usb

UASP makes Raspberry Pi 4 disk IO 50% faster

You can view a video related to this blog post here: Does UASP make the Raspberry Pi faster?.

A couple weeks ago, I did some testing with my Raspberry Pi 4 and external USB SSD drives. I found a USB 3.0 SSD was ten times faster than the fastest microSD card I tested.

In the comments on the video associated with that post, Brad Manske mentioned something I never even thought about. He noticed that I had linked to an Inateck USB 3.0 SATA case that didn't have UASP.

What's UASP, you might ask?

I'm booting my Raspberry Pi 4 from a USB SSD

Recently, the Raspberry Pi Foundation announced a USB boot beta for the Raspberry Pi 4. For a very long time, the top complaint I've had with the Raspberry Pi is limited I/O speed (especially for the main boot volume). And on older Pis, with the maximum external disk speed limited especially by the USB 2.0 bus—which was shared with the network adapter, limiting its bandwidth further—even USB booting didn't make things amazing.

But the Pi 4 not only separated the network adapter from the USB bus, it also has USB 3.0, which can be 10x faster than USB 2.0 (theoretically). So when the USB boot beta was announced, I wanted to put it through its paces. And after testing it a bit, I decided to use the Pi 4 as my full-time workstation for a day, to see whether it can cope and where it falls short. I'll be posting a video and blog post with more detail on that experience very soon.

Update: I now have a video that goes along with this blog post:

Flashing a Raspberry Pi Compute Module on macOS with usbboot

I recently got to play around with a Turing Pi, which uses Raspberry Pi Compute Modules to build a cluster of up to 7 Raspberry Pi nodes.

Turing Pi Raspberry Pi 7 nodes of Compute Modules

Interested in learning more about building a Turing Pi cluster? Subscribe to my YouTube channel—I'm going to be posting a series on the Turing Pi and Rasbperry Pi clustering in the next few weeks!

You can buy Compute Modules with or without onboard eMMC memory. If you don't have memory, you can attach a microSD card and boot from it, just like you would on any Raspberry Pi model B or model A. But if you have the eMMC memory, it's nice to be able to 'flash' that memory with an OS, so the compute module uses the onboard storage and doesn't require a separate boot device (either microSD card or USB disk).

Review: AUKEY 30,000 mAh USB-C Portable Charger (with USB A, USB C, Micro USB)

Jeff's Rating: 3/5

tl;dr: Slightly pricey, could use a better interface for charge status, and holds 20% less than the advertised capacity, but the still-plentiful amount of stored energy and the ability to charge via USB-C or USB-A makes this a versatile and potent power pack for the price.

Ever since the mid 90s, when I was able to lug around 'power bricks' with my then-amazing PowerBook 190 and 180c (hand-me-downs from relatives), I've been hoping for a reasonably-priced power brick that would double my laptop's battery life, affording me the ability to work all day even when I'm doing a ton of crazy things, like building a ton of VMs and Docker images.

AUKEY 30000 mAh Portable Charger

Getting low input level with a USB mic or audio interface? Check your hub

A few months ago, I decided to get more serious about my recording setup in my home office. I do a lot more screencasts both for my YouTube channel and for other purposes than I used to, and I can't stand poor audio quality. Therefore I finally decided to get some sound absorption panels for my office, rearrange furniture a little for better isolation, and—most importantly—buy a proper USB audio interface and microphone.

So, after purchasing and connecting a U-Phoria UMC202HD and an Electro-Voice RE320 microphone, I was quite pleased with the sound quality!

Review: Satechi USB Type-C inline Power Meter (ST-TCPM)

tl;dr: It's a power meter, not a protection circuit. It works well and is worth the money if you need to monitor power consumption, but it's made of plastic and doesn't feel like it can take a beating, so handle with care.

For some time, I've used a PowerJive USB Power Meter to measure the charging rate of various USB power adapters, and even things like how much power a Rasbperry Pi uses under load.

Review: AUKEY USB-C Hub for New MacBook Pro

I have a 2016 MacBook Pro (without TouchBar), and for this Mac, or for a 12" MacBook, a hub/adapter with power delivery is absolutely essential for desk use, due to the limited number of USB-C/ThunderBolt 3 ports.

Eventually, I'd like to plug one ThunderBolt 3 cable into my MacBook Pro and get 4K video at 60Hz (through either USB-C, DisplayPort, or HDMI 1.2+), USB 3.0 for my existing USB 3 devices, and a power pass-through so I can get the full 61W of charge out of my Apple AC adapter.

AUKEY USB-C Hub - 3x USB 3.0 ports

Figuring out why an external USB hard drive won't spin down on my Mac

I am using a 2011 Mac mini as a backup server for all the data I store on iCloud, and for the first few days while I was setting up the Mac, I noticed the 4 TB and 2 TB external USB drives I had plugged in would spin down after a few minutes, and I would have blissful silence as long as there wasn't an active operation on that Mac (which should be fairly rare; just hourly Time Machine backups and periodic SSD activity since the iCloud libraries are all on SSD).

However, after a few weeks, I noticed that at least one of the two hard drives runs continously, 24x7. Something on the Mac mini must keep hitting the drive and preventing it from spinning down.

To see what was happening, I used sudo fs_usage | grep VOLUME (in my case, VOLUME is 4\ TB\ Utility) to monitor what processes were accessing the drive, and what files they were accessing. After a few minutes watching (and doing nothing else on the computer, to make sure I wasn't causing any extra filesystem seeks), there were a couple regular culprits:

A good use for a Raspberry Pi - Missile Control

My brother gave me what will likely be one of the best useless-but-oh-so-fun gifts ever—a Dream Cheeky Thunder USB foam missile launcher.

Dream Cheeky Thunder Missile Launcher - USB

The launcher can be used with an extremely boorish app for Mac or Windows... or you can control it with some basic USB communication! I've found a few projects which allow the launcher to be controlled via any OS with Python fairly easily:

Review: Intocircuit Power Castle 15000 mAh Dual USB portable charger

Jeff's Rating: 4/5

tl;dr: Slightly pricey, but it'll be worth it when you need it!

I've carried a small external USB battery pack with me for the past few years, ever since I started relying on my iPhone as my only camera, phone, reading device, and emergency-backup-Internet device. And there have been many times where I would've been up a creek (or more literally, lost in the middle of an unfamiliar city!) without it.

But the little battery pack I tote around is only really for emergencies—it can barely top off my iPhone when the phone is already at 50% capacity, and if the iPhone gets below 10%, it'll struggle to even maintain the current charge if I have to use the iPhone while charging!

Intocircuit Power Castle - Front