Hardware


OSSG AGM, Reimagining EDSAC, NetBSD Updates, Semantic and Change Coupling of Software Classes – London 19/10/2017

The BCS OSSG is hosting its next event on 19th October 201718:00 – 21:00 at BCS London, 1st Floor, The Davidson Building, 5 Southampton Street, London, WC2E 7HA, [map] (51.510812-0.121733)

This event is free to attend for both BCS Members and non-members but booking is required. Places are limited; please book as soon as possible.

The meeting this month will start with the BCS OSSG AGM and this will be followed by a talk on recent and planned improvements to NetBSD, a report from Chip Hack EDSAC Challenge, and finally a talk on the interplay between semantic coupling and co-change of software.

BCS Open Source SG – AGM

All members of OSHUG are welcome to attend and OSHUG members are encouraged to put themselves forward to join the committee. In particular we would welcome anyone to join the event organizers who arrange the speakers for each month and the occasional all-day workshops. Currently we have Sevan Janiyan, @ndy Bennett and Andrew Back as event organizers on the committee.

Updates to the NetBSD operating system since OSHUG #57 & #58

NetBSDSince the workshops held earlier this year, numerous changes have been made to the NetBSD operating system to ensure future workshops are easier for users and work smoother from the outset. This talk will cover some of the improvements made so far and what’s currently in the works. From wrestling with the u-boot firmware to new tools included in the os and much more.

Sevan Janiyan is founder of Venture 37, which provides system administration & consultancy services. As a fan of operating systems and computers with different CPU architectures, in his spare time he maintains builds of open source software on a variety of systems featuring PowerPC, SPARC and armv7l CPUs. He hopes to own a NeXTcube & OMRON LUNA-88K2 one day.

Reimagining EDSAC: The ChipHack experience

ChiphackChipHack is an occasional 2 day workshop introducing students and hobbyists to FPGA design. This year, ChipHack was sponsored by the BCS OSSG and Computer Conservation Society. To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the BCS, the workshop was extended by half a day and attempted to reimagine one of the earliest valve computers, EDSAC, designed by the BCS’ founding president, Prof Sir Maurice Wilkes.

Merry Bennett led the team putting together the technical content of the workshop. She will report back on what was achieved, from the three implementations of the computer, to the diverse reimagining of the original peripherals. The result is a legacy of lectures and videos, to allow anyone to run their own ChipHack course.

The Interplay between Semantic Coupling and Co-Change of software classes

During maintenance, developers must ensure that related entities are updated to be consistent with these changes. Studies in the static change impact analysis domain have identified that a combination of source code and lexical information outperforms using each one when adopted independently. The presentation has two aims: first, to compare the effectiveness of measuring semantic coupling of OO software classes using (i) simple identifier based techniques and (ii) the word corpora of the entire classes in a software system. Second, to empirically investigate the interplay between semantic and change coupling.

Dr Andrea Capiluppi joined the Department of Computer Science at Brunel University London (UK), as a Lecturer in Software Development in May2012. Between 2009 and 2012 he was at University of East London, working as a Senior Lecturer in Software Engineering. Before that, he worked as a Senior Lecturer and at University of Lincoln between 2006 and 2009. Andrea’s research and teaching interests focus on Software Evolution and Maintenance, as well as the construction, evaluation and maintenance of Social Networks. Andrea is mostly interested in the use of open technologies and in understanding how they can improve learning and teaching as well as the production of software and other artefacts.


Getting started with NetBSD on embedded platforms (Part 2) – London 18/5/2017

On the 18 May 2017, 18:00 – 20:00 at BCS London, 1st Floor, The Davidson Building, 5 Southampton Street, London, WC2E 7HA, [map] (51.510812, -0.121733)

Please register to attend and share on Lanyrd.

Workshop scope

Following on from the previous workshop, we will be continuing with the theme of NetBSD on embedded platforms. This time covering GPIO access with lua and rapid development with Rump kernel, which we did not get to in the previous workshop due to the lack of time.

If you did not get to attend the previous workshop, not to worry, notes are available and assistance will be provided on the day.

