Photographing the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse (results)

The path of totality for the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse ran right through my backyard, and it was my first experience photographing totality. Total solar eclipses, when the moon completely covers the sun, are rare. After this year's eclipse, the lower 48 United States will see a brief bit of totality up around Montana in 2044, and a major event across the US in 2045—and I'll be near retirement!

2024 Total Solar Eclipse composite photo by Jeff Geerling
See the full-size image of the eclipse composite on Flickr.

The above photograph is a composite image of all the stages of the 2024 eclipse. I took the pictures in the midst of a few thousand people scattered Fruitland, Missouri, during the April 8, 2024 Total Solar Eclipse.

Radxa's SATA HAT makes compact Pi 5 NAS

Radxa's latest iteration of its Penta SATA HAT has been retooled to work with the Raspberry Pi 5.

Radxa Penta SATA HAT for Raspberry Pi 5 with a Pi mug

The Pi 5 includes a PCIe connector, which allows the SATA hat to interface directly via a JMB585 SATA to PCIe bridge, rather than relying on the older Dual/Quad SATA HAT's SATA-to-USB-to-PCIe setup.

Does the direct PCIe connection help? Yes.

Is the Pi 5 noticeably faster than the Pi 4 for NAS applications? Yes.

Radxa Penta SATA HAT installed on Pi 5 with Drives next to it

Is the Pi 5 + Penta SATA HAT the ultimate low-power NAS solution? Maybe.

macOS Finder is still bad at network file copies

In what is becoming a kind of hobby for me, I've just finished testing another tiny NAS—more on that tomorrow.

But as I was testing, I started getting frustrated with the fact I've never been able to get a Raspberry Pi—regardless of internal storage speeds, even with 800+ MB/sec PCIe-based storage—to consistently write more than around 100 MB/sec write speeds over the network, with either Samba or NFS.

NFS would be more consistent... but it ran around 82 MB/sec:

NFS file copy to Raspberry Pi 5 stalled at 80 MB per second

Samba would peak around 115 MB/sec, but it was wildly inconsistent, averaging around 70 MB/sec:

Samba file copy to Raspberry Pi 5 wild undulations

I have a problem: I use macOS1.

Sipeed's new handheld RISC-V Cyberdeck

tl;dr: Sipeed sent a Lichee Console 4A to test. It has a T-Head TH1520 4-core RISC-V CPU that's on par with 2-3 generations-old Arm SBC CPUs, and is in a fun but impractical netbook/cyberdeck form factor. Here's my video on the Lichee Console 4A, and here's all my test data on GitHub.

Sipeed Lichee Console 4A

Last year I tested the StarFive VisionFive 2 and Milk-V Mars CM—both machines ran the JH7110, a 4-core RISC-V SoC that was slower than a Pi 3.

Sipeed introduced the Lichee Pi 4A line of computers, offering a slightly newer T-Head TH1520 SoC, which is also 4-core, but uses faster C910 cores than the JH7110.

Talking Hot Dog gives new meaning to 'Ham radio'

...except it was a beef frank. Make your wurst jokes in the comments.

Hot Dog exhibiting severe RF burns

What you see above is the remains of a hot dog after it has been applied to an AM radio tower operating in its daytime pattern, at around 6 kW.

A couple months ago, soon after we posted our If I touch this tower, I die video, a few commenters mentioned you likely wouldn't die after touching a high-power AM tower—rather, you'd have serious RF burns.

I was trying to figure out a way to somewhat safely test the scenario: what would happen if someone walked up and touched the tower, while standing on the ground?

If reading's not your thing, check out the short video we posted on Geerling Engineering:

Build log: Power Mac G4 MDD

Power Mac G4 MDD on Desk

This blog post will serve as my long-term build log for the Power Mac G4 MDD I started restoring in the video Retro Computing Enthusiasts are Masochists in early 2024. See also: Build log: Macintosh PowerBook 3400c.

The G4's swan song

Apple's Blue-and-White G3 brought a bit of fun into the industrial design of Apple's pro desktop line of Macs. The four-handle polycarbonate design language progressed through a few generations of G3 and G4, culminating in the 'Mirrored Drive Door' model.

This model is also nicknamed 'Windtunnel' for the amount of noise it generates. The original G3 minitower ran a single 300 MHz G3.

The MDD came in configurations with up to two 1.42 GHz G4 (PowerPC 7455) CPUs, two full-size optical drive bays, and even more expansion.