BrixIT BlogRandom blog posts from Martijn Braamhttps://blog.brixit.nl/https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w300//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1669734482/favicon.pngBrixIT Bloghttps://blog.brixit.nl/Wed, 15 May 2024 19:48:27 -000060Automatic case design for KiCadhttps://blog.brixit.nl/automatic-case-design-for-kicad/100ElectronicsMartijn BraamWed, 15 May 2024 19:48:27 -0000<p>I don't generally get along great with CAD software with the exception of KiCad. I guess the UX for designing things is just a lot simpler when you only have 2 dimensions to worry about. After enjoying making a PCB in KiCad the annoying for me is always getting a case designed to fit the board.</p> <p>If I'm lucky I don't need many external holes to fit buttons or connectors and if I'm really lucky the mounting holes for the board are even in sensible locations. I wondered if there was a quick way to get the positions of the mounting holes into some 3D CAD software to make the mounting posts in the right position without doing math or measuring.</p> <p>But what's even better than importing mounting hole locations? Not having to build the case at all!</p> <h2>Turbocase</h2> <p>So the solution is just several hundred lines of Python code. I've evaluated a few ways of getting data out of KiCad to mess with it and initially the <code>kicad-cli</code> tool looked really promising since it allows exporting the PCB design to several vector formats without launching KiCad. After exporting a few formats and seeing how easy it would be to get the data into Python I remembered that the PCB design files are just s-expressions, so the easiest way is just reading the .kicad_pcb file directly.</p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card kg-width-wide"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1715799912/image.png" class="kg-image"><figcaption>A snippet of the .kicad_pcb source file</figcaption></figure> <p>So with this there's several pieces of data the tool extracts for the case design:</p> <ul><li>The footprints with <code>MountingHole</code> in the name to place posts for threaded metal inserts in my 3d prints</li> <li>A case outline from a user layer. This has the same semantics as the Edge.Cuts layer except that it defines the shape of the inner edge of the case.</li> <li>Information about connectors to make holes in the case and to have placeholders in the final OpenSCAD file for easier modifications.</li> </ul> <p>The locations of the mounting holes is pretty easy to get up and running. By iterating over the PCB file the tool saves all the footprints that are mounting holes and for each of those footprints it locates the pad with the largest hole in it and saves that to make a mounting post in the case.</p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1715800268/image.png" class="kg-image"></figure> <p>In my test PCB I already had some nice edge-cases to deal with since the specific footprint I used has vias in it which also counts as pads. The outer side of the pad is used as the diameter of the mounting post that will be generated and inside that a hole will be created that fits the bag of threaded metal inserts I happen to have here.</p> <h2>Case outlines</h2> <p>To make the actual case I initially planned to just grab the PCB outline and slightly enlarge it as a template. This turns out to have a few obvious flaws, for example the ESP32 module that I have hanging over the edge of the PCB. Grabbing the bounding box of the entire design would also be a quick fix but that would mean the case would be way too large again due to the keepout area of the ESP32 footprint. The solution is manually defining the shape of the case since this gives the most flexibility.</p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1715800592/image.png" class="kg-image"></figure> <p>I picked the <code>User.6</code> layer as the case outline layer since it has a neat blue color in this KiCad theme. The semantics for the case outline is the same as what you'd normally do on the <code>Edge.Cuts</code> layer except that this defines the inner wall of the case. The turbocase utility will then add a wall thickness around it to make the 3D model of the case.</p> <h2>Connector holes</h2> <p>What use is a case without any holes for connections? This turned out to be a more difficult issue. For the connectors I would actually need some height information and KiCAD is still very much 2D. It is possible to link a 3D model to the footprint which is great to see how the final board will look like:</p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1715801016/image.png" class="kg-image"></figure> <p>Sadly using this 3D model data would be quite difficult for turbocase since it would require an importer for all the various supported 3D model formats and then a way to grab the outline of a slice of the model.</p> <p>So I picked the uglier but simpler solution. Just give the connector a height in some metadata and treat them as cubes. For the footprint I use the bounding box of the <code>F.Fab</code> layer which should correspond relatively closely to the size of the connector. To store the 3rd dimension I simply added a property to the connectors I wanted to be relevant to the case design:</p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1715801208/image.png" class="kg-image"></figure> <h2>Exporting the case</h2> <p>I decided to export the cases as OpenSCAD files. This is mostly because these are simple text files I can generate and I already have some experience with OpenSCAD design.</p> <p>A large part of the generated file is boilerplate code for doing the basic case components. After that it will export the case outline as a polygon and do the regular OpenSCAD things to it to make a 3D object.</p> <div class="highlight"><pre><span></span><span class="n">standoff_height</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="o">=</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="mi">5</span><span class="p">;</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="n">floor_height</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="o">=</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="mf">1.2</span><span class="p">;</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="n">pcb_thickness</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="o">=</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="mf">1.6</span><span class="p">;</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="n">inner_height</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="o">=</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="n">standoff_height</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="o">+</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="n">pcb_thickness</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="o">+</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="mf">11.5</span><span class="p">;</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="n">pcb_top</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="o">=</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="n">floor_height</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="o">+</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="n">standoff_height</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="o">+</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="n">pcb_thickness</span><span class="p">;</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="n">box</span><span class="p">(</span><span class="mf">1.2</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="mf">1.2</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="n">inner_height</span><span class="p">)</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="p">{</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="n">polygon</span><span class="p">(</span><span class="n">points</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="o">=</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="p">[[</span><span class="mi">102</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="mi">145</span><span class="p">],</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="p">[</span><span class="mi">140</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="mi">145</span><span class="p">],</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="p">....</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="p">]);</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="p">}</span><span class="w"></span> </pre></div> <p>The pcb_thickness is also one of the variables exported from the KiCad PCB file and the <code>box(wall, bottom, height)</code> module creates the actual basic case.</p> <p>For the connector a series of cubes is generated and those are substracted from the generated box:</p> <div class="highlight"><pre><span></span><span class="c1">// J1 Connector_USB:USB_C_Receptacle_GCT_USB4105-xx-A_16P_TopMnt_Horizontal USB 2.0-only 16P Type-C Receptacle connector</span> <span class="n">translate</span><span class="p">([</span><span class="mf">104.15</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="mi">119</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="n">pcb_top</span><span class="p">])</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="n">rotate</span><span class="p">([</span><span class="mi">0</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="mi">0</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="mi">90</span><span class="p">])</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="cp">#connector(-4.47,-3.675,4.47,3.675,3.5100000000000002);</span> <span class="c1">// J2 Connector_RJ:RJ12_Amphenol_54601-x06_Horizontal </span> <span class="n">translate</span><span class="p">([</span><span class="mi">115</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="mf">131.9</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="n">pcb_top</span><span class="p">])</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="n">rotate</span><span class="p">([</span><span class="mi">0</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="mi">0</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="mi">90</span><span class="p">])</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="cp">#connector(-3.42,-1.23,9.78,16.77,11.7);</span> <span class="c1">// J3 Connector_RJ:RJ12_Amphenol_54601-x06_Horizontal </span> <span class="n">translate</span><span class="p">([</span><span class="mf">127.11</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="mf">138.26</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="n">pcb_top</span><span class="p">])</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="n">rotate</span><span class="p">([</span><span class="mi">0</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="mi">0</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="mi">270</span><span class="p">])</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="cp">#connector(-3.42,-1.23,9.78,16.77,11.7);</span> </pre></div> <p>This also has some extraced metadata from the PCB to figure out what's what when editing the .scad file. The <code>connector</code> module is a simple helper for generating a cube from a bounding box that accounts for the origin of the connector not being in the center.</p> <p>Finally the mounting posts are added to the case as simple cylinders:</p> <div class="highlight"><pre><span></span><span class="c1">// H1</span> <span class="n">translate</span><span class="p">([</span><span class="mi">105</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="mi">108</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="mf">1.2</span><span class="p">])</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="n">mount</span><span class="p">(</span><span class="mf">3.4000000000000004</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="mf">6.4</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="mi">5</span><span class="p">);</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="c1">// H3</span> <span class="n">translate</span><span class="p">([</span><span class="mi">121</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="mi">140</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="mf">1.2</span><span class="p">])</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="n">mount</span><span class="p">(</span><span class="mf">3.4000000000000004</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="mf">6.4</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="mi">5</span><span class="p">);</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="c1">// H2</span> <span class="n">translate</span><span class="p">([</span><span class="mi">137</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="mi">108</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="mf">1.2</span><span class="p">])</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="n">mount</span><span class="p">(</span><span class="mf">3.4000000000000004</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="mf">6.4</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="mi">5</span><span class="p">);</span><span class="w"></span> </pre></div> <p>The extracted information from the mounting hole is the 3.2mm drill diameter and the 6.2mm pad diameter. The inner hole is expanded by 0.2mm in this case to make the holes work with the metal inserts.</p> <h2>Further improvements</h2> <p>There's a lot of neat things that could be added to this. The major one being a lid for the case. This also would need a bunch more configurability to deal with mounting mechanisms for the lid like screw holes or some clips.</p> <p>The system could also be extended by producing a footprint library specifically for turbocase to signify where to add specific features to the case. This could be things like cooling holes, led holes. Maybe some fancier connector integration.</p> <p>The output from turbocase also suffers from the same issue a lot of OpenSCAD designs suffer from: it's very hard to add chamfers and fillets to make a less rectangular case. That would require someone with more OpenSCAD knowledge to improve the generated output.</p> <p>The source code for the turbocase tool is available at <a href="https://sr.ht/~martijnbraam/turbocase/">https://sr.ht/~martijnbraam/turbocase/</a> and the utility is available on pypi under the <code>turbocase</code> name.</p> Megapixels contributionshttps://blog.brixit.nl/megapixels-contributions/99MegapixelsMartijn BraamSat, 11 May 2024 14:45:17 -0000<p>I've been working on the code that has become libmegapixels for a bit more as a year now. It has taken several thrown-away codebases to come to a general architecture I was happy with and it it has been quite a task to split off media pipeline tasks from the original Megapixels codebase.</p> <p>After staring at this code for many months I thought I've made libmegapixels a nearly perfect little library. That's the problem with working on a codebase without anyone else looking at it.</p> <p>About two weeks ago libmegapixels and the general Megapixels 2.x codebase had it's first contact with external contributors and that has put a spotlight on all the low hanging fruit in documentation and codebase issues. A great example of that is this commit:</p> <div class="highlight"><pre><span></span><span class="gh">diff --git a/src/parse.c b/src/parse.c</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="gh">index bfea3ec..93072d0 100644</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="gd">--- a/src/parse.c</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="gi">+++ b/src/parse.c</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="gu">@@ -403,6 +403,8 @@ libmegapixels_load_file(libmegapixels_devconfig *config, const char *file)</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span> config_init(&amp;cfg);<span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span> if (!config_read_file(&amp;cfg, file)) {<span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span> fprintf(stderr, &quot;Could not read %s\n&quot;, file);<span class="w"></span> <span class="gi">+ fprintf(stderr, &quot;%s:%d - %s\n&quot;,</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="gi">+ config_error_file(&amp;cfg), config_error_line(&amp;cfg), config_error_text(&amp;cfg));</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span> config_destroy(&amp;cfg);<span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span> return 0;<span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span> }<span class="w"></span> </pre></div> <p>A simple patch that massively improves the usablility for people writing libmegapixels config files: Actually printing the parsing errors from libconfig when a file could not be read. Because I generally run libmegapixels through the IDE and have all the syntax highlighting etc set up for the files I simply haven't triggered this codepath enough to actually implement this part.</p> <p>These last two weeks there have also been some significantly more complicated fixes like tracing segfault issues in Megapixels 2.x which helps a lot with getting the new codebase ready for daily use. Figuring out some API issues in libmegapixels like not correctly setting camera indexes in the returned data. Also the config files have now been updated to work with the latest versions of the PinePhone Pro kernel instead of the year old build I've been developing against.</p> <h2>Video recording</h2> <p>I've been saying for a long time that video recording on the PinePhone won't be possible, especially not to the level of support on Android and iOS due to hardware limitations. The only real hope for proper video recording would be that someone gets H.264 hardware encoding to work on the A64 processor.</p> <p>I can happily report that I was wrong. Pavel Machek has made significant progress in PinePhone video recording with a few large contributions that implement the UI bits to add video recording. A new second postprocessing pipeline for running external video encoding scripts just like Megapixels already lets you write your own custom scripts for processing the raw pictures into JPEGs.</p> <p>Video recording is a complicated issue though, mainly due to the sheer amount of data that needs to be processed to make it work smoothly. On the maximum resultion of the sensor in the PinePhone the framerate isn't high enough for recording normal videos (unless you enjoy 15fps video files) but on lower resolutions the pipeline can run at normal video framerates. The maximum framerates from the sensor for this are 1080p at 30fps and 720p at 60fps.</p> <p>For 720p60 the bandwidth of the raw sensor data is 442 Mbps and for 1080P30 this is 497 Mbps. This is a third of the expected bandwidth because the raw sensor data is essentially a greyscale image where every pixels has a different color filter in front. This is too much data to write out to the eMMC or SD card to process later and the PinePhone also struggles already to encode 720p30 video live without even running a desktop environment.</p> <p>There are two implementations of video recording right now. One that saves the raw DNG frames to a tmpfs since RAM is the only thing that can keep up with the data rate. This should give you roughly 30 seconds of video recording capabilities and after that recording time it will take a while to actually encode the video.</p> <p>Pavel has posted an <a href="https://social.kernel.org/notice/AhFxeCMdslrRIhQjE8">example of this video recording</a> on his mastodon.</p> <p>The second way is putting the sensor in a YUV mode instead of raw data. This gives worse picture quality on the sensor in the PinePhone but the data format matches more closely to the way frames are stored in video files so the expensive debayer step can be skipped while video recording. This together with encoding H.264 video with the ultrafast preset should make it just about possible to record real-time encoded video on the PinePhone.</p> <h2>Many thanks</h2> <p>It's great to see contributions to Megapixels 2 and libmegapixels. It's a big step towards getting the Megapixels 2.x codebase production ready and it's simply a lot more fun to work on a project together with other people.</p> <p>It's great to have contributors working on the UI code, the camera support fixes for devices and the many bugfixes to the internals. It's also very helpful to actually have issues created by people building and testing the code on other distributions. This already ironed out a few issues in the build system.</p> <p>There also has been some nice contributions to the Megapixels 1.x codebase, all of those should by now already have been merged into your favorite PinePhone distribution :)</p> <p>The last few Megapixels update blogposts have all been around Megapixels 2.x and the supporting libraries so none of the improvements are immediately usable by actual PinePhone{,Pro} and Librem 5 users until there is an actual release. It will take a bunch more polish until feature parity with Megapixels 1.x is reached.</p> Moving to a RTOS on the RP2040https://blog.brixit.nl/moving-to-a-rtos-on-the-rp2040/96ElectronicsMartijn BraamMon, 06 May 2024 15:58:55 -0000<p>I've been working on a bunch of small projects involving microcontrollers. Currently a lot of them are based around the Raspberry Pi Pico boards because I like the development experience of those a lot. They have a decent SDK and cheap hardware to get started and the debugger works with gdb/openocd so it just integrates in all IDEs that support that.</p> <p>One of my current projects is making a fancy hardware controller for a bunch of video equipment I use. The main things that will be controlled are two PTZ cameras (those are cameras that have motors to move them). One stationary camera and the video switching equipment that that's hooked up to.</p> <p>Currently the control of the control of the PTZ cameras is done with an unbranded panel that looks suspiciously like the Marshall VS-PTC-200:</p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1715003106/VS-PTC-200-Keyboard-PTZ-Compact-Controller.jpg" class="kg-image"><figcaption>(Image from marshall-usa.com)</figcaption></figure> <p>The performance of this controller is simply not very great, especially for the price. It was a €650 device several years ago and for that money it has very annoying squishy buttons and the cheapest analog joystick you could find. Most of the buttons are also not functional with the cameras in use since this seems to be optimized for security cameras. This connects to the cameras over an RS-485 bus.</p> <p>The second thing I want my panel to do is very basic ATEM video switcher control. Currently that's fully done using the software panel on the computer because the panels from Blackmagic Design are very expensive.</p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1715003565/image.png" class="kg-image"><figcaption>There&#x27;s a tiny cheaper one now though. (from blackmagicdesign.com)</figcaption></figure> <p>After a bit of designing I figured the most minimal design I can get away with is 9 buttons, the joystick and a display for the user interface. The hardware design has gone through several iterations over the last year but I now have some PCBs with the 9 RGB buttons on it, the $10 joystick that was also in the Marshall-clone panel and to interface with the outside world it has the TP8485E to communicate with the cameras over RS-485 and a Wiznet W5500 module to communicate with the video switcher over ethernet.</p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1715003933/IMG_20240429_184436.jpg" class="kg-image"><figcaption>This includes a bunch of &quot;oops-the-wrong-pinout&quot; fixes...</figcaption></figure> <p>After a lot of fixing of the board I had made I now have all the hardware parts functional, but the difficult part of this project is the software.</p> <h2>Initial software</h2> <p>I first started creating the software like I do all the RP2040 based projects. A cmake project that pulls in the pico-sdk. To make anything work at all I dedicated the second core of the pico to dealing with the Wiznet module and the first core then handles all the user interface I/O. This worked fine to blink some leds and I did implement a DHCP client that ran on the second core. It did make implementing the rest of the system a lot more complicated. There's simply a lot of things that need to happen at once:</p> <ul><li>Draw an user interface on the display that&#x27;s somewhat smooth</li> <li>Send out VISCA commands over the RS-485 interface</li> <li>Respond to button presses</li> <li>Keep the entire network stack alive with multiple connections</li> </ul> <p>There's a bunch of things that need to happen on the network, the first of which is some actually standards complicant DHCP support. This would require keeping track of the expire times and occasionally talk to the DHCP server to keep the lease active. The second background task is making mDNS work. The ATEM video switcher IP can be autodiscovered using DNS-SD and it would be great to also announce the existence of the control panel.</p> <p>The ATEM protocol itself is also one of the harder parts to get right, the protocol itself is pretty simple but it does involve sometimes receiving a lot of data that exceeds the buffer size of the Wiznet module and the protocol has a very low timeout for disconnection for when you stop sending UDP datagrams to the ATEM.</p> <p>This all made me decide that it's probably better to switch to an RTOS for this project.