4 days ago •
While I wait for the latest Jeff Geerling video to load on YouTube, I figured this would be a good time to post an update regarding the current state of the Pi.
I haven't had a single lockup since upgrading all the software, despite trying to get it to do so. It runs at a an average temperature of about 60C with an overclock of 2.2GHz, and the SSD sits around 44C. It would run a little cooler if I didn't have it sitting on my lap in bed, blocking all the bottom vents, but this is a realistic use case, and I like being comfortable. So far, so good. It seems updating has resolved the major issues. I still have working audio. Speaking of audio, I ran into a strange issue where the audio completely cut out every time the screen went to sleep. I was trying to sleep with headphones in, so I simply disabled the screen timeout at the time. I later woke up and realized that the audio is split from the HDMI signal by the LCD driver board in the Pidock. No HDMI signal, no audio. It's rather annoying, but I am grateful to have audio at all, considering the Pi 400 has no headphone jack. This leads me to another thought. I had considered making a HAT for the Pi 400 that includes audio output, a nice display and media controls so one could simply have a tiny tv handy while working on a Pi 400. This would make perfect sense for me, as I always have something playing. I hate bluetooth, so that's not a valid option. I'd like to let the display go to sleep and have music or tv continue to play and have access to it while the lid is closed. I might just get the PirateAudio bonnet thing from Pimoroni and be done with it.
I decided to find a dedicated music player instead of fiddling with VLC Media Player, and decided on Lollypop in the Pop_Shop. I try to stick with things from the Pop_Shop as i can be fairly certain they will actually work. Lollypop works just fine, though I am having trouble finding a few features, and don't like the lack of "currently playing" section. I enjoy it for the most part. I like to practice singing and having it pull up the lyrics is helpful for songs I can't understand or that are in foreign languages.
YouTube playback is better than ever using Firefox. Chromium wouldn't install last time I tried, and I am trying to get away from Google where I can, so Firefox it is. Updated Pop!_OS has given me the best out off box YouTube experience on the Pi so far. Everything else is pretty well unwatchable to me. I'm on very slow and spotty wifi, so I am sticking with 720p for now. I have been able to play 1080p as well.
Overall, the system is working well, and the new SSD has made a massive improvement. It went from "Usable" to "pleasant".
Ok, my video should be loaded by now, so I will end this entry here.
5 days ago •
After the short lived success of the SSD last night, I’ve returned to figure out why the entire system would hang up in excess of 10 seconds, quite often. I suspected heat was the issue, with the SSD getting too hot outside of its metal case. I noted, however, that the chips on the board were not making contact with the metal case of the SSD(which I removed), leading me to believe that it was not being used as a heat sink. My next thought, after remembering what I read on the label of my Intel SSD is that it’s drawing too much power and causing power drop outs. The 120GB Intel SSD claims a power consumption of 0.7 amps. That is a fair bit of power from a Pi USB port. The 256GB SSD might draw even more. The Pi is currently being powered from the Pidock 400, which is plugged into a cheap old 12 volt power supply I had laying around. The power supply got very hot last night, and may be causing problems. Saving progress on the log, shutting down, testing again with the SSD. Currently booting off of the Samsung Bar 32GB drive.
I’ve gotten the system running off the SSD once again, using the Vilros power supply the Pidock came with. It seems to be a high quality supply, with a UL rating, and output of 12 volts at 3 amps. It seems to be working so far, but the lock ups were seemingly random, so we shall see. In order to know exactly when a lockup occurs, I am leaving the system monitor running off to the side so I can watch the CPU graph. So far it has been a few minutes of typing with the monitor running and Firefox sitting idle on the other side of the screen. If the issue is one of power supply, the problem should go away. If it’s an issue of heat, it should come back when the system heats up. I’ve turned off all overclocking since this problem occurred, and I can feel the difference in every day use.
