back to article Raspberry Pi B+: PHWOAR, get a load of those pins

You might think that as a purveyor of a nifty compact computer selling in the millions, you’d consider two years after the debut of your first offering that it was high time you tempted back the buyers with a go-faster, more capacious and shinier model. Heck, Apple and others don’t even wait that long: they upgrade products year …

BBC NVRAM

Yep, I remember the non-volatile RAM settings very well. As a student, I actually produced a bootable floppy for my school that would reset the NVRAM and restore all the default settings automatically as well as doing some other self-testing modelled on PC BIOS testing - I can't remember exactly what. It came in handy a few times when people had managed to mess up a BBC Master with random * commands.

0
0
TRT
Silver badge

Pi Master?

Unlikely!

1
0
Silver badge

"Being an enhanced replacement for its predecessor rather than a radically new model, the Raspberry Pi Model B+ seemingly mirrors the BBC Micro B+, itself essentially an upgraded version of the BBC B with 64K and some other improvements."

There were two B+ models - one with 64K and one with 128K. I found myself with the former.

"It was also quite short-lived and AFAIK not that well-known. (Personally, I wasn't even aware of its existence at the time)."

Neither was I until I bought a second hand BBC, and discovered it was something a little more. :)

The extra RAM was handy for getting tape-based games to run from disc, when they were tight on memory: A little extra RAM was used for the disc interface, so software would load at a higher location and have less memory to play in, which some didn't take kindly to - but with the extra memory, you could load a tape-based program (from disc) into a higher location anyway, disable the interface and set the memory map as per a tape based system, move the software down in RAM and run it.

2
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Pi Master?

@TRT; They'd probably still be okay with using the name, seeing as how trademarks are generally field-specific and a pie-making machine isn't likely to be confused with a small, single-board computer.

1
0
Silver badge

@VinceH

The shuffling of the programmes down was something that was done way before the B+ or B+128. You would load a small piece of machine code into the cassette buffer or somewhere, *LOAD the cassette image into a higher memory, and then move the data down before changing the video mode.

Some of the ROM toolkits did this for you. I think that both DISK DOCTOR and the ROM based BEEBUG monitor had this feature.

What the B+ and B+128 did do, however, was allow the disk subsystem to use 'shadow' memory for the various disk buffers, meaning that PAGE remained at &0E00, rather than the &1900 that was normal for a machine with Acorn DFS on either the Intel 8271 or WD1770 disk controllers, or &1A00 for a system with disk and Econet, or &2100 (I think) for a system with ADFS (yes, you could get ADFS for BBC Model B's, it was used to run the 10MB hard-disk in a Level 3 Econet server).

They also moved the screen into shadow memory so that memory up to &7FFF was available regardless of the screen mode. The primary use for the extra 64KB of memory in the B+128 was to hold RAM copies of sideways ROM packages. I have an ATPL Sideways RAM board for that (but only 16K of static memory) so I never invested in a B+ or B+128, or a Solidisk add on shadow RAM board.

Must have a play again sometime.

3
0
Silver badge

Re: @VinceH (@Peter Gathercole)

The B+ was the first BBC to route the write line to the paged ROMs, wasn't it? So you'd also be unable to use sideways E00 solutions on a regular B, at least without minor motherboard modifications (i.e. finding a write line anywhere and adding a patch wire).

0
0
Silver badge

Re: @VinceH

"The shuffling of the programmes down was something that was done way before the B+ or B+128."

Yes, it was - but with the extra memory to play with, it could be done differently. I wrote a fairly generic1 bit of 6502 code for the purpose - which, I'd guess, probably did similar things to the ROMs you mentioned. Not that I can remember in any great detail now.

I wish I still had that computer.

1. Fairly generic for the stuff I had, tweaked slightly for some which were a little nastier, IIRC.

1
0
Silver badge

Re: @VinceH (@Peter Gathercole)

The ATPL board had some jumpers, but I think that it synthesized a write enable from the address bus.

As a result, you could not move the various buffers (like the disk buffers) or worksapce for DFS into sideways RAM. There were hacked DFSs (I think the Watford DDFS was one) that could work in shadow mode, but it did that by changing the addresses of the buffers in the code, not re-directing the addresses.

The Solidisk board for the Model B was more sophisticated, but I believe that it required a wire either inserted into one of the chip sockets in parallel to the chip pin, or a fly lead soldered to the board.