</p> <h2>FreeRTOS</h2> <p>The first project I've looked into is FreeRTOS. This is technically already bundled inside the pico-sdk but all tutorials I've found for this download a fresh copy anyway so that's what I did. FreeRTOS seems to be the simplest RTOS I've looked at from this list, the main thing it provides is the RTOS scheduler and some communication between tasks. The simplest way I can show it is with some code:</p> <div class="highlight"><pre><span></span><span class="cp">#include</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="cpf">&quot;FreeRTOS.h&quot;</span><span class="cp"></span> <span class="n">TaskHandle_t</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="n">button_task</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="o">=</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="nb">NULL</span><span class="p">;</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="n">TaskHandle_t</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="n">led_task</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="o">=</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="nb">NULL</span><span class="p">;</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="n">QueueHandle_t</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="n">led_queue</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="o">=</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="nb">NULL</span><span class="p">;</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="kt">void</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="nf">buttonTask</span><span class="p">(</span><span class="kt">void</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="o">*</span><span class="n">param</span><span class="p">)</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="p">{</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="k">while</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="p">(</span><span class="mi">1</span><span class="p">)</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="p">{</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="kt">bool</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="n">state</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="o">=</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="n">get_button_pressed</span><span class="p">();</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="n">xQueueSend</span><span class="p">(</span><span class="n">led_queue</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="o">&amp;</span><span class="n">state</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="mi">0</span><span class="p">);</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="p">}</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="p">}</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="kt">void</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="nf">ledTask</span><span class="p">(</span><span class="kt">void</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="o">*</span><span class="n">param</span><span class="p">)</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="p">{</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="k">while</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="p">(</span><span class="mi">1</span><span class="p">)</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="p">{</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="kt">bool</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="n">state</span><span class="p">;</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="k">if</span><span class="p">(</span><span class="n">xQueueReceive</span><span class="p">(</span><span class="n">led_queue</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="o">&amp;</span><span class="n">state</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="n">portMAX_DELAY</span><span class="p">))</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="p">{</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="n">gpio_put</span><span class="p">(</span><span class="n">LED_PIN</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="n">state</span><span class="p">);</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="p">}</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="p">}</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="p">}</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="kt">int</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="nf">main</span><span class="p">()</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="p">{</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="n">xTaskCreate</span><span class="p">(</span><span class="n">buttonTask</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s">&quot;Button&quot;</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="mi">128</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="nb">NULL</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="mi">2</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="o">&amp;</span><span class="n">button_task</span><span class="p">);</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="n">xTaskCreate</span><span class="p">(</span><span class="n">ledTask</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s">&quot;Led&quot;</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="mi">128</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="nb">NULL</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="mi">2</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="o">&amp;</span><span class="n">led_task</span><span class="p">);</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="n">vTaskStartScheduler</span><span class="p">();</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="c1">// Code will never reach here</span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="k">return</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="mi">0</span><span class="p">;</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="p">}</span><span class="w"></span> </pre></div> <p>Both the buttonTask and the ledTask function will seem to run in parallel and there's a few IPC systems to move data between the various tasks. The code above is not functional but I stripped it down to get the general usage across.</p> <p>I've used this for a few days to make an enormous mess of my codebase. I have created several tasks in my test project:</p> <ul><li>The buttonsTask that polls the i2c gpio expander to check if buttons have been pressed and then put a message on the button queue.</li> <li>The ledTask that sets the right RGB color on the right button by putting a message on the ledQueue;</li> <li>The mainTask that runs the main loop of the project that updates the state based on the button presses.</li> <li>The networkTask that communicates with the Wiznet module.</li> <li>The dhcpTask that is spawned by the networkTask when a network cable is plugged in.</li> <li>The mdnsTask that is spawned by the dhcpTask once an ip address is aquired.</li> <li>the atemTask that is spawned by the mdnsTask when it gets a response from an ATEM device.</li> <li>the viscaTask that does nothing but should send data out the RS-485 port.</li> </ul> <p>This is a lot of tasks and the hardware doesn't even do anything yet except appear on the network.</p> <p>I ran into a few issues with FreeRTOS. The main annoying one is that printf simply caused things to hang every single time which makes debugging very hard. Sure the gdb debugger works but it's not neat for dumping out DHCP traffic for example.</p> <p>The FreeRTOS also doesn't seem to provide any hardware abstraction at all which means all the code I wrote to communicate with the various chips is not easily re-used.</p> <p>After a few days I created a new clean FreeRTOS project and started porting the various functionalities from the previous version over to try to get a cleaner and more manageable codebase but ended up giving up because blind debugging because there's no serial output is quite annoying. I decided to look what the alternatives have to offer.</p> <h2>Apache NuttX</h2> <p>Another seemingly popular RTOS is NuttX. This project seems a lot closer to what you'd expect from a regular operating system. It makes your microcontroller look like an unix system.</p> <p>First thing the tutorial tells me to do is fetching the pico-sdk and set the environment variable. No problem, I already have the sdk in /usr/share and that environment variable already exists on my system. Suprisingly this made the build fail because NuttX decides that it really needs to overwrite the version.h file in my pico-sdk for which it doesn't have permissions... why...</p> <p>After doing the initial setup of building a minimal NuttX firmware for my board I connected to the serial port and was greeted by an actual shell.</p> <pre><code>nsh&gt; uptime 00:01:34 up 0:01, load average: 0.00, 0.00, 0.00 nsh&gt; uname NuttX nsh&gt; uname -a NuttX 12.5.1 9d6e2b97fb May 6 2024 15:18:54 arm raspberrypi-pico</code></pre> <p>It looks like I'd just be able to write an app for this operating system and have it auto-launch on boot. Since this tries to do the Unix thing it also has a filesystem of course so the hardware has FS abstractions like <code>/dev/i2c0</code> and <code>/dev/adc0</code>. </p> <p>One thing I liked a lot was that it's build around menuconfig/Kconfig which I'm already used to for Linux development. This also means there's an actual hardware driver system and the GPIO expander chip I've used for the buttons already had a driver. The menuconfig system also allows me to configure the pin muxing of the rp2040 chip so I don't have to keep constants around with pin numbers and do a bunch of hardware setup to make my i2c bus work. I can just go into the menuconfig and tell it that i2c0 of the pico is used and that it's on two specific pins. I've also enabled the i2c testing utility as one of the apps that will be build into the firmware.</p> <pre><code>nsh&gt; i2c dev 0 79 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 a b c d e f 00: -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 10: -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 20: -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 30: -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 40: -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 50: -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 60: -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 70: -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- nsh&gt; </code></pre> <p>Well uuuuh... yup the basics aren't working. I've spend a bit of time going through the rp2040 setup code and the various i2c related menuconfig options but it seems like this just doesn't really work...</p> <p>I also have not figured out yet how I can tell NuttX that my gpio buttons are behind the gpio extender, or how to actually link the gpio extender to my non-functional i2c bus.</p> <p>Another thing that annoyed me is that I had to re-clone the nuttx repository multiple times simply because sometimes one of the configure.sh commands would fail which would leave the repository in an inconsistent state and the distclean command wouldn't work because the repository was in an inconsistent state. Really the classic "configure.sh: you are already configured; distclean: you are not configured yet"</p> <p>Unix-like seems great at first glance, but I don't really want to deal with filesystem paths on a microcontroller for a pretend filesystem. I also don't need a shell in my production system, it should just run my code.</p> <h2>Zephyr</h2> <p>So next on the list is Zephyr. This provides a python utility to set up a project which should make things a bit easier, or it's a sign something is terribly overcomplicated.</p> <p>The very first thing this project does is pull in 5GB of git repositories which includes the entire HAL library for every chip under the sun. The second thing it does is for some reason mess with my user-wide cmake stuff on my system.</p> <p>After that the tutorial told me to install the Zephyr SDK:</p> <blockquote>The <a href="https://docs.zephyrproject.org/latest/develop/toolchains/zephyr_sdk.html#toolchain-zephyr-sdk">Zephyr Software Development Kit (SDK)</a> contains toolchains for each of Zephyr’s supported architectures, which include a compiler, assembler, linker and other programs required to build Zephyr applications.<br><br>It also contains additional host tools, such as custom QEMU and OpenOCD builds that are used to emulate, flash and debug Zephyr applications.</blockquote> <p>Yeah no thanks, I have already several perfectly fine ARM toolchains and I don't really want to either build or fetch precompiled compilers for every architecture Zephyr supports, lets see if I can get away with not installing this.</p> <p>After some messing around I figured out how to get away with it. There need to be two command line options set for cross compiling:</p> <div class="highlight"><pre><span></span><span class="gp">$ </span><span class="nb">export</span> <span class="nv">ZEPHYR_TOOLCHAIN_VARIANT</span><span class="o">=</span>cross-compile <span class="gp">$ </span><span class="nb">export</span> <span class="nv">CROSS_COMPILE</span><span class="o">=</span>/usr/bin/arm-none-eabi- <span class="gp">$ </span>west build -p always -b sparkfun_pro_micro_rp2040 samples/basic/blinky </pre></div> <p>One thing I also found out is that the Raspberry Pi Pico is not actually supported, only other boards that have the same SoC. No worries, these boards are practically the same. The very second issue I hit is that the blinky demo doesn't build because it requires <code>led0</code> to be defined to have something to blink.</p> <p>It turns out the Sparkfun pro Micro RP2040 does not actually have a simple gpio led to blink but a ws2812B adressable led. </p> <p>So I started following the custom board manual which told me to copy a random other board because that's how it always goes. Maybe if you already have a meta tool to set-up a project make it create this scaffolding.</p> <p>In the end I did not manage to build for my board because it simply wouldn't start to exist after fixing all the errors and warnings in the build.</p> <h2>Conclusion</h2> <p>Well at least with FreeRTOS I managed to building some of my own application. I guess I have to follow the online instructions of replacing printf with another printf implementation and make sure to call the different function everywhere.</p> <p>I'll probably continue on trying to get FreeRTOS to do the things I want since it's the only one that can be simply integrated in your own environment instead of the other way around.</p> Bootstrapping Alpine Linux without roothttps://blog.brixit.nl/bootstrapping-alpine-linux-without-root/98LinuxMartijn BraamWed, 20 Mar 2024 23:50:30 -0000<p>Creating a chroot in Linux is pretty easy: put a rootfs in a folder and run the <code>sudo chroot /my/folder</code> command. But what if you don't want to use superuser privileges for this?</p> <p>This is not super simple to fix, not only does the <code>chroot</code> command itself require root permissions but the steps for creating the rootfs in the first place and mounting the required filesystems like /proc and /sys require root as well.</p> <p>In pmbootstrap the process for creating an installable image for a phone requires setting up multiple chroots and executing many commands in those chroots. If you have the password timeout disabled in sudo you will notice that you will have to enter your password tens to hundreds of times depending on the operation you're doing. An example of this is shown in the long running "<a href="https://gitlab.com/postmarketOS/pmbootstrap/-/issues/2052#note_966447872">pmbootstrap requires sudo</a>" issue on Gitlab. In this example sudo was called 240 times!</p> <p>Now it is possible with a lot of refactoring to move batches of superuser-requiring commands into scripts and elevate the permissions of that with a single sudo call but to get this down to a single sudo call per pmbootstrap command would be really hard.</p> <h2>Another approach</h2> <p>So instead of building a chroot the "traditional" way what are the alternatives?</p> <p>The magic trick to get this working are user namespaces. From the Linux documentation:</p> <blockquote>User namespaces isolate security-related identifiers and attributes, in particular, user IDs and group IDs (see <a href="https://man7.org/linux/man-pages/man7/credentials.7.html">credentials(7)</a>), the root directory, keys (see <a href="https://man7.org/linux/man-pages/man7/keyrings.7.html">keyrings(7)</a>), and capabilities (see <a href="https://man7.org/linux/man-pages/man7/capabilities.7.html">capabilities(7)</a>). A process's user and group IDs can be different inside and outside a user namespace. In particular, a process can have a normal unprivileged user ID outside a user namespace while at the same time having a user ID of 0 inside the namespace; in other words, the process has full privileges for operations inside the user namespace, but is unprivileged for operations outside the namespace. </blockquote> <p>It basically allows running commands in a namespace where you have UID 0 on the inside without requiring to elevate any of the commands. This does have a lot of limitations though which I somehow all manage to hit with this.</p> <p>One of the tools that makes it relatively easy to work with the various namespaces in Linux is <code>unshare</code>. Conveniently this is also part of <code>util-linux</code> so it's a pretty clean dependency to have.</p> <h2>Building a rootfs</h2> <p>There's enough examples of using <code>unshare</code> to create a chroot without sudo but those all assume you already have a rootfs somewhere to chroot into. Creating the rootfs itself has a few difficulties already though.</p> <p>Since I'm building an Alpine Linux rootfs the utility I'm going to use is <code>apk.static</code>. This is a statically compiled version of the package manager in Alpine which allows building a new installation from an online repository. This is similar to <code>debootstrap</code> for example if you re more used to Debian than Alpine.</p> <p>There's a wiki page on running <a href="https://wiki.alpinelinux.org/wiki/Alpine_Linux_in_a_chroot">Alpine Linux in a chroot</a> that documents the steps required for setting up a chroot the traditional way with this. The initial commands to aquire the <code>apk.static</code> binary don't require superuser at all, but after that the problems start:</p> <div class="highlight"><pre><span></span><span class="gp">$ </span>./apk.static -X <span class="si">${</span><span class="nv">mirror</span><span class="si">}</span>/latest-stable/main -U --allow-untrusted -p <span class="si">${</span><span class="nv">chroot_dir</span><span class="si">}</span> --initdb add alpine-base </pre></div> <p>This creates the Alpine installation in <code>${chroot_dir}</code>. This requires superuser privileges to set the correct permissions on the files of this new rootfs. After this there's two options of populating /dev inside this rootfs which both are problematic:</p> <div class="highlight"><pre><span></span><span class="gp">$ </span>mount -o <span class="nb">bind</span> /dev <span class="si">${</span><span class="nv">chroot_dir</span><span class="si">}</span>/dev <span class="go">mounting requires superuser privileges and this exposes all your hardware in the chroot</span> <span class="gp">$ </span>mknod -m <span class="m">666</span> <span class="si">${</span><span class="nv">chroot_dir</span><span class="si">}</span>/dev/full c <span class="m">1</span> <span class="m">7</span> <span class="gp">$ </span>mknod -m <span class="m">644</span> <span class="si">${</span><span class="nv">chroot_dir</span><span class="si">}</span>/dev/random c <span class="m">1</span> <span class="m">8</span> <span class="go">... etcetera, the mknod command also requires superuser privileges</span> </pre></div> <p>The steps after this have similar issues, most of them for <code>mount</code> reasons or <code>chown</code> reasons.</p> <p>There is a few namespace options from <code>unshare</code> used to work around these issues. The command used to run <code>apk.static</code> in my test implementation is this:</p> <div class="highlight"><pre><span></span><span class="gp">$ </span>unshare <span class="se">\</span> --user <span class="se">\</span> --map-users<span class="o">=</span><span class="m">10000</span>,0,10000 <span class="se">\</span> --map-groups<span class="o">=</span><span class="m">10000</span>,0,10000 <span class="se">\</span> --setuid <span class="m">0</span> <span class="se">\</span> --setgid <span class="m">0</span> <span class="se">\</span> --wd <span class="s2">&quot;</span><span class="si">${</span><span class="nv">chroot_dir</span><span class="si">}</span><span class="s2">&quot;</span> <span class="se">\</span> ./apk-tools-static -X...etc </pre></div> <p>This will use <code>unshare</code> to create a new userns and change the uid/gid inside that to 0. This effectively grants root privileges inside this namespace. But that's not enough.</p> <p>If <code>chown</code> is used inside the namespace it will still fail because my unprivileged user still can't change the permissions of those files. The solution to that is the uid remapping with <code>--map-users</code> and <code>--map-groups</code>. In the example above it sets up the namespace so files created with uid 0 will generate files with the uid 100000 on the actual filesystem. uid 1 becomes 100001 and this continues on for 10000 uids. </p> <p>This again does not completely solve the issue though because my unprivileged user still can't chown those files, doesn't matter if it's chowning to uid 0 or 100000. To give my unprivileged user this permission the <code>/etc/subuid</code> and <code>/etc/subgid</code> files on the host system have to be modified to add a rule. This sadly requires root privileges <i>once</i> to set up this privilege. To make the command above work I had to add this line to those two files:</p> <pre><code>martijn:100000:10000</code></pre> <p>This grants the user with the name <code>martijn</code> the permission to use 10.000 uids starting at uid 100.000 for the purpose of userns mapping.</p> <p>The result of this is that the <code>apk.static</code> command will seem to Just Work(tm) and the resulting files in <code>${chroot_dir}</code> will have all the right permissions but only offset by 100.000.</p> <h2>One more catch</h2> <p>There is one more complication with remapped uids and <code>unshare</code> that I've skipped over in the above example to make it clearer, but the command inside the namespace most likely cannot start.</p> <p>If you remap the uid with <code>unshare</code> you get more freedom inside the namespace, but it limits your privileges outside the namespace even further. It's most likely that the <code>unshare</code> command above was run somewhere in your own home directory. After changing your uid to 0 inside the namespace your privilege to the outside world will be as if you're uid 100.000 and that uid most likely does not have privileges. If any of the folders in the path to the executable you want <code>unshare</code> to run for you inside the namespace don't have the read and execute bit set for the "other" group in the unix permissions then the command will simply fail with "Permission denied".</p> <p>The workaround used in my test implementation is to just first copy the executable over to <code>/tmp</code> and hope you at least still have permissions to read there.</p> <h2>Completing the rootfs</h2> <p>So after all that the first command from the Alpine guide is done. Now there's only the problems left for mounting filesystems and creating files.</p> <p>While <code>/etc/subuid</code> does give permission to use a range of uids as an unprivileged user with a user namespace it does not give you permissions to create those files outside the namespace. So the way those files are created is basically the complicated version of <code>echo "value" | sudo tee /root/file</code>: </p> <div class="highlight"><pre><span></span><span class="gp">$ </span><span class="nb">echo</span> <span class="s2">&quot;nameserver a.b.c.d&quot;</span> <span class="p">|</span> unshare <span class="se">\</span> --user <span class="se">\</span> --map-users<span class="o">=</span><span class="m">10000</span>,0,10000 <span class="se">\</span> --map-groups<span class="o">=</span><span class="m">10000</span>,0,10000 <span class="se">\</span> --setuid <span class="m">0</span> <span class="se">\</span> --setgid <span class="m">0</span> <span class="se">\</span> --wd <span class="s2">&quot;</span><span class="si">${</span><span class="nv">chroot_dir</span><span class="si">}</span><span class="s2">&quot;</span> <span class="se">\</span> sh -c <span class="s1">&#39;cat &gt; /etc/resolv.conf&#39;</span> </pre></div> <p>This does set-up and tear down the entire namespace for every file change or creation which is a bit inefficient, but inefficient is still better than impossible. Changing file permissions is done in a similar way.</p> <p>To fix the mounting issue there's the mount namespace functionality in Linux. This allows creating new mounts inside the namespace as long as you still have permissions on the source file as your unprivileged user. This effectively means you can't use this to mount random block devices but it works great for things like <code>/proc</code> and loop mounts.