After much tinkering, it would seem that I have sorted it out. I can no longer replicate the problem, which was important in testing this. I still do not trust it yet. I booted from my original drive and used the Gnome Disks application to check and repair the file system on the SSD, which it did find errors on. I would normally use the command line utility, but I am trying to use the tools that would be available to the average user, and non Linux users or general power users. This is important to me as I am trying to help the Pi 400 gain popularity with normal PC users. The dirty bit was set, indicating the drive was unmounted improperly. This tends to happen when you pull power from the system multiple times after a crash. Even after the repair, the problem persisted. I noticed a pattern, which is always critical in problem solving. I noticed that the system seemed to be working in the background, but all video output was frozen. As this drive was cloned from a known working drive, there shouldn’t have been any changes in software, but there was a hardware change that could have caused corruption when the data was cloned and the partition resized to fill the larger drive. After finally getting the temperature display software installed and working, I watched the temps of the CPU and SSD. Neither were getting hot enough to cause problems, as far as I could tell. It seemed to lock up when inputting from the keyboard into system utilities such as the terminal and the Pop Shop. Between this, the file system errors, and the previous problems with display lock up and video playback issues, I guessed it was possibly just a software problem at this point. Normally I would keep a system up to date, especially with the exciting new features that come out regularly for the Pi. I have been holding back updates on Pop!_OS since the beginning due to an unknown update breaking audio on the Pi 400 through HDMI. Deciding this new problem was far worse, and having a back up drive to work with, I decided to update the entire system. It froze up during the update, and I had to remove power once more. After using <sudo apt –configuure -a> to resume the upgrade process, I was able to finish it and reboot. The audio still works, which suggests that System76 have already addressed the issue. I now have an up to date system with working audio.
To really test the new found stability, I tried recreating the freezing issue. I opened the Pop Shop and started typing “temperature” which froze the system every time previously. It did not freeze this time, and I have been unable to cause further lock ups. I have converted the problem video file to a YouTube format with Handbrake, watching the temps, and have been writing this log up in LibreOffice Writer. The autosave feature saved my previous thoughts and recovered this document successfully. I am quite grateful for such features, despite the larger program that takes longer to open. Running from this SSD makes that far less of an issue though.
The next test is to try and play some video files, including the known problem file from previous tests. I’ll assume it will crash the system and save my log file before hand. I will open the system resource monitor first then try to play the file, with audio. The video playback test was a success for the new YouTube friendly file. It would appear that an update has gotten hardware acceleration working as the CPU usage averaged around 60% on all cores, instead of the usual 100% on all 4 cores. Trying the known problem file which uses the x264 codec and is known to max out the CPU and crash the system: The test was a partial success, with the video starting to play, then freezing on a single frame. CPU usage was about the same as with the new file, which is a marked improvement over previous tests. I was unable to actually watch the video, but it did not cripple or crash the system. I can work around this by either rendering from Kdenlive in a more reasonable format, or just immediately encoding with Handbrake after rendering to x264. I would prefer to render a video that can be reviewed immediately and uploaded if ready. Even if that is not an option, this process does work and would be reasonable for the occasional video production task. This entire system is not well suitable for full time production, but is viable for hobby use.
It appears that System76 have been busy upgrading Pop!_OS for the Raspberry Pi 4 and Pi 400, as the upgrades have improved performance and fixed crippling bugs. I will keep testing, and if I find no more bugs, I will clone this drive and continue testing. This OS is far too slow when run from something averaging less than 70MB/s, but is quite usable from an SSD averaging over 300MB/s. I still plan to upload the results from my tests, but wanted to get the SSD working first so I had a more usable system to work from. It is well worth the cost and effort to upgrade the boot drive from SD or flash drive to an SSD. One of the big advantages most people may not be aware of is that of drive heat. When a drive gets hot, it slows down. The Pi 4 and 400 dissipate enormous amounts of heat through the ports, including USB. The all metal Samsung Bar Plus flash drive, while excellent, gets too hot to handle while in use and runs unusually slow. One solution might be to use a USB 3.0 extension cable to get the drive away from the system, but the copper wires will still conduct heat. I may test this in the future. The bare SSD with the Sabrent adapter fits nicely into the Pidock 400 and sits over air vents in the bottom of the case. I am working on an idea to make an active cooling system for the Pi 400 that plugs into the ports on the back, adding a massive heat sink, and passing the ports through. Between port connectors, material cost for the heat sink(I’d go for solid copper) design time, and machining costs, this could be a very expensive undertaking. I feel such a thing is worthwhile, considering just how capable the Pi 400 is turning out to be. A massive heat sink with fans could really open it up to things like background video rendering, higher end games and emulation, or even industrial applications. The cooling is already reasonably good, but could be far better.
