Efficient GPU based embedded platform for intense computation

There are plenty of credit card size computer modules that usually are based on ARM or x86. They are great for general purpose tasks like running operating systems, playing games and running apps. But when you need to squeeze a bit more out of them they appear not very powerful. One group of intense tasks would be running deep learning algorithms by using neural nets or performing other machine learning tasks. Along with great performance we also are looking for low power solutions especially for portable applications like self aware robots.


Nvidia recently launched great platform called Jetson TX1 that just fits this category. It is based on 1 TFLOP/s 256-core Maxwell GPU, 64-bit ARM A57 CPU featuring 4GB of DDR4 RAM and 16GB of eMMC flash. Along with great performance it only takes 10W. As we already may know GPU is great in image processing and classification so it outperforms general purpose CPUs in these tasks. When compared to Intel core i7-6700K and taking energy consumption in to account Jetson TX1 showed over 6 times better performance. Of course this convenience comes with price (~$599), but since this is very specialized platform it is finding its use where facial recognition and classification is required.

ESPToy 1.2 for easier Easier start with ESP8266

It seems that ESP8266 WiFi module is successfully building a community around itself. And there are dozens of reasons for that. First of all – module is really cheap, then it can connect things to internet via WiFi and lastly it can be programmed as stand alone microcontroller by using Lua language. So it dives quite some opportunities.


Ray recently discovered its potential. In the beginning he was playing with this module like with any other unit which accepts AT commands from host controller and does bring WiFi connectivity. But then he gave a try to its programming capability. Of course there is an initial hustle to flash it with Lua firmware that enables it to be programmed with scrips (there is even an Arduino IDE for scripting). Then he thought that this module could be wrapped with some hardware to make things much easier for starters, so he built ESPToy board which plugs ESP8266 module with programmed Lua firmware, then it carries USB to serial converter for easier interfacing to PC, additional there are button and RGB LED.

Ensuring comfort climate with smart humidifier

The big part of your comfort feeling is related to room temperature and humidity level. And not even comfort, but also a risk of getting sick of viruses, bacteria and fungi. Martin took a little research and found out that too dry or too wet environment is risky. Too dry air can cause allergies, tracheal infections while to wet air is great environment for fungi, mites, bacteria and so on. When summing all factors the golden interval lies between 40% to 60% of humidity. Well temperature in this also plays a significant role because comfort level is directly related to both parameters. If there is higher surrounding temperature we fell better in less humid environment while in cooler area more humidity doesn’t hurt.


Having those factors in mind, Martin have built smart humidifier which also connect to internet. His setup is based on his earlier built three channel WiFi relay board based on ESP8266. The control unit is connected to ultrasonic humidifier which doesn’t have much automatics just on/off and intensity settings. Controller takes readings of temperature and humidity from DHT22 sensor. Humidifier trigger points and other settings like schedule can be set via web interface.

ESP8266 based Bitcoin price checker

Bitcoin is an online currency which uses peer-to-peer technology for payment transfers. Its price is varying over time and if you have some investments in Bitcoins, you should keep an eye on it. Rui Santos suggests using ESP8266 programmable WiFi module to check Bitcoin price. The idea is pretty simple. He programmed WiFi module as HTTP client which regularly requests Bitcoin price by using JSON API.


ESP8266 is fairly to program. All you need is to flash it with NodeMCU firmware which then allows programming module with LUA script which is somewhat similar to Arduino concept. With only few lines of code you can connect to internet, control GPIO and do other crazy things. This following script can be used as base for other HTTP client projects like weather, finances or other extraction.