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Turing Pi 2: 4 Raspberry Pi nodes on a mini ITX board

Last year I spent a bit of time building a Kubernetes cluster with the original Turing Pi. It was fun, and interesting, but ultimately the performance of the Compute Module 3+ it was designed around led me to running my homelab off some newer Pi 4 model B computers, which are at least twice as fast for almost everything I run on them.

Turing Pi 2

So this year, I was excited when the folks at Turing Pi sent me a Turing Pi 2 to test drive. And the board arrived just in time for Patrick Kennedy from ServeTheHome to challenge me to a cluster build-off at Supercomputing '21! Check out his ARM cluster build here.

2021 Open Source Pay-it-Forward Pi Giveaway

This year, I wanted to solve two problems:

  1. Open source projects and maintainers often get no reward (even a simple word of thanks!) for their efforts maintaining the tools we rely on every day.
  2. I have a box full of really awesome Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 boards and products like the CutiePi, a PiBox mini 2, and a MirkoPC!

To solve both problems, I'm doing a giveaway—to enter to win one of any of the pictured items below (and maybe a few others I can find lurking in my office), just donate or say thank you to any open source project or maintainer, then submit your entry.

OSSThanks Giveaway items

The drawing will be at random and should be held next Friday, so please make sure to fill out the entry form by then!

I built a $5,000 Raspberry Pi server (yes, it's ridiculous)

When I heard about Radxa's Taco—a Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4-powered NAS/router-in-a-box—I knew what must be done.

Load it up with as much SSD storage as I can afford, and see what it can do.

Raspberry Pi CM4 Taco NAS with 48 TB of SSD storage

And after installing five Samsung 870 QVO 8TB SSDs and one Sabrent Rocket Q NVMe SSD—loading up every drive slot on the Taco to the tune of 48TB raw storage—I found out it can actually do a lot! Just... not very fast. At least not compared to a modern desktop.

Special thanks to Lambda for sponsoring this project—I was originally going to put a bunch of the cheapest SSDs I had on hand on the Taco and call it a day, but with Lambda's help I was able to buy the 8TB SSDs to make this the most overpowered Pi storage project ever!

CutiePi - a Raspberry Pi CM4 Linux Tablet

A few weeks ago, I got my hands on an early prototype of the CutiePi.

CutiePi Tablet with Raspberry Pi mug

Unlike many other Pi 'tablet' projects, this one is actually more of a, well, tablet, since it is based on the diminutive Compute Module 4. And because of that, and a custom main board, the CutiePi is less than half as thick as the other decent modern Raspberry Pi tablet on the market, the RasPad—plus it has a cute handle:

CutiePi Back

It has an 8" 1280x800 multi-touch display, a 5000 mAh battery, USB 2.0, USB-C power (you can use the tablet while charging), micro HDMI for an external monitor or TV, and a microphone, speaker, and 5MP 1080p rear-facing camera.

Look inside the Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W and the RP3A0-AU

Today, Raspberry Pi released their new Zero 2 W, and it includes a new Raspberry Pi-branded chip, labeled RP3A0-AU.

I was able to get early access to the Zero 2, and I have a full review of the device on my YouTube channel, but I wanted to share more of the X-ray images I took of the device to reveal its inner workings, and because I just think they look cool. Also, I paid a bit of money to get these pictures, so might as well share!

First, here's what the Zero 2 W looks like in person:

Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W

And here's what it looks like via X-ray:

Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W - X-ray vision

Getting a Raspberry Pi to boot after cutting it in half

This blog post starts with the question: If I cut the ports off a Raspberry Pi 4 model B, will it still work?

Cut Raspberry Pi 4 model B

My early conclusion? Sorta.

With most Raspberry Pi generations, there is a full-featured model B, and a smaller, trimmed-down model A. The Pi 4 never had a model A, so I thought it would be interesting to see if I could make one. I looked at the Pi 4 with this really cool X-ray tool, as well as using this album of X-ray images from reddit user u/xCP23x:

Xray image of Raspberry Pi 4 model B

The cut was calculated to try to avoid anything important, though as we'll find later it may not have been measured carefully enough.

Automating the Uncommon - AnsibleFest 2021 presentation

At AnsibleFest 2021, I presented a session titled Automating the Uncommon - Ansible automates everything!.

Since watching on-demand versions of the AnsibleFest sessions requires a signup, I thought I'd also post the session to my YouTube channel, so everyone can learn from it without registering. The session seemed well-received, and I hope it shows that, as I state in my 'Rule of Golden Hammers':

Jeff's rule of Golden Hammers - If you know a tool well enough, and the tool is good enough, it's okay to do weird things with it.

I demonstrate how I use Ansible to:

Face detection for my leaf blower

In the class of 'out there' projects, I recently added a little AI to my leaf blower:

Leaf blower with Raspberry Pi on top for AI ML Machine Vision blasting

The short of it: I have a face detection algorithm running which, when a certain individual enters the field of the Pi's vision, triggers a servo that powers on the blower, releasing a powerful air blast.

Red Shirt Jeff gets blasted by air cannon

I've been wanting to play around with face detection on the Pi for some time, but the Pi Zero I use in most of my camera projects is seriously underpowered for this kind of work.

CM4Ext Nano

So when Harlab (Hardware Laboratory) told me they'd like to send me a CM4Ext Nano board for testing, I thought it'd be the perfect opportunity to play with machine vision on the Pi.

Raspberry Pi KVMs compared: TinyPilot and Pi-KVM v3

In a strange coincidence, the authors of TinyPilot and Pi-KVM both emailed me within a week of each other and asked if I'd be interested in one of their KVM devices.

TinyPilot vs Pi-KVM v3 Price comparison

Michael Lynch, founder of Tiny Pilot, said he'd used some of my Ansible work in building the TinyPilot update system, and Maxim Devaev, of Pi-KVM, liked my Pi open source content, and wanted to see what I thought of the new v3 kit that's currently on Kickstarter.

I took them both up on the offer, and dug into both devices.

Both have HDMI and USB inputs, so you can plug them into any Mac or PC and get full control, up to and including BIOS/UEFI settings, remote desktop management (with no software on the managed computer), and mounting of USB ISO images for re-installing an OS or maintaining a system.