On the subject of cooling: The Pi 400, inside the Pidock 400, at stock speeds is sitting idle at 45C. I have seen it stay under 60C while rendering. I will do some thermal testing with overclocking and see how fast the Pi can run without throttling inside the Pidock. I am finding it incredibly difficult to find any info on the Pidock 400, so I might as well test it. Even at stock speeds, this Pi is fast enough for general use.
Check back later for test results. I will likely combine the thermal and drive speed tests into one log. I will also test drive speeds after they have had a chance to heat up during stress testing and see how performance changes. I need to figure out how to make nice looking graphs, so this is a perfect excuse. I’ve never actually needed to make graphs or presentations, come to think of it. Outside of school, that is. Time to learn a new skill.
5 days ago •
For whatever reason, the entire system is now so unstable as to be unusable. It will quite regularly freeze for over 10 seconds. The kind of freezing where the mouse cursor doesn't even move. It happens so often that it's not worth using. With my other laptop dying today, I'm in no mood to deal with this tonight. I'm getting very frustrated with the fact that I don't own a single reliable computer that doesn't need to be tinkered with constantly. I love the Pi, but this is getting ridiculous.
I turned off the overclocking and am just going to let it cool overnight after converting the problematic video file that it just wouldn't play before. It plays now that it's in a more standard format. Too bad the entire OS locks up.
I suspect it's heat related. Possibly the SSD overheating. Will deal with it later. Really frustrated and tired. Had to listen to a barking dog all day while I was trying to take a nap after working out for the first time in about a year. Just a rough day.
5 days ago •
Today my Sabrent USB 3.0 to SATA adapter came in and I finally got to boot my Pi 400 from an SSD for the first time. First time I've ever booted a Pi from anything other than a flash drive or SD card. I got sick of the flash drive being so slow that it nearly made the OS unusable. I chose the adapter based on a brand I recognize and the fact that it's the smallest I could find. I was able to cram it, a case-free SSD board, and most of it's extra cable neatly inside the Pidock 400 case. The Pi sits up just a little bit higher than it used to, but I should be able to correct that. It doesn't interfere with typing, so I don't mind.
The speed difference was immediately apparent when I started using the OS to do some bench marking of the various drives I have. I will post the results in the next log. The old 256GB Samsung SSD I'm currently running from beat out my old boot flash drive by quite a lot. It's about 4.8 times faster on the read, which makes an incredible difference. I will eventually get a larger capacity and faster drive, but I suspect I will eventually reach the limits of the Pi at some point.
Initial impressions tell me that this was well worth the $12 or so I spent on the adapter. I love Pop!_OS on the Pi 400, but it was incredibly slow. Even running from my fastest USB 3.0 flash drive. I have to give credit to Raspberry Pi OS for running far faster from an even slower micro SD card. Pop is just a far slower OS on this machine. However, booting from an SSD has made it plenty fast enough for daily use. The SSD and adapter are inside the dock, and out of the way. It almost looks like it's meant to be there. The blower fan I bought won't fit into the dock, but the SSD and adapter do, which is more important to me anyway. I used to dread having to open new programs on here, but no longer.I highly recommend this upgrade for anyone looking to use a Pi 40 or Pi 400 as a daily driver. USB flash drives just can't compete, overheat faster, and end up being far more expensive. Even the oldest, slowest SSD is likely to be faster than the fastest flash drive.