Participant requirements

You will need to bring:

  • Your own laptop (running Windows, Linux or Mac OS X);
  • A Raspberry Pi or BeagleBone Black;
  • An appropriate SD card for your board;
  • USB card reader to write a new OS image onto said SD card;
  • An ethernet cable to connect board to laptop and/or a USB UART/FTDI adapter to access the board via the serial console.

Windows 10 users

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Getting started with NetBSD on embedded platforms – London 20/4/2017

NetBSDOn the 20 April 2017, 17:30 – 20:00 at BCS London, 1st Floor, The Davidson Building, 5 Southampton Street, London, WC2E 7HA, [map] (51.510812, -0.121733)

Please register to attend and share on Lanyrd.

Workshop scope

You’re hired at the latest startup as a hardware engineer and required to build the firmware which will run on “The Greatest Next Generation Appliance” (GNA). The GNA boots, prints a message and interacts with a device (in this case an LED).

In this workshop we cover how a person with an interest and a focus on hardware can make progress with the software side by using the NetBSD operating system and the features it offers to save considerable time and effort.

  • NetBSD supports a wide & diverse range of systems & CPU architectures.
  • Support for cross compilation is offered by default and works out of the box.
  • There is a high level language interface to interact with the system internals.
  • File integrity verification support to detect tampering of binaries and preventing execution is builtin.
  • An instance of the kernel can be run as a user process on different operating systems where rapid development can take place.

Things we will cover:

  1. An introduction to cross-compilation with build.sh and constructing an image to boot on your hardware.
  2. Interacting with the system using Lua (which is embedded in the kernel, avoiding having to write C or have knowledge of OS internals) to e.g. access GPIO.
  3. Preventing the execution of tampered or unauthorised binaries with veriexec.
  4. Using rump kernel for rapid development away from a potentially slow dev board.

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An introduction to software-defined radio with LimeSDR – London 24/3/2017

On the 24 March 2017, 09:00 – 17:00 at BCS London, 1st Floor, The Davidson Building, 5 Southampton Street, London, WC2E 7HA, [map] (51.510812, -0.121733)

Please register to attend and share on Lanyrd.

A Software-Defined Radio (SDR) is a highly reconfigurable radio that can be used for many different radio applications through simply changing the software that links with it. An example of such a reconfigurable radio is the LimeSDR, which can both transmit and receive data and voice, using just about any wireless system.

The LimeSDR was launched by Lime Microsystems in May 2016 via a crowdfunding campaign, and is now shipping to over 3,500 customers worldwide. It is based on the Lime Microsystems LMS7002M Field Programmable RF (FPRF) 2×2 MIMO transceiver, which continuously covers frequencies from 100kHz to 3.8GHz. The LMS7002M has been successfully used in a wide range of digital radio applications, including 2G/4G Femtocell base stations, GNSS, DAB, DVBT receivers and RF test and measurement equipment. The LimeSDR also includes an FPGA and USB 3.0 to provide host connectivity.

Workshop scope

LimeSDRThe heart of the day is to provide a practical ‘hands-on’ afternoon session using the LimeSDR with the Lime Suite GUI and FFT Viewer. Then to use GNU Octave and Pothos to make some very simple digital radio examples.

To facilitate this, the morning will include introductory talks explaining the purpose of the various analogue and digital blocks included in the LMS7002M. It will also include tutorial material covering the key concepts required to understand modern digital radio transceivers, and how to use them, as well as practical issues associated with radio reception.

In addition the day will feature some advanced demonstrations showing the full capabilities of the LimeSDR and its LMS7002M transceiver, including 4G Femtocell, as well as educational examples such as a simple OFDM transceiver data link.

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Getting started with FPGAs and Verilog using project IceStorm and myStorm – London 1/12/2016

The BCS OSSG and the OSHUG are hosting a talk on educating the next generation.

The event will be held on Thursday 1st December at Prince Philip Room, The Royal Society of Arts, 8 John Adam Street, London, WC2N 6EZ, [map] (51.5093963-0.1227355) from 9:00 to 17:00.

Please register to attend and share on Lanyrd.

A further meeting on Educating the next generation will then follow in the evening, but at a different venue.

Please note that if you intend to attend both the workshop and evening meeting, you must register separately for each of these!

