2016
03.19

One of the excellent new features of the Raspberry Pi 3 is the built in bluetooth. If you are already running a set up OS and do not wish to start over again you can install the drivers to enable to feature manually with apt-get

Note, I am on raspian Jessie, I do not know if this will work for older wheezy users.

sudo apt-get install pi-bluetooth

This will install the appropriate driver for the pi 3 and once it is done setting up you should see something similar to this:

pi@retropie:~ $ hcitool dev
Devices:
hci0 B8:27:EB:C0:D7:C1

 

From there you can pair your bluetooth devices as normal.

This is a great upgrade to the Pi as it not only saves you $20 between a bluetooth and a wifi adapter but you also reclaim 2 USB ports.

2016
03.14

I was tinkering with the core_freq and v3d_freq options in /boot/config.txt trying to see if I could squeeze any more out of the Raspberry Pi 3.

I started at 600. System booted, splash screen displayed, started to load Emulation station…..Black screen. System froze.

Ok… Back up to 575. Booted, Splash, ES loaded….Graphical artifacts for a few seconds…freeze? Not completely I could still SSH so I backed off the settings again.

550, boot, splash, ES, Able to navigate…No Artifacts… 3D applications work…Jackpot.

So, it’s only a tiny improvement but it still counts.

core_freq=550
v3d_freq=550
h264_freq=333

 

I tried fiddling with the h264 but it seemed to cause more instability at anything higher. The extra 50 over my previous 500 did give an improvement to 3D rendering on some struggling applications. It’s a significant improvement over the default stock settings as well. The VideoCore IV is underpowered in todays world so every notch on the belt counts.

EDIT: I backed core_freq and v3d_freq down to 525. After a full day of running the Pi became unstable at 550 but 525 has been fine for a couple weeks now.

Get the rest of my settings from my previous post

2016
03.08

I have been enjoying my Raspberry Pi 3 for a few days now the extra speed and built in wifi have proven to be excellent upgrades to the product.

Overclocking still seemed to be a topic not too many people had been willing to hit yet, even myself I was waiting for something in the raspi-config to show up. Last night in the retropie dev channel a fellow name Twisted0815 showed up and said he had a stable overclock at 1450 running and it was running well. I decided to give this a whirl and asked for his settings

#1450
sdram_freq=500
arm_freq=1450
over_voltage=6

 

After adding the settings to /boot/config.txt and rebooting sure enough the pi came up without issue.

I popped open a heavy application and left it running for 10 min, no issue.

I played some games on it for a half hour straight no issue.

Heat

I already had heatsinks on my Pi, I always heatsink a machine I intend to overclock and all my Pi’s going back to the Pi 1 B were overclocked in some manner but here are my reports.

Idle: 49C
Moderate application usage: 59C
Single and dual core load: 63C

Further testing

After doing some stress testing to the system at this setting I noticed with one core operations and dual core 1450 was stable but at 3 and 4 cores it would lock the system. I went to a thread on raspberrypi.org where they seemed to test every setting they could in 10mhz increments and tried them out with 1450. Still experienced a lockup eventually but made it further with the 4 core test than before.

I backed my settings off to 1350 like theirs and I was able to get a stable test result with all 4 cores and no crash. My temp in the peak of the test with all 4 cores loaded  floated around 79C to 80C with a heat sink.

I hope we get an official answer from the foundation at some point and perhaps a rasps-config option but I’ll stick with 1350 for now unless someone comes up with a stable 4 core solution that’s higher.

Updated finalized settings:

#gpu

core_freq=500
v3d_freq=500
h264_freq=333

#cpu
arm_freq=1350

#RAM

sdram_freq=570
sdram_schmoo=0x02000020
over_voltage_sdram_p=6
over_voltage_sdram_i=4
over_voltage_sdram_c=4

over_voltage=4

2016
03.03

Raspberry Pi launched a new model on Monday the Raspberry Pi 3. Today is Thursday just a few days after launch and I am quite happy that mine has arrived.