I have benchmark results from all of the drives I have boot from since starting this project and will try to post a detailed report of my findings tomorrow. This Pi 400 laptop I'm building has quickly become my favorite PC of all time, and I doubt I'll ever get rid of it. I'd love to buy a second one, but can't justify that, and things are out of stock for the most part. I will continue my quest to make the best Pi 400 daily driver I can with renewed haste and vigor.
7 days ago •
Update: video link at bottom.
I finally have some extra time and energy to get back to my video production project on the Pi. I’m currently wading sea of unlabeled video clips I shot for this project about a year ago. I decided to ignore my original notes as my creative tastes have changed.
I have some new criteria for what is going to make it into this final video:
Yes: Makes me laugh as soon as I see it.
No: Terrible video quality, not funny, generally useless, or worse version of another clip.
Maybe: Funny but not super funny. Might be a good option if there is no other version of the scene. Just has potential.
I am making all these judgements based on my initial reactions to watching the clips. I use to trust my gut all the time when I was younger, but got away from it years ago. I used to be known as a very funny and entertaining person, and that made me very happy to make others happy. I did so by just being myself. Gotta be myself on this project and see what hot garbage comes out the other end.
I started by using Krename to bulk rename the known 1080p and 4K files, respectively. I add either [1080p] or [4K] to the end of the file name to save time. The Pi 400 won’t even play 4K files for some reason, so I don’t even try. I batch converted a bunch of 4K files last time I worked on this. The Pi did an admirable job and gave me very good video quality. I CAN edit 4K video directly and render the final project in 1080p, but without having seen the clips and decided which ones are going to be used, I need to review them all. It’s far easier to convert first.
Currently just watching all videos and making notes on them. Here’s an example of my current notes:
- Might be better option
- questionable lighting and focus
It’s a simple text document that helps me make a quick decision, mark it down, then move on. I copy the file name by just right clicking, hitting “rename” then control+a, then escape. Then I just paste the file name into my notes. I COULD do this without notes, but it’s far more mentally taxing and I’d rather not make mistakes that require hours of rendering to fix. It’s all about the process, which I am still working out. After I decide what clips will go into the final video, I have to decide on the order to put them in. These clips were taken at different times of lighting, so it’s fairly easy to sort by time of day and then sort even further within each category. Most of the work on this project is done at the beginning, just laying out the storyline. It’s worth the effort to see a good video come out the other side. It will be even more satisfying doing it on the Pi and showing how easy it can be for anyone with $100 to get into video production.
A random note on production notes: A good set would allow someone to lay out the entire video, and someone else to actually create the video, freeing up the person who wrote them. The notes are the outline for the entire project. Very helpful. I write my notes as if they need to be understood by someone else, even if that person is just future Me.
I finally got a selection of clips I am happy with. I added notes where needed, and put them in the order I want to start with. I won’t know the final order until I line them al up and watch. That’s the fun part, where the creative work begins to become visible to others. Right now they’re just file names in a list. The next step is to open Kdenlive and import the clips to be made into proxy clips.
Before that, I’ll add in my notes up to this point, as people may be interested in them:
- Longer than other clips; peaceful
- Overlay sizzling, lower sizzle volume
- Use as final clip
- Use second part
- try with original audio, use funnier of the two.
- Use with tuning clip
- Too much motion, not enough Mr. Fish.
- Too much motion, not enough Mr. Fish
- Not funny enough; doesn’t fall out.
- Not funny enough; not hitting it
- Bad lighting
- Bad lighting
- Not funny enough: Doesn’t fall down steps
- Not funny enough: Doesn’t fall down steps
- Might be a better option
- Use transition between slow and fast flopping
- Cut clip shorter than rest.