</p> <p>There is a <code>--mount-proc</code> parameter that will tell <code>unshare</code> to set-up a mount namespace and then mount <code>/proc</code> inside the namespace at the right place so that's what I'm using. But I still need other things mounted. This mounting is done as a small inline shell script right before executing the commands inside the chroot:</p> <div class="highlight"><pre><span></span><span class="gp">$ </span>unshare <span class="se">\</span> --user <span class="se">\</span> --fork <span class="se">\</span> --pid <span class="se">\</span> --mount <span class="se">\</span> --mount-proc <span class="se">\</span> --map-users<span class="o">=</span><span class="m">10000</span>,0,10000 <span class="se">\</span> --map-groups<span class="o">=</span><span class="m">10000</span>,0,10000 <span class="se">\</span> --setuid <span class="m">0</span> <span class="se">\</span> --setgid <span class="m">0</span> <span class="se">\</span> --wd <span class="s2">&quot;</span><span class="si">${</span><span class="nv">chroot_dir</span><span class="si">}</span><span class="s2">&quot;</span> <span class="se">\</span> -- <span class="se">\</span> sh -c <span class="s2">&quot; \</span> <span class="s2"> mount -t proc none proc ; \</span> <span class="s2"> touch dev/zero ; \</span> <span class="s2"> mount -o rw,bind /dev/zero dev/zero ;\</span> <span class="s2"> touch dev/null ; \</span> <span class="s2"> mount -o row,bind /dev/null dev/null ;\</span> <span class="s2"> ...</span> <span class="go"> chroot . bin/sh \</span> <span class="go"> &quot;</span> </pre></div> <p>The mounts are created right between setting up the namespaces but before the chroot is started so the host filesystem can still be accessed. The working directory is set to the root of the rootfs using the <code>--wd</code> parameter of <code>unshare</code> and then bind mounts are made from <code>/dev/zero</code> to <code>dev/zero</code> to create those devices inside the rootfs.</p> <p>This combines the two impossible options to make it work. <code>mknod</code> can still not work inside namespaces because it is a bit of a security risk. <code>mount</code>'ing /dev gives access to way too many devices that are not needed but the mount namespace does allow bind-mounting the existing device nodes one by one and allows me to filter them.</p> <p>Then finally... the <code>chroot</code> command to complete the journey. This has to refer to the rootfs with a relative path and this also depends on the working directory being set by <code>unshare</code> since host paths are breaking with uid remapping.</p> <h2>What's next?</h2> <p>So this creates a full chroot without superuser privileges (after the initial setup) and this whole setup even works perfectly with having cross-architecture chroots in combination with <code>binfmt_misc</code>. </p> <p>Compared to <code>pmbootstrap</code> this codebase does very little and there's more problems to solve. For one all the filesystem manipulation has to be figured out to copy the contents of the chroot into a filesystem image that can be flashed. This is further complicated by the mangling of the uids in the host filesystem so it has to be remapped while writing into the filesystem again.</p> <p>Flashing the image to a fastboot capable device should be pretty easy without root privileges, it only requires an udev rule that is usually already installed by the android-tools package on various Linux distributions. For the PinePhone flashing happens on a mass-storage device and as far as I know it will be impossible to write to that without requiring actual superuser privileges.</p> <p>The code for this is in the <a href="https://git.sr.ht/~martijnbraam/ambootstrap">~martijnbraam/ambootstrap</a> repository, hopefully in some time I get this to actually write a plain Alpine Linux image to a phone :D</p> <p></p> Digital audio mixer pt.2https://blog.brixit.nl/digital-audio-mixer-pt-2/97ElectronicsMartijn BraamSat, 09 Mar 2024 10:08:03 -0000<p>Since writing my <a href="https://blog.brixit.nl/building-a-digital-audio-mixer/">previous post</a> about the digital audio mixing I've made some significant progress. Initially my code was running on an off-the-shelf Teensy 4.1 and using only the digital input and output I could use directly with an external ADC/DAC. Shortly after writing that post I received the Teensy Audio Shield which makes the test setup a bit easier to deal with.</p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1709912877/20240308_0054.jpg" class="kg-image"><figcaption>Teensy Audio Board Rev. D2</figcaption></figure> <p>This is a simple board that connects an NXP SGTL5000 codec chip to the Teensy. It provides a stereo in and output on the header at the top in this picture. It also has a fairly decent built-in headphone amplifier which is exposed with the 3.5mm jack at the bottom of the picture.</p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1709913077/image.png" class="kg-image"><figcaption>SGTL5000 block diagram from the datasheet</figcaption></figure> <p>With this board I replaced the S/PDIF input and output in the code with an i2s interface which completed this into a self-contained 2-input and 2-output audio mixer. But how to expand from here? That's more in the realm of custom hardware since the Teensy Audio Shield is practically the only board you can order for Teensy Audio.</p> <p>So a custom board... There's a few other supported codecs by the audio library. The issue is that most of the codecs in the list are EOL or not recommended for new designs. They are also mostly out of stock so I postponed this idea for a bit.</p> <h2>FOSDEM 2024</h2> <p>So roughly at this point in the process <a href="https://fosdem.org/2024/">FOSDEM</a> happened. Not only is this a very interesting open source software event but it also manages to run ~30 concurrent live streams and in-room audio mixes with an ad-hoc setup with only about a tenth of the amount of personnel you'd expect to be needed to pull this off.</p> <p>To pull this off FOSDEM uses custom build "<a href="https://archive.fosdem.org/2020/schedule/event/videobox/">video boxes</a>" that contain half the equipment needed to run all the multimedia in every room. Two of these (identical) boxes are put in each room for the complete setup. This setup has evolved a lot over the years.</p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1709914101/fosdem-2020-video-box.JPG" class="kg-image"><figcaption>FOSDEM video box from 2020</figcaption></figure> <p>This is one of the examples: the nice laser-cut video boxes used from ~2015 to 2023. These have the job of capturing from the HDMI video inputs and send off the video from the connected camera and speaker laptop to be encoded for the live-stream. This is a very nice and compact solution for deploying a room for FOSDEM and during the event these are controlled remotely from the central operations center allowing only a few people to monitor and manage all the video streams.</p> <p>But what about the audio? There's a microphone for the speaker and one or two microphones for audience questions but these don't hook up to the custom boxes. The room audio in most rooms is handled by a Yamaha MG10 audio desk. This is easily enough for mixing together the audio from 4 sources but has one major downside: you have to be physically present to turn the knobs to adjust anything.</p> <p>While video is usually pretty great while watching back the talks I've noticed there's sometimes a few audio issues like microphones that are clipping. The perfect solution for this all is a digital audio mixer that can be controlled remotely of course, but those are way larger and more expensive.</p> <p>It turns out FOSDEM is that perfect target for a 4-in 4-out audio mixer that is controlled over USB instead of physical controls. I'm very glad I managed to meet up with the FOSDEM video team, which lead to...</p> <h2>FOSDEM Audio Board</h2> <p>So the FOSDEM setup has a few very interesting constraints for an audio mixer:</p> <ul><li>There&#x27;s two audio mixes, one for in-room audio and one for the live-stream</li> <li>All mixes are mono, there&#x27;s not much sense in stereo for running a few microphones.</li> <li>All sources are line-level. The microphones at FOSDEM are all wireless and the receivers can output line-level signals so no need for microphone pre-amps. This massively simplifies the design of the analog inputs.</li> <li>Since no condenser microphones or phantom-powered DI boxes are used no +48V phantom power supply is required.</li> <li>The current iteration of video boxes are inside 19&quot; 1U rack cases which constrains the size of the audio mixer a lot.</li> </ul> <p>So I have practically no experience with designing audio gear. Luckily the additional constraints massively simplify the design which is great for cost optimization as well. So I did the most dangerous thing a software developer can do: I launched Kicad.</p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card kg-width-wide"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1709916669/image.png" class="kg-image"><figcaption>PCB of the FOSDEM Audio Interface rev.A</figcaption></figure> <p>For the design I decided to put two of the SGTL5000 codecs on the board. It's one of the few supported codecs that are still available and they already deal nicely with line-level signals. Another great feature of these chips is that they include analog gain control which saves me from having to implement a digital-controlled analog gain circuit which sounds difficult and expensive. Having a built-in headphone amp is also great for adding a headphone connection for monitoring in the room.</p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card kg-width-wide"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1709917075/image.png" class="kg-image"><figcaption>This is not only my block diagram but also the schematic itself thanks to Kicad sub-schematics :D</figcaption></figure> <p>This is how the hardware is connected internally. There are 3 analog XLR inputs for connecting the microphone receivers and the fourth input is a 3.5mm jack that is hooked up for some simple analog mono-summing of the incoming signal. This 3.5mm jack will connect to the audio output of the HDMI capture card connected to the laptop of the presenter.</p> <p>One of the codecs also provides the 2 XLR outputs. One connects to the existing audio speakers in the room and the other connects to the audio input of the camera. The headphone connector is connected to the outputs of the second codec so that audio mix can be controlled separately in software.</p> <p>The only thing that needs to happen in addition to the schematic of the original Teensy Audio Shield is dealing with balanced signals. Sadly there isn't a "getting started with designing audio interfaces" book but I found the brilliant website from <a href="https://sound-au.com/articles/balanced-io.htm">Elliot Sound Products</a> that has a lot of information on these circuits. The inputs and outputs have a pair of opamps to convert the signals. This is implemented with TL072 opamps because they are cheap, available and have 2 opamps in a single chip. This means the whole input circuit is a single chip and a few passives.</p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card kg-width-wide"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1709917710/image.png" class="kg-image"><figcaption>A single balanced output channel on the audio board</figcaption></figure> <p>The other part that needed figuring out is the power part. This surprisingly was a lot more work than the actual analog audio handling. The whole design is powered from 5V from the USB port but there is a lot of separate voltages needed to run all the audio hardware.</p> <p>The codec chips need two 3.3v rails and one 1.8v rail to function. One of the 3.3v rails is for the digital part and one for the analog part. The opamp circuits are even more complicated because they need a positive and negative voltage rail to function. </p> <p>The exact voltage for the opamps does not matter much but it has to be high enough that they are always above the analog audio input levels and because these are cheap opamps it needs a few volts extra because the TL072 cannot process signals close to the supply voltage which results in distortion. On the other hand the output voltage needs to be below 40 volts because I'm building an audio interface and not a smoke machine. In this design the supplies are +9V and -9V which brings the total voltage on the opamp to 18V.</p> <p>To generate the positive and negative 9V rails I first generate +12V and -12V with a switching regulator and then feed those into an LDO to filter out the switching noise from the switching regulator. After dealing with all this I now finally understand why so much of the audio gear has old-school transformers to power them: it makes it very easy to make a dual-rail supply.</p> <p>It was not easy to figure out how to get the dual rails from 5V at all. To start I decided to open up one of the USB powered audio interfaces I already had and see what the designers of that device did to fix this. In this case it was a Tascam US-2x2. </p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1709918861/P1470213.JPG" class="kg-image"></figure> <p>This is a picture of the power supply section of that audio interface. It contains a lot of different voltage regulators to make the various rails. It has to deal with a few extra voltages compared to my design since this also has +48V phantom power. After measuring it the main negative rail of this board was generated by the 34063 chip at the top of that picture. This is used as an inverting switching regulator in this case. The positive rail for opamps in this design is generated by the tiny chip labelled U26 all the way on the bottom of the picture, I've not been able to identify this chip.</p> <p>This all together lead to my initial design:</p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card kg-width-wide"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1709919148/image.png" class="kg-image"></figure> <p>The top left part of the board generates the voltages for the opamp circuits and the top right has the regulators for the codecs (and the PC input jack). This version of the power supply was not complete yet since it was lacking a few capacitors and I found out that the inductor I selected was way too small to function correctly.</p> <p>This revision of the power supply was scrapped because with the correct inductor the power supply simply became too large for the board and I didn't want to make the board any larger since the inside of the FOSDEM box is very space constrained.</p> <p>The MCP34063 is also decades old technology by now. It's a switching regulator that runs at 100Khz max. In this design the switching frequency would be ~60Khz but this results in needing a large capacitor and inductor on the board.</p> <p>In the current revision of the board this has been replaced with the TPS65130 regulator. This is a way more modern switching regulator running at 1.3Mhz instead. This chip is a bit more expensive but it generates both the positive rail and negative rail with a single chip and due to the order of magnitude larger switching frequency the inductor and capacitor can be way smaller. The end result is a more compact and cheaper power supply.</p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card kg-width-wide"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1709919624/image.png" class="kg-image"></figure> <p>This is the board that was ordered as prototype. It's mostly the same as the board shown above but it has an extra header exposing a few I/O pins of the teensy for prototyping and the PC input connector has moved so the jack will be above the board to waste less space in the case.</p> <h2>The actual hardware</h2> <p> After waiting some days I received this partially assembled board:</p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1709919939/PXL_20240223_094706542.jpg" class="kg-image"></figure> <p>After soldering on the connectors I powered it on and checked the voltage rails, it all seemed fine. Then after powering it on a second time it started making a screeching coil-whine sound and within a second the 12V generator made the bottom of the PCB too hot to touch. After initially working for a bit I didn't get it to generate the correct voltages again, even after restarting the board. Sometimes when powering it on it heated up again, sometimes it didn't but for some reason the output of the +/- 12V supply was +6V/-4.5V instead.</p> <p>This issue plagued me for some days until one day I had plugged in my headphones in the board while measuring things with the multimeter and suddenly the weird noise from the inputs disappeared. This happened when I had the probe of the multimeter on one of the pads of the diode for the negative supply. </p> <p>It turns out that the solder connection on that diode was not reliable and after heating up that pad with a soldering iron for a second I managed to get the board running at the right voltage again... but only sometimes. At least the board was now reliable enough that I could work a bit on the firmware and all the functionality that didn't depend on the opamps was working great.</p> <p>This is one of the moments where it's a massive help when other people double-check your schematics. It turns out I copy-pasted a few capacitors and forgot to adjust the values. Specifically I had a capacitor in the feedback path for the switching regulator that was two orders of magnitude too large. It turns out those capacitors were optional anyway according to the datasheet so after removing those from the power supply it already became a lot more reliable. Still it sometimes failed to start and unreliable equipment in a live environment is a non-starter.</p> <p>After verifying everything it turned out that there were more capacitors with wrong values and sadly these capacitors were actually required. So I took the boards to someone with actual electronics experience and also the correct gear to debug the boards. A few capacitors have been removed, a few have been added and the result is beautiful soldering work like this:</p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1709921261/20240308_0052.jpg" class="kg-image"></figure> <p>Which is a 100nF capacitor soldered on top of an 10uF capacitor to further reduce the ripple of the power supply. The board has since been adjusted to actually have these capacitors included. After an evening of messing with the board to minimize ripple the switching regulator section has turned into quite a battlefield:</p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1709921381/20240308_0046.jpg" class="kg-image"></figure> <p>A few stacked capacitors, a pad I've accidentally ripped when removing capacitors. The power-save pins on the regulator connected to GND instead of VCC and in the bottom left corner a beautiful stack of 3 capacitors and a 1k resistor on the output of the regulator.</p> <p>Luckily after all this the regulator started working reliably. To make it a bit nicer on my desk I also 3d printed a simple front panel for the mixer. I also got a random oled panel from my parts box and connected that to the GPIO pins so I can have a display to show real-time debugging information while testing the software.</p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1709921615/20240308_0036.jpg" class="kg-image"></figure> <p>The source Kicad files for the audio board are available at <a href="https://git.sr.ht/~martijnbraam/mixolydian-4x4">https://git.sr.ht/~martijnbraam/mixolydian-4x4</a></p> <h2>The software side</h2> <p>For the software I started off from the Arduino IDE project I had for my previous blog post. The design for the audio at FOSDEM would be simpler though, no networking is needed at the mixer but instead the USB connection would be used for control. Adding a network port for the audio mixer would mean it needs more switch ports in the box and since the network switch ports are on the outside it would need an ugly cable coming out to the front of the box to connect it up.</p> <p>The control of the mixer would happen through the infrastructure FOSDEM already has where the volunteers in the rooms can control the boxes with a webpage from a phone and some software on the SBC inside the box will communicate with the mixer over a serial port.</p> <p>There were also a few small software issues to deal with due to the hardware. There are two SGTL5000 codecs on the board. There are two variants of this chip, the 32 and the 20 pin version where the major difference with the 20 pin version is that it doesn't have any address pins for the I²C bus. Sadly the 32 pin variant wasn't really available so the codecs are now using the same address but on different I²C busses of the Teensy. The audio library is hard-coded to have the codec on I²C0 of the Teensy so this requires a bit of patching.</p> <p>The issue of patching the Teensy audio library is that libraries in the Arduino build system are a mess and the audio library is also part of the Teensy core in the IDE instead of a separate library. After messing with it to try to make it a bit more sane I decided to convert the Arduino IDE project to a plain cmake project that pulls in the various parts of the Teensy core as git submodules and has the whole audio library vendored in. This also means it's now possible to build the firmware for the FOSDEM audio mixer without first downloading a pre-compiled ARM compiler so it can run quickly in Alpine in CI.</p> <p>The code for the cmake-ified project is available at <a href="https://git.sr.ht/~martijnbraam/mixolydian-4x4-fw">https://git.sr.ht/~martijnbraam/mixolydian-4x4-fw</a></p> <p>I had also added an OLED panel to the board for testing so I added a bit of code that displays the audio levels of all the inputs and outputs of the board on that screen.</p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1709922412/20240308_0040.jpg" class="kg-image"></figure> <p>This part will definitely be different on the FOSDEM boxes since these oleds are very small and the PCB behind it are large enough that it barely fits in the height of an 1U rack case. It is very cool to have audio level bars in realtime though and if there is a color display it could even be usable enough to see if the levels are correct.</p> <p>There's also an initial implementation of the serial control protocol. The exact protocol has not been fully thought out yet but at least it does the one thing all serial protocols should do: print something useful when sending a newline.</p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1709922665/image.png" class="kg-image"></figure> <p>When sending a newline to the interface it will print the state of the mixing matrix as percentages.</p> <p>The source code is of course available at </p> <h2>Further work</h2> <p>The audio interface has been tested with one of the wireless sets from FOSDEM, which is a Sennheiser AVX ME2 set. The audio seems to work great with this and for running FOSDEM there can simply be 3 receivers plugged into the box. </p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1709923660/avx-receiver.jpg" class="kg-image"><figcaption>Sennheiser AVX receiver plugged into the mixer</figcaption></figure> <p>But can this be simpler? The AVX system works with DECT chips so maybe it would be possible to make the worlds first digital audio mixer with built-in DECT base-station :D</p> <h2>Conclusion</h2> <p>This is certainly a lot of progress for the audio hardware part of the mixer project. While a lot of the hardware is specified for the exact requirements of a FOSDEM room it does provide a neat base to work off for designing digital audio mixers. The parts of the hardware design are modular enough to reconfigure them for other audio needs and now the line-level inputs are working it will be neat to figure out a digitally controlled microphone preamp. Or have hi-z input for instruments. Or implement a phantom power supply.</p> <p>It's always a ton of fun to figure out new systems and instead of learning a random new programming language it's hardware design stuff for once. I absolutely couldn't've done it without the expertise of the electrical engineers that helped me design this, especially Thea who actually knows how switching regulators work :)</p> <p>Hopefully the revision B design with the improvements from all the testing that happened with this board will be in the FOSDEM boxes in FOSDEM 2025 but I'll save that for a third part in this series of posts.</p> Fixing the Megapixels sensor linearizationhttps://blog.brixit.nl/fixing-the-megapixels-sensor-linearization/95MegapixelsMartijn BraamThu, 25 Jan 2024 22:45:44 -0000<p>Making a piece of software that dumps camera frames from V4L2 into a file is not very difficult to do, that's only a few hundred lines for C code. Figuring out why the pictures look cheap is a way harder challenge.</p> <p>For a long time Megapixels had some simple calibrations for blacklevel (to make the shadows a bit darker) and whitelevel (to make the light parts not grey) and later after a bit of documentation studying I had added calibration matrices all the way back in <a href="https://blog.brixit.nl/pinephone-camera-pt4/">part 4</a> of the Megapixels blog series.</p> <p>The color matrix that was added in Megapixels is a simple 3x3 matrix that converts the color sensitivity of the sensor in the PinePhone to calibrated values for the rest of the pipeline. Just a simple 3x3 matrix is not enough to do a more detailed correction though. Luckily the calibration software I used produces calibration files that contain several correction curves for the camera. For example the HSV curve that changes the hue, saturation and brightness of specific colors.</p> <p>Even though this calibration data is added by Megapixels I still had issues with color casts. Occasionally someone mentions to be how "filmic" or "vintage" the PinePhone pictures look. This is the opposite of what I'm trying to do with the picture processing. The vintage look is because color casts that are not linear to brightness are very similar on how cheap or expired analog film rolls reproduce colors. So where is this issue coming from?