At first glance it looks identical to a 2 however there are a couple differences to note. The foundation logo has moved over a bit and there is now an antenna next to the USB ports for the built in wifi.

The Raspberry Pi 3 upgrades the CPU to a ARM v8 Cortex A53 that runs with no overclocking at 1.2ghz and with 4 cores that gives you a good chunk of power for the size and price. The RAM is still 1GB, I would have liked to have seen 2 or 4 but 1GB will still hold the fort.

The microSD card slot changed slightly and this threw me off for a couple minutes. It no longer does the spring loaded lock/eject so you just slide the card in and that’s it.

CPU

There’s tons of bench marks out there so I am not going to rehash it here but it is safe to say it’s significantly more powerful than the Pi2. In fact it is at the point where I’d actually recommend a heatsink because the device generates much more heat. You can still get away without one as some tests have shown and the device has built in precautions against heat however I like to err on the side of safe and functioning devices.

To test the CPU I ran it through some Dreamcast emulation and the improvement was significant. On the 2 the Dreamcast was playable but the sound was wretched and poppy. The Pi 3 on two games all the sound issues were gone and a 3rd they were significantly reduced.

Boot time is also drastically improved with the new device

Wifi

Not having to waste a port on wifi is fantastic! To me it’s like the Rpi3 came with a new feature and an extra usb port. However I suspect the drivers and firmware might need some tweaks. Connecting to the internet from the device seems to always work no issue but if you have any services like ssh or samba going into the Pi seems to be intermittently bad. It feels like the device sleeps the wifi and it takes 10-30seconds to wake it? If i hammer the device with pings it eventually comes back and stays up as long as traffic is active.

As it turns out this hypothesis was correct and the issue can be corrected with the following command:

sudo iwconfig wlan0 power off

Pop that into a boot script somewhere and you’re off to the races!

Bluetooth LE

Can’t really review this yet, drivers don’t exist but it’s another saved USB port if it works out.

Good times

So in a years time we have gone from ARMv6 to ARMv7 and now with the 3 ARMv8 that’s some impressive headway. I now have a Model B, A+, 2, 3 and hopefully at some point a Zero. It’s clear I enjoy the products as they have opened up computing and electronics to a new generation (including myself) so keep up the great¬†work Raspberry Pi.

2016
02.08

I was at Walmart yesterday and taking my usual browse through the electronics section looking for a gamepad. The PC section had a wired logitech gamepad as its only option and wired is not what I am after. In the console section I was looking at the PS4 area and they had a Rock candy wireless gamepad for $26. This seemed like a good buy as I had a bluetooth adapter already and PS3 used bluetooth!

Not bluetooth

Once I had the gamepad out of the glass case it was obvious this used a usb key to facilitate the wireless functions which is actually a better option so I bought it.

Why not bluetooth?

Well I like bluetooth don’t get me wrong. I made a bluetooth arcade controller not too long ago remember? But there is one slight issue with bluetooth and the Pi. Linux. Bluetooth works on Linux and you can pair things and use them but it can be finicky. I had horrid issues getting a device to reconnect after a power cycle (of the device) before having to manually compile the latest bluetooth stack and even doing that it still took 30seconds to 5 minutes to re pair sometimes. So while I do have working bluetooth on my Pi a usb key is still more convenient.

But did it work

So I got the controller home and took it out of its razor sharp slit your hands plastic container, put in 2 AA batteries and plugged in the key to the Pi. The key blinks every 2 seconds the controller does nothing…. Hmmm. I was looking all over for a switch, no switch. I pressed the home button…Nothing. I held the home button and the controller came to life!

I opened up the Piplay menu and started the configure SNES wizard and sure enough each button press responded and it moved to the next. When I got to the directional keys however the thumb stick worked but the digital directional buttons did not…Oh well. In general it did work.

Play test

I tried out a few SNES games now that the controller was set up and the controller responded well from across the room. Using the thumbstick on 2d games is a bit to get used to but it passes

Conclusion

Rock candy wireless ps3 gamepads are a cheap and easy to use wireless gamepad solution for the Pi