buck/boost converter to play around, stable but not ideal. I dropped a 120GB SSD in there, Ubuntu 20.04 again, and so far so good. https://www.ebay.com/itm/185278053607? (Was $45, they went up.)

    I'm not sure what I'll be using it for exactly, maybe Bench PC 3.0, or higher end emulation, we'll see. For now, I'm just having fun seeing what it can do, and getting a lot of practice in Linux, and that's always a good thing. While it runs off 19V, much more than anything else I am playing with (the Pi's) obviously, I was shocked to see it drawing such low amperage.  This was during heavy load, installing Ubuntu. I have yet to see it go much over .500A, but I also don't want to over-stress it with my current power delivery, 12V 3A being boosted.



    Do you use/like SFF PCs at home? Do you use it for something other than daily computing?

    Oh, and I love the way they make it easy to get inside, the 4 feet are thumb screws, so convenient.






    Note to self: Dust my PC side panel. 😛

  5. I know you can run Linux on an original XBox, maybe later units as well, I don't follow any of that anymore. If you Google XBox Linux, you'll find all you need.

    A buddy of mine did that several years ago, he was running some form of servers on them, I can't recall now. Still, it worked, and it worked well at mimicking a basic desktop for the time.

    On the Atari front, forgive me my memory isn't what it used to be, but I do recall the VCS being used as basically just a video source, like @TomXP411 said, there was an external cart or something that did everything else. I wish I could remember where I was reading about that. It wasn't all that long ago...

    Stupid memory. 😛

  6. Well, my 3D design skills are not up to such a large task just yet, so I went with an old project enclosure I had lying around for now, but it works!

    Not the prettiest thing, but at least it's all self contained and I can call it done! For now... 

    Once my skills have improved and I can actually design something that I like, I will move it all over. Right now this good old rectangle box and some hot glue will do the trick. 😛



    More info: http://thisoldgeek.epizy.com/projects/atomicpi.htm

    • Like 2
  7. Yeah, these shortages, extending well beyond technology, are a result of multiple "things" coming to a head. I also think many people just don't realize how interconnected everything really is.

    I have several ATMega projects on hold, where I made working prototypes, but that's as far I got before I couldn't get reasonably priced chips anymore to make more units. So it's just an irritating inconvenience.

    In the meantime, I have been exploring the used market for some types of hardware for various reasons, and spending more time playing with the Atomic Pi than I probably would have otherwise, I would use it in other projects if it wasn't so large and cumbersome compared to a Raspberry Pi.


  8. It's absolute madness....

    No Pi's, no controllers, those EEPROM prices are outrageous!

    Makes it hard to get excited for new projects when you know it's either going to take forever to complete, or cost well over original estimates.

    I do find it funny I can go on eBay and buy a used ZBOX for about $50 and have so much more computing power than a Pi, but a Pi can't be found, and I could use a couple more 4B units.

    Though I am considering buying one those ZBOX PCs, so cheap and convenient, can add up to 8GB of RAM and I have some DDR3L lying around. Would make a great little Linux box.

  9. So, we all know about the shortages, and they affect everyone a bit differently. Delaying projects, sending prices through the roof, etc.

    I thought it would be interesting to see how it's impacted the hobbies of others, if at all. What are some prices on items you use that have gotten out of control, or maybe put projects on hold, or maybe you just can't get what you need or want.


    For me, the largest impact was putting my Arduino/ATMega & Tiny projects on hold, as well as my Raspberry Pi plans. We all know Pi's are either impossible to find or being sold by scalpers at crazy prices, but I got a real shock today looking at getting a few more Arduino Nano units.

    I bought my last set about a year ago, and it cost me $14 for a set of 3.



    Then I went to look today, same item, same "official" seller (ELEGOO), and holy cripes! $49.99 before I went to work today. I look when I get home...$54.99!!! 😳



    Thankfully there are a few other lesser known brands still available for somewhere in the mid $20 range...if you really really want them, but still, that's madness.

    Sadly, I much prefer to just get the ATMega328 itself, but they are impossible to find from licensed distributors and only available via 3rd party sellers at fantastically inflated prices as well.


    So what about you? Any similar stories?


  10. I watch all Star Trek, been a fan since watching the original series in reruns with my dad, great memories.

    I have really enjoyed all the Trek shows and films over the years. Though I will admit Discovery is my least favorite of the lot. I do like Picard, but that's becasue it's TNG based, I love Patrick Stewart, and they just brought back John de Lancie! Q was one of my favorite recurring characters!

    Heck, I even love it when shows and film pay tribute to Trek like Galaxy Quest and The Orville. 🙂


    • Like 1
  11. Well, all that's left is to make a case for it all to go in. 🙂

    I have it running like I want, all the software has been loaded and tested, and only have two more modifications to make (add a momentary power button & speakers).