Shortly after starting the editing process, I realized that the ordered lists at the bottom were not up to date and had to correct them. The final notes are above. I don’t believe I completely finished them, as I remember just working from memory at some point and leaving the notes alone. I want to get out of that habit as the projects get larger and more complex. Working from memory doesn’t often scale well in my experience.
I have a total of 15 clips I’ve chosen to work with on this project. I have more in 4K, but they’re from Mr. Fish’ perspective, and I don’t much care for them. They would break up the consistency of the video. They’re also 4K and I don’t feel like waiting for them all to render right now. I’m excited to make some progress on this video after about a year of forgetting all about it.
Upon adding the files to Kdenlive, I was prompted multiple times that the program was not responding. I chose the “Wait” option every time and the clips eventually imported. I now have 15 clips with proxy versions ready to go. Going to just start by adding them to the timeline in the proper order. I also just realized that this log would make a great video tutorial. Too bad I don’t have screen capture set up yet… Soon.
After a rather enjoyable editing process, I have the final video rendering. I hope I won’t have to make any changes, but you just never know. It’s rendering now, at about 6 frames per second, which is extremely slow, but it is working and the system is responsive enough to write this log in LibreOffice Writer with all 4 CPU cores maxed out. It looks like it will only take about 2 minutes to render about a minute of video file as a lossless x264 MP4 file.
I have the final file and it looks good...from what little bits of it I can watch. This Pi will not play the file in VLC smoothly, so I can’t see if the transitions came out ok or not. It will freeze on a video frame so long that most of the video will have gone by before it catches up. I have no idea how to fix this, nor do I have the patience right now. It’s very frustrating that the Latest Pi can’t even play 1080p video, yet is advertised as supporting 4K60. I know I’m using an unsupported OS, but it is incredibly frustrating having to wait years for the software support of a feature that was advertised at launch. I plan to switch over to Raspberry Pi OS to Use Steam Link and take a break, so I will try to play it back there. If that fails to play, I will either use my Android phone or my Linux gaming laptop to check the file before I upload it anywhere.
It’s 758MB for about a minute long clip, so I may compress it before upload to YouTube. If I can, I will do a test and convert it to h265(HEVC) and upload that. Curious as to how long it would take to convert and the final file size. Well, I started encoding it to h265 1080p and it was averaging 0.25 frames per second and was estimated to take over 30 minutes to complete for a 1 minute video. Terrible, but possible. It’s one of those things were you’d just let it go overnight. If you have very limited upload time or speeds, but plenty of idle computing time, encoding in a more efficient format such as h265 makes perfect sense. If you have fast upload speeds and/or plenty of time to spend uploading, it doesn’t make sense. When I travel, I may either being paying for all mobile data I use, or have limited access to data and would benefit from producing the smallest file sizes possible.
This was an enjoyable project that proved my theory that basic video production tasks can be completed in a reasonable manner on a Pi 400. I have already proven I can edit 4K videos and render a final video without an intermediary file using proxy clips in Kdenlive. I will continue to do my video editing on the Pi 400 as I go. I enjoyed it enough to stick with it. All my notes were taken here, all video and audio editing, review of all the files, everything. I am working on another project to create a Pi based video camera using the HQ Camera Module. When that is ready, I will tie it all together to make a video production set up based entirely on the Pi ecosystem. I am very much looking forward to that day. Until then, I will keep knocking out the simpler tasks. The next step is to upload the video to YouTube and my hackaday.io page so people can see the final results. I hope you’ve enjoyed this adventure so far. I always appreciate feedback, so don’t be afraid to comment. Especially if you may know of a better way to do things.
Update: I got the video uploaded to my main Youtube channel, Dustin's Hot Garbage. It's a place for me to practice video production and document my adventures. The Pi 400 has earned its place as the official editing computer of my channel.
Video Here. (Opens in new tab)
Update(again): I was able to watch the video, at 1080p on the Pi 400. It looks very good, considering how little effort I actually put into it. Playback from YouTube was far better than with VLC Media Player with the local file. I hope you enjoy the video.