Workshop details

In this workshop we will build some basic Verilog blocks and modules targeting low power, low cost FPGAs from the Lattice iCE40 series. The workshop will operate using a complete open source Verilog toolchain based around Yosys and Arachne-PNR, which can be run on Linux and OS X. We will cover basic sequential and combinational logic blocks. In addition we will show you how you can combine simple ARM microcontroller code running alongside and communicating with Verilog peripherals synthesised on a Lattice iCE40 FPGA, all running together on myStorm.

This workshop will give participants a real taste of FPGA development in an open source software environment, using open source hardware.

Ken Boak started his professional career at BBC Research Department in 1986 working on digital signal processing systems for HDTV and subsequently over 30 years, a mix of 10 other technology companies, both UK and US based, in the fields of instrumentation, automation, telemetry telecomms.

Ken has been interested in energy monitoring since the early 1990s, when he constructed a 4 seater electric car, and provided rudimentary energy analysis of the battery charge and discharge cycles. In 1998 he joined a South London company and designed a low power wireless, monitor device for automatic, remote gas and electricity meter reading.

In 2009 Ken worked on the Onzo Energy Monitoring Kit, a commercial device that was ultimately distributed to Southern Electric customers. Then in 2010 he produced a series of educational devices to teach engineering undergraduates the principles of photovoltaic energy systems.

Ken has continued his interests in energy monitoring, working collaboratively with Megni on the OpenEnergyMonitor project, the open Inverter Project and also for All Power Labs in Berkeley, California, where he was involved in power monitoring of wood gasifier generator sets. He tries to live a low impact lifestyle in a modest Edwardian house in Surrey, with a little help from modern electronics.

Alan Wood has been working with parallel distributed programming for several decades. His recent work includes smart grids, 3D printers, robotics, automation and biotec diagnostics. His current research is focused on machine learning for embedded applications using Motes on FPGA and emerging Asics. He is a long term advocate and moderator (aka Folknology) for xCORE and other opensource communities, as well as a founder of Surrey and Hampshire Makerspace.

What to bring

Participants must bring a laptop computer and ideally one that is running either Linux or OS X. If your laptop is running Windows, you should also bring along a Raspberry Pi or similar Linux SBC, that you can use to build the toolchain and program myStorm over USB.

Note: Please aim to arrive by 08:45 as the workshop will start at 09:00 prompt.


Educating the Next Generation (myStorm update, micro:bit, encouraging next generation) – London 1/12/2016

The BCS OSSG and the OSHUG are hosting a talk on educating the next generation.

The event will be held on Thursday 1st December at CSC, 3rd Floor, The Wallbrook Building, 25 Wallbrook, London, EC4N 8AQ,  [map] (51.5103063-0.0961973) from 6:00pm to 8:00pm.

Note: Please aim to arrive by 18:15 as the event will start at 18:30 prompt.

This event is free to attend for both BCS Members and non-members but booking is required. Places are limited; please book as soon as possible.

myStorm update

myStormmyStorm is an open hardware and software FPGA development platform that is based around a Lattice iCE40 FPGA, which uses the fully open source IceStorm/Yosys/Arache-pnr toolchain for development. It is low cost and aims to provide a gentle on-ramp for those who are new to RTL development and working with FPGAs. In this talk we will hear a report from the workshop which took place earlier in the day, together with a status update on the myStorm project.

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The future of Open Source: silicon chip design for the masses, musical instruments and algorithms as pictures – London 20/10/2016

This year’s BCS OSSG AGM will be held on Thursday 20th October at the BCS HQ, First Floor, The Davidson Building, 5 Southampton Street, London, WC2E 7HA from 6:00pm to 8:45pm.

The AGM will be followed by four talks from our student prize winners and from the designers of MyStorm, an ultra-low cost FPGA board.

This event is free to attend for both BCS Members and non-members but?booking is required. Places are limited; please book as soon as possible.

Note: Please aim to arrive by 18:00 as the event will start at 18:15 prompt.

The timetable for the evening will be:

18:00 – Registration & refreshments
18:15 – BCS AGM and election of officers
18.45 – The Light Theremin Project
19:00 – The Next Generation of Open Source Engineers
19:15 – The use of Open Source projects to scaffold the development of new programmers
19:30 – The MyStorm project
20:00 – Sandwiches + networking
20:45 – Close

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