    I got rid of the expansion board and made my own power board and supply to save space (wasn't going to use it anyway). Attached a USB 2.0 port and hub. Added Wifi and Bluetooth antennas.

    I was going to re-task it as an SDR PC, but decided to keep it as my "bench computer" becasue it just works so well with this configuration.

    It's getting there, slowly.... It sucks having so little time to do things.





    • Like 1
  12. On 4/20/2022 at 2:02 AM, TomXP411 said:

    That one doesn't ring a bell... You might look for references to 162MHz online.

    I did that, and the best I found so far was maybe one of these...


    Or maybe a timing or locator signal of some kind. Just a guess.

    I really need to stop and go to bed... 💤

    Whenever I start to learn something new, I tend to feel like a kid in a candy store, and thus spend WAY too much time on it.

  13. On 4/20/2022 at 1:07 AM, TomXP411 said:

    You're right. 29.34 MHz is in the 10 meter ham band. (You're not going to hear anything at 29KHz.) That part of the band is reserved for ARS satellite uplinks, so you shouldn't be hearing radio there. It's possible someone was fooling around with a transmitter, probably illegally.


    Sorry, I did mean MHz, not KHz, typo. I have been messing with this all day. I can't seem to stop. 🙂

    Now I am trying to figure out what this repeating signal is at the very top end of the Marine band. Any ideas?




  14. Post has been "de-hammed". 😆

    I didn't even realize I did that, thanks for the correction! Like I said, I am the very definition of an "amateur" in this field, learning as I go.

    I picked them up on 29.340MHz (WFM), and it was a mirror to a local 102.3 FM station. Though you may be right about it being remote as it's no longer broadcasting, but I didn't hear anything on it other than a rebroadcast of the FM station. It was just unexpected to find.

    I'm in the process of fiddling with VBCable and DSDPlus to decode those digital signals.

    I'm having a blast! 🤓

  15. Let me start off by saying I have not messed around with anything outside of your standard portable FM radios since the early 90's, and even then it was mainly only shortwave and CB, I never got into ham, just too darn expensive. That being said, we've come a long way since the 1990's!

    I knew about Software Defined Radio (SDR), but didn't really give it much thought, until very recently, and I am so glad I did. It even changed the direction of one of my other projects, specifically the Atomic Pi.

    If you're not familiar with what SDR is, just give it a Google and check out some videos on YouTube, I basically just want to attest to how awesome it can be to mess around with.

    I picked up an RTL-SDR dongle off Amazon, got the drivers and SDR# (VERY easy to use and navigate - supports plugins - seen below) program installed, put the antenna in my window (after making sure it was extended and orientated properly), and was up and running in under 10 minutes. I then spent the next several hours just "browsing" my local airwaves. Discovering quite a few ham and marine conversations, local NOAA stations, a couple shortwave stations I wasn't expecting to find, a local FM station rebroadcasting on ham???, and a LOT of stuff I can't yet identify (some digital and some repeating pattern signals/tones, beacons maybe?). I also discovered hours of entertainment and "hacking".

    Turns out, some of those digital signals can be decoded, you can pick up weather satellite data and decode the images, and even receive video and text, including from the ISS! But... I am going to need to make a better antenna for all that, but the software is all out there, and free.

    So, I have decided to dedicate the Atomic Pi as my new "SDR Receiver" so I can take it camping with me. 😛

    It's a cheap hobby these days, and you don't need a license to listen.


    Does anyone else here play with SDR? Is it even something that you would be interested in?




    • Like 1
  16. I'm a huge fan of good old buttons, switches, and knobs.  🙂

    Most of these USB scopes are relativity cheap becasue just about everything is done in software on your computer. No buffer memory, no hardware triggering, etc. The "scope" literally just captures the data and sends it to the software for absolutely everything else if I'm not mistaken. So they are obviously not as good as a "real" scope, but they get the job done, and are easy on the wallet. For my needs, its more than good enough, even with it's limitations, and  it fits my limited workspace!

    This is the video that got me to finally buy one...


    • Like 1
  17. I "upgraded", just ... becasue. Hantek 6022BE.

    Openhantek running on Win 10 and Ubuntu on the Atomic Pi. It actually runs better on Ubuntu and the AP than my Windows desktop. 😛

    Now to get it up and running on the Pi 4. I love the wide ranging support. Still a cheap scope, but I've been looking at it a long time, but it was Adrian's videos that finally pushed me to pull the trigger. For $65, I'm happy, and so it my wallet. I have the Labrador to play with and the Hantek to actually use for my simple projects and vintage troubleshooting.




    • Like 1
  18. On 3/31/2022 at 2:01 PM, Cyber said:

    I have seriously looked at that many times, and once things "calm down", I very well may look into putting one together. It's, by far, the closest thing to what I would want currently available. Heck, I was highly impressed by his original Wee86. 😁

    @BruceMcF I would love to put that in a custom clamshell, would be pretty easy. Considering I now own an Ender 3, if I go down  that road, it's a real possibility.