The way that the ATPL add-in worked was basically that any write to an address above &8000 got directed into the (single) bank of static RAM, regardless of the ROM select register. Some ROM providers got canny to this, and during ROM setup, would do a write to overwrite some of the ROM image (Wordwise was the first one that I came across) to cause the initialisation to crash the BEEB if it was running the ROM image from RAM. This could be prevented by adding a switch to the write-enable line of the static memory (there was a solder link and pads for a switch on the ATPL board) that would disable the writes to the RAM. The sequence would be load the image, write protect the RAM, and reset the BEEB (in fact you did not need to reset the BEEB, there was an OSCLI call to initialise the new image - something I used to enable switching between the runtime and compile ROMs in RAM of the Acornsoft ISO Pascal system, which came as 2 ROMs).

Back to Wordwise, when I got a Master 128 (at work), which did not have a write defeat switch for the sideways RAM, I hacked Wordwise to remove the offending code in the image to still allow it to work. Not that I used Wordwise. If I was using the BEEB as a word-processor, I preferred View, but if I just wanted an editor, I used the one built in to the ISO Pascal runtime. Most of my documentation was actually done on my (well, work's, but I was the sole sysadmin, so it was "mine") UNIX box using nroff and a Qume Sprint 5 daisy-wheel printer.

1
0
Silver badge

The only thing I missed on my B was ...

... a reset switch. Eventually I put a push-to-break in the USB power cable, ugly but functional.

2
0

ElReg on the pulse as normal

I can only assume that the ElReg Journos have been on their summer hols for the last 6 weeks since this was released in July

Try to keep up chaps !

5
4

Re: ElReg on the pulse as normal

Let me guess, was it on the 22nd July? :D

(doesn't work with American date formats thought)

0
0
Silver badge

> dubs it "Revision 3" of the B – rather than an updated version.

I think I will wait for Revision 3.14 myself.

12
0

Too bad about the video

I guess having more USB ports can't hurt, but it's not something that I would have put very high on the wishlist: with my everyday Pi I use a powered USB hub that provides both the power for the board and the extra USB ports (a D-LINK - DUB-H7, if you want to know. Excellent little piece of tech).

On the other hand I sometimes use the video output (not everything has HDMI even nowadays, and HDMI is also more fickle), so I'd miss that. Up until last year I still had a TV set hooked up to a Pi's video output with sound going to an external system.

3
0

Re: Too bad about the video

The composite output has been integrated into the 3.5mm audio connector, so it's still there, you just need a different cable.

5
0

Re: Too bad about the video

Thx I must have missed that bit.

1
0
Meh

Good, but Banana Pi is the better beasty.

I've three Pi - Model B units. One is the original 256MB model, the other two have 512MB.

They're nice little devices to have on the LAN for playing about with, but just need that little bit extra to make it really useful. I appreciate that they are intended to be educational devices and to that end, they're excellent and offer excellent value for money.

My next buy will be a Banana Pi, for its slightly faster CPU, double the RAM, gigabit ethernet and on-board SATA. Much better bang for buck, making the Banana Pi a lot more useful, for the extra 60-70% in cost.

However, it's the Minnowboard Max, dual core / 2GB that I'm waiting for. That's a real low voltage SBC with all the versatility of a larger, more power-hungry unit.

I've got a slightly ridiculous home LAN / lab, using 30-odd internal IP addresses, including physical devices and a load of virtual hosts on a dedicated vSphere hypervisor. Don't want the 100Mbit ethernet Pi's taking up more switch ports, it's the Banana Pi and Minnowboard Max units that will be getting added to it from here on in.

3
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Good, but Banana Pi is the better beasty.

"Don't want the 100Mbit ethernet Pi's taking up more switch ports "

You've heard of WiFi I assume.....

3
0
Silver badge

Re: Good, but Banana Pi is the better beasty.

The ODROID-W might be of particular interest to Pi owners, especially those wanting to use LiPo or other battery power. That uses the same SoC as the Pi does and runs the exact same software as the PI -

http://hardkernel.com/main/products/prdt_info.php

0
0

Re: Good, but Banana Pi is the better beasty.

I have heard of WiFi and where ever possible, I avoid it like the plague. If it isn't a ball-ache to run a cable, then that's always my preferred choice.

3
1
Silver badge

Re: Good, but Banana Pi is the better beasty. @Gert

Only 30 addresses? My DHCP server struggles to allocate addresses even though it has ~100 to play with (the other 100+ addresses are in reserved ranges for static IP addresses). And I have used something like 30 of these static addresses for machines I want to have fixes addresses - like the main laptops for each of the kids so that I can monitor/arbitrate who is using the most traffic as well.

