review

M.2 on a Raspberry Pi - the TOFU Compute Module 4 Carrier Board

Ever since the Pi 2 model B went to a 4-core processor, disk IO has often been the primary bottleneck for my Pi projects.

You can use microSD cards, which aren't horrible, but... well, nevermind, they're pretty bad as a primary disk. Or you can plug in a USB 3.0 SSD and get decent speed, but you end up with a cabling mess and lose bandwidth and latency to a USB-to-SATA or USB-to-NVMe adapter.

The Pi 4 actually has an x1 PCI Express gen 2.0 lane, but the USB 3.0 controller chip populates that bus on the model B. The Compute Module 4, however doesn't presume anything—it exposes the PCIe lane directly to any card it plugs into.

TOFU board by Oratek - Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 Carrier with M.2 slot

And in the case of Oratek's TOFU, it's exposed through an M.2 slot, making this board the first one I've used that can accept native NVMe storage, directly under the Pi:

Review: Nikon Z50

I've been shooting Nikon DSLRs since the D40 came out, and currently shoot with D700 and D750 FX bodies which have served me well for years.

In the past, I've rented a Z6—Nikon's first foray into pro-level mirrorless cameras—for a couple events, and I also own a Sony a6000 and have rented a Sony A7iii for a couple events. I have been very interested in the relentless march of technology in photography. From a couple old nice film bodies I started with, to the earliest digital cameras which had terrible IQ but the ability to instantly review and share photos, to DSLRs which quickly surpassed the quality of 35mm film photography, it has been an eventful 25 years.

The Raspberry Pi 4 might not need a fan anymore

tl;dr: After the fall 2019 firmware/bootloader update, the Raspberry Pi 4 can run without throttling inside a case—but only just barely. On the other extreme, the ICE Tower by S2Pi lives up to its name.

Raspberry Pi 4 cooling options including ICE tower cooling fan and a case mod fan
Three options for keeping the Pi 4 cozy: unmodified Pi 4 case, modded case with fan, and the ICE Tower.

A few months ago, I was excited to work on upgrading some of my Raspberry Pi projects to the Raspberry Pi 4; but I found that for the first time, it was necessary to use a fan to actively cool the Pi if used in a case.

Two recent developments prompted me to re-test the Raspberry Pi 4's thermal properties:

Review: Choetech T535-S Dual Wireless Qi Charger

After holding onto a dying iPhone 7 for as long as I could, I finally decided to trade it in and upgrade to the now-current iPhone XS early this summer. When I upgraded, I was mainly hoping for a better screen, camera, and battery life. Outside of those three features, I don't care much, as the iPhone 7 met my needs very well.

The XS does well on all three counts, but one new feature (I think in the iPhone 8/X generation) I didn't even remember existed was wireless charging. Qi wireless charging allows devices to be charged inductively, placed on top of a charging mat or pad. The standard has been around for a while, and other devices had it before Apple's iPhones, but I never thought much of it.

Well, a few months ago, someone at Choetech emailed me and asked me if I'd like to try out their T535-S Dual Wireless Qi Charger in exchange for an honest review (which you're now reading). I was about to respond I don't have any devices I could test it with, but then realized my new iPhone would actually do it!