</p> <p>I've taken a closer look to the .dcp files produced by the calibration software. With a bit of python code I extracted the linearization curve from this file and plotted it. It turns out that the curve generated after calibration was perfectly linear. It makes a bit of sense since this calibration software was never made to create profiles for completely raw sensor data. It was made to create small corrections for professional cameras that already produce nice looking pictures. Looks like I have to produce this curve myself</p> <h2>Getting a sensor linearization curve</h2> <p>As my first target I looked into the Librem 5. Mainly because that's the phone that currently has the most battery charge. I had hoped there was some documentation about the sensor response curves in the datasheet for the sensor. It turns out that even getting a datasheet for this sensor is problematic. So the solution is to measure the sensor instead.</p> <p>Measuring this pretty hard though, the most important part is having calibrated reference for most solutions. I've thought about figuring out how to calibrate a light to produce precise brightness dimming steps and measuring the curve of the light with a colorimeter to fix any color casts of the lights. Another idea was taking pictures of a printed grayscale curve but that has the issue that the light on the grayscale curve needs to be perfectly flat.</p> <p>But after thinking about this in the background for some weeks I had a thought: instead of producing a perfect reference grayscale gradient it's way easier to point the camera at a constant light source and then adjust the shutter speed of the camera to produce the various light levels. Instead of a lot of external factors with calibrated lights which can throw off measurements massively I assume that the shutter speed setting in the sensor is accurate.</p> <p>The reason I can assume this is accurate is because the shutter speed setting in these phone sensors is in "lines". These cameras don't have shutters, it's all electronic shutter in the sensor. This means that if the shutter is set to 2 lines it means that the line being read by the sensor at that moment is cleared only 2 scanlines before. This is the "rolling shutter" effect. If the shutter is set to 4 lines instead every line has exactly twice the amount of time to collect light after resetting. This should result in a pretty much perfectly linear way to control the amount of light to calibrate the response with.</p> <p>In the case of the Librem 5 this value can be set from 2 lines to 3118 lines where the maximum value means that all the lines of the sensor have been reset by the time the first line is read out giving the maximum amount of light gathering time.</p> <p>With libmegapixels I have enough control over the camera to make a small C application that runs this calibration. It goes through these steps:</p> <ol><li>Open the specified sensor and set the shutter to the maximum value</li> <li>Start measuring the brightness of the 3 color channels and adjust the sensor gain so that with the current lighting the sensor will be close to clipping. If on the lowest gain setting the light source is still too bright the tool will ask to lower the lamp brightness.</li> <li>Once the target maximum brightness has been hit the tool will start lowering the shutter speed in regular steps and then saving the brightness for the color channels at that point.</li> <li>The calibration data is then written to a csv file</li> </ol> <p>The process looks something like this:</p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1706114157/image.png" class="kg-image"></figure> <p>This is a short run for testing where only 30 equally spaced points are measured. I did a longer run for calibration with it set to 500 points instead which takes about 8 minutes. This is a plot of the resulting data after scaling the curves to hit 1.0 at the max gain:</p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1706114296/image.png" class="kg-image"></figure> <p>The response of the sensor is not very linear at all... This means that if a picture is whitebalanced on the midtones the shadows will have a teal color cast due to the red channel having lower values. If the picture would be corrected with whitebalance to correct the darker colors it would result in the brighter colors to turn magenta.</p> <p>The nice thing is that I don't have to deal with actually correcting this. This curve can just be loaded into the .dng file metadata and the processing software will apply this correction at the right step in the pipeline.</p> <h2>Oops</h2> <p>It is at this point that I figured out that the LinearizationTable DNG tag is a grayscale correction table so it can't fix the color cast. At least it will improve the brightness inconsistencies between the various cameras.</p> <p>With some scripting I've converted the measured response curve into a correction curve for the LinearizationTable and then wrote that table into some of my test pictures with <code>exiftool</code>. </p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1706221766/compare-linearizationtable.jpg" class="kg-image"></figure> <p>This is the result. The left image is a raw sensor dump from the Librem 5 rear camera that does not have any corrections at all applied except the initial whitebalance pass. On the left is the exact image pipeline but with the LinearizationTable tag set in the dng before feeding it to <code>dcraw</code>.</p> <p>The annoying thing here is that both pictures don't look correct. The first one has the extreme gamma curve that is applied by the sensor so everything looks very bright. The processed picture is a bit on the dark side but that might be because the auto-exposure was run on the first picture causing underexposure on the corrected data.</p> <p>The issue with that though is that some parts of the image data are already clipping while they shouldn't be and exposing the picture brighter would only make that worse.</p> <p>Maybe I have something very wrong here but at this point I'm also just guessing how this stuff is supposed to work. Documentation for this doesn't really exist. This is all the official documentation:</p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1706222220/image.png" class="kg-image"><figcaption>No, chapter 5 not helpful</figcaption></figure> <p>Maybe it all works slightly better if the input raw data is not 8-bits but that's a bunch more of kernel issues to fix on the Librem 5 side.</p> <h2>Conclusion</h2> <p>So not that much progress on this at all as I hoped. I made some nice tools to produce data that makes pictures worse. Once the clipping in the highlights is fixed this might be very useful though since practically everything in the DNG pipeline expects the input raw data to be linear and it just isn't.</p> <p>The <a href="https://gitlab.com/megapixels-org/libmegapixels/-/commit/f6686d7a5a176384da3b5a1eaf93985aeb29d7be">sensor measuring tool</a> is included in the libmegapixels codebase now though.</p> <p>To fix auto-exposure I also need to figure out a way to apply this correction curve before running the AE algorithms on the live view. More engineering challenges as always :)</p> <hr> <div style="width: 75%; margin: 0 auto; background: rgba(128,128,128,0.2); padding: 10px;"> <h4>Development Funding</h4> <p>The current developments of Megapixels are funded by... You! The end-users. It takes a lot of time and a lot of weird expertice to make Linux cameras work and I've not been able to do it without your support.</p> <p>The donations are being used for the occasional hardware required for Megapixels development (Like a nice Standard Illuminant A for calibration) and the various other FOSS applications I develop for the Linux ecosystem. Every single bit helps to not do all this work entirely for free.</p> <a href="https://blog.brixit.nl/donations/">Donations</a> </div> <p></p> The dilemma of tagging library releaseshttps://blog.brixit.nl/the-dilemma-of-tagging-library-releases/94MegapixelsMartijn BraamSun, 14 Jan 2024 16:11:17 -0000<p>I've been working on the libmegapixels library for quite a bit now. The base of the library is pretty solid which is configuring a V4L2 pipeline so you can get camera frames on modern ARM platforms. Most of the work on the library side is figuring the AWB/AE/AF code and how that will fit together with applications.</p> <p>Due to the AAA code not working yet and the API not being being fully defined on how those parts will fit together I've been holding of on tagging an actual release on the libmegapixels library.</p> <p>A lot of my projects, especially libraries, are written in Python so I've long enjoyed the luxury of APIs being duck-typed and having the possibility of adding optional arguments to methods in the future. Sadly in C libraries I can't get away with never defining the types for arguments that might change in the future or adding optional arguments.</p> <p>My original plan was to tag a release on libmegapixels together with the first 2.x release of Megapixels since these pieces of software are intended to fit together but after thinking about it some more (and some convincing from other people interested in the libmegapixels release) I've decided to tag a 0.1 release.</p> <p>In an ideal world I can just release code when it's fully done and tested. In this case the long time it takes to get everything ready for use will mean that potential contributors to the code will also be held back from experimenting with the codebase. Especially since a large part of libmegapixels is the config files it ships for specific hardware configurations. If I wouldn't make any releases then at some point users/developers will be forced to just ship random git commits which is a way worse situation to be in for bug tracking.</p> <p>With this 0.1 release I want to make it possible to start writing config files for various phones and platforms to test camera pipelines. Hopefully this will also mean any issues with the configuration file format that people might hit will be figured out before I have to tag a "final" 1.x release.</p> <h2>The release</h2> <p>So the initial tagged release of <code>libmegapixels</code>:</p> <ul><li>located at <a href="https://gitlab.com/megapixels-org/libmegapixels/-/tags/0.1.0">https://gitlab.com/megapixels-org/libmegapixels/-/tags/0.1.0</a></li> <li>Build instructions at <a href="https://libme.gapixels.me/building.html">https://libme.gapixels.me/building.html</a></li> <li>Comes with absolutely no guarantee of stability for the C api of the library</li> <li>Most likely the config file format is stable but might have small tweaks before the 1.x release</li> </ul> <p>Hopefully this will allow people to start experimenting with the codebase and generate some feedback on it so I'm not just developing this for months and completely overfitting it to the three devices I'm testing on.</p> <p>I'm planning to make a similar release for <code>libdng</code> soon. That library is also mostly stable but I need to fix up the last parts of the API to allow reading and writing all the required metadata.</p> Megapixels 2.0: DNG loading and Autowhitebalancehttps://blog.brixit.nl/megapixels-2-0-dng-loading-and-whitebalancing/93MegapixelsMartijn BraamFri, 22 Dec 2023 01:25:46 -0000<p>After getting some nice DNG exporting code to work with libdng in the <a href="https://blog.brixit.nl/megapixels-2-0-dng-exporting/">last post</a> I decided to go mess with auto white-balancing again on the Librem 5.</p> <p>I got the Megapixels 2.x codebase to the point where it smoothly displays the camera feed on the Librem 5 and the PinePhone Pro. One of the things that Just Worked(tm) on the original PinePhone is the auto white-balance correction of the rear camera. This has also not worked on the front camera on that device and the results of lacking AWB code is very obvious: the pictures are very green.</p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1703201479/gc2145.jpg" class="kg-image"><figcaption>Great example of lack of AWB on the PinePhone front camera</figcaption></figure> <p>This was very easy on the rear camera of the PinePhone. The camera module inside the phone can automatically do white-balance corrections by having an AWB algorithm running on the 8051 core inside the sensor which adjusts the analog gain of the camera. The only thing that Megapixels does on the PinePhone is turning that feature on and it just works. The front camera of the PinePhone should have a similar feature but it does not work due to the state of the Linux driver for that sensor.</p> <p>For the PinePhone Pro and the Librem 5 (and most other devices) the white-balancing is a lot harder to deal with. The sensor does not have any automatic way of dealing with this and it has to be done on the CPU side. For this there's also two options:</p> <ul><li>Get the unbalanced camera feed and correct those frames in software while displaying them and storing the correction factors in the DNG files for the pictures that have been taken.</li> <li>Send the corrections back to the sensor instead so the camera feed is already balanced. This should lead to higher quality pictures because the use of the analog to digital converter in the sensor is more optimal. It&#x27;s also harder because now there&#x27;s latency between changing the gain and receiving the corrected data.</li> </ul> <p>But the nice thing of doing hardware support on multiple platforms is that I have to support both these cases :(</p> <p>In case of the Librem 5 I'm implementing the first option since the sensor driver for the rear camera on that device does not implement the necessary controls to do the second option, it's also a bit easier to get working right.</p> <h2>The Algorithm™</h2> <p>There are many ways to actually implement a white-balance algorithm. I'll be going with the most simple one. The gray-world algorithm.</p> <p>This algorithm works on the assumption that if you average out all the colors in your picture you'd get something that's roughly grey.</p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1703202886/grey-world.jpg" class="kg-image"></figure> <p>Intuitively you would think that nothing is ever that nicely balanced or that colorful walls for example would skew the results massively. But as you can see in the demonstration above the more you start to blur the picture the less saturated it will become. This works for a surprising amount of pictures.</p> <p>To calculate the white-balance correction for a picture it's not blurring the picture though as in the demonstration above. The way it's calculated is by taking the average of all the pixels in the picture and then using the inverse of that result to set the gain.</p> <p>Another thing that's different for white-balancing is that it's the first step in the color processing pipeline, it should not be ran on the final picture like this example but on the raw color values from the sensor since there it would be the closest in the pipeline to the ADC gain applied in the sensor.</p> <h2>The Megapixels implementation</h2> <p>taking the average of a full raw frame is not very fast. It also complicates the internal Megapixels code a lot to do extra image processing on the raw frame stage of the code. That's why in Megapixels I'm <i>not</i> running the white-balance code on the raw frames. It's instead being run on the preview feed shown to the user before taking the picture since that way it takes advantage of the GPU debayering and scaling of the input data.</p> <p>To make this work the libmegapixels code does the average of an entire processed RAW frame to get my average R, G and B values. After running this average the code is no longer dealing with a lot of data anymore so it's a lot easier to write quick code. To fix the code the inverse of the color matrix is ran to get a value that's close to what the average would've been of the raw data before scaling it and doing the preview color corrections.</p> <p>The result of that code gives a new R, G and B value that represent the balance of the color of the picture, the new gain for the color channels is then calculated as <code>1/R</code> and then normalized so the gain for the green channel is always 1.0. This is because on the sensors there's only a control for the red and blue gains.</p> <p>Except that on the Librem 5 there's no controls for the red and blue gains at all, so in that case the new gains are fed into the GPU shader that calculates the preview again where it will be applied as gains right after the debayering step.</p> <h2>The white-balance in the DNG output</h2> <p>With the two scenarios above there's also two cases for the DNG exporting. Either the RAW data in the DNG is already balanced or it's completely unbalanced. Luckily the DNG specification has me covered!</p> <p>When the raw image data is completely unbalanced like it is on most professional cameras the gains for balancing the picture are stored in the <code>AsShotNeutral</code> tag. This tells the DNG developing software the gains the camera used to display the preview and it will be available in the white-balance section of the developing software as "As Shot" or "Camera" white-balance.</p> <p>In the case where the ADC gains are manipulated to apply the white-balance this doesn't work since the gains written to the <code>AsShotNeutral</code> tag would be 1.0 for all channels. This <i>does</i> produce the correct picture for simple cases except that the whitebalance shown for the image in the editing software would always be 5612K.</p> <p>Having the wrong whitebalance is not just an issue of metadata neatness though. Practically all the color pipeline calculations after loading the DNG file and applying the RAW white-balance are dependent on the color temperature. The metadata in the DNG stores two color matrices and two correction LUTs. The guidelines for this calibration data is that one of the sets of calibration data is for D65 lighting which is basically outdoors on a cloudy day; pretty blue-ish lighting around 6500k. The second one is for "Standard Illuminant A" which is a reference tungsten light around 2856k. The developing software takes the data for both color temperatures and interpolates between the two to produce the matrices and curves for the color temperature of the white-balanced picture.</p> <p>To deal with the case where the the sensor already produced white-balanced raw data using the ADC gains the white-balance gains can be written to the <code>AnalogBalance</code> tag. This will be used to invert the white-balance gains in the sensor again before running the rest of the processing pipeline which means the correct color temperature will be used.</p> <h2>So does it work?</h2> <p>Yeah, mostly. It could use a bit of tweaking and the calibration I'm using for the sensor is just wrong.</p> <video src="https://brixitcdn.net/white-balance-encoded.mp4" controls style="max-width: 50%"></video> <p>The video here is extremely janky, most likely due to the auto-gain in this test build being completely broken and my code being sloppy. There's a few things that need to be fixed here aside from figuring out more preformance regressions:</p> <ul><li>The whitebalance code stops working when there&#x27;s not enough light and it jumps to the full green picture. At this point it should keep holding the old white-balance to make it less jarring.</li> <li>There needs to be smoothing applied to the whitebalance changes. It&#x27;s mostly pretty solid since this doesn&#x27;t have any latency with sensor adjustments but when the camera moves to the pumpkins you can see it being unstable.</li> </ul> <p>Overall it mostly works though. The performance is a bit more stable when there's daylight. Cameras simply work better when there's more light available. The various sources of artificial light here is also throwing off the camera a lot with a lot of light coming from my monitor and some very poor quality light coming from the room lighting.</p> <h2>The SEGFAULT button</h2> <p>So Megapixels somewhat balances the pictures but the second half of the process is not something I've been able to test yet: storing DNG files with this whitebalance metadata. The Megapixels 1.x codebase had the code for saving the <code>AsShotNeutral</code> and <code>AnalogBalance</code> tags and I've re-implemented that in libdng. The issue is that in the current state of the Megapixels code pressing the shutter button just causes the whole application to segfault.</p> <p>This segfault occurs somewhere in the interaction with the color profile curves loaded from the calibration .dcp file with the libtiff library when saving though libdng. This being 3 threads deep into the Megapixels codebase makes this a bit annoying to debug so I decided I needed to yak-shave this a bit further and add more tooling to the libdng codebase...</p> <h2>The mergedng tool</h2> <p>My solution for making this easier to debug is adding an utility in libdng that actually uses the feature to load a calibration file to append the curves to the final picture. Due to me just not stopping to write code I've implemented basic DNG reading support for this in libdng and as frontend the <code>mergedng</code> utility.</p> <p>The functionality for this tool is pretty simple. It reads an input DNG file and takes the picture data and metadata from that. It then takes a .dcp file as second argument which provides the calibration curves for the camera and it then merges those TIFF tags and writes out a new DNG file. This is an utility I needed anyway since I've been searching for it, it makes it easy to "upgrade" pictures taken with earlier versions of Megapixels with new calibration data from more recent .dcp files.</p> <p>Writing the code for this functionality was pretty straightforward. The .dcp loading and appending code already existed in the libdng codebase since that's the code which already causes the SEGFAULT in Megapixels when taking a picture. The extra added code in libdng is the new functions for reading a DNG file and taking that image metadata for writing a new picture.</p> <p>After implementing all this and adding some unit tests for the DCP loading code I've come to the realization that... it just works...</p> <p>In this simplified codebase everything touching the data just simply works so my original crashing issue in Megapixels is somewhere unrelated. This is where I'm at now and where I've decided to write a blog post instead of diving deep into the Megapixels codebase again :)</p> <hr> <div style="width: 75%; margin: 0 auto; background: rgba(128,128,128,0.2); padding: 10px;"> <h4>Development Funding</h4> <p>The current developments of Megapixels are funded by... You! The end-users. It takes a lot of time and a lot of weird expertice to make Linux cameras work and I've not been able to do it without your support.</p> <p>The donations are being used for the occasional hardware required for Megapixels development (Like a nice Standard Illuminant A for calibration) and the various other FOSS applications I develop for the Linux ecosystem. Every single bit helps to not do all this work entirely for free.</p> <a href="https://blog.brixit.nl/donations/">Donations</a> </div> <p></p> The MNT keyboard reviewedhttps://blog.brixit.nl/the-mnt-keyboard-reviewed/92LinuxMartijn BraamTue, 19 Dec 2023 23:59:01 -0000<p>MNT Research is one of those few companies that actually releases open source hardware. Instead of just getting a <a href="https://mntre.com/documentation/reform-keyboard-v3-manual.pdf">schematic</a> with your hardware (which is great even by itself) there's the full <a href="https://source.mnt.re/reform/reform/-/tree/master/reform2-keyboard3-pcb">sources for that schematic</a>, the Kicad parts libraries, the sources for the firmware and even documentation how to use that code.</p> <p>I received my <a href="https://shop.mntre.com/products/mnt-reform-keyboard-30">MNT Standalone Keyboard V3</a> a few days ago so I've been typing on it now for a bit. This is all happening while I'm recovering from covid so I hope if I read back this post in a few days it is actually somewhat coherent :)</p> <p>This being a more niche product sadly does make it a bit on the expensive side. But I must say this is by far the most solid keyboard I've owned. My main keyboard on my desktop is an Das Keyboard 4 ultimate. It's a nice keyboard but it doesn't compare to the full machined aluminium frame on the MNT keyboard.</p> <p>The whole keyboard is mounted on what's basically a 4mm slab of aluminium which has a nice MNT logo machined on it on the bottom</p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1703022648/20231219_0011.jpg" class="kg-image"></figure> <p>This makes the keyboard feel incredibly solid, even with the rest of the frame taken off it's practically impossible to even bend the keyboard. The second half of the frame is the top edge that screws on the base plate with 8 screws.</p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1703022719/20231219_0012.jpg" class="kg-image"></figure> <p>This is another very carefully designed aluminium part In the close-up above you can see the opening for the USB-C connection for the keyboard and the internal cutouts for the display daughterboard with the screw mounting.</p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1703027123/20231219_0021.jpg" class="kg-image"></figure> <h2>The electronics</h2> <p>This keyboard is based around an Atmega32U4 microcontroller. This is the same keyboard PCB as what's shipped in the MNT Reform laptop so there are two connectors on this board. The USB-C connector is what's exposed on the standalone keyboard and the laptop presumably uses the USB header that's beside it.