I am sure many of you will be salivating over the Raspberry Pi Linux board. I have reports from a member of the FUNcube team who apparently has managed to get hold of one, and that the FCD works with it, although I am not sure if this is just at the driver level or if he also has SDR working with it too.
Anyway, meanwhile back at the FUNcube Dongle manufacturing and R&D facility, we’ve been playing with this http://omnima.co.uk/store/catalog/MiniEMBWiFi-p-16180.html over the past couple of months. It’s very cool. And very reasonably priced. And the FCD works with it at the driver level, both HID and audio. I have already had it streaming, but I need to do some more work to get it reliably sending via RTP.
You do need to be a bit of a hacker to use it, but that’s the same as any embedded board including the R-Pi. Unlike the R-Pi there’s no video out, so you need to provide a serial connection and/or ssh. It also has an HTML front end, as it’s based on OpenWRT.
If you’ve ever played with boards like these (eg, the Chumby Hacker Board and the BeagleBoard spring to mind), you’ll know that being able to rebuild the kernel becomes a way of life, a bit like taking you back to the mid to late 90’s with Linux on PCs. You need a LOT of time on your hands.
Unlike the CHB and the BeagleBoard though, I found that rebuilding the entire Linux based OpenWRT stack on the MiniEMBWifi was a walk in the park.
Back to the Raspberry Pi, there is much to applaud. But I personally found it excrutiating that they fell into some of the same traps that I did (and that I documented in several places) about manufacturing. This includes such things as far east manufacturers promising that they will only ever use the parts that you specify, and then go off and substitute something else.
Then there’s the non-small matter of device compliance and certification, where R-Pi state that they originaly thought they’d leave until later: getting retailers and distributors to take the risk of selling uncertified kit to end users is going to be difficult. Both of these issues we know have delayed R-Pi’s distribution already.
Performing certification and compliance testing is a bit like having the auditors in. If they don’t find something, they won’t feel they’ve justified themselves. Let’s all hope and pray that the certification and compliance results will not dictate any rework, or worse redesign, possibly further delaying this truly superb philanthropic endeavour.
Many thanks, Howard