More CHIP computer notes

After getting the VGA “DIP” add-on PCB installed and running I’ve been playing around with the CHIP a bit more. Between the day job and a couple of books in progress I don’t have a whole lot of spare time, but I did find out a few interesting things.

First, I discovered that the high-resolution (1280 x 1024) VGA output mode doesn’t work correctly for some monitors right out of the box. The hsync values need to be tweaked in order to get the display centered correctly on the Dell monitor I’m using. The 1024 x 768 and 1152 x 864 display modes are fine. I also discovered that changes to the display resolution are not automatically preserved by the display settings dialog. In a future post I’ll detail the steps necessary to change the display parameters.

I did some quick tests to see how well the CHIP can remember what has been modified in the local file system. I created an empty file using touch and went through a normal shut down. It was there in /home/chip when the board was powered up again. Then I created a second empty file and just yanked the micro-USB connector out (that is where the power is currently coming from). When the board rebooted the second file was still there as well.

Speaking of booting, a couple of trials with a stopwatch app showed that the CHIP can boot from a cold start in under a minute. Shutdown is quick, on the order of about 10 seconds or so.

Another minor annoyance involves the WiFi password. It seems that this isn’t retained either, so a dialog will pop up each time asking for it. This is most likely akin to the display settings, and needs a script to run at boot time for user-specific settings or a change somewhere in the configuration data. When I have the time I’ll document what needs to be done to deal with it.

My impressions of the CHIP so far are generally good. For $9 it’s hard to argue about the price, and while I’m not a big fan of web-based documentation, at least there is something there. On the other hand, I do think the CHIP has some rough spots that may trip up newbies who don’t have the same hardware setup that the developers use, and the documentation is such that while, technically, it’s all there, the minimalism will impose an additional workload on people who want to do something besides fiddle with the web browser or poke at the command line.

I’m waiting for an HDMI monitor I bought to show up. I decided to forego the caseless display I have and opted for one already in a nice plastic housing. I’m saving the caseless display for a project involving a Raspberry Pi. As soon as I get the HDMI display I’ll post my experiences with that.

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Little Buddy

An awesome little friend

Jordi the Sheltie passed away in 2008 at the ripe old age of 14. He was the most awesome dog I've ever known.


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