</p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1703023510/20231219_0015.jpg" class="kg-image"></figure> <p>Beside the USB header is one of the dip switches. SW36 is labeled "STANDALONE" here. This switches the board to use USB power instead of the 3.3V supplied by the laptop mainboard. The ribbon connector is the connection to the OLED display board.</p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1703026316/20231219_0016.jpg" class="kg-image"></figure> <p>On the left side of the display board there is an empty footprint for the standard Atmega programming header and a serial port that's used to connect to the laptop mainboard. Additionally there's a reset button and SW84 which has the confusing label "RG".</p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1703026421/image.png" class="kg-image"></figure> <p>Thanks to the schematics being available in the manual it's easy to find that this is the switch to enable programming. The rest of the interesting parts is hidden somewhere below the display board or on the bottom side of the PCB possibly. I have not taken the keyboard further apart for this review since all the information I'd ever want is already available in the schematics. The keyboard matrix itself is read out by the Atmega directly which provides the full keyboard functionality and the OLED display is on a small daughterboard to slightly rise it towards the front bezel.</p> <h2>Firmware</h2> <p>Since this is one of the 8-bit Atmel parts it's very easy to build firmware using the gcc-avr compiler packaged in various distributions. All the source files are stored in the <a href="https://source.mnt.re/reform/reform/-/tree/master/reform2-keyboard-fw">firmware repository</a> for the various MNT products.</p> <p>Checking the version of the firmware is pretty easy. With the circle key on the top-right corner of the keyboard the menu on the display opens. You can use the arrow keys to browse to the "System Status" option or just press the "s" key on the keyboard.</p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1703027504/20231220_0008.jpg" class="kg-image"></figure> <p>Which shows the hardware revision this firmware was build for and the version that was specified when building:</p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1703027858/20231220_0018.jpg" class="kg-image"></figure> <p>It seems like the "g" at the start of the commit has was accidental here and it refers to commit <code>7e73483</code> in the firmware repository. This seems to be the newest tag when the keyboard was shipped so that makes sense.</p> <p>So lets change something! The key in the bottom left corner of the keyboard is the Hyper key instead of Ctrl as you'd expect from most keyboards. The Ctrl key is moved in place of the Caps Lock button on normal keyboard layouts which is great for a lot of uses. I never use Hyper though so I want to change that key to be my second Ctrl key.</p> <p>The readme specifies that the keyboard layout is defined in the various <code>matrix_*</code> files so after reading around a bit it seems like I have to edit <code>matrix_3.h</code> for my keyboard.</p> <p>Reading the manual again I realized that doing this makes me lose access to the media keys since those are defined as "Hyper+F*" for the various media actions. To fix that I changed the right control button into the Hyper key, this is the button with the three dots on it. My resulting code change:</p> <pre><code>diff --git a/reform2-keyboard-fw/matrix_3.h b/reform2-keyboard-fw/matrix_3.h index bb72f6d..f9db133 100644 --- a/reform2-keyboard-fw/matrix_3.h +++ b/reform2-keyboard-fw/matrix_3.h @@ -25,7 +25,7 @@ // Sixth row #define MATRIX3_DEFAULT_ROW_6 \ - HID_KEYBOARD_SC_EXECUTE,\ + HID_KEYBOARD_SC_LEFT_CONTROL,\ HID_KEYBOARD_SC_LEFT_GUI,\ HID_KEYBOARD_SC_LEFT_ALT,\ KEY_SPACE,\ @@ -33,7 +33,7 @@ KEY_SPACE,\ KEY_SPACE,\ HID_KEYBOARD_SC_RIGHT_ALT,\ - HID_KEYBOARD_SC_RIGHT_CONTROL,\ + HID_KEYBOARD_SC_EXECUTE,\ HID_KEYBOARD_SC_LEFT_ARROW,\ HID_KEYBOARD_SC_DOWN_ARROW,\ HID_KEYBOARD_SC_RIGHT_ARROW </code></pre> <p>Now to build this there's a simple Makefile. Since I've already programmed Atmega parts on this machine I already have the compiler installed making this very quick and easy.</p> <p>I ended up compiling with the following command:</p> <div class="highlight"><pre><span></span><span class="gp">$ </span>make <span class="nv">REFORM_KBD_OPTIONS</span><span class="o">=</span><span class="s2">&quot;-DKBD_VARIANT_3 -DKBD_MODE_STANDALONE -DKBD_FW_VERSION=\\\&quot;Martijn\\\&quot;&quot;</span> </pre></div> <p>This is straight from the readme with an additional define to set the firmware version to "Martijn". After building this I got the <code>keyboard.hex</code> file that can be flashed.</p> <p>The flashing is as simple as running the <code>flash.sh</code> script. This will instruct you to press "Circle + X" to enter flashing mode and then run the neccesary commands to flash the keyboard. After running this I noticed that the delete key on the keyboard was no longer a delete key. It turns out I don't have <code>VARIANT_3</code> but instead <code>VARIANT_3_US</code>. A quick rebuild and reflash also fixes that.</p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1703029671/20231220_0021.jpg" class="kg-image"><figcaption>The brightness differences on the display are a camera artifact</figcaption></figure> <p>Tadaa! My own name in the firmware version field. It's super easy to mess with this firmware.</p> <h2>The keyboard itself</h2> <p>Well the keyboard works just fine as a keyboard. Typing on this keyboard takes a few minutes to get used to compared to my normal keyboard since all the keys are slightly closer together. The split spacebar is also annoying me a bit. It turns out that the left split in the spacebar is <i>exactly</i> the spot where I normally hit the spacebar with my thumb.</p> <p>The switches are nice and clicky (but silent, I have the version with brown switches in them). Overall the keyboard just does what it needs to. The standard layout is quite unusual but everything can be changed with open firmware so I'm confident I can get to a layout I'm 100% happy with.</p> <h2>Conclusion</h2> <p>This is an extremely solid and very compact keyboard I can easily throw in my backpack. It being an USB-C keyboard makes it fit neatly with all my other random cables I usually take with me.</p> <p>It might be slightly more expensive than similar keyboards, but I don't know of similar keyboards with a case this rugged and the display functionality (I forgot to mention you can use HID reports from the host to write custom content to the display from your computer). The openness of this product makes the extra cost certainly worth it for me.</p> <p>I'll probably be messing with the firmware for this keyboard a bit more while I use it. There's some small things to fix like the device reporting the name "LUFA Keyboard Demo Application" in Linux instead of a neater "MNT Keyboard" or something.</p> Looking closer at the sysloghttps://blog.brixit.nl/looking-closer-at-the-syslog/91LinuxMartijn BraamMon, 11 Dec 2023 15:43:17 -0000<p>The syslog protocol, it's one of the ancient protocols in the Unix world. For a long time the logging was handled by daemons like syslog-ng and rsyslog, this has now been taken over by journald on a lot of systems. But have you ever wondered how your log messages even end up in <code>/var/log</code> in the first place?</p> <p>I've started looking into syslog implementations when building a replacement for the use of busybox syslogd in postmarketOS. In postmarketOS this daemon is configured to just send syslog messages to a in-memory buffer for logging and never store anything on disk in <code>/var/log</code>. This is mainly to make sure there's no unneeded writes to the flash storage in a lot of the old phones that are supported by postmarketOS. There's a few downsides to this logging implementation though:</p> <ul><li>No persistent logging of system messages across reboots. This would be easy to check if certain log messages were present on earlier boots when debugging.</li> <li>Completely unstructured logs while people are pretty much used to journald logging with nice filters</li> </ul> <p>As a replacement I wrote <code>logbookd</code>. It's a tiny syslog daemon that supports disk and memory logging and provides some nice filtering options to be closer to journald. The bulk of this work is handled by doing structured logging into SQLite.</p> <h2>So how does the syslog work</h2> <p>The way the syslog works is incredibly simple. The syslog daemon opens an unix domain socket at <code>/dev/log</code>. Applications connect to this socket and write log messages in the syslog format and the syslog daemon takes care of filtering those out and putting it in the various files in /var/log.</p> <p>The complication of this is that there is no real syslog protocol. There are two standards for it though. There is <a href="https://datatracker.ietf.org/doc/html/rfc3164">RFC 3164</a> and <a href="https://datatracker.ietf.org/doc/html/rfc5424">RFC 5424</a> which both describe the syslog protocol. The 3164 document was only created in 2001 and describes what various implementations are doing in the wild. It's RFC 5424 that actually nails down a specific format.</p> <p>I wrote parser for the 5424 format initially since that's the newest standard and it's by far the easiest to parse. An RFC 5424 log message looks like this:</p> <pre><code>&lt;13&gt;1 2023-12-11T14:56:59.0189+01:00 laptop test - - [timeQuality tzKnown=&quot;1&quot;] Hi</code></pre> <p>The first part here between the angular brackets is the PRI value. It encodes the logging facility and severity as one number. The least significant 3 bits encode the severity on a scale of 1-8 and the other bits encode one of the 23 facilities that are defined. Some examples of the facilities are:</p> <ul><li><code>0</code> for kernel messages</li> <li><code>1</code> for generic userspace messages</li> <li><code>2</code> for the mail system</li> </ul> <p>Most of the other numbers are for more old services like UUCP and FTP and for some numbered user-defined codes. In the example above the 13 means facility 1 (user) and severity 5 (notice).</p> <p>The other parts of this message are in order:</p> <ul><li>The protocol version number which is set to <code>1</code> here.</li> <li>A timestamp with timezone for the log message</li> <li>The <code>laptop</code> is the hostname for the message, this will be set to <code>-</code> when NULL</li> <li>The <code>test</code> part is the application name. This can also be <code>-</code> for NULL</li> <li>The next field is called PROCID and is set to <code>-</code> for NULL in my case. According to the standard it might be used for the pid but is mostly implementation defined.</li> <li>The second null is the MSGID, it can define a message type from the specific service, it will also be null in most cases.</li> <li>The next part is <code>[timeQuality tzKnown=&quot;1&quot;]</code> which is the STRUCTURED-DATA field. It can contain any implementation defined data. This is a subset of the structured data created by the <code>logger</code> tool used to create test messages. This field can also be just <code>-</code> for no structured data.</li> <li>Finally the actual log message. That&#x27;s just <code>Hi</code> in this case.</li> </ul> <p>Writing a parser for this format is relatively straightforward. In the logbookd implementation there's a row for every one of these fields in the logging table and the message is split up according to these rules.</p> <p>There is a fatal flaw in the RFC 5424 specification though: nobody is using it. None of the log messages on my running systems are actually in this format. It looks like practically all software uses RFC 3164, which is a fancy way of saying they do whatever they want.</p> <h2>RFC 3164</h2> <p>So this is actually the true specification for syslog messages being used in the wild. Let's look at one of these messages:</p> <pre><code>&lt;13&gt;Dec 11 15:21:50 laptop test: Hi</code></pre> <p>It's a lot simpler! But not actually. This is a pretty minimal message. The initial part is the same as the RFC 5424 message, the PRI is luckily parsed the exact same way. There is no version indicator though and it does not use an ISO timestamp format.</p> <p>The more problematic issues with this format though is that it does support a lot more data but it's pretty badly defined. Even all the parts shown in the example above are optional. The most minimal syslog message that is still up to this spec is <code>Hi</code>.</p> <p>It's also somewhat valid to send messages with a badly formatted timestamp and it's up to the syslogd to fix up the timestamp in the message. This also makes it very easy to make it actually parse parts of the timestamp as the hostname since this is all badly defined and space separated.</p> <p>Since there is no official field for the pid of a process this is usually appended to the application name in square brackets.</p> <p>The logbookd implementation is mostly based on the way these old messages are parsed in rsyslog and tries to not guess parts. This means only the timestamp, app, hostname and message fields are filled in.</p> <h2>Kernel logging</h2> <p>Not all logging in the system comes from userspace. On Linux there's also the kernel log ringbuffer that can be read from <code>/dev/kmsg</code>. Reading from this file will return all the log messages in the kernel ringbuffer and also makes it possible to stream new log messages with further reads. The log messages from the kernel are in a similar but different format than the syslog socket:</p> <pre><code>6,1004,5150172365,-;hid-generic 0003: hiddev96,hidraw2: USB HID device on usb-0000:00:14 SUBSYSTEM=hid DEVICE=+hid:0003</code></pre> <p>The first field in the kernel message is again the PRI. This follows the same numbering as the syslog RFCs but it's not in angular brackets this time. In this case it's facility 0 (the kernel) and severity 6 (info). The second field is the KSEQ. This is a number that counts up for every log message since boot. The logbookd implementation uses this to de-duplicate the kernel log messages after opening the file since it will always return the old kernel log messages first.</p> <p>After that comes the timestamp. Instead of string parsing this is a straight up unix timestamp so it's way easier to deal with. The field after the timestamp is <code>-</code> indicating NULL, this is the flags field.</p> <p>After the semicolon the actual kernel log message starts. This is the message as is rendered in the <code>dmesg</code> utility. After the log message there's a newline but the log line doesn't end there! The structured data is defined as indented continuation lines after the message itself and this contains some easier machine-parsable data that is usually hidden in <code>dmesg</code>. </p> <h2>Systemd journald</h2> <p>So everything changed when journald was introduced. Figuring out how this all works involves diving into the systemd source code. Systemd provides several unix sockets related to logging in <code>/var/run/systemd/journal</code>:</p> <ul><li><code>dev-log</code> this is symlinked to <code>/dev/log</code> and receives syslog formatted lines and writes it to the journal</li> <li><code>stdout</code> is a socket that receives logs from systemd units. This is what the <code>systemd-cat</code> command connects to. It writes a header on connection to give the application metadata and then the stdout or stderr is just connected straight to this socket.</li> <li><code>socket</code> receives the log messages in the binary journald format</li> </ul> <p>There is a few other fancy things that journald does. It is possible to filter your log messages with the <code>--boot</code> argument. If no argument is supplied it will only show messages from the current boot. If you specify a negative number it's possible to get only log messages from a specific previous bootup.</p> <p>The way this is done is by reading from <code>/proc/sys/kernel/random/boot_id</code>. This is a value generated by the kernel on bootup. It is a UUID generated from random data. These are also the values you see when you run <code>journalctl --list-boots</code>. The BOOT_ID value shown there is this UUID with the dashes removed.</p> <p>My logbookd implementation also reads the boot_id on startup and stores it with the logs, this allows filtering in the exact same way with the logread <code>-b</code> parameter.</p> <h2>Logging to a database</h2> <p>So the main departure journald and logbookd do from the older syslog daemons is that they don't log to plain-text files. Journald has a custom database format the messages are stored in and logbookd stores messages in an SQLite database.</p> <p>Structured logging to a database has a few nice upsides. The main one is being able to do way more detailed filtering than what is reasonably possible with grep. It's a lot easier to filter on a specific date and time range in a database and due to database indexes this is still fast.</p> <p>One of the other main reasons for using SQLite in logbookd is that the implementation in postmarketOS was configured to only log to memory. Using SQLite as logging back-end meant that it's easily possible to replicate this by writing to an in-memory database which is already supported by SQLite.</p> <p>The final thing added to logbookd is the middle ground between in-memory and on-disk logging: the reduced writes mode. In this mode the syslog is written to an in-memory database but when receiving a SIGINT, SIGTERM or SIGUSR1 signal the logbookd daemon will open the on-disk database and lets SQLite do a database migration. This means that SQLite will append the write the new loglines to the disk without rewriting all the existing logs there. On bootup this database is restored again so the logging system behaves as-if it's configured to do normal on-disk logging.</p> <h2>You can use this now</h2> <p>If you're running postmarketOS edge and you have updated to the latest version your installation should've migrated to the logbookd logging daemon. The <code>logread</code> utility implements the common options the busybox logread command already had. For normal use this means that there's not much difference except that the log output from the logread utility is now colored and contains kernel logs.</p> <p>Some examples of the new things that are now possible:</p> <div class="highlight"><pre><span></span><span class="gp">$ </span>logread -b list <span class="go">ID BOOT ID FIRST ENTRY LAST ENTRY</span> <span class="go"> 0 05c3f283-3bae-4b2a-8431-210dd63310e0 Dec 11 16:33:59 Dec 11 16:34:05</span> <span class="go">-1 f3ea2fa1-6f9e-4e82-bd0b-201091fcb5b4 Dec 07 18:21:06 Dec 07 18:25:50</span> <span class="gp">$ </span>logread -b <span class="m">0</span> -n <span class="m">2</span> <span class="go">[Dec 11 16:35:09] daemon dleyna-renderer-service[18060]: Client :1.166 lost</span> <span class="go">[Dec 11 16:35:10] daemon dleyna-renderer-service[18060]: dLeyna: Exit</span> <span class="gp">$ </span>logread -b <span class="m">1</span> -n <span class="m">1</span> <span class="go">[Dec 07 18:25:18] kern kernel: perf: interrupt took too long (2531 &gt; 2500), lowering kernel.perf_event_max_sample_rate to 79000</span> <span class="gp">$ </span>logread -b -1 -u logbookd -n <span class="m">1</span> <span class="go">[Dec 07 18:25:37] syslog logbookd: Ready to process log messages</span> </pre></div> <p>Being able to see interleaved kernel and userspace messages also makes certain scenarios a lot easier to debug.</p> <p>Hopefully this makes a few things easier to debug. There's a bunch of software that also logs directly into <code>/var/log</code> in seperate files, this has not been replaced by logbookd and is also not directly query-able by this new system. For the rest of the log messages enjoy the new colors :)</p> Megapixels 2.0: DNG exportinghttps://blog.brixit.nl/megapixels-2-0-dng-exporting/89MegapixelsMartijn BraamSat, 18 Nov 2023 14:17:38 -0000<p>It seems overkill to make a whole seperate library dedicated to replacing 177 lines of code in Megapixels that touches libtiff, but this small section of code causes significant issues for distribution packaging and compatability with external photo editing software. Most importantly the adjusted version in Millipixels for the Librem 5 does not output DNG files that are close enough to the Adobe specifications to be loaded into the calibration software.</p> <p>Making this a seperate library would make it easier to test. In the Adobe DNG SDK there is a test utility that can verify if a TIFF file is up to DNG spec and it can (with a lot of complications) be build for Linux.</p> <h2>The spec</h2> <p>The first thing after copying over the code block from Megapixels to a seperate project is reading the Adobe DNG specification.</p> <p>When I wrote the original export code in Megapixels it was based around some example code I found on Github for using Libtiff that I can no longer find and it results in something that's close enough to a valid DNG file for the <code>dcraw</code> utility. This is also a DNG 1.0 file that is generated.</p> <p>I have spend the next day reading the <a href="https://www.kronometric.org/phot/processing/DNG/dng_spec_1.4.0.0.pdf">DNG 1.4 specification</a> from Adobe to understand what a valid DNG file is absolutely minimally required to have. These are my notes from that:</p> <div class="highlight"><pre><span></span><span class="gu">## Inside a DNG file</span> <span class="k">*</span> SubIFDType 0 is the original raw data <span class="k">*</span> SubIFDType 1 is the thumbnail data <span class="k">*</span> The recommendation is to store the thumbnail as the first IFD <span class="k">*</span> TIFF metdata goes in the first IFD <span class="k">*</span> EXIF tags are preferred <span class="k">*</span> Camera profiles are stored in the first IFD <span class="gu">## Required tags</span> <span class="k">*</span> DNGVersion <span class="k">*</span> UniqueCameraModel </pre></div> <h2>Validation</h2> <p>I also spend a long time to build the official Adobe DNG SDK. This is mostly useless for developing any open source software due to licensing but it does provide a nice <code>dng_validate</code> utility that can be used to actually test the DNG files. Building this utility is pretty horrifying since it requires some specific versions of dependencies and some patches to work on modern compilers.</p> <p>The libdng codebase now has the <a href="https://gitlab.com/megapixels-org/libdng/-/blob/master/adobe_dng_sdk.sh">adobe_dng_sdk.sh</a> script that will build the required libraries and the validation binary.</p> <p>with the Megapixels code adjusted with the info from the documentation above I fed some random noise as data to the library to generate a DNG file and run it through the validator.</p> <div class="highlight"><pre><span></span><span class="gp">$ </span>dng_validate out.dng <span class="go">Validating &quot;out.dng&quot;...</span> <span class="go">*** Warning: This file has Chained IFDs, which will be ignored by DNG readers ***</span> <span class="go">*** Error: Unable to find main image IFD ***</span> </pre></div> <p>Well that's not a great start... There's also a <code>-v</code> option to get some more verbose info</p> <div class="highlight"><pre><span></span><span class="gp">$ </span>dng_validate -v out.dng <span class="go">Validating &quot;out.dng&quot;...</span> <span class="go">Uses little-endian byte order</span> <span class="go">Magic number = 42</span> <span class="go">IFD 0: Offset = 308, Entries = 10</span> <span class="go">NewSubFileType: Preview Image</span> <span class="go">ImageWidth: 20</span> <span class="go">ImageLength: 15</span> <span class="go">BitsPerSample: 8</span> <span class="go">Compression: Uncompressed</span> <span class="go">PhotometricInterpretation: RGB</span> <span class="go">StripOffsets: Offset = 8</span> <span class="go">StripByteCounts: Count = 300</span> <span class="go">DNGVersion: 1.4.0.0</span> <span class="go">UniqueCameraModel: &quot;LibDNG&quot;</span> <span class="go">NextIFD = 10042</span> <span class="go">Chained IFD 1: Offset = 10042, Entries = 6</span> <span class="go">NewSubFileType: Main Image</span> <span class="go">ImageWidth: 320</span> <span class="go">ImageLength: 240</span> <span class="go">Compression: Uncompressed</span> <span class="go">StripOffsets: Offset = 441</span> <span class="go">StripByteCounts: Count = 9600</span> <span class="go">NextIFD = 0</span> <span class="go">*** Warning: This file has Chained IFDs, which will be ignored by DNG readers ***</span> <span class="go">*** Error: Unable to find main image IFD ***</span> </pre></div> <p>Let's have a look at what the DNG spec says about this:</p> <blockquote>DNG recommends the use of SubIFD trees, as described in the TIFF-EP specification. SubIFD chains are not supported.<br><br>The highest-resolution and quality IFD should use NewSubFileType equal to 0. Reduced resolution (or quality) thumbnails or previews, if any, should use NewSubFileType equal to 1 (for a primary preview) or 10001.H (for an alternate preview). <br><br>DNG recommends, but does not require, that the first IFD contain a low-resolution thumbnail, as described in the TIFF-EP specification.</blockquote> <p>So I have the right tags and the right IFDs but I need to make an IFD tree instead of chain in libtiff. I have no idea how IFD trees work so up to the next specification!</p> <p>It seems like TIFF trees are defined in the Adobe PageMaker 6 tech notes from 1995. That document describes that the NextIFD tag that libtiff used for me is used primarily for defining multi-page documents, not multiple encodings of the same document like what happens here with a thumbnail and the raw data. You know this is a 1995 spec because it gives a Fax as example of a multi-page document.