11/27/2021 at 21:13 •
I finally got Steam Link running on my Pi 400 and am really enjoying it. I'm currently typing this on my Pi laptop, into the Firefox browser running on my gaming laptop. I thought Steam Link would only allow me to play games over the network, but it's pleasantly surprised me by letting me control the entire OS. I was actually looking at hardware just today to make the gaming laptop easier to access. I was getting tired of having to switch to the other keyboard and track pad to do anything. This is a nice change of pace. I may still set up a proper remote desktop client in the near future.
As far as networking goes, I plugged the Pi 400 into the laptop using a cheap Cat6 ethernet cable. It's plenty responsive, even at the limited 90Mb/s of the Steam Link software. This is a known limitation, probably caused by porting over the settings from the original Steam Link hardware. This limitation is what makes me want to set up proper remote desktop. The Pi 400 may not be very powerful, but it does seem to make an excellent remote client for more powerful machines. I shared the laptop wifi connection over ethernet to get internet to the Pi, and it hasn't much, if any affect on internet speeds. If I had to guess, I'd say its because the laptop has a better antenna and gets a stronger signal than the Pi where I am located at the moment. I may end up sharing the laptop internet connection to my old wifi router and using that to connect everything else to. The end goal is to be able to take a high powered laptop, my Pi 400 laptop, and a small but speedy wifi router on the road with me and run them all from a vehicle battery, portable battery bank, and random outlets. I really just want to see if it's possible to travel super light and still take all of the tech comforts of home with me. I think it would be quite fun to play my Steam games on top of a mountain or something stupid. Not everything I do has to make sense. It would just be nice to have a portable set up to take with me and share with friends and people I meet. I'm also looking into a VR headset that could travel and run off the laptop I'm saving up for. Vanishing Realms was the first VR game I ever played and it became one of my favorite games of all times. I'd love to be able to play that wherever I go and share a VR experience with others who may not be able to afford such a set up. I know I couldn't for the longest time. Still can't justify it yet. Anyway, the Pi running Steam Link is the first step in playing decent games on this humble, yet capable little PC. It runs very well, and I can already play games on it that never had ARM releases. Like Golf with Your Friends. Love that one.
There was a trade off I had to make to get this to work: I can't run Steam Link on my favorite Pi OS. Pop!_OS is based on Ubuntu 20.10, which is unsupported and will not run Steam Link. Luckily, I have an SD card with Raspberry Pi OS Bullseye on it. Oh wait...Steam Lin won't run on that either... Luckily again I have an SD card with Raspberry Pi OS Buster on it, which runs great. I'll be keeping a boot drive with Buster on it for gaming and general goofing off. It's not my preferred OS, but it is still quite capable. One of the best features of the Pi is that the boot drive can be changed out very quickly. Unlike my laptop, which is going down for an upgrade from Linux Mint 19.3 to Pop!_OS. I love mint, but Pop is my new favorite. I'll be installing Pop on a different SSD and swapping them out in case I run into problems with Pop and need to revert. I've been running Mint on this PC since I got it, and on everything else since 2018 or so. I'm hoping that Pop will have better hardware support for my GPU(GTX 765M) and give me better gaming results, which would make the Pi experience even better.
Overall, I'm very happy with everything so far, and have learned quite a bit just trying to get Steam Link working on the Pi 400. I don't game often, and it's mostly because I usually don't have the time, and it's too much hassle to set things up. I like Steam and will actually use it. The key for me getting things done is often just making them easy to do. The Pi is becoming easier to use every day as I iron out all the little wrinkles.
My game should be done updating now. Let the gaming begin.
11/25/2021 at 19:01 •
I've been using the Pi on and off all day and I do think the little cooling fan is helping the LCD driver board. It does seem significantly cooler. I can feel the air coming from the fan when I check now. I'm guessing the little bearings had to warm up and loosen to really get it spinning. I can feel it running when typing, but it's silent. The Pi still runs very hot, but that's to be expected and dealt with later.
