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.

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.

Build log: Macintosh PowerBook 3400c

PowerBook 3400c - Flying Toasters

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

The fastest laptop period

It's 1997. Apple just re-acquired Steve Jobs, but he hasn't been around long enough to materially impact the next few months of product launches.

Gil Amelio, seeing a gap in Apple's laptop offerings, decides to throw the kitchen sink at the market, in the form of the PowerBook 3400c. It works.

This laptop was the platform for the first G3 laptop, the short-lived 'Kanga', which used almost an identical design as a stopgap for Apple to later introduce the iconic Wallstreet G3.

Raspberry Pi 5 *can* overclock to 3.14 GHz

...and it's not just for Pi Day.

Raspberry Pi 5 with THRML tower cooler

After posting my deep-dive into the Pi 5's new BCM2712 and RP1 silicon this morning, someone linked me to this GitHub issue: Raspberry Pi 5 cannot overclock beyond 3.0GHz due to firmware limit(?).

For the past few weeks, a few blog readers (most notably, tkaiser—thanks!) commented on PLLs, OPP tables, and DVFS and how something seemed a little off with the 3.0 GHz CPU limit—which was apparently recommended by Broadcom, according to that GitHub issue.

But today, @popcornmix generated a test firmware revision without the 3.0 GHz limit, and zealous overclockers can get to pushing the clocks higher.

Die shots and transistor-level debugging on Raspberry Pi 5

Ever since I X-rayed the Raspberry Pi 5 to see inside the BCM2712 and RP1 chip packages, I've wanted die shots of both chips. Why? Mostly out of curiosity, since I'm not a silicon expert by any means.

I also ran into some weird overclocking issues after writing about my experience overclocking and underclocking the Raspberry Pi 5, and probably spent an unhealthy amount of time (and money) to learn about the clocks, PLLs, and chips on the latest version of everyone's favorite Single Board Computer.

Raspberry Pi 5 BCM2712 fragment (Some Raspberry Pi 5s were harmed in the making of this blog post.)

Learning about ZFS and efficiency on my new Arm64 NAS

HL15 with Ampere Altra and ASRock Rack motherboard - NAS fully built

I've been building out a new Arm-based NAS using ASRock Rack's new 'Deep Micro ATX' motherboard for Ampere Altra and Altra Max CPUs.

I posted about the hardware earlier, in Building an efficient server-grade Arm NAS. Go check that out if you want details on the specific hardware in this setup.

But at the end of the build, I installed Rocky Linux, and found the power consumption to be a bit higher than expected—over 150W at idle!

As it turns out, the NAS must've been doing something when I took that initial measurement, because after monitoring it for a few more days, the normal idle power usage was around 123W instead.