</p> <p>In the examples provided in that specification the first image is the main image and the NextIFD tag is just replaced by a subIFD tag. In case of DNG the main image is the thumbnail for compatibility with software that can't read the raw camera data.</p> <p>Switching over to a SubIFD tag is suprisingly simple, just badly documented. Libtiff will create the NextIFD tag automatically for you but if you create an empty SubIFD tag then libtiff will fill in the offset for the next IFD for you when closing the file:</p> <div class="highlight"><pre><span></span><span class="n">TIFF</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="o">*</span><span class="n">tif</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="o">=</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="n">TIFFOpen</span><span class="p">(</span><span class="n">path</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s">&quot;w&quot;</span><span class="p">);</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="c1">// Set the tags for IFD 0 like normal here</span> <span class="n">TIFFSetField</span><span class="p">(</span><span class="n">tif</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="n">TIGTAG_SUBFILETYPE</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="n">DNG_SUBFILETYPE_THUMBNAIL</span><span class="p">);</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="c1">// Create a NULL reference for one SubIFD</span> <span class="kt">uint64_t</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="n">offsets</span><span class="p">[]</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="o">=</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="p">{</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="mf">0L</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="p">};</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="n">TIFFSetField</span><span class="p">(</span><span class="n">tif</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="n">TIFFTAG_SUBIFD</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="mi">1</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="o">&amp;</span><span class="n">offsets</span><span class="p">);</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="c1">// Write the thumbnail image data here</span> <span class="c1">// Close the first IFD</span> <span class="n">TIFFWriteDirectory</span><span class="p">(</span><span class="n">tif</span><span class="p">);</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="c1">// Start IFD1 describing the raw data</span> <span class="n">TIFFSetField</span><span class="p">(</span><span class="n">tif</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="n">TIFFTAG_SUBFILETYPE</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="n">DNG_SUBFILETYPE_ORIGINAL</span><span class="p">);</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="c1">// write raw data and close the directory again</span> <span class="n">TIFFWriteDirectory</span><span class="p">(</span><span class="n">tif</span><span class="p">);</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="c1">// Close the tiff, this will cause libtiff to patch up the references</span> <span class="n">TIFFCLose</span><span class="p">(</span><span class="n">tif</span><span class="p">);</span><span class="w"></span> </pre></div> <p>So with the code updated the validation tool neatly shows the new SubIFD tags and finds actual errors in my DNG file data now</p> <pre><code>Uses little-endian byte order Magic number = 42 IFD 0: Offset = 308, Entries = 11 NewSubFileType: Preview Image ImageWidth: 20 ImageLength: 15 BitsPerSample: 8 Compression: Uncompressed PhotometricInterpretation: RGB StripOffsets: Offset = 8 StripByteCounts: Count = 300 SubIFDs: IFD = 10054 DNGVersion: 1.4.0.0 UniqueCameraModel: &quot;LibDNG&quot; NextIFD = 0 SubIFD 1: Offset = 10054, Entries = 6 NewSubFileType: Main Image ImageWidth: 320 ImageLength: 240 Compression: Uncompressed StripOffsets: Offset = 453 StripByteCounts: Count = 9600 NextIFD = 0 *** Error: Missing or invalid SamplesPerPixel (IFD 0) *** *** Error: Missing or invalid PhotometricInterpretation (SubIFD 1) ***</code></pre> <p>Ah, so these two tags are actually required but not described as such in the DNG specification since these are TIFF tags instead of DNG tags (while it does explicitly tells other TIFF required data).</p> <p>Patching up these errors is easy, just slightly annoying since the validation tool seemingly gives only a single error per IFD requiring to iterate on the code a bit more. After a whole lot of iterating on the exporting code I managed to get the first valid DNG file:</p> <pre><code>Raw image read time: 0.000 sec Linearization time: 0.002 sec Interpolate time: 0.006 sec Validation complete</code></pre> <p>Now the next step is adding all the plumbing to make this usable as library and making an actually nice command line utility.</p> <h2>First actual test</h2> <p>Now I have written the first iterations of libmegapixels and libdng it should be possible to actually load a picture in some editing software. So let's try some end-to-end testing with this.</p> <p>With the <code>megapixels-getframe</code> utility from libmegapixels I can get a frame from the sensor (In this case the rear camera of the Librem 5) and then feed that raw data to the <code>makedng</code> utility from libdng.</p> <div class="highlight"><pre><span></span><span class="gp">$ </span>getframe -o test.raw <span class="go">Using config: /usr/share/megapixels/config/purism,librem5.conf</span> <span class="go">received frame</span> <span class="go">received frame</span> <span class="go">received frame</span> <span class="go">received frame</span> <span class="go">received frame</span> <span class="go">Stored frame to: test.raw</span> <span class="go">Format: 4208x3120</span> <span class="go">Pixfmt: GRBG</span> <span class="gp">$ </span>makedng -w <span class="m">4208</span> -h <span class="m">3120</span> -p GRBG test.raw test.dng <span class="go">Reading test.raw...</span> <span class="go">Writing test.dng...</span> </pre></div> <p>No errors and the file passes the DNG validation, let's load it into RawTherapee :)</p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card kg-width-wide"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1700184535/image.png" class="kg-image"><figcaption>The first frame loaded into RawTherapee</figcaption></figure> <p>I had to boost the exposure a bit since the <code>megapixels-getframe</code> tool does not actually control any of the sensor parameters like the exposure time so the resulting picture is very dark. There's also no whitebalance or autofocus happening so the colors look horrible. </p> <p>But... </p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card kg-width-wide"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1700184873/compare-checker.jpg" class="kg-image"></figure> <p>The colors are correct! The interpetation of the CFA pattern of the sensor and the orientation of the data is all correct.</p> <h2>Integration testing</h2> <p>The nice thing about having the seperate library is that testing it becomes a lot easier than testing a GTK4 application. I have added the first simple end-to-end test to the codebase now that feeds some data to makedng and checks if the result is a valid DNG file using the official Adobe tool.</p> <div class="highlight"><pre><span></span><span class="ch">#!/bin/bash</span> <span class="nb">set</span> -e <span class="k">if</span> <span class="o">[</span> <span class="nv">$#</span> -ne <span class="m">1</span> <span class="o">]</span><span class="p">;</span> <span class="k">then</span> <span class="nb">echo</span> <span class="s2">&quot;Missing tool argument&quot;</span> <span class="nb">exit</span> <span class="m">1</span> <span class="k">fi</span> <span class="nv">makedng</span><span class="o">=</span><span class="s2">&quot;</span><span class="nv">$1</span><span class="s2">&quot;</span> <span class="nb">echo</span> <span class="s2">&quot;Running tests with &#39;</span><span class="nv">$makedng</span><span class="s2">&#39;&quot;</span> <span class="c1"># This testsuite runs raw data through the makedng utility and validates the</span> <span class="c1"># result using the dng_validate tool from the Adobe DNG SDK. This tool needs</span> <span class="c1"># to be manually installed for these tests to run.</span> <span class="c1"># Create test raw data</span> mkdir -p scratch magick -size 1280x720 gradient: -colorspace RGB scratch/data.rgb <span class="c1"># Generate DNG</span> <span class="nv">$makedng</span> -w <span class="m">1280</span> -h <span class="m">720</span> -p RG10 scratch/data.rgb scratch/RG10.dng <span class="c1"># Validate DNG</span> dng_validate scratch/RG10.dng </pre></div> <p>This is launched from ctest in my cmake files for now since I'm developing most of this stuff using CLion which only properly supports cmake projects. This is why a lot of my C projects have both meson and cmake files to build them but only the meson project file has install commands in it.</p> <p>For more advanced testing it would be neat to have raw sensor dumps of several sensors in different formats which are all pictures of a colorchecker like the picture above. Then have some (probably opencv) utility that can validate that a colorchecker is present in the picture with the right colors.</p> <p>There also needs to be a non-adobe-propriatary validation tool that can be easily run as testsuite for distribution packaging so at build time it's possible to validate that the combination of libdng and the distribution version of libtiff can produce sane output. This has caused several issues in Megapixels before after all.</p> <h2>Overall architecture</h2> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1700232871/path4862-1-4.png" class="kg-image"><figcaption>I&#x27;ve spent too much time drawing this</figcaption></figure> <p>With the addition of libdng the architecture for Megapixels 2.0 starts to look like this. Megapixels no longer has any pipeline manipulation code, that is all handled by the library which after configuration just passes the file descriptor for the sensor node to Megapixels to handle the realtime control of the sensor parameters.</p> <p>The libdng code replaces the plain libtiff exporting done in Megapixels and generate the DNG files that will be read by postprocessd. Postprocessd reads the dng files with the help of the dcraw library which already has custom DNG reading code that does not use libtiff.</p> <p>The next steps now is to flesh out the library public interface for libdng so it can do all the DNG metadata that Megapixels requires and then hooking it up to Megapixels to actually use it.</p> <hr> <h3>Funding update</h3> <p>Since my <a href="https://blog.brixit.nl/adding-hardware-to-libmegapixels/">previous post</a> about the libmegapixels developments and the <a href="https://blog.brixit.nl/megapixels-2-0/">Megapixels 2.0 post</a> I wrote before that I've almost doubled the funding for actually working on all the FOSS contributions. I'm immensely thankful for all the new patrons and it also made me notice that the <a href="https://blog.brixit.nl/donations/">donations</a> page on this site was no longer being regenerated. That is fixed now.</p> <p>I'm also still trying to figure out if I can add some perks for patrons to all of this but practically all options just amount to making things slightly worse for non-patrons. I hope just making the FOSS ecosystem better one of code line at a time is enough :)</p> Adding hardware to libmegapixelshttps://blog.brixit.nl/adding-hardware-to-libmegapixels/88MegapixelsMartijn BraamMon, 13 Nov 2023 17:59:48 -0000<p>Since in the last post I only showed off the libmegapixels config format and made some claims about configurablility without demonstrating it. I thought that it might be a good idea to actually demonstrate and document it.</p> <p>As example device I will use my Xiaomi Mi Note 2 with a broken display, shown above. Also known in PostmarketOS under the codename <a href="https://wiki.postmarketos.org/wiki/Xiaomi_Mi_Note_2_(xiaomi-scorpio)">xiaomi-scorpio</a>. I picked this device as demo since I have already used this hardware in Megapixels 1.x so I know the kernel side of it is functional. I have not run any libmegapixels code on this device before writing this blogpost so I'm writing it as a I go along debugging it. Hopefully this device does not require any ioctl that has not been needed by the existing supported devices.</p> <p>What makes it possible to get camera output from this phone is two things:</p> <ul><li>The camera subsystem in this device is supported pretty well in the kernel, in this case it&#x27;s a Qualcomm device which has a somewhat universal driver for this</li> <li>The sensor in this phone has a proper driver</li> </ul> <p>The existing devices that I used to develop libmegapixels are based around the Rockchip, NXP and Allwinner platforms so this will be an interesting test if my theory works.</p> <h2>The config file name</h2> <p>Just like Megapixels 1.x the config file is based around the "compatible" name of the device. This is defined in the device tree passed to Linux by the bootloader. Since this is a nice mainline Linux device this info can be found in the kernel source: <a href="https://github.com/torvalds/linux/blob/b85ea95d086471afb4ad062012a4d73cd328fa86/arch/arm64/boot/dts/qcom/msm8996pro-xiaomi-scorpio.dts#L17">https://github.com/torvalds/linux/blob/b85ea95d086471afb4ad062012a4d73cd328fa86/arch/arm64/boot/dts/qcom/msm8996pro-xiaomi-scorpio.dts#L17</a></p> <pre><code>compatible = &quot;xiaomi,scorpio&quot;, &quot;qcom,msm8996pro&quot;, &quot;qcom,msm8996&quot;;</code></pre> <p>This device tree specifies three names for this device ranking from more specific to less specific. <code>xiaomi,scorpio</code> is the exact hardware name, <code>qcom,msm8996pro</code> is the variant of the SoC and the <code>qcom,msm8996</code> name is the inexact name of the SoC. Since this configuration defined both the SoC pipeline and the configuration for the specific sensor module the only sane option here is <code>xiaomi,scorpio</code> since that describes that exact hardware configuration. Other <code>msm8996</code> devices might be using a completely different sensor.</p> <p>The most specific option is not always the best option, in the case of the PinePhone for example the compatible is:</p> <pre><code>&quot;pine64,pinephone-1.1&quot;, &quot;pine64,pinephone&quot;, &quot;allwinner,sun50i-a64&quot;;</code></pre> <p>In this hardware the camer system for the 1.0, 1.1 and 1.2 revision is identical so the config file just uses the <code>pine64,pinephone</code> name.</p> <p>Knowing this the config file name will be <code>xiaomi,scorpio.conf</code> and can be placed in three locations. <code>/usr/share/megapixels/config</code>, <code>/etc/megapixels/config</code> and just the plain filename in your current working directory.</p> <p>Now we know what the config path is the hard part starts, figuring out what to put in this config file.</p> <h2>The media pipeline</h2> <p>The next step is figuring out the media pipeline for this device. If the kernel has support for the hardware in the device it should create one or more <code>/dev/media</code> files. In the case of the Scorpio there's only a single one for the camera pipeline but there might be additional ones for stuff like hardware accelerated video encoding or decoding. </p> <p>You can get the contents of the media pipelines with the <code>media-ctl</code> utility from <code>v4l-utils</code>. Use <code>media-ctl -p</code> to print the pipeline and you can use the <code>-d</code> option to choose another file than <code>/dev/media0</code> if needed. For the Scorpio the pipeline contents are:</p> <pre><code>Media controller API version 6.1.14 Media device information ------------------------ driver qcom-camss model Qualcomm Camera Subsystem serial bus info platform:a34000.camss hw revision 0x0 driver version 6.1.14 Device topology - entity 1: msm_csiphy0 (2 pads, 5 links) type V4L2 subdev subtype Unknown flags 0 device node name /dev/v4l-subdev0 pad0: Sink [fmt:UYVY8_2X8/1920x1080 field:none colorspace:srgb] &lt;- &quot;imx318 3-001a&quot;:0 [ENABLED,IMMUTABLE] pad1: Source [fmt:UYVY8_2X8/1920x1080 field:none colorspace:srgb] -&gt; &quot;msm_csid0&quot;:0 [] -&gt; &quot;msm_csid1&quot;:0 [] -&gt; &quot;msm_csid2&quot;:0 [] -&gt; &quot;msm_csid3&quot;:0 [] [ Removed A LOT of entities here for brevity ] - entity 226: imx318 3-001a (1 pad, 1 link) type V4L2 subdev subtype Sensor flags 0 device node name /dev/v4l-subdev19 pad0: Source [fmt:SRGGB10_1X10/5488x4112@1/30 field:none colorspace:raw xfer:none] -&gt; &quot;msm_csiphy0&quot;:0 [ENABLED,IMMUTABLE] - entity 228: ak7375 3-000c (0 pad, 0 link) type V4L2 subdev subtype Lens flags 0 device node name /dev/v4l-subdev20 </code></pre> <p>The header shows that this is a media device for the <code>qcom-camss</code> system, which handles cameras on Qualcomm devices. There is also a node for the <code>imx318</code> sensor which further confirms that this is the right media pipeline.</p> <p>Analyzing the pipeline in this format is pretty hard when there's more than two nodes though, that's why there is a neat option in media-ctl to output the mediagraph as an actual graph using Graphviz.</p> <pre><code>$ apk add graphviz $ media-ctl -d 0 --print-dot | dot -Tpng &gt; pipeline.png</code></pre> <p>Which produces this image:</p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card kg-width-wide"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1699888898/pipeline.png" class="kg-image"></figure> <p>In a bunch of cases you can copy most of the configuration of this graph from another device that uses the same SoC but since this is the first Qualcomm device I'm adding I have to figure out the whole pipeline.</p> <p>The only part that's really specific to the Xiaomi Scorpio is the top two nodes. The <code>imx318</code> is the actual camera module in the phone connected with mipi to the SoC. The <code>ak7375</code> is listed as a "Motor driver". This means that it is the chip handeling the lens movements for autofocus. There are no connections to this node since this device does not handle any graphical data, the entity only exists so you can set v4l control values on it to move the focus manually.</p> <p>All the boxes in the graph are called entities and correspond with the <code>Entity</code> blocks in the <code>media-ctl -p</code> output. The boxes are yellow if they are entities with the type <code>V4L</code>, these are the nodes that will show up als <code>/dev/video</code> nodes to actually get the image data out of this pipeline.</p> <p>The lines between the boxes are called links, the dotted lines are disabled links and solid lines are enabled links. On this hardware a lot of the links are created by the kernel driver and are hardcoded. These links show up in the text output as <code>IMMUTABLE</code> and mostly describe fixed hardware paths for the image data.</p> <p>The goal of configuring this pipeline is to get the image data from the IMX sensor all the way down to one of the /dev/video nodes and figuring out the purpose of the entities in between. If you are lucky there is actual documentation for this. In this case I have found documentation at <a href="https://www.kernel.org/doc/html/v4.14/media/v4l-drivers/qcom_camss.html">https://www.kernel.org/doc/html/v4.14/media/v4l-drivers/qcom_camss.html</a> which is for the v4.14 kernel but for some reason is removed on later releases.</p> <p>This documentation has neat explanations for these entities:</p> <ul><li>2 CSIPHY modules. They handle the Physical layer of the CSI2 receivers. A separate camera sensor can be connected to each of the CSIPHY module;</li> <li>2 CSID (CSI Decoder) modules. They handle the Protocol and Application layer of the CSI2 receivers. A CSID can decode data stream from any of the CSIPHY. Each CSID also contains a TG (Test Generator) block which can generate artificial input data for test purposes;</li> <li>ISPIF (ISP Interface) module. Handles the routing of the data streams from the CSIDs to the inputs of the VFE;</li> <li>VFE (Video Front End) module. Contains a pipeline of image processing hardware blocks. The VFE has different input interfaces. The PIX (Pixel) input interface feeds the input data to the image processing pipeline. The image processing pipeline contains also a scale and crop module at the end. Three RDI (Raw Dump Interface) input interfaces bypass the image processing pipeline. The VFE also contains the AXI bus interface which writes the output data to memory.</li> </ul> <p>This documentation is not for this exact SoC so the amount of entities of each type is different.</p> <p>Configuring the pipeline and connecting it all up is now just a lot of trial and error, in the case of the Scorpio it has already been trial-and-error'd so there is an existing config file for the old Megapixels at <a href="https://gitlab.com/postmarketOS/megapixels/-/blob/master/config/xiaomi,scorpio.ini?ref_type=heads">https://gitlab.com/postmarketOS/megapixels/-/blob/master/config/xiaomi,scorpio.ini</a></p> <p>In this old pipeline description format the path is just enabling the links between the first <code>csiphy</code>, <code>csid</code>, <code>ispif</code> and <code>vfe</code> entity. Since this release of Megapixels did not really support further configuration it just tried to then set the resolution and pixel format for the sensors on all entities after it and hoped it worked. On an unknown platform just picking the left-most path will pretty likely bring up a valid pipeline, the duplicated entities are mostly useful for cases where you are using multiple cameras at once.</p> <h2>Initial config file</h2> <p>The first thing I did is creating a minimal config file for the scorpio that had the minimal pipeline to stream unmodified data from the sensor to userspace.</p> <pre><code>Version = 1; Make: &quot;Xiaomi&quot;; Model: &quot;Scorpio&quot;; Rear: { SensorDriver: &quot;imx318&quot;; BridgeDriver: &quot;qcom-camss&quot;; Modes: ( { Width: 3840; Height: 2160; Rate: 30; Format: &quot;RGGB10&quot;; Rotate: 90; Pipeline: ( {Type: &quot;Link&quot;, From: &quot;imx318&quot;, FromPad: 0, To: &quot;msm_csiphy0&quot;, ToPad: 0}, {Type: &quot;Link&quot;, From: &quot;msm_csiphy0&quot;, FromPad: 1, To: &quot;msm_csid0&quot;, ToPad: 0}, {Type: &quot;Link&quot;, From: &quot;msm_csid0&quot;, FromPad: 1, To: &quot;msm_ispif0&quot;, ToPad: 0}, {Type: &quot;Link&quot;, From: &quot;msm_ispif0&quot;, FromPad: 1, To: &quot;msm_vfe0_rdi0&quot;, ToPad: 0}, {Type: &quot;Mode&quot;, Entity: &quot;imx318&quot;}, {Type: &quot;Mode&quot;, Entity: &quot;msm_csiphy0&quot;}, {Type: &quot;Mode&quot;, Entity: &quot;msm_csid0&quot;}, {Type: &quot;Mode&quot;, Entity: &quot;msm_ispif0&quot;}, ); }, ); }; </code></pre> <p>This can be tested with the <code>megapixels-getframe</code> command.</p> <div class="highlight"><pre><span></span><span class="gp">$ </span>./megapixels-getframe <span class="go">Using config: /etc/megapixels/config/xiaomi,scorpio.conf</span> <span class="go">[libmegapixels] Could not link 226 -&gt; 1 [imx318 -&gt; msm_csiphy0] </span> <span class="go">[libmegapixels] Capture driver changed pixfmt to UYVY</span> <span class="go">Could not select mode</span> </pre></div> <p>This command tries to output as much debugging info as possible, but the reality is that you'll most likely need to look at the kernel source to figure out what is happening and what arbitrary constraints exist.</p> <p>So the iterating and figuring out errors starts. First the most problematic line is the <code>UYVY</code> format one. This most likely means that the pipeline pixelformat I selected was not correct and to fix that the kernel helpfully selects a completely different one. <code>getframe</code> will detect this and show this happening. In this case the RGGB10 format is wrong and it should have been RGGB10p. The kernel implementation is a bit inconsistent about which format it actually is while MIPI only allows one of these two in the spec. Changing that removes that error.</p> <p>The other interesting error is the link that could not be created. If you look closely at the Graphviz output you'll see that this link is already enabled by the kernel and in the text output it is also <code>IMMUTABLE</code>. This config line can be dropped because this is not configurable.</p> <div class="highlight"><pre><span></span><span class="gp">$ </span>./megapixels-getframe <span class="go">Using config: /etc/megapixels/config/xiaomi,scorpio.conf</span> <span class="go">VIDIOC_STREAMON failed: Broken pipe</span> </pre></div> <p>Progress! At least somewhat. The mode setting commands succeed but now the pipeline can not actually be started. This is because some drivers only validate options when starting the pipeline instead of when you're actually setting modes. This is one of the most annoying errors to fix because there's no feedback whatsoever on <i>what</i> or <i>where</i> the config issue is.