I really like that my entire laptop is white with no branding at all. It's the least distracting computer I have ever used or seen in my entire life. I love that. It's a tool for creating things, and shouldn't get in the way. I have considered loading it up with fun stickers, but I really like how low key it is. That and no one would have a clue what it is if they just looked at it. A Pi enthusiast might notice it, especially if they saw the Pi button on the keyboard. Being white, it does show dirt easier, but that helps me remember to clean it. I might get the Vilros rubber keyboard cover for the Pi 400 and see how I like that. Sometimes I'm gross AND need to use my computer. Like when cooking. This would be pretty neat for watching videos on while cooking. Except the screen splatter...
11/25/2021 at 16:25 •
Getting the Pidock 400 apart was far easier than I thought it would be. It looked like there was super glue holding the front corners together, but it was just some crappy plastic work. It's held together by clips and quite easy to get into with some sort of prying tool. I used a small flat head screwdriver. The hinge covers are side specific, so just switch them if they leave a gap on the back side. There is a bit of 3M VHB tape that holds down the center bit at the back. This may be tough to remove, so take your time. I was luck in that someone put tape on the bottom AND top but never peeled the backing off the lid side, so it came right apart. I left it like that for easy disassembly. I'd use adhesive double sided Velcro there in the future. I used to use it for RC planes and it was very handy. I don't have a picture of the case open without the fan installed, but there is actually a small grate there with mounting holes for a fan. I have 4 of these fans on hand...Perfection.
Installing the fan was far easier than I thought. There is a place with screw mounts and vent holes that seem to be designed for the exact size fan I had on hand. The holes line up, everything fits, the cables even reach the 5 volt socket on the board. I ended up pulling off the black plastic end on the ground cable of the fan, as the two side by side wouldn't fit into the socket on the LCD driver board. This worked well enough and I used tape to hold the wires down. This worked better than I thought it would. Not too much to say, so check out the pictures.
After verifying the fan runs and the Pi boots and has video, I assembled the case. I ran into some trouble getting the corner over the driver board clipped in, but I suspect it's because the entire case has warped since it has been in use. I know good plastic mold making when I see it, and this is decent, but not great. It looks like proper trash compared to my Hilti hammer drill, but Hilti is known for proper industrial quality, not budget niche electronics. Overall, this thing is great quality for the price. I would personally pay double for better plastic, more ventilation, tons of cooling, an SSD mount and adapter cable, keyboard light above the display, power button on the case, and built in battery and speakers. That would make a proper Pi 400 laptop, which would make me very happy. I might just design that one of these days. If I ever have the time, skill, and energy. Until then, the Pidock 400 will work fine. The rest of the assembly went just fine. I did get the hinge covers on the wrong side, which left a puzzling gap. I immediately suspected they weren't symmetrical as I first thought, and a closer look at the tabs verified they are different lengths. Switching them around had it back together once more. The entire bottom seems to have warped, causing the Pi to sit up a little higher than it should. I may heat the case and gently straighten in back out later, but it's a very minor problem right now. It does not effect the user experience at this time.
This little fan may or may not help the system run cooler, but I feel it's well worth investigating. The Pi will not likely benefit from this at all, but time will tell. The left side of he palm rest may feel a little cooler, which would be good enough for me. Anything to help the system last longer. I don't think the power draw from this fan will hurt the board. It has a 5 volt output for a reason. I'm curios as to what it is originally for. I have plans to add a 12 volt 5015 blower fan, normally used for 3D printers. I'll tie this into the 12 volt power jack so it doesn't put extra strain on the LCD driver board. This fan will be to cool the Pi, and I may add a few if needed. There is a fair bit of room inside the Pidock case and I may even have room for the boot SSD inside with the fans. I'll order the fans and if they don't work out in here, I'll find another use for them. I just peeled open the display bezel a bit and found there should be enough room in there to add a keyboard light where a camera would usually go. I never use webcams, so an LED here would be perfect. I think I'd add a red LED as I find red light very pleasing in the dark. I'll add a switch to the Pidock case when I get around to adding the LED. I can pull the power from the 5 volt port the fan is connected to. Now if I could only dim the LCD....