I have seven adults in the house, with WiFi mobile phones, tablets and eBook readers, laptops and larger gaming rigs. Add to this all the consoles and hand-held games, set-top boxes, and a smattering for the infrastructure devices (WiFi hubs and routers) and we've used up a significant part of a Class-C subnet just in one house! I'm really not looking forward to transitioning IPv6 (I'll probably set up an IPv4 island when I have to!)

1
0

FWIW anybody having problems playing DVB-T in the UK is likely falling foul of not having bought the mpeg2 codec license. The Pi's puny CPU will struggle terribly playing even standard def mpeg2. Been there, tried that.

2
2
Anonymous Coward

Hmmm, wonder if its fixed the for me achillies heel, sd card corruption.

As I had multiple sd cards go bad, none of which were removed during operation (in fact, they weren't even disturbed, because they were wall mounted), I dug into it, and it was apparently a issue caused by the way the soc handled sd/usb connectivity being a bit of a fudge. As micro sd is a subset of sd, I'm left wondering if this fixes any of it.

And before the usual apologists say weak psu, bad sd card and all the other blah blah reasons trotted out on the pi forums, we ran four pi's in a test bed on a common rail regulated lab psu. 1 of them behaved impeccably, the other 3 randomly corrupted their sd cards with a week or so of stability testing. We bought the whole "its fake sd cards" like trotted out and tried various brands of sd cards, slow speed low capacity ones from the dawn of time, genuine oem's from reliable suppliers etc. In fact at one point we dual booted one with its base partition on sd and everything else on usb drive, and that one managed to corrupt both the sd card partition AND the usb stick.

The one good one could cope indefinitely with sd cards which had previously corrupted in the other 3 without a glitch. The only differential we can come up with in environment is we bought the first one early on in the b's release to evaluate, then ordered the other 3 much later to build out with. I note they changed assembly details between the two purchases.

The various patches which played with timings and slowed down the io helped a bit, but it never cured the problem enough to be able to rely on them to just keep working, which when you take a sbc and leave it somewhere to do its job for a year uninterrupted is a supremely important quality.

The worst about it was the continued denial, the fud spread on forums as it all being user error etc.

For us, too late, we've abandoned it as a platform now in favour of a more stable compettitor although I did wonder if the model c would fix it as it goes to a true flash chip, which is what broadcom designed the soc to work with in the first place.

Posting anon, because Ive got enough egg on my face recommending them in the first place without publically identifying myself as the culprit. Great toys though.

6
1

The change in connector doesn't

But the switch to a switching regulator does. On the website they mention that the new B+ can handle current a lot safer than it used to which was a common cause for SD card corruption, particularly with overclocking.

3
0

SD card corruption.

The corruption caused (actually increased the frequency) by overclocking was fixed some months ago.

Corruption caused by wearing out the cards might be an issue, SD cards do have limited write cycles, so avoiding excessive writing can increase life considerably. Turn off logging to card. Leaving them for a year might be hitting that sort of issue, in fact I would think it quite likely if you haven't taken precautions to reduce write cycles.

Your particular job would be better served by the compute module by the sound of it.

3
0
Anonymous Coward

James, read my post again. We took the "bad" "corrupt" sd card and wiped it, and reused it in the "good" first model b, and that one was rock solid stable. In fact we could deliberately hard power cycle it and the card would survive without corruption in that unit without fail. If it was wear issues on the sd media, why would the first board be so stable with the same combination?

None of the others stayed up longer than a fortnight. The year was a flippant dream. The first reliable B is still screwed the wall of the office still running off the lab psu and still stable though now we have repurposed it as the office media server.

None of our pi's were overclocked, none were logging to the card or doing excessive writes. They were all running the exact same version of operating system and software.

Maybe we were just really really unlucky, but we couldn't risk a repeat of that.

0
0

Something sounds odd. There are plenty of people with months and months of uptime without any sort of corruption. Me included - I got a old B256 with OpenElec that has been running with occasional reboots for a year and it's still fine.

1
0

I actually have a similar experience I bought 2 B's a few months ago(seriously would have held off if I knew the B+ would have came out 2 weeks later...), and the one keeps corrupting the OS install every few boots which I find is quite aggravating(I use it in a 1/9th scale arcade machine).

I know its not the SD card as I ordered 3 of them at the same time, and my model A has had no issues with the same card(or others in the past), the other B I really am not sure on as I set it up to function as a NAS that I've yet to leave online for any time.