</p> <p>My suggestion for this is to first run <code>media-ctl -p</code> again and see the current state of the pipeline. This output shows the format for the pads of the pipeline so you can find a connection that might be invalid by comparing those. My pipeline state at this point is:</p> <ul><li><code>imx318</code>: <code>SRGGB10_1X10/3840x2160@1/30</code></li> <li><code>csiphy0</code>: <code>SRGGB10_1X10/3840x2160</code></li> <li><code>csid0</code>: <code>SRGGB10_1X10/3840x2160</code></li> <li><code>ispif0</code>: <code>SRGGB10_1X10/3840x2160</code></li> <li><code>vfe0_rdi0</code>: <code>UYVY8_2X8/1920x1080</code></li> </ul> <p>AHA! the last node is not configured correctly. It's always the last one you look at. It turns out the issue was that I'm simply missing a mode command in my config file that sets the mode on that entity so it's left at the pipeline defaults. Let's test the pipeline with that config added:</p> <div class="highlight"><pre><span></span><span class="gp">$ </span>/megapixels-getframe <span class="go">Using config: /etc/megapixels/config/xiaomi,scorpio.conf</span> <span class="go">received frame</span> <span class="go">received frame</span> <span class="go">received frame</span> <span class="go">received frame</span> <span class="go">received frame</span> </pre></div> <p>The pipeline is streaming! This is the bare minimum configuration needed to make Megapixels 2.0 use this camera. For reference after all the changes above the config file is:</p> <pre><code>Version = 1; Make: &quot;Xiaomi&quot;; Model: &quot;Scorpio&quot;; Rear: { SensorDriver: &quot;imx318&quot;; BridgeDriver: &quot;qcom-camss&quot;; Modes: ( { Width: 3840; Height: 2160; Rate: 30; Format: &quot;RGGB10p&quot;; Rotate: 90; Pipeline: ( {Type: &quot;Link&quot;, From: &quot;msm_csiphy0&quot;, FromPad: 1, To: &quot;msm_csid0&quot;, ToPad: 0}, {Type: &quot;Link&quot;, From: &quot;msm_csid0&quot;, FromPad: 1, To: &quot;msm_ispif0&quot;, ToPad: 0}, {Type: &quot;Link&quot;, From: &quot;msm_ispif0&quot;, FromPad: 1, To: &quot;msm_vfe0_rdi0&quot;, ToPad: 0}, {Type: &quot;Mode&quot;, Entity: &quot;imx318&quot;}, {Type: &quot;Mode&quot;, Entity: &quot;msm_csiphy0&quot;}, {Type: &quot;Mode&quot;, Entity: &quot;msm_csid0&quot;}, {Type: &quot;Mode&quot;, Entity: &quot;msm_ispif0&quot;}, {Type: &quot;Mode&quot;, Entity: &quot;msm_vfe0_rdi0&quot;}, ); }, ); };</code></pre> <h2>Camera metadata</h2> <p>The config file not only stores information about the media pipeline but can also store information about the optical path. Every mode can define the focal length for example because changing the cropping on the sensor will give you digital zoom and thus a longer focal length. With modern phones with 10 cameras on the back it is also possible to define all of them as the "rear" camera and have multiple modes with multiple focal lengths so camera apps can switch the pipeline for zooming once zooming is implemented in the UI.</p> <p>Finding out the values for this optical path is basically just using search engines to find datasheets and specs. Sometimes the pictures generated by android have the correct information for this in the metadata as well.</p> <p>This information is also mostly absent from sensor datasheets since that only describe the sensor itself, you either need to find this info from the camera module itself (which is the sensor plus the lens) or the specifications for the phone.</p> <p>From spec listings and review sites I've found that the focal length for the rear camera is 4.06mm and the aperture is f/2.0. This can be added to the mode section:</p> <pre><code>Width: 3840; Height: 2160; Rate: 30; Format: &quot;RGGB10p&quot;; Rotate: 90; FocalLength: 4.06; FNumber: 2.0;</code></pre> <h2>Reference for pipeline commands</h2> <p>Since this is now practically the main reference for writing config files until I get documentation generation up and running for libmegapixels I will put the complete documentation for the various commands here.</p> <p>While parsing the config file there are four values stored as state : <code>width</code>, <code>height</code>, <code>format</code> and <code>rate</code>. The values for these default to the ones set in the mode and they are updated whenever you define one of these values explicitly in a command. This prevents having to write the same resolution values repeatedly on every line but it still allows having entities in the pipeline that scale the resolution.</p> <h3>Link</h3> <pre><code>{ Type: &quot;Link&quot;, From: &quot;msm_csiphy0&quot;, # Source entity name, required FromPad: 1, # Source pad, defaults to 0 To: &quot;msm_csid0&quot;, # Target entity name, required ToPad: 0 # Target pad, defaults to 0 }</code></pre> <p>Translates to an <code>MEDIA_IOC_SETUP_LINK</code> ioctl on the media device.</p> <h3>Mode</h3> <pre><code>{ Type: &quot;Mode&quot;, Entity: &quot;imx318&quot; # Entity name, required Width: 1280 # Horisontal resolution, defaults to previous in pipeline Height: 720 # Vertical resolution, defaults to previous in pipeline Pad: 0 # Pad to set the mode on, defaults to 0 Format: &quot;RGGB10p&quot; # Pixelformat for the mode, defaults to previous in pipeline }</code></pre> <p>Translates to an <code>VIDIOC_SUBDEV_S_FMT</code> ioctl on the entity.</p> <h3>Rate</h3> <pre><code>{ Type: &quot;Rate&quot;, Entity: &quot;imx318&quot;, # Entity name, required Rate: 30 # FPS, defaults to previous in pipeline }</code></pre> <p>Translates to an <code>VIDIOC_SUBDEV_S_FRAME_INTERVAL</code> ioctl on the entity.</p> <h3>Crop</h3> <pre><code>{ Type: &quot;Crop&quot;, Entity: &quot;imx318&quot;, # Entity name, required Width: 1280 # Area width, defaults to previous width in pipeline Height: 720 # Area height resolution, defaults to previous height in pipeline Top: 0 # The vertical offset, defaults to 0 Left: 0 # The horisontal offset, defaults to 0 Pad: 0 # Pad to set the crop on, defaults to 0 }</code></pre> <p>Translates to an <code>VIDIOC_SUBDEV_S_CROP</code> ioctl on the entity.</p> <h2>The future of libmegapixels</h2> <p>It has been quite a bit of work to create libmegapixels and it has been a mountain of work to rework Megapixels to integrate it. The first 90% of this is done but the trick is always in getting the second 90% finished. In the <a href="https://blog.brixit.nl/megapixels-2-0/">Megapixels 2.0</a> post I already mentioned this has burned me out. On the other hand it's a shame to let this work go to waste.</p> <p>There is a few parts of autofocus, autoexposure and autowhitebalance that are very complicated and math heavy to figure out, I can't figure it out. The loop between libmegapixels and Megapixels exists to pass around the values but I can't stop the system from oscillating and can't get it to settle on good values. There seems to be no good public information available on how to implement this in any case.</p> <p>Another difficult part is sensor calibration. I have the hardware and software to create calibration profiles but this system expects the input pictures to come from... working cameras. The system completely lacks proper sensor linearisation which makes setting a proper whitebalance not really possible. You might have noticed the specific teal tint that gives away that a picture is taken on a Librem 5 for example. If that teal tint is corrected for manually then the midtones will look correct but highlights will become too yellow. Maybe there's a way to calibrate this properly or maybe this just takes someone messing with the curves manually for a long while to get correct.</p> <p>There also needs to be an alternative to writing dng files with libtiff so for my own sanity it is required to write libdng. The last few minor releases of libtiff have all been messing with the tiff tags relating to DNG files which have caused taking pictures to not work for a lot of people. The only way around this seems to be stop using libtiff like all the Linux photography software has already done. This is not a terribly hard thing to implement, it just has been prioritized below getting color correct so far and I have not had the time to work on it.</p> <p>There is also still segfaults and crashes relating to the GPU debayer code in Megapixels for most of the pixel formats. This is very hard to debug due to the involvement of the GPU in the equation.</p> <h3>How can you help</h3> <p>If you know how to progress with any of this I gladly accept any patches for this to push it forward.</p> <p>The harder part of this section is... money. I love working on photography stuff, I can't believe the Megapixels implementation has even gotten this far but it basically takes me hyperfocusing for weeks for 12 hours per day on random camera code to get to this point, that is not really sustainable. It's great to work on this for some days and making progress, it's really painful to work for weeks on that one 30 line code block and making no progress whatsoever. At some point my dream is that I can actually live off doing open source work but so far that has still been a distant dream.</p> <p>I've had the <a href="https://blog.brixit.nl/donations/">donations</a> page now for some years and I'm incredibly happy that people are supporting me to work on this at all. It's just forever stuck on receiving enough money that you feel like a responsibility to produce progress but not nearly enough to actually fund that progress. So in practice only extra pressure.</p> <p>So I hate asking for money, but it would certainly help towards the dream of being an actual full time FOSS developer :)</p> Megapixels 2.0https://blog.brixit.nl/megapixels-2-0/87LinuxMartijn BraamThu, 09 Nov 2023 18:33:39 -0000<p>The Megapixels camera application has long been the most performant camera application on the original PinePhone. I have not gotten the Megapixels application to that point alone. There have been several other contributors that have helped slowly improving performance and features of this application. Especially Benjamin has leaped it forward massively with the threaded processing code and GPU accelerated preview.</p> <p>All this code has made Megapixels very fast on the PinePhone but also has made it quite a lot harder to port the application to other hardware. The code is very much overfitted for the PinePhone hardware.</p> <h2>Finding a better design</h2> <p>To address the elephant in the room, yes libcamera exists and promises to abstract this all away. I just disagree with the design tradeoffs taken with libcamera and I think that any competition would only improve the ecosystem. It can't be that libcamera got this exactly right on the first try right?</p> <p>Instead of the implementation that libcamera has made that makes abstraction code in c++ for every platform I have decided to pick the method that libalsa uses for the audio abstraction in userspace.</p> <p>Alsa UCM config files are selected by soundcard name and contain a set of instructions to bring the audio pipeline in the correct state for your current usecase. All the hardware specific things are not described in code but instead in plain text configuration files. I think this scales way better since it massively lowers the skill floor needed to actually mess with the system to get hardware working.</p> <p>The first iteration of Megapixels has already somewhat done this. There's a config file that is picked based on the hardware model that describes the names of the device nodes in /dev so those paths don't have to be hardcoded and it describes the resolution and mode to configure. It also describes a few details about the optical path to later produce correct EXIF info for the pictures.</p> <div class="highlight"><pre><span></span><span class="k">[device]</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="na">make</span><span class="o">=</span><span class="s">PINE64</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="na">model</span><span class="o">=</span><span class="s">PinePhone</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="k">[rear]</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="na">driver</span><span class="o">=</span><span class="s">ov5640</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="na">media-driver</span><span class="o">=</span><span class="s">sun6i-csi</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="na">capture-width</span><span class="o">=</span><span class="s">2592</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="na">capture-height</span><span class="o">=</span><span class="s">1944</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="na">capture-rate</span><span class="o">=</span><span class="s">15</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="na">capture-fmt</span><span class="o">=</span><span class="s">BGGR8</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="na">preview-width</span><span class="o">=</span><span class="s">1280</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="na">preview-height</span><span class="o">=</span><span class="s">720</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="na">preview-rate</span><span class="o">=</span><span class="s">30</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="na">preview-fmt</span><span class="o">=</span><span class="s">BGGR8</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="na">rotate</span><span class="o">=</span><span class="s">270</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="na">colormatrix</span><span class="o">=</span><span class="s">1.384,-0.3203,-0.0124,-0.2728,1.049,0.1556,-0.0506,0.2577,0.8050</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="na">forwardmatrix</span><span class="o">=</span><span class="s">0.7331,0.1294,0.1018,0.3039,0.6698,0.0263,0.0002,0.0556,0.7693</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="na">blacklevel</span><span class="o">=</span><span class="s">3</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="na">whitelevel</span><span class="o">=</span><span class="s">255</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="na">focallength</span><span class="o">=</span><span class="s">3.33</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="na">cropfactor</span><span class="o">=</span><span class="s">10.81</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="na">fnumber</span><span class="o">=</span><span class="s">3.0</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="na">iso-min</span><span class="o">=</span><span class="s">100</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="na">iso-max</span><span class="o">=</span><span class="s">64000</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="na">flash-path</span><span class="o">=</span><span class="s">/sys/class/leds/white:flash</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="k">[front]</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="na">...</span><span class="w"></span> </pre></div> <p>This works great for the PinePhone but it has a significant drawback. Most mobile cameras require an elaborate graph of media nodes to be configured before video works, the PinePhone is the exception in that the media graph only has an input and output node so Megapixels just hardcodes that part of the hardware setup. This makes the config file practically useless for all other phones and this is also one of the reason why different devices have different forks to make Megapixels work.</p> <p>So a config file that only works for a single configuration is pretty useless. Instead of making this an .ini file I've switched the design over to libconfig so I don't have to create a whole new parser and it allows for nested configuration blocks. The config file I have been using on the PinePhone with the new codebase is this:</p> <div class="highlight"><pre><span></span><span class="k">Version</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="o">=</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="m">1</span><span class="err">;</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="k">Make</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s2">&quot;PINE64&quot;</span><span class="err">;</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="k">Model</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s2">&quot;PinePhone&quot;</span><span class="err">;</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="k">Rear</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="p">{</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="k">SensorDriver</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s2">&quot;ov5640&quot;</span><span class="err">;</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="k">BridgeDriver</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s2">&quot;sun6i-csi&quot;</span><span class="err">;</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="k">FlashPath</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s2">&quot;/sys/class/leds/white:flash&quot;</span><span class="err">;</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="k">IsoMin</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="m">100</span><span class="err">;</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="k">IsoMax</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="m">64000</span><span class="err">;</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="k">Modes</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="p">(</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="p">{</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="k">Width</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="m">2592</span><span class="err">;</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="k">Height</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="m">1944</span><span class="err">;</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="k">Rate</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="m">15</span><span class="err">;</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="k">Format</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s2">&quot;BGGR8&quot;</span><span class="err">;</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="k">Rotate</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="m">270</span><span class="err">;</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="k">FocalLength</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="m">3</span><span class="k">.</span><span class="m">33</span><span class="err">;</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="k">FNumber</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="m">3</span><span class="k">.</span><span class="m">0</span><span class="err">;</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="k">Pipeline</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="p">(</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="p">{</span><span class="k">Type</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s2">&quot;Link&quot;</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="k">From</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s2">&quot;ov5640&quot;</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="k">FromPad</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="m">0</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="k">To</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s2">&quot;sun6i-csi&quot;</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="k">ToPad</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="m">0</span><span class="p">},</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="p">{</span><span class="k">Type</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s2">&quot;Mode&quot;</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="k">Entity</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s2">&quot;ov5640&quot;</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="k">Width</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="m">2592</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="k">Height</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="m">1944</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="k">Format</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s2">&quot;BGGR8&quot;</span><span class="p">},</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="p">)</span><span class="err">;</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="p">},</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="p">{</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="k">Width</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="m">1280</span><span class="err">;</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="k">Height</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="m">720</span><span class="err">;</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="k">Rate</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="m">30</span><span class="err">;</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="k">Format</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s2">&quot;BGGR8&quot;</span><span class="err">;</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="k">Rotate</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="m">270</span><span class="err">;</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="k">FocalLength</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="m">3</span><span class="k">.</span><span class="m">33</span><span class="err">;</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="k">FNumber</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="m">3</span><span class="k">.</span><span class="m">0</span><span class="err">;</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="k">Pipeline</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="p">(</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="p">{</span><span class="k">Type</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s2">&quot;Link&quot;</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="k">From</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s2">&quot;ov5640&quot;</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="k">FromPad</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="m">0</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="k">To</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s2">&quot;sun6i-csi&quot;</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="k">ToPad</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="m">0</span><span class="p">},</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="p">{</span><span class="k">Type</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s2">&quot;Mode&quot;</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="k">Entity</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s2">&quot;ov5640&quot;</span><span class="p">},</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="p">)</span><span class="err">;</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="p">}</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="p">)</span><span class="err">;</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="p">}</span><span class="err">;</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="k">Front</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="p">{</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="k">SensorDriver</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s2">&quot;gc2145&quot;</span><span class="err">;</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="k">BridgeDriver</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s2">&quot;sun6i-csi&quot;</span><span class="err">;</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="k">FlashDisplay</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="k">true</span><span class="err">;</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="k">Modes</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="p">(</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="p">{</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="k">Width</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="m">1280</span><span class="err">;</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="k">Height</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="m">960</span><span class="err">;</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="k">Rate</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="m">60</span><span class="err">;</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="k">Format</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s2">&quot;BGGR8&quot;</span><span class="err">;</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="k">Rotate</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="m">90</span><span class="err">;</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="k">Mirror</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="k">true</span><span class="err">;</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="k">Pipeline</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="p">(</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="p">{</span><span class="k">Type</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s2">&quot;Link&quot;</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="k">From</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s2">&quot;gc2145&quot;</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="k">FromPad</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="m">0</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="k">To</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s2">&quot;sun6i-csi&quot;</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="k">ToPad</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="m">0</span><span class="p">},</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="p">{</span><span class="k">Type</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s2">&quot;Mode&quot;</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="k">Entity</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s2">&quot;gc2145&quot;</span><span class="p">},</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="p">)</span><span class="err">;</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="p">}</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="p">)</span><span class="err">;</span><span class="w"></span> </pre></div> <p>Instead of having a hardcoded preview mode and main mode for every sensor it's now possible to make many different resolution configs. This config recreates the 2 existing modes and Megapixels now picks faster mode for the preview automatically and use higher resolution modes for the actual picture. </p> <p>Every mode now also has a <code>Pipeline</code> block that describes the media graph as a series of commands, every line translates to one ioctl called on the right device node just like Alsa UCM files describe it as a series of amixer commands. Megapixels no longer has the implicit PinePhone pipeline so here it describes the one link it has to make between the sensor node and the csi node and it tells Megapixels to set the correct mode on the sensor node.