The fan I just installed may be useless, but I at least know what is possible and how to work on this thing. I recommend the Pidock 400 to normal users and hackers alike. It has loads of potential and very well thought out features that make it daily driver friendly and hacker friendly.
I think I may be the only person tinkering with this thing and posting the results online at this moment in time. I can't find any hacks or info on the Pidock 400, which is why I started doing them myself.
11/25/2021 at 14:51 •
I finally have a stable system and am ready to get back to work on a few projects. For this I installed Kid3 for editing metadata on media files, Krename for batch renaming files, and ConvertAll which I use for figuring out unit conversions without having to wait for the browser to load or needing internet. I try to do as much offline and local as possible. I don't always have internet access. I used to use Metamorphose2 for batch file renaming, but I haven't been able to install it for quite sometime. I wonder if it's been discontinued or something. Kid3 is what I normally use, so no learning curve there. I still need a backup solution since my usual TimeShift won't get through a restore operation without crashing. I've been cloning the boot drive to an SD card. Just finished doing so a few minutes ago before installing any new software. Just never know when something will ruin the OS like the audio fiasco after system updates.
Boot Drive Considerations
I really need to settle on a boot drive. I've found that my Samsung Bar 32GB flash drive is decent, but it gets incredibly hot and slows way down. I really want a 1TB super tiny portable SSD but they're about $160USD and I don't want to spend that on just a single drive right now. For the same price I can get 5 good SD cards, a SATA to USB 3.0 adapter to use with my 256GB Samsung flash drive, a cooling fan for the Pidock 400, 512GB SD card, and a 256GB Samsung Bar Plus flash drive. I'd just use the 512GB SD card as a boot drive, but I have had countless SD cards corrupted by the Raspberry Pi. A single system crash can be all it takes to ruin them. My 256GB SD card for 4K video recording was permanently ruined by this very Pi 400. That was fun AND expensive. I won't run from SD anymore. My recovery system is Raspberry Pi OS with a write protected OS so it's less likely to die when I trp a breaker and shut everything off by accident. For now, I will just use the SATA SSD I have as a boot drive. It will be tucked neatly under the Pi, and not attached directly to the super hot USB ports. It's older, but far faster than the flash drives and SD cards, and will be thermally insulated. I will also have the option to upgrade the SSD in the future. Ultimately I want an NVME SSD to boot from, but I may ot have enough physical space inside the Pidock. I don't want things dangling all over the place off my Pi. It's annoying and how things get broken or left behind. I'll be opening up the Pidock 400 soon to see what kind of space I have to work with. I'm not above drilling holes, cutting notches, adding fans and power supplies and batteries, and just generally hacking it up a bit. It's very close to a perfect Pi laptop already, might as well finish the job and share the results.
11/25/2021 at 00:48 •
I've always loved the library. Especially my local hometown library. I finally live close to it and want to spend more time there and contribute something useful. It's where I spent the most productive and peaceful days of my rather stressful childhood. I get the library email newsletter and it's always a good read. I love sharing knowledge and teaching as much as gathering knowledge and learning. It all brings me immense joy for whatever reason. I'm trying to think of ways to use my Pi and what I'm doing here to teach others. Maybe I could take it in and demonstrate what's possible with such a simple and affordable system? All I know is that I want to teach classes at my library. I just need to figure out what and how. I'm probably one of the most tech savvy person in my entire home town right now. I'm probably the only one with an interest in teaching classes at the local library. I'll keep thinking on it and see what I come up with. Maybe I teach video editing and creative work on the Pi and send a few people home with a Pi 400 kit and a custom OS image to work with. Endless possibilities. Oh how I miss the antique oak tables and plush leather arm chairs of that gorgeous old library...