And once I reinstall the OS its all good to go. I've had SD cards corrupt, and go bad so I know how to tell a bad card as they would not work like normal which the card that keeps getting corrupt allows.

0
0

Oddly enough the same issue as yourself, although luckily it wasn't a personal purchase. A guy recommended these boards singing their praises and by the end just ended the project. It's what put me off personally getting one. I had a play around and as far as I could tell it was the board at fault. It was meant to be used on a welcome screen to play networked videos on reception. El cheapo unit, stick it in and let it work by itself.

Been eying the price of the B+ and some stock equipment. Wonder if the new power regulator has indeed fixed the issue. Something about the whole affair put me off getting one until now. Hopefully the B+ is a lot better, still weighing up getting one.

1
0
Silver badge

Flash vs SD

The reason to use external SD (or Micro SD) rather than onboard flash:

Allow swap of projects faster

Reduce likelihood of bricking

6
0

Re: Flash vs SD

As old fashioned as it is to swap cartridges like this I love it, but only for the Pi. I love being able to flash up 30+ SD cards for students with Minecraft, Scratch, you know, all the good stuff, and just give them to the students to use on the school Pis.

Some have partner-purchased some Pis through us (we deduct $10 off the price and absorb the cost of shipping) and they are welcome to take the SD card home with them to continue messing around. One student brought in their own SD card they'd made them self with Quake 3 and MAME on it. When he noticed me watching he got scared thinking he was going to be in trouble for using the school hardware to play games.

He got an A for that little programming unit after he showed me how he compiled MAME on his own...

9
0

Where did you get that braided cotton USB cable?

From your USB iron?

1
0

Rasplex

My pi runs rasplex fine, the plex media server is on an HP 36l microserver (which also is a hyper v host).

You can use a pi for whatever you want, after all you bought it.

I might get another one to use as an additional plex client just to annoy people who think it should be used for educational purposes.

7
0
Silver badge
Unhappy

"Board layout issues", kind of tame expression for what they did

Our company was going to try these out for an education product line we developed for low income families.

The problems were the paucity of mounting holes and the fact that one connector was offset to the 0.1 inch matrix.

Now we have switched to a TI product. What a pity.

0
1
Anonymous Coward

I...LIKE IT!

Frankly, I really like this evolutionary approach to improvements/upgrades. I can decide to buy new/replacement units now, or I can wait until there is an incrementally more desirable version in a year or three. I'm going to buy at least one now, however. The update rate and unit price are both low enough that I can afford to own at least one of every new version.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Power

For me the biggest single improvement on the B+ is they have finally sorted out the power, on the older models just inserting or removing USB devices would crash the thing and it would seem to crash anyway after a couple of weeks of continuous usage (I use mine for internet access to my home network via SSH/SCP, the SD card boots the OS off of a 500Gb USB drive to reduce SD card failures), the Model B+ just doesn't crash.

As always on these forums it seems there are people who would buy a moped and then complain they can't use it to win a Grand Prix, the Pi is what it is, and the primary focus was for teaching, I have a couple of Pi's a Beaglebone Black and an Arduino, they all work well and they all have their strengths and weaknesses, I much prefer the Beaglebone for projects, but then again that was the reason it was created.

Reading a lot of the posts here it reminds me of the talk when the iPad came out "You can't program on it!", "no good for writing long complex documents!", seems like people don't have the concept of "the right tool for the right job", everyone wants the computer equivalent of a Swiss army knife!

2
0
Bronze badge

Any sign of the promised education version?

It's only two years late now.

0
2

It makes a pretty nice synthesizer

Despite it being a HUGE struggle to get it to go fast enough - not sure I can link in here but this was captured straight out of a running Pi - https://soundcloud.com/pisynth/popcorn-on-a-pi

2
0

Proto Armour for Raspberry Pi B+

We are delighted with the RPi model B+ and our industrial customers seem to like the new board as well. Our Proto Armour for Raspberry Pi B+ enclosure kit is a rugged solution for tough OEM applications. It started shipping shortly after the new board came out and is available for purchase from our store at:

http://store.mobileappsystems.com/110149/

Tom Skwara

MobileApp Systems

Makers of Proto Armour for Raspberry Pi

1
0

No thanks will stick with my current B model since the switch to microSD is a deal breaker for me. I have a ton of non-micro sized SD cards I won't be able to use with the new model.

0
0

Page:

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Forums

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2018