</p> <p>This simple example of the PinePhone does not really show off most of the config options so lets look at a more complicated example:</p> <div class="highlight"><pre><span></span><span class="k">Pipeline</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="p">(</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="p">{</span><span class="k">Type</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s2">&quot;Link&quot;</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="k">From</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s2">&quot;imx258&quot;</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="k">FromPad</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="m">0</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="k">To</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s2">&quot;rkisp1_csi&quot;</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="k">ToPad</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="m">0</span><span class="p">},</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="p">{</span><span class="k">Type</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s2">&quot;Mode&quot;</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="k">Entity</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s2">&quot;imx258&quot;</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="k">Format</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s2">&quot;RGGB10P&quot;</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="k">Width</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="m">1048</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="k">Height</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="m">780</span><span class="p">},</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="p">{</span><span class="k">Type</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s2">&quot;Mode&quot;</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="k">Entity</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s2">&quot;rkisp1_csi&quot;</span><span class="p">},</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="p">{</span><span class="k">Type</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s2">&quot;Mode&quot;</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="k">Entity</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s2">&quot;rkisp1_isp&quot;</span><span class="p">},</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="p">{</span><span class="k">Type</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s2">&quot;Mode&quot;</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="k">Entity</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s2">&quot;rkisp1_isp&quot;</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="k">Pad</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="m">2</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="k">Format</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s2">&quot;RGGB8&quot;</span><span class="p">},</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="p">{</span><span class="k">Type</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s2">&quot;Crop&quot;</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="k">Entity</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s2">&quot;rkisp1_isp&quot;</span><span class="p">},</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="p">{</span><span class="k">Type</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s2">&quot;Crop&quot;</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="k">Entity</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s2">&quot;rkisp1_isp&quot;</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="k">Pad</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="m">2</span><span class="p">},</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="p">{</span><span class="k">Type</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s2">&quot;Mode&quot;</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="k">Entity</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s2">&quot;rkisp1_resizer_mainpath&quot;</span><span class="p">},</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="p">{</span><span class="k">Type</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s2">&quot;Mode&quot;</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="k">Entity</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s2">&quot;rkisp1_resizer_mainpath&quot;</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="k">Pad</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="m">1</span><span class="p">},</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="w"> </span><span class="p">{</span><span class="k">Type</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s2">&quot;Crop&quot;</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="k">Entity</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="s2">&quot;rkisp1_resizer_mainpath&quot;</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="k">Width</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="m">1048</span><span class="p">,</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="k">Height</span><span class="err">:</span><span class="w"> </span><span class="m">768</span><span class="p">},</span><span class="w"></span> <span class="p">)</span><span class="err">;</span><span class="w"></span> </pre></div> <p>This is the preview pipeline for the PinePhone Pro. Most of the Links are already hardcoded by the kernel itself so here it only creates the link from the rear camera sensor to the csi and all the other commands are for configuring the various entities in the graph.</p> <p>The <code>Mode</code> commands are basically doing the <code>VIDIOC_SUBDEV_S_FMT</code> ioctl on the device node found by the entity name. To make configuring modes on the pipeline not extremely verbose it implicitly takes the resolution, pixelformat and framerate from the main information set by the configuration block itself. Since several entities can convert the frames into another format or size it automatically cascades the new mode to the lines below it.</p> <p>In the example above the 5th command sets the format to <code>RGGB8</code> which means that the mode commands below it for <code>rkisp1_resizer_mainpath</code> also will use this mode but the <code>rkisp1_csi</code> mode command above it will still be operating in <code>RGGB10P</code> mode.</p> <h2>Splitting of device management code</h2> <p>Testing changes in Megapixels is pretty hard. To develop the Megapixels code I'm building it on the phone and launching it over SSH with a bunch of environment variables set so the GTK window shows up on the phone and I get realtime logs on my computer. If there's anything that's going on after the immediate setup code it is quite hard to debug because it's in one of the three threads that process the image data.</p> <p>To implement the new pipeline configuration I did that in a new empty project that builds a shared library and a few command line utilities that help test a few specific things. This codebase is <code>libmegapixels</code> and with it I have split off all hardware access from Megapixels itself making both these codebases a lot easier to understand.</p> <p>It has been a lot easier to debug complex camera pipelines using the commandline utilities and only working on the library code. It should also make it a lot easier to make Megapixels-like applications that are not GTK4 to make it integrate more with other environments. One of the test applications for libmegapixels is <code>getframe</code> which is now all you need to get a raw frame from the sensor.</p> <p>Since this codebase is now split into multiple parts I have put it into a seperate gitlab organisation at <a href="https://gitlab.com/megapixels-org">https://gitlab.com/megapixels-org</a> which hopefully keeps this a bit organized.</p> <p>This is also the codebase used for <a href="https://fosstodon.org/@martijnbraam/110775163438234897">https://fosstodon.org/@martijnbraam/110775163438234897</a> which shows off libmegapixels and megapixels 2.0 running on the Librem 5.</p> <h2>Burnout</h2> <p>So now the worse part of this blog post. No you can't use this stuff yet :(</p> <p>I've been working on this code for months, and now I've not been working on this code for months. I have completely burned out on all of this.</p> <p>The libmegapixels code is in pretty good state but the Megapixels rewrite is still a large mess:</p> <ul><li>Saving pictures doesn&#x27;t really work and I intended to split that off to create libdng</li> <li>The QR code support is not hooked up at all at the moment</li> <li>Several pixelformats don&#x27;t work correctly in the GPU decoder and I can&#x27;t find out why</li> <li>Librem 5 and PinePhone Pro really need auto-exposure, auto-focus and auto-whitebalance to produce anything remotely looking like a picture. I have ported the auto-exposure from Millipixels which works reasonably well for this but got stuck on AWB and have not attempted Autofocus yet.</li> </ul> <p>The mountain of work that's left to do to make this a superset of the functionality of Megapixels 1.x and the expectations surrounding it have made this pretty hard to work on. On the original Megapixel releases nothing mattered because any application that could show a single frame of the camera was already a 100% improvement over the current state.</p> <p>Another issue is that whatever I do or figure out it will always be instantly be put down with "Why are you not using libcamera" and "libcamera probably fixes this". </p> <p>Some things people really need to understand is that an application not using libcamera does <i>not</i> mean other software on the system can't support libcamera. If Firefox can use libcamera to do videocalls that's great, that's not the usecase Megapixels is going for anyway.</p> <p>What also doesn't help is receiving bugreports for the PinePhone Pro while Megapixels does not support the PinePhone Pro. There's a patchset added on top to make in launch on the PinePhone Pro but there's a reason this patchset is not in Megapixels. The product of the Megapixels source with the ppp.patch added on top probably shouldn't've been distributed as Megapixels...</p> <p>What also doesn't help is that if Megapixels 2.0 were finished and released it would also create a whole new wave of criticism and comparisons to libcamera. I would have to support Megapixels for the people complaining that it's not enough... You could've not had a camera application at all...</p> <p>It also doesn't help that the libcamerea developers are also the v4l2 subsystem maintainers in the kernel. I have during development of libmegapixels tried sending a simple patch for an issue I've noticed that would massively improve the ease of debugging PinePhone Pro cameras. I've sent this 3 character patch upstream to the v4l2 mailing lists and it got a Reviewed-by in a few days.</p> <p>Then after 2 whole months of radio silence it got rejected by the lead developer of libcamera on debatable grounds. Now this is only a very small patch so I'm merely dissapointed. If I had put more work into the kernel side improving some sensor drivers I might have been mad but at this point I'm just not feeling like contributing to the camera ecosystem anymore. </p> <hr> <p><b>Edit:</b> I've been convinced to actually try to do this full-time and push the codebase forward enough to make it usable. This is continued at <a href="https://blog.brixit.nl/adding-hardware-to-libmegapixels/">https://blog.brixit.nl/adding-hardware-to-libmegapixels/</a></p> Making an USB Ethernet adapter work [SR9700]https://blog.brixit.nl/making-a-usb-ethernet-adapter-work-sr9700/86LinuxMartijn BraamSat, 28 Oct 2023 17:41:51 -0000<p>I just needed a simple USB to Ethernet adapter for testing. It does not need to be fast, it does not need to reach USB 3.0 speeds or gigabit speeds. I own two other USB ethernet adapters that have various reliability issues so I got a random cheap one from ebay.</p> <p>The adapter I ended up getting was the SR-QF9700 that does not have an actual brand on it. When plugging it into my laptop there was a slight issue though. It shows up as a CD drive...</p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1698514364/image.png" class="kg-image"></figure> <p>This is one of those annoying features where USB dongles will present a CD drive with drivers to windows to make them work, ignoring that this is just an rndis device that has worked without special drivers <i><i>for decades</i></i>. This wouldn't be problematic if it exposed both the ethernet interface and the driver CD at the same time so I could just ignore it.</p> <p>In theory this can be made working by hacks such as <code>usb_modeswitch</code> but I've seen several forum posts online that mention it not working on this hardware. Even if that did solve the issue, it still makes this device useless for me because I don't want to mess with special software on every device I plug it into.</p> <p>I was ready to add this adapter to the e-waste problem but then I thought about how this would be handled from the manufacturing side. The chip is generic but those driver installers are usually branded. There needs to be somewhere to actually store the drivers on the device...</p> <h2>Taking it apart</h2> <p>This thing is very easy to open. There are no screws or clips in it at all, it's all held together by the sticker with the model number.</p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1698514385/20231028_0014.jpg" class="kg-image"></figure> <p>Inside the adapter is a simple PCB that has a crystal and the USB ethernet module. This particular adapter contains a CoreChips SR9700 single-chip ethernet controller. Doing anything interesting with this would be hard, there's not really public documentation for this chip except for the pin descriptions. The SR9900 datasheet mentions some internal one-time programmable memory, but it being one-time programmable does not really help me.</p> <p>So lets look at the back of the PCB</p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1698514403/20231028_0006.jpg" class="kg-image"></figure> <p>Another chip! This is an 4MBit SPI Nor flash chip. This must be the chip actually storing the windows drivers.</p> <p>So what is the behavior of the ethernet controller chip if this chip is absent...</p> <p>SPI flash pinouts are pretty standardized, but I looked up the datasheet for this specific chip to be sure:</p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1698514414/image.png" class="kg-image"></figure> <p>There's many ways to make a SPI flash chip temporarily not function. I decided to jam a screwdriver between the <code>CS</code> and <code>SO</code> pin to make the chip unable to respond to SPI communication. With the screwdriver in place I plugged in the USB cable and behold:</p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1698514424/image.png" class="kg-image"></figure> <p>Ethernet! Well that was easy. Now to make this permanent I shorted together the same two pins with my soldering iron since removing the whole chip is way harder.</p> <p>So instead of messing with any device/computer I want to plug this ethernet adapter into I now have a normal USB ethernet adapter with just one extra solder connection :)</p> <p><br></p> Building a digital audio mixerhttps://blog.brixit.nl/building-a-digital-audio-mixer/83ElectronicsMartijn BraamWed, 04 Oct 2023 17:41:04 -0000<p>Digital audio mixers have always been the magical tech from the future when I started messing with audio mixers. Back then the cost of those mixers was extremely far out of reach for home use, into the thousands of euros.</p> <p>Prices for digital mixing has come down a lot, it's now possible to use tablets as control interface instead of having physical controls which drives down the price a lot. I've been using a borrowed Behringer X-air 18 for a while which is priced around €650. That mixer had to go back into production so now I'm mixer-less again.</p> <h2>Looking at the options</h2> <p>There's an annoying issue with audio mixers. To get a mixer that has a lot of features you also have to get a lot of channels. I used a lot of the routing and processing features of the X-air 18 but I only used 4 of the channels. If I switch to a smaller/cheaper version in the X-air series like the X-air 12 I still have way too many channels but I lose the multichannel usb audio interface part of it. Even the smallest version still takes up 2 rack units with features I don't need. </p> <p>Going to the competition of the X-air series doesn't help either. There's only significantly more expensive and larger options or more limited hardware. This leaves me once again with the last option: build it myself.</p> <h2>Teensy Audio Library</h2> <p>While looking at options for hardware with audio I/O I came across the <a href="https://www.pjrc.com/store/teensy41.html">Teensy 4.1</a>. This is a microcontroller board that has built-in 10/100 ethernet and has several digital audio interfaces. More importantly it already has a very nice library called the <a href="https://www.pjrc.com/teensy/td_libs_Audio.html">Teensy Audio Library</a> for creating digital audio pipelines with it.</p> <p>The hardware has a native USB interface that already has the libraries available to make the Teensy act like an USB audio interface. It also has two i2s/tdm interfaces for hooking up DAC/ADC chips. It is probably possible to create a 16-in 16-out mixer with this chip.</p> <p>So I ordered the Teensy and started creating the software. The audio pipeline is easily designed using the web editor for the audio library to generate the pipeline code:</p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card kg-width-wide"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1696435005/image.png" class="kg-image"></figure> <p>This creates a basic audio mixer with 6 inputs and 4 outputs. Since I don't have any extra hardware yet the development is done purely using the stereo USB input and output.</p> <p>Every input channel has a <code>biquad</code> block which implements a parametric 4-band EQ. Then an <code>amp</code> block to do dynamics together with the detected signal level from the <code>rms</code> blocks. This creates a very simple channel strips with a compressor and EQ. </p> <p>The second part of the pipeline is a fully connected 6x4 matrix of mixers. This allows routing any of the inputs to any of the outputs with signal levels controlled by the faders on the mixer.</p> <p>After the mixer matrix there's <code>amp</code> blocks again for the output volume faders and <code>rms</code> blocks for the output VU meters.</p> <h2>Network control</h2> <p>So suprisingly the full DSP audio pipeline part was the easy part of the project. Just loading the generated code into the Teensy was enough to get audio running through the hardware after setting some default values in the blocks and hardcoding some values for the routing matrix. But a mixer you can't control or monitor is not a very useful mixer.</p> <p>I want to control the mixer over a network connection because I got used to being able to open the mixer interface on any PC here to control my audio routing, in my case the audio output of multiple computers is routed to the mixer to get a mix to my headphones.</p> <p>I also don't want to hardcode the control application I'd have to write for this mixer for this specific hardware so I have designed a network protocol that on connection describes the functionality and routing matrix to the control application and the control application dynamically creates a visual interface for it.</p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card kg-width-wide"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1696436026/image_6.png" class="kg-image"><figcaption>Prototype control application</figcaption></figure> <p>The control application is a Python GTK3 application and the Teensy side has a c++ class that implements this network protocol on top of the Teensy native ethernet controller. The network control code is fully separated from the audio code and with a few <code>#ifdef</code>s can probably be made more universal than that.</p> <p>The network library (I've called it Mixolydian) broadcasts the existance of the mixer using mDNS so the clients can discover it and show a nice list of detected hardware in the UI. It has a TCP protocol for controlling the mixer that allows multiple clients to be connected at the same time and seeing the changes in real time. It also has a separate UDP protocol for sending over real time audio meters.</p> <p>With this together there's now the components to make a digital audio mixer on any platform and add in the networking class to have a control application for it.</p> <h2>So why flexibility</h2> <p>The issue with making a 4 channel digital mixer is not everyone needs the same 4 channels. I need USB signals and multiple outputs. You might need 5 analog inputs instead and AES/EBU out only. So instead of making the exact mixer I need I made the opensource base to make any digital mixer. The protocol accounts for mixers that are significantly larger than what I made on a Teensy, the hard limit is 65535 connections in total (inputs and outputs combined).</p> <p>Since the Teensy has multiple i2s interfaces which are easily broken out into ribbon connectors and it has some extra SPDIF hardware it is possible to make a somewhat modular tiny digital mixer from this. The only thing you need is plugging in modules and connecting it together in firmware.</p> <p>There's a lot of options with this hardware. I want to put an 8x8 mixer into a 1U rack case with some led bar-graphs in the front. You can also make a 2-channel microphone interface in a desktop case with all hardware controls.</p> <h2>S/PDIF connectivity</h2> <p>So after I got USB signals running as a proof of concept I wanted to get some more audio channels to make it an actually useful audio mixer. I have ordered the Teensy audio shield which provides an unbalanced stereo input and output but while that is shipping through Europe I want to get some more development in.</p> <p>Then I remembered I have an old Behringer Ultramatch Pro in the dusty racks of decommissioned hardware. This is a stereo input/output DAC/ADC that has S/PDIF and AES/EBU connectivity in a single rack unit.</p> <figure class="kg-card kg-image-card kg-width-wide"><img src="https://blog.brixit.nl/image/w1000//static/files/blog.brixit.nl/1696439160/20231004_0013.jpg" class="kg-image"><figcaption>The Behringer Ultramatch Pro SRC2496</figcaption></figure> <p>This is a nice unit for debugging since it has many blinkenlights for showing the status of the connection. Luckily getting the audio output from the mixer working through this was very easy. I just added the <code>spdif</code> output block to the audio graph and soldered a cable to pin 14 of the Teensy wired directly to the RCA input of the Ultramatch. Immediately I had audio running to my headphones plugged into the Ultramatch.</p> <p>The second part was getting the analog inputs of the Ultramatch wired as two mono input busses on the mixer so I can plug in microphones. The audio library has a nice input block called <code>spdif_async</code> that takes in any spdif signal and resamples it to match the clock of the Teensy audio pipeline.</p> <p>Sadly this wasn't as simple as just soldering down a wire to pin 15 and getting it working. It turns out that this pin expects a TTL level S/PDIF signal while the Ultramatch outputs a coax S/PDIF signal that is 0.5v peak-to-peak. After trying to breadboard together some converter circuits I saw that the AES output is supposed to be 5V peak-to-peak. I've touched the hot wire from an XLR cable to pin 15 of the Teensy and suddenly I had an S/PDIF lock and input signal in the mixer. This is without connecting up ground or the cold signal from the connection.</p> <p>I have now soldered down this single wire and taped everything down, it's wildly out of spec but works for development :)</p> <h2>Next steps</h2> <p>So short term there's a few things to do. Once I get the Teensy audio shield I'll be able to get audio I/O running using one of the i2s ports on the Teensy and I can put this all in one of those 1U rack project cases with nice connectors.</p> <p>To make this a bit more nice and integrated and professional I'm working on a PCB design that carries a Teensy module and exposes the audio connections on pinheaders and seperate PCBs for connecting CODEC chips to that for audio input and output and probably some 48V phantom power. I'm not sure yet of the design but the nice thing about opensource designs is you can always modify it to what you need.</p> <p>In the long term this needs to switch away from the really nice audio library to go beyond the 16bit 44.1KHz limitation of the library. The sample rate is not that problematic but clipping signals in a 16-bit integer audio pipeline is just way too easy.</p> <p>Hopefully this is the start of a small open source digital audio mixer ecosystem and some more people will build digital audio mixers :D</p>