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back to article Hackers print tiny Linux box to net up your home

The Raspberry Pi is a tiny computer designed to get you writing programs. Here's a tiny computer designed to get things done in your home and out of it without writing a single line of code. Called the Ninja Block, it's an open source hardware gadget running Linux that's designed to accept feeds from external sensors - it has …

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Beagle Board.

...Cost's around £120 according to the site. If it's based around that board then it's going to cost more than the Rasberry, so what's the point?

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Thumb Up

Re: Beagle Board.

Indeed, most of the appeal of the Raspberry is the price. In my opinion (and I suspect a lot of others') there's no point being able to scatter sensors round your house to do cool-but-not-essential things if to do those cool-but-not-essential things will cost a couple of thousand quid once the prices of the sensors are added up.

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Re: Beagle Board.

The Beagle Bone that this unit is based on is different from the Beagle Board. Beagle Bone is about $89US according to http://beagleboard.org/bone

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Re: Beagle Board.

That's still more than double the price of a Raspberry Pi B and more than triple the price of the Raspberry Pi A.

Plus the raspi is a full fledged PC, where as this looks more like an appliance. The raspi can do whatever you program it to do, but this does just a few things (but it probably does them well).

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Trollface

Both board and box have rounded corners. Are Apple's lawyers aware of this?

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They are now.

Nice one, Monkey... ;)

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Anonymous Coward

3D printing

Having evaluated 3D printing for my business, I can say that it's very cool, the quality is excellent now, and it is not, not, NOT for volume production. If they sell more than 200 of these per month, they're going to have to start making a farm of printers to handle it. The printers are cheap now (< 2k) so maybe it'll pay off... But some poor bastard is going to have a fun time running around loading and unloading printers all day if this takes off!

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Re: 3D printing

the initial tooling cost of injection molding might be prohibitive .. though when it involves 10,000s of units .. lower cost per part

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 3D printing

I understand that injection molding tooling has come down quite a lot - you can justify it at a couple/few thousand units now. Being able to cost-effectively 3D-print prototype parts helps a lot, for obvious reasons.

Obviously it depends on your part. If you have something that would require multiple print sections and assembly / finish work, then molding looks good a lot sooner.

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Anonymous Coward

but but but

Why does it seem like I need to use their web bollox to manage the sensor info? Every damn time I seem some fun-and-even-slightly-useful gadget like this, they want to tie me into their website. So I don't buy it after all. /grr

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Re: but but but

the "web bollox", which I assume is a technical term, is actually served from the box itself, which you can connect to from any web-browsing PC, laptop, mobile phone, tablet attached to the same local network.

Or so I assume. It would be madness itself to do this in a cloudy fashion. "grr" indeed.

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Platform neutrality

By serving from a tiny webserver built into the box, it becomes easy to administer it no matter what platform you use. That's also why web servers are the interface of choice for many home servers (both software and hardware). Just point to its address and go. Now, granted this poses some security concerns, but for a tinker toy like the NinjaBox, barring something absolutely outrageous, the implications are probably too small to be of any consequence.

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Coat

Re: Platform neutrality

*Cue gang of Russian hackers in dimly-lit bunker, lined with plasma TVs and big LCD monitors*

<Hacker 1> Ve're een! Haha! American knows nothing of what we are doing heem!

<Hacker 2> Egcellent Vasily! Now, let's get to vork - goodbye, benk account, American!

<Hacker 3> Wait meenute. This is not benk acount.

<Hacker 2> ...

* two hours later *

<Hacker 3> Ahah! I am turning toaster on AGAIN!

<Hacker 2> Look, Yevgeny, theater screen UP, theater screen DOWN, theater screen UP, theater screen DOWN!

<Hacker 1> Oh ho! Am moving webcam! See face of dog here!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Platform neutrality

"a tiny webserver built into the box" ... where is this said? On the website I cannot find such a claim, but they do say this instead:

Simple To Set Up

Ninja Blocks are easy to use, and setting one up is no exception. Just plug your Ninja Block into your network via ethernet and in your Web Browser go to ninjablocks.com. Your Ninja Block is now ready to command!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Platform neutrality

"a tiny webserver built into the box" vs "Simple To Set Up"

Why not just point me to the correct info (ie answer my question) rather than downvoting it in silence?

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Boffin

Re: Platform neutrality

It needs a web server in order to 'serve' up the webpage where configuration can be done. It'll most likely be Apache or something like that.

Regarding the use of a browser, this is the smartest, easiest and most self-contained way of being able to configure a gadget like this and means no funding needs to be channeled into app development or platform compatibility to name a few things.

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how long before ...

someone uses this as part of an environmental monitoring box (or similar) and someone else comes across it and thinks it's a bomb?

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Boffin

Similar to Another Kickstarter Project

This is similar, though not identical, to another Kickstarter Project, Twine:

(<http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/supermechanical/twine-listen-to-your-world-talk-to-the-internet>).

It will be interesting to compare and contrast. I backed Twine, I think I may back this one too just to see the differences and similarities.

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Web Interfaces

Note that embedded systems (like, oh, my Linksys NAT-ing router) may overuse the "shiny parts" of the whole web experience. Such that I have to keep an older version of Firefox around (on an older computer) to talk to mine. New Firefox (or Safari) on a newer computer blows chunks.

In _principal_, there is nothing that router needs to do that a very simple webserver serving vanilla HTML can't do. But competent web-designers are apparently hard needles to find among the haystack of "teach yourself javascript in 15 minutes" types.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Web Interfaces

what's the problem, just write a simple rebol GUI for it, no need for an old web app to do these things.

http://musiclessonz.com/rebol_tutorial.html for help and remember to get the rebol view not the rebol core unless you want just cli access and rebol view + script is far smaller than any browser you care to mention.

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Re: Web Interfaces

First thing you'll be asked is "What is REBOL?" Second thing you'll be asked is, "Where's the mouse pointer?" Remember that this is 2012. Today's young generation are probably unfamiliar with command lines and may even feel that "DOS is for dinosaurs". That said, a properly-done web interface is more flexible, allowing for drop-down lists and the like. It can even include an embedded CLI box...just in case, allowing the best of both worlds.

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Stop

$155. Right...

Go get a £40 nanode instead http://nanode.eu/

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Windows

Tux Droid, anyone?

Mine sits forlornly in the corner, 'cos its stupid owner (me) backed up onto a dodgy CD before a full system reinstall.

Now the company has gone tits-up, I can't get the software for it.

Will this go the same way?

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Boffin

Power?

I've been thinking of deploying some intelligent sensors round the house, my initial though was battery powered communicating by bluetooth, but if these units are connected via ethernet, why use batteries, power over ethernet would be far more sensible.

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