    • Like 1
  19. Personally, I would like an SoC for an DOS/Win 3.1 era 80486 machine. The ability to run a full 90's era DOS PC in nice tiny package.

    • CPU: Maybe a DX chip, 66MHz or better.
    • Audio: Sound Blaster or Awe 64 sound, or something 100% compatible.
    • Video: 3DFX Voodoo, ATI Rage, or Nvidia Riva, they were all good IMHO.

    The 90's era DOS years don't seem to get a lot of love, and while the 80's 8-bit era is my favorite, I truly loved my 90's era systems. Computers got to the point they could be easily upgraded by the end user. I really enjoyed using DOS and Windows 3.1. To have a small laptop or Maximite sized full 80486 machine sitting on my desk would be awesome.


    • Like 2
    • Thanks 1
  20. On 3/14/2022 at 3:25 AM, TomXP411 said:

    It's back in the box... it doesn't seem to have any advantages over using a Pi or a desktop PC. So I feel like I wasted money buying it.

    Honestly, it's only qualities are it's small size and that it's a decent x86 SBC for a low price. I don't see me using it's GPIO. So I totally understand that. 🙂

    I wanted one "thing" to plug all my hobby tools into, Arduino projects, analyzers, scopes, or whatever new toy I may buy thinking I need it. Right now that task is spread across my desktop PC and Pi 4. All the software I want to use is available on Linux and Windows, but not all for the Pi, so moving to this x86 board fits my one very specific need. It also had to fit into a very small area, so no using a second desktop PC or laptop, and those are much more expensive options anyway.

    I will play around with it first, see what it can run, but that's only becasue I want to tinker. lol

    Edit: Looking around for info on the included camera. I want to wire it up with a standard USB cable to use on other projects (found that too), I found the failed robot the Atomic Pi was supposed to power and some other very basic info.

    The camera has really good image quality for 1080P, so I may use it on my Ender, or maybe as a WiFi camera, we will see. It's also good for object tracking and recognition software obviously, since that's what it was made for. Also, looks like it was designed in 2017? Company founded in 2002? No idea on that.

    Got to make use of it since I have it. 😛

    Later Edit (4/18/22): I may have found brothers to the Atomic Pi, they are Mini-PC's labeled as Intel "Z83V", either made or branded by various manufacturers. They all seem to have the same 2GB RAM, come in 16/32/64GB eMMC storage versions, and add more connectivity. So things like this were sold as cheap "mini pc's", and that makes much more sense than a full custom computer for a robot. Just modify a current platform to meet your needs.

  21. My new one arrived over a week ago, but I haven't had time to do anything with it until today, but, installing Ubuntu on a new 120GB SSD that I plan on running it off of. I will use the eMMC and an SD card as "extra" storage.

    Also ordered a USB 2.0 hub for it since the 3.0 will be used by the SSD. Once I get Ender 3 printer figured out, I will work on creating a case for everything to go into.

    I plan on putting this Atomic Pi through it's paces, but in the end, I think it's going to be setup as a simple "bench" PC, freeing up my Raspberry Pi 4. I will use it to run my Espotek Labrador, Logic Analyzer, and the Hantek oscilloscope I also just ordered. 😛



    UPDATE 3-13-22: I had a TON of issues, turns out, the Genesis style USB hub I was using was the source. Go figure, it is many years old now. I got a new 2.0 hub and it;s working as intended now!

    Got Ubuntu installed on the 120GB SSD, hooked up via a USB 3.0 Sabrent adapter. Also working good. Also noticed I can't disable the eMMC or it wont boot. If there is no bootable OS on the eMMC, it won't boot off USB. I'm at a loss on that one. So I have a backup install of Ubuntu on the eMMC, but not mounted.




    Powering it off my little DIY buck converter/booster, until I order it's own PSU (Still need to add an on\off toggle). 🙂

    Seems to draw about 1.2A at idle, 1.5A to 1.6A when working, and about 2.0A under load. I may use a BT keyboard/mouse combo instead of USB, save on the power draw since an oscilloscope and logic analyzer will be hooked up eventually. Then I can get away with a 3A PSU instead of 4A. We'll see. Just ordered a set of antennas for it.



    @TomXP411 How's your working?

  22. Yeah, this "shortage" sucks, and scalpers suck worse. 😧

    New Pi 4's going for $180-$200 on eBay...

    Used Pi 3's are all over the price spectrum...

    New original Pi B+ units going for over $70...

    New Zero W's going for $30 or more...

    It's madness.

    I am buying spares when, and if, this all passes. 

  23. Update: Mine was faulty, seems it was damaged in shipping. They issued me a refund because they had none in stock. Well, they're back in now and I just ordered my replacement. Hopefully with better luck this time.

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