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SpaceX's Starlink Review - Four months in

SpaceX's Starlink internet service uses satellites in low-earth orbit to provide high-speed Internet to underserved parts of the world, especially places without easy access to cable or fiber.

Jeff Geerling with SpaceX Starlink Dishy

SpaceX's Starlink beta opened up in my area, so I installed Dishy—that's the nickname for the large white satellite dish above—and I've been testing it and comparing it to my Cable internet.

I have Raspberry Pis monitoring my Internet—one on Starlink, and one on Spectrum. And I also have a power monitor measuring power usage. And I've tracked everything since day one to see if weather like snow and thunderstorms affect service, and how Starlink compares to Cable.

Here's the bottom line: Most of the time, I couldn't tell I was using Starlink. And that's good. Everything felt the same.

Getting faster 10 Gbps Ethernet on the Raspberry Pi

If you read the title of this blog post and are thinking, "10 Gbps on a Pi? You're nuts!," well, check out my video on using the ASUS XG-C100C 10G NIC on the Raspberry Pi CM4. Back? Good.

To be clear: it's impossible to route 10 gigabits of total network throughput through any Raspberry Pi on the market today.

ASUS 10G NIC in Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 IO Board

But it is possible to connect to a 10 gigabit network at 10GBase-T speeds using a Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 and an appropriate PCI Express 10G NIC. And on my Pi PCI Express site, I documented exactly how I got an ASUS XG-C100C working on the Raspberry Pi. All it takes is a quick recompile of the kernel, and away it goes!

The Raspberry Pi IoT Notification Bell

Harbinger of the Internet of Dings

Last year, I built the first version of what I call the "Raspberry Pi Bell Slapper." It was named that because it used a servo and a metal arm to slap the top of the bell in response to a stimuli—in this case, an email from a donation notification system for a local non-profit radio station.

This year, that same radio station had another one of their fund-raisers (a radiothon), and to celebrate, I thought I'd do the thing justice, with a better circuit (using a solenoid instead of a servo) and a 3D printed enclosure. And this is the result:

Clarence 2.0 - The Raspberry Pi Notification Bell

There is a Raspberry Pi Zero W with a custom solenoid control HAT on top inside the case to the left, and the solenoid right up against the bell, which is mounted on the right.

I also posted a video on YouTube exploring the project in detail: The Raspberry Pi IoT Notification Bell.

The Wiretrustee SATA Pi Board is a true SATA NAS

In my earlier posts about building a custom Raspberry Pi SATA NAS, and supercharging it with 2.5G networking and OMV, I noted that my builds were experimental only—they were a mess of cables and parts, with a hilariously-oversized 700W PC power supply.

I lamented the fact there was no simple "SATA backplane on a board" for the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4. But no longer.

Wiretrustee SATA Board for Raspberry Pi OMV NAS

Wiretrustee's SATA Board integrates a SATA controller and data and power for up to four SATA drives with a Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4.

And their entire solution makes for a great little Raspberry Pi-based NAS, using software like OpenMediaVault.

Two Tiny Dual-Gigabit Raspberry Pi CM4 Routers

Since I started testing various PCI Express cards on the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4, I've been excited to see what new kinds of custom networking devices people would come up with.

Well, after months of delays due to part shortages, both DFRobot and Seeed Studios have come out with their 2-port Gigabit router board designs, and I was happy to receive a sample of each for testing:

DFRobot and Seeed Studios Router Boards with Dual Gigabit Ethernet

The boards are tiny, and even with the Compute Module 4 installed, they are incredibly small—take a look at the entire assembled DFRobot unit, complete with a Raspberry Pi attached:

DFRobot CM4 IoT Router Board with Raspberry Pi CM4 and Quarter

My 6-node 1U Raspberry Pi rack mount Cluster

Now that I have a half-height rack and a 3D Printer, I figured I should finally move all my Raspberry Pis from sitting in odd places in my office to the rack. And what better way than to print my own 1U Raspberry Pi Rack mount unit?

6 Node Raspberry Pi 1U Rack Mount enclosure - 3D Printed for Pi 4 model B

The rack unit you see above was assembled from 6 'frames', 6 hot-swappable Pi carrier trays, 2 rack mount ears, and a couple lengths of threaded rod for rigidity.

It was printed from these plans from russross on Thingiverse; Russ Ross also made an assembly video, and shows how you can build a 2U 12-Pi enclosure using the same basic design, with interchangeable Pi trays!

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There is more detail and a full walkthrough of my home rack in this video:

OBS Task List Overlay for livestream TODO / Checklist

For a few of my task-oriented livestreams, I wanted to be able to have an easy-to-follow list of tasks present in an OBS scene, with an indication of which task was currently in-progress.

I had seen a similar overlay on NASASpaceflight's livestreams (example), and liked the simplicity:

NASASpaceflight Live stream overlay task list for Flight Test

I started searching for an OBS plugin I could use to replicate that overlay, but was coming up with nothing. There was some plugin that seemed like it fit the bill, but it had been abandoned a while back. Most of the other overlays were a lot more specific to gaming, had few options for customization, or only worked with services other than OBS.

Trying KIOXIA CM6 and PM6 Enterprise SSDs on a Raspberry Pi

Late last year, an engineer at Broadcom sent me some hardware and offered some help getting Broadcom's MegaRAID card working on the Raspberry Pi. It took some time, but eventually we were able to get the card and a demonstrator 'UBM' backplane working on the Pi, and it culminated in my posting about Hardware RAID on the Pi, and on a livestream, getting 16 hard drives working on a Pi.

The one thing I couldn't test in those earlier videos was the backplane and storage card's 'Tri-mode' support, allowing PCI Express NVMe drives—like KIOXIA's CM6—to work in the same slot as the SATA and SAS drives I was used to testing.

So after some conversation with reps at KIOXIA, I was able to get a PM6 and three CM6 drives on loan to test them:

KIOXIA CM6 and PM6 SSD with Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4

Tried Nvidia's GTX 1080 - still no external GPU on a Pi

Earlier today I did a livestream on my YouTube channel to attempt using an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 on a Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4.

MSI Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Graphics Card GPU

As with all my testing, I'm documenting everything I learn in this GitHub issue, which is part of the Raspberry Pi PCI Express Card Database website.

It's only been a few hours, but I've already gotten good suggestions for better debugging than I was able to do on the stream. And someone pointed out it might be the case, due to 32-bit memory limitations on the BCM2711's PCIe bus, that no GPU with more than 4 GB of onboard RAM could work. Though it's hard to confirm there'd be no software workaround—even 1 and 2 GB graphics cards (AMD and Nvidia) are crashing the kernel in similar ways.

The full livestream is available on replay and is embedded below: