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News Release: VJing Made So Simple Anyone Can Do It

September 28, 2011 15:00 PM Central European Time
BERLIN, Germany

The Qi Hardware project is proud to announce the Milkymist One video synthesizer.

A total power consumption of only 5 watts and latency of only 60 milliseconds are the highlights of the new high-performance video synthesizer. Without additional computer, Milkymist One takes line-in audio to create real-time music visualizations. Ideal for musicians and DJs, restaurant and bar owners, people organizing parties or interested in visual art. The included camera feeds live video into the synthesis.

Milkymist One is the second product launched by Qi Hardware after the Ben NanoNote in March 2010. While the NanoNote was built around a MIPS-architecture SoC, Milkymist One takes copyleft freedoms one step further by being the first free computing architecture built around the GPL licensed 32-bit Milkymist SoC.

Visual artists benefit by being able to program their patches, including connectivity and control of DMX lights, lasers and MIDI instruments, all directly and in real-time from the Milkymist One synthesizer. Network connectivity allows the inclusion of live Twitter feeds. Free software programmers benefit by having the first fully programmable graphics accelerator at their disposal, opening the world of reusable and portable Verilog to free software developers.

Milkymist SoC is a new generation of collaboratively developed IC designs, founded in 2007 by Sebastien Bourdeauducq. It aims to be an ARM competitor with new sharism business model, allowing for greater development speed and better customization and optimization in embedded products.

Milkymist One is available from Sharism Ltd. now, and sells for 499 USD plus shipping from Taipei.

[1] Milkymist One shop:

[2] Media Gallery:

EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: To request more information or find out about obtaining Milkymist One for review, please contact

--Qi team 15:00, 28 September 2011 (CET)

Copyleft Hardware News 2011-08-08

Qi News
RSS Twitter

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Join the new era of computing, slow fidelity on the freedom channel, and buy the world's best copyleft hardware

Product Starting At Shipping
Ben NanoNote 99 USD/EUR Tuxbrain for Europe
Sharism for US/Japan/others
atben-atusb Combo 59 EUR Tuxbrain
Elphel 353 880 USD Elphel
Elphel Eyesis 24,000 USD Elphel


Homebrew CMOS and MEMS foundry

The Nyan Cat head at 100x zoom. The entire cat is around 600 microns long and 360 microns high.
The Nyan Cat head at 400x zoom. Pixels are 20 microns square.
The Nyan Cat in the Toped IC layout editor.


  • Xiangfu Liu made recordings of four Milkymist One patches.
Philpraxis-Eight bit starfield.fnp.ogv
[57 s, 6.5 MB, download]
Illusion & Che - The Piper.fnp.ogv
The Piper
[1:10 min, 12.42 MB, download]
Telek - Slow Shift Matrix (bb4.5).fnp.ogv
Slow Shift Matrix
[1:8 min, 15.28 MB, download]
Unchained - A Matter Of Taste (Remix).fnp.ogv
A Matter of Taste
[1:10 min, 22.53 MB, download]
  • Lars-Peter Clausen and Michael Walle improved Linux 3.0 on Milkymist One. [1]
  • Lars-Peter Clausen ported an OpenWrt userland to Milkymist One, with static linking and uClibc. [2]
  • Xiangfu Liu setup daily builds of OpenWrt for Milkymist One. [3]
  • Lattice Semiconductor released version 3.8 of the Mico32 core, which among small fixes comes with a major cleanup of the licensing header at the top of every source file.
    Earlier licensing headers were hard to understand and got some people to doubt the openess of the core. The new headers make the Mico32 core indisputably open source and GPL compatible. Lattice Download Comparison of old and new licensing header
  • Christopher Adams designed a new Milkymist logo and selected the free Orbitron font for logo and branding.
    roh from Raumfahrtagentur engraved a mirror version of the new logo on the inside of the top acrylic for the upcoming RC3 run.
Milkymist One logo on acrylic.
  • Yi Zhang finished the Milkymist One box design and sent it off to the box makers.
PDF file sent to the printshop, prepared from a Scribus original.
Printed and die-cut box.
Thirteen wires in and out of Milkymist One during production testing.
  • Wolfson Microelectronics' WM9707 audio codec helped reduce audio noise on the Milkymist One RC3 video synthesizer by 90%, from about 500 mV to about 50 mV.
    Earlier runs used a National Semiconductor LM4550B codec. [4]
  • Cristian Paul ported the Namuru GPS correlator to the Milkymist SoC (thanks to Fabrizio Tapper and Peter Mumford for their support).
    This core will allow speedup of the correlation process for getting a fix and tracking GPS satellites. Work continues on the OpenSourceGPS receiver which will provide the high level software interface to process the navigation data tracked by Namuru. Namuru port to Milkymist, Namuru datasheet, OpenSourceGPS code repository, OpenSourceGPS documentation
  • David Kühling helped port the SoftGNSS matlab code to GNU Octave.
    This will allow offline analysis of raw data for a variety of GPS front-ends. SoftGNSS repo
  • Jon Phillips gave a talk about Milkymist One at FISL 12 in Porto Alegre, Brazil (slides of talk below). [5] [6]
Fisl12 rejon milkymist 20110702.ogv
Jon Phillips at FISL 12 (July 2, 2011, Porto Alegre, Brazil).
[46:17 min, 78 MB, download]


  • Werner finished designing the ben-wpan boards, a set of IEEE 802.15.4 wireless dongles. [7]
Range of ben-wpan boards measured at Werner's apartment in Buenos Aires (dimensions in cm).
  • Werner wrote documentation and tools for the production and testing process of ben-wpan 802.15.4 boards.
    A total of five pages, overview page and four detail pages. Announcement Overview
Production and testing process flowchart.
David depanelizing PCBs

Copyleft Hardware Explained

  • Werner Almesberger published a two part comparison of Free scripted CAD tools - Part 1, Part2.
OpenCSG, showing artefacts
OpenSCAD, modeling artefact (internal structure)
OpenSCAD, modeling artefact (reversed face)
  • The names of component packages are often confusing and vary among manufacturers. This is Werner's first step (for small logic gates) towards a packageology.
  • Some data sheets don't contain all the information necessary to make Copyleft Hardware. Here is Werner's anatomy of a datasheet.


  • Jadon Dutra made two nice Ben NanoNote tutorial videos. [8]
Jadon NanoNote Hello world tutorial scaledown.ogv
Tutorial: Hello World program on Ben NanoNote.
[5:43 min, download 11 MB/52 MB]
Jadon NanoNote USB booting scaledown.ogv
Tutorial: How to boot Ben NanoNote into USB mode.
[2:23 min, download 5 MB/38 MB]
Ben NanoNote test point map, SoC mappings here
  • sujan and zedstar took some NanoNotes on a trip to Nepal. We don't really know what happened, but got this nice picture back...
Ben NanoNote in Nepal


OpenLase laser projector.
[2:17 min, 20 MB, download]
OpenLase prototype used in making the video.
Detail of galvo (Galvanometer).

Presentations, Slides, Brochures

Jon,Werner and Sebastien talked about our projects, here's an opportunity to catch up and browse through slide decks, presentations, and a brochure.

Jon's slide deck on Milkymist One

(announcement, video)


Jon's slide deck on Copyleft Hardware



Werner's talk at FISL 12 in Porto Alegre about Copyleft Hardware

(source FISL 12 in Porto Alegre, Brazil)


Sebastien's talk at THSF 2011 in Toulouse about Milkymist One

(source THSF 2011 Toulouse Hacker Space Factory, May 28, 2011)

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Sebastien's Milkymist One brochure

(source [10])

M1 brochure v2 100dpi.pdf
M1 brochure v2 100dpi.pdf
M1 brochure v2 100dpi.pdf
M1 brochure v2 100dpi.pdf

A happy continued summer everyone (winter for Werner). Cheers.

--Qi team 08:00, 8 August 2011 (CET)

Copyleft Hardware News 2011-06-01

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Mimi and Eunice by Nina Paley


  • We decided to market Milkymist One as a video synthesizer, not interactive VJ station as planned before. Almost everybody on the project felt that video synthesizer would get more people to understand quicker what the product does, and lead them in the right direction with their second question, whereas interactive VJ station would send them in all sorts of different directions.
  • Yi Zhang took a series of Milkymist One product shots at the Mayray photo studio in Shanghai.
M1 studio shot.jpg
M1 in hand.jpg
M1 vga.jpg
M1 video in.jpg
M1 buttons.jpg
M1 dmx.jpg
One of many new features and improvements in Milkymist One.
Milkymist One at labSurlab in Medellín, Colombia, April 7, 2011
  • Xiangfu Liu added a screenshot feature to Milkymist One, here's a collection of screenshots.
M1 screenshot cam3.png
M1 screenshot cam1.png
  • Real-time video synthesis is an exciting feature of Milkymist One. There are still few recordings of performances, because nobody has a VGA grabber, and real-time encoding and streaming into formats such as Ogg Theora or WebM is possible but will require substantial work. Kristian Paul has recorded a small segment with a second video camera... (another one from Sebastien)
Kpaul m1 video-in sample.ogv
Video-in with Milkymist One. [0:27 min, 19.6 MB]
  • Xiangfu Liu demonstrated Open Sound Control ("OSC") with his Milkymist One. OSC is another promising way to control Milkymist One, with nice clients on popular smartphones and tablets.
Controlling Milkymist One from an Android phone over OSC (Note: video without sound). [0:57 min, 6.5 MB]
  • Slashdot carried a post about our soon-to-be launched open CPU - Milkymist. [11]
  • Sebastien started writing a nice Wikipedia article about the Milkymist project. [12]
  • Sebastien managed to get a clarification from Google that they are not planning to release open and free sources for their WebM hardware codec. [13]
  • Two threads on the mailing list discussed plans about adding a MMU to the Milkymist SoC. [14], [15]
  • Hong Kong based Sharism Ltd, manufacturer of the Milkymist One, sold out its batch of Milkymist One RC2 units. A big THANKS! to all supportive buyers who believed in this product at such an early stage. RC3 will be available soon...
  • Adam Wang reported on the latest Milkymist One RC3 production status. [16]


Ben UBB VGA.ogv
Ben NanoNote and external VGA display. [0:27 min, 4.8 MB]
Vga23-800px-Flower bouquet20091225.JPG
Ben and Ben talking. [3:30 min, 14.9 MB]
(background info: the video was cut using the command-line melt utility from the MTL framework, sound track P97 made with Korg Kaossilator, scripts)
  • Tuxbrain continued with ben-wpan production, PCBs have been made (see picture), component mounting date (SMT) is scheduled for next week.
Tuxbrain's ben-wpan PCBs.
  • kyak proposed a Russian keyboard layout for the NanoNote, Jane took it one step further and hacked her keyboard into a Colemak layout! [19]
Russian keyboard layout proposed by kyak.
Fabric paint as adhesive.
Jane's finished Colemak keyboard layout.
  • viric has been (for a while already) maintaining nanonixos, a Nix package manager based distribution for the Ben NanoNote. [20]
  • Mark Tuson reported running Debian Wheezy on his NanoNote. [21]
  • David Kuehling added hardware acceleration to the MPlayer video player, which can now play most files in Ogg Theora and WebM formats up to 320x240 and 30fps, and most audio except for surround-sound. Smaller video files are automatically played back full-screen by using the CPU's hardware-scaler. [22]
Big Buck Bunny from the Blender Foundation running on Ben NanoNote.
  • Hans Bezemer released 4tH v3.61.1 for the Ben Nanonote. Changelog
4tH on Ben, thanks to Hans Bezemer
Ben NanoNote OpenWrt 2011-05-28 image after bootup.

--Qi team 03:00, 1 June 2011 (CET)

Qi News Release: Milkymist One video synthesizer shown at 6th Libre Graphics Meeting in Montreal

May 13, 2011 05:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time


More than 200 active developers, artists, and attendees of the 6th Libre Graphics Meeting 2011 in Montreal were able to see the Milkymist One video synthesizer live for the first time, to entertain and surprise them between talks and during breaks. Real-time video synthesis with audio and video input had been available before in proprietary packages combining multiple devices and costing several thousand USD. Milkymist One combines this into a small form factor, and uses only free software and free hardware acceleration.

"The Milkymist One is the future of live performance and is the real freedom box, available now. Without a truly open hardware architecture, developers working on free and open software are going to be locked out from the future of development," said Jon Phillips, Fabricatorz Founder and Qi Hardware Co-founder. "I am extremely proud to use the Milkymist One live at the event, and explain why its so important for the future of Libre Graphics."

Phillips is giving a final keynote presentation at LGM2011 where he is presenting the future of Libre Graphics, moving from developers on desktop systems they control, to network services outward towards embedded and hardware for making graphics.

Later that night, Milkymist One will be featured during the Libre Graphics Meeting 2011 closing ceremony in Montreal at an event called Geepsters.

The Milkymist project is an informal organization of people and companies who develop, manufacture and sell a comprehensive open source solution for the live synthesis of interactive visual effects for video performance artists, clubs and musicians. The project goes great lengths to apply the open source principles at every level possible, and is best known for the Milkymist system-on-chip (SoC) which is among the first commercialized system-on-chip designs with free HDL source code. Several Milkymist technologies have been reused in applications unrelated to video synthesis, such as NASA's Communication Navigation and Networking Reconfigurable Testbed (CoNNeCT).

Milkymist One is currently available in limited quantities to early adopters, and will be available later this summer for general use, at a target price of 499 USD.

# # #

[1] Milkymist homepage:

[2] Libre Graphics Meeting 2011 homepage:

[3] Pictures:

About Milkymist
The Milkymist project is an informal organization of people and companies who develop, manufacture and sell a comprehensive open source solution for the live synthesis of interactive visual effects for video performance artists, clubs and musicians. The project goes great lengths to apply the open source principles at every level possible, and is best known for the Milkymist system-on-chip (SoC) which is among the first commercialized system-on-chip designs with free HDL source code. Several Milkymist technologies have been reused in applications unrelated to video synthesis, such as NASA's Communication Navigation and Networking Reconfigurable Testbed (CoNNeCT).

About Libre Graphics Meeting
The Libre Graphics Meeting exists to unite and accelerate the efforts behind Free, Libre and Open Source creative software. Since 2006, this annual meeting is the premiere conference for developers, users and supporters of projects such as GIMP, Inkscape, Blender, Krita, Scribus, Hugin, the Open Clipart Library, and the Open Font Library who gather to work on interoperability, shared standards, and new ideas. Work at prior LGMs has pushed the state of the art in important areas such as color management, cross-application sharing of assets, and common formats.

Names of companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owner.

EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: To request more information or find out about obtaining Milkymist One for review, please contact

--Qi team 05:00, 13 May 2011 (EDT)

Qi Community News 2011-04-04

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Copying is an act of love. Please copy & share.
Mimi and Eunice by Nina Paley

  • Over at Osmocom, Marcin Mielczarczyk posted an update about getting the MTK 6140 GSM/EDGE RF transceiver to work for the free OsmocomBB GSM stack. Read on about solid progress and good links, and join if you can... [23]
  • Bitcoins: We've had discussions and discoveries about paying for copyleft hardware with Bitcoins, a digital currency created in 2009 by Satoshi Nakamoto. Read an EFF commentary about Bitcoins. (Bitcoin on Wikipedia)
  • Sharing spectrum: In order to connect potentially related projects, it's worth mentioning that the IETF recently started a mailing list to define a protocol for access to a white space database. The aim is to make unused or underused spectrum available on an ad-hoc basis, rather than preallocating large chunks of spectrum to the few nation-sized companies that are currently controlling access to our mobile Internet. Read more and join the paws mailing list at [24].


Yann Sionneau talking about Milkymist One at OSHUG #8, London, March 10
  • Jon Phillips put his Milkymist One to good use at the Mozilla Firefox 4 release party in Beijing, China. [25]
Milkymist One making people happy at Firefox 4 release party in Beijing, March 23
  • Jon Phillips proposed a change of the Milkymist One case color to transparent light-blue. He did an ad-hoc Starbucks survey and people at 3 different tables were all in favor of transparent light-blue over the violet that we used for most cases so far. There were no objections from Sebastien and others so it seems that's a go.
Transparent light-blue - the case color for Milkymist One RC3 (acrylic panel on right side removed for JTAG).
  • We are thinking about including a simple video camera as an accessory for Milkymist One, our current favorite is the OBK-2010CW with a 1/3' ' Sony CCD sensor, 0.5 Lux usable illumination, 3.6 mm M12 lens, weatherproof metal case (bullet style), standard 1/4' ' 20 tpi tripod threading. The decision is not final yet, we will do more comparisons and see what works well with Milkymist One. Also see Kristian Paul's camera comparison.
OBK-2010CW (actual camera case is about 8 cm long, 2 cm diameter)
  • Sebastien Bourdeauducq added visual patches for live video transformation [26].
  • Sebastien designed a new Flickernoise color theme.
New Milkymist One color theme
PDF viewer
  • Sebastien updated his thorough 6-page technical introduction to the Milkymist project. pdf
  • Xiangfu Liu wrote Makefiles for automatic compilation of the Milkymist One toolchain, RTEMS and Flickernoise, and added a screenshot feature fbgrab.
Milkymist one-flickernoise-V0.1.ogv
Xiangfu Liu running Milkymist One [1:23 min, 9.1 MB]
  • Michael Walle started working on a GDB based debug system using the serial link alone instead of OpenOCD. [27]


Maybe it extends further than I thought...
Ben meets Arduino.
First demo ardunote.ogv
ArduNote First Steps - Building and flashing Arduino sketch with NanoNote [2:32 min, 15.4 MB]
Tuxbrain only moments away from ...?
  • David Kühling made the first steps in using XBurst hardware acceleration features for accelerated mplayer video playing. [28]
  • Werner sent several home-made ben-wpan prototypes to early supporters around the world. [29]
From Buenos Aires with love.
  • Werner got the first 802.15.4 communication going between two Bens via ATBEN boards, using the stack of the linux-zigbee project. [30]
  • Tuxbrain will lead ben-wpan production and has started the process with the PCB fab.[31]
  • Werner Almesberger started to make the design to SMT fab process semi-automatic and more reproducible with Makefile.kicad.
atben - 802.15.4 8:10 card dongle.
atusb - 802.15.4 USB dongle.


  • It seems the Xué project (a video camera based on Milkymist) reached a dead end with the original author having stopped working on it, and no new contributors joining. So until someone steps up, we borrowed the Apache Attic concept, and moved Xué to our very own attic. The attic may actually come in handy for a few other Qi projects and proposals that have reached end of life. Over time you may see some cleanup, with things being moved into the attic. Nothing gets lost there, so no worries...
Copyleft hardware attic.

--Qi team 12:00, 4 April 2011 (CET)

Qi Community News 2011-03-01

  • Over at our Osmocom GSM friends, Marcin Mielczarczyk gave a status update on his effort to run Linux on a MTK 6235 smartphone, including Youtube video to show Angstrom/OPIE running on the phone. The big task of actual GSM baseband action is still missing, but I think this is one of the most promising approaches towards a free phone.
Angstrom/OPIE booting on MTK 6235 phone
David in Bruxelles, with NanoNotes, Milkymist One, and other gear. Dr. Schaller from looking on.


Kpaul luam.png
  • Kristian Paul took copyleft hardware principles to heart, and had a case made for his Milkymist One locally in Colombia, using the same CAD files as the original cases from Raumfahrtagentur.
Bogota made Milkymist One case (10 USD for the case, 5 USD shipping to Kristian Paul in Buga)
  • Sharism is now selling full Milkymist One sets including case for 499 USD plus shipping.
  • Yanjun Luo fixed a USB high-speed bug that slipped into the first jtag-serial daughterboard run. Existing stock was reworked by Adam, and bad boards in the field will be replaced (the bug was known before but a decision was made to go ahead because even with the bug, the boards work fine in still fast USB full-speed mode). [32]
  • Many bug fixes and improvements, such as a hardware fix for an FPGA bootup configuration problem [33], RTEMS Ethernet driver fixes, added mouse-wheel support in Flickernoise and PDF-based help system.


  • Jane sent a Valentine's Ascii art gift, and continued with her case collection. (
Jane's NanoNote case group hug
  • Irina Bushmeleva joined Jane's crochet case production. [34]
and his wife.
Curveship on NanoNote
  • Thanks to David, kyak and others, new ports to Ben NanoNote's OpenWrt image were finished: Emacs, MPlayer, Brainless, flite, pyclock, supertux, sokoban, qball and more... (Full Applications List).
  • Xiangfu released a new stable OpenWrt image, 2011-02-23 (Announcement, Changelog, Applications List).
OpenWrt on Ben NanoNote
Xiangfu Liu trying to convert rms (old picture)
NanoNote talking to remote switchable power sockets via HopeRF module.

--Qi team 09:30, 1 March 2011 (CET)

Qi Community News 2011-02-01


ben-wpan showing the RSSI of background traffic

  • Jane Andreas designed another one of her famous crochet NanoNote cases, this time Jlime inspired. [36]
Ben NanoNote crochet case

  • Jane Andreas made the first Ascii Comic for Ben NanoNote. [37]
Aewan in action

  • David Kuehling wrote an article about Forth on the Ben NanoNote that was published in the 4/2010 issue of German Forth magazine 4th Dimension. [38], article pdf
  • David also continued his porting efforts with GNU Octave, PLplot LUA bindings, the zgv image viewer and others. GNU Octave, PLplot Lua bindings


  • German Linux Magazin published a nice introduction to Milkymist One. [39]
  • Milkymist One is now also available from Tuxbrain. [40]


  • Cristian Paul uploaded the first live GPS I/Q data captured with his SiGe EVB, and asked people to join the software effort. [41]
SiGe 4162T EVB hooked up to SIE

  • Carlos Camargo forked the SAKC/SIE project to He asked David from Tuxbrain to leave the project, so SAKC/SIE is now unmaintained at has since started AndroidStamp, a breakout board around Freescale i.MX233. [42] [43]


  • FOSDEM 2011. 5-6 February in Brussels(Belgium) Tuxbrain will be sharing a stand with Hackable Devices, Tuxbrain will expose NanoNote, MilkyMist ONE and some other products. if you plan to visit FOSDEM don't forget to go to the hallway and wave :)

--Qi team 08:30, 1 February 2011 (EST)

Qi Community News 2011-01-01

Happy New Year everybody!


  • Rafa released Jlime Muffinman images for the NanoNote. With X environment, Matchbox Desktop, video and music player, PDF and offline wiki viewer, and much more.
Jlime Desktop

  • Liu Xiangfu released the OpenWrt 2010-12-14 NanoNote image, including many bug fixes, new applications, and more... [44]
NanoMap on OpenWrt 2010-12-14

  • Jane made a castle case for the NanoNote, and released source codes. [45]
Jane's NanoNote castle case


  • roh from Raumfahrtagentur in Berlin made the second generation Milkymist One cases, this time out of acrylic instead of wood... [46]
Milkymist One acrylic case

  • Sébastien released Milkymist 1.0RC1 and Flickernoise 0.1 for use in the Milkymist One RC2 production run. [47]
  • Adam reported final results of the Milkymist One RC2 run - we learnt a lot, and in the end 35 out of 40 boards passed all tests. [48]


  • In the #qi-hardware IRC channel, we decided to move the Aptina CMOS image sensor to a separate daughterboard, using the same expansion header that was already planned for Xué.

--Qi team 20:30, 1 January 2011 (EST)

Qi Community News 2010-12-01

  • Qi Hardware was assigned IEEE OUI 10-E2-D5 for use in Ethernet MAC addresses and elsewhere.
  • Qi Hardware USB IDs added to [49]
  • Elphel and Qi Hardware got a page on Wikipedia.
  • Xiangfu got xburst-tools (USB booting and flashing XBurst devices) and fped (parametric footprint editor for KiCad) into Debian/unstable. [50]

NanoNote pocket computer

  • Werner Almesberger started to work on a 802.15.4 microSD RF board around Atmel AT86RF230, for use with the Ben and other devices. The goal is to make it work out of the box as a 6LoWPAN device. PCB antenna is being developed 'in-house' at Werner's apartment. Stay tuned. [51]
802.15.4 RF board
antenna performance

  • Kristian Paul convinced the Universidad del Valle located in Buga, Colombia to support the development of his free GPS stack with access to a 150 MHz scope.
SiGe 4162 front-end GPS RF IC

Milkymist One interactive VJ station

Milkymist One wood case

Xué digital camera

  • The Xué project has chosen the MT9M033C12STC Aptina CMOS censor, and Sharism made a firm order of 30 pieces of that sensor. Now we only need to review everything properly [53], and spend more time on the KiCad process: KiCad to PCB, KiCad to components shopping list (boom), KiCad to SMT.
  • Andrés Calderón has issued a call for reviewers. [54]

--Qi team 17:00, 1 December 2010 (CET)

Qi Community News 2010-11-01

Nice to know: Qi Hardware got a proper RSS newsfeed, please add to your newsreader.



Bootscreen of OpenWrt 2010-09-14 image on new Ben NanoNotes


Ben exploded, thanks to Werner Almesberger and Solidify

  • Werner Almesberger continued with his collection of raw 3D scans of NanoNote mechanical parts.
  • Victor Remolina from Tuxbrain was so excited about Werner's new Solidify tool that he decided to write a blog post praising Werner's work. [55]
  • Special Thanks to the people who helped with NanoNote OpenWrt images and packages in recent months (alphabetically from commitlog): Alan Post, Axel Lin, Ayla, bartbes, David Kühling, Erwin Lopez, Jiri Brozovsky, kristianpaul, kyak, Lars-Peter Clausen, Maarten ter Huurne, Mirko Vogt, Neil Stockbridge, Niels Kummerfeldt, Xiangfu Liu.
    THANK YOU ALL, without you the NanoNote could not move forward.
  • Jane Andreas made a crocheted case for her Ben, source codes to follow later. [56]
Ben warm and safe inside the yarn, thanks to Jane Andreas

Potowotominimak, Mr Baffo and Mohammed Abdul from Nanowar of Steel with NanoNote

In Ornotermes lab, things start to happen...
Tuxbrain demoing blinkenlights with the breakout board [2:03 min, 10 MB]

  • Xiangfu Liu got xburst-tools and fped into Debian/NEW (not unstable yet). [58]
  • kyak ported gcc-mips to the NanoNote in OpenWrt. [59]


  • Professor Carlos Camargo from the National University of Colombia in Bogota decided to use the XBurst-FPGA board SIE for his students in the 2010/2011 academic period.
  • 65 SIE boards were produced, 54 of which where shipped out to Carlos students who are now using them.
  • We learnt some valuable lessons from the run, see the V2 errata or manufacturing videos and pictures. You can see a cool video showing a Yamaha pick and place machine mounting SIE boards here:
SIE V2 Part mounting 1.ogv
Yamaha Motor YV100Xg pick and place machine mounts components onto SIE v2 boards, needs about 40 seconds per board. [3:11 min, 68.5 MB]


  • Sébastien Bourdeauducq released Milkymist v0.9, including many bug fixes, USB, MIDI and JTAG improvements. See the release announcement for a full list.
  • Sharism and Sébastien Bourdeauducq decided to kickoff a run of 35 Milkymist One RC2 boards, in time for the 27C3 conference in Berlin in late December. Fully functioning RC2 boards will be offered for 350 USD plus shipping. You can follow the progress on the RC2 schedule page.
  • Sébastien ran into a serious memory instability bug, but the nice people from Xilinx Paris office allowed him to use their 20Gs/s Agilent Infiniium 54855A oscilloscope with 6 GHz bandwidth and a 7 GHz Agilent differential probe for measurements to track down the bug, and improve board stability overall. Read the interesting full measurements report for more.
Milkymist One RC1 voltage instability on DRAM refresh.

JTAG-serial daughterboard on Milkymist One RC1, made by Yanjun Luo

  • Michael Walle added support for Spartan-6 JTAG in OpenOCD and for the JTAG-serial board in UrJTAG. [60] [61]
  • Chitlesh Goorah announced support for the Milkymist toolchain in fedora Electronic Lab, and setup a project tracking page. We can later create Milkymist development USB sticks. [62]
  • Sébastien got many RTEMS features and drivers to work - shell, rendering engine, sound, graphics acceleration as well as the Ethernet, DMX and infrared drivers. [63] [64]
  • Takeshi Matsuya continued to uplevel LM32 support in the Linux kernel, and can boot Linux 2.6.36+ on Milkymist One. [65]


  • Andrés Calderón and Juan Briñez continued working on the KiCad design of our upcoming Milkymist-based video camera named Xué. There were 113 commits in August when things started, 8 more in September and 17 in October.
  • Schematics are finished and schematics review and feedback is more than welcome.
  • Layout is 95% finished, see yourself...

External links

--Qi team 03:30, 1 November 2010 (CET)

Qi Editorial: Nostalgia

When I was a kid the school library was still full of do-science-at-home books from the three decades prior. These books suggested you could get really interesting chemicals at the hardware store or pharmacy, and magnesium filings or spring steel from any local machine shop.

Along with access to a lot of diy-inclined adults, I really grew up with the impression that knowledge existed to be shared. That was really borne out at my first serious job in the early aughts, manufacturing reproduction hand tools whose patents had expired before my father was born. Anyone could have built those products, and we could talk all day about how we did it. It benefitted our customers enormously to know certain details, and without the infrastructure or skilled labor we had, nobody really competed with us.

That's the sort of world I want to live in but each day I see the corporate manufacturing world trying harder and harder to keep a tight grip on their "IP" and thus keep consumers beholden. I know for a fact that people do not require exclusivity to do innovative things, but will not be shocked if I see lobbying to have patents renewed indefinitely in my lifetime.

Open Hardware feels like the best way to create goods which can be fixed, can be taught, can be extended at the discretion of their owners. In theory, even if open components are used in proprietary assemblies, the original openness can never be appropriated. Changes to the open design must be published, so they don't need to infect their host hardware with openness in order to provide hooks of understanding for able owners. So I suppose my interest grows at least partly out of nostalgia.

--Allin Kahrl 08:27, 6 October 2010 (EST)

Qi Press Release: Nanowar of Steel, Copyleft Hardware Featuring Copyleft Music

September 15, 2010 08:00 AM Central European Time


Dear friends,
for Tuxbrain it is with pride that we announce that a project of ours, other members of the Qi Hardware community, Jlime community and the heavy rock band Nanowar of Steel, is now being released.

Nanowar of Steel, a band that releases their music under Creative Commons licences has launched their new album Into Gay Pride Ride, and has used the Ben NanoNote, a Copyleft Hardware device as an alternative platform in addition to the classical CD release.

Taking advantage of the multimedia capabilities of the Ben NanoNote, there are images, pictures, photos and videos of the band preinstalled on the device as well, together with the applications coming with our Jlime GNU/Linux distribution.

You can see a blog post with further information at:

Whatever you personal interest in the device or music is, I think the initiative itself has enough value to beg for your collaboration in spreading this announcement in your blogs,, Twitter, Facebook, or whatever means you have at your hands.

Thank you all and a big hug from your Copyleft Hardware provider Tuxbrain.

[1] Nanowar of Steel band homepage:

[2] Into Gay Pride Ride album, full download (CC-BY-SA):

[3] NanoNote Special Edition, 99 EUR + shipping:

EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: To request more information or find out about obtaining a NanoNote for review, please contact:

David Reyes Samblas Martinez, +34-93-706-9787

--Tuxbrain 08:00, 15 September 2010 (CET)

Qi community news 2010-09-08


  • The RC1 Milkymist One board bring-up is completed, with all the interfaces tested.
  • On to a batch of 20-30 RC2 Milkymist One boards for the 27C3 (at the latest), including JTAG cables.

Ben NanoNote



The following ports have been added to the openwrt-packages repository:

  • Love, the 2d graphical and game library of Lua scripting language is almost finished thanks to bartbes effort, he also upload some videos on simple games developed with the library.

    Playing npong on the Ben Nanonote.ogv

    Sea otters on the Ben Nanonote.ogv

  • makfa, A Lojban Dictionary.


  • We are facing some system instability when running complex software on the SoC (probably DRAM related). This is becoming a major issue and priority.
  • Software (Flickernoise/RTEMS) contributors are most welcome.
  • We are looking for contributors to design a case.

Laoban Soundsystem


  • Tuxbrain will be present at CEDI 2010 introducing Copyleft Hardware in most relevant event on Computation and Embedded Electronics for Universities in Spain.

--Qi team 04:00, 8 September 2010 (EST)

Qi community news 2010-08-11


  • Ben NanoNote patches have been accepted for the next Linux Kernel, 2.6.36 due to the great efforts of Lars and others!
  • The SAKC project is moving forward, and officially has been renamed to the SIE Project.
  • The RC1 Milkymist One board bring-up is completed, with all the interfaces tested.
  • On to a batch of 20-30 RC2 Milkymist One boards for the 27C3 (at the latest), hopefully including JTAG cables.

Ben NanoNote


  • The Community, along with project lead Carlos, renamed the project to SIE.


  • The RC1 Milkymist One board bring-up is completed, with all the interfaces tested and to some extent supported in the SoC design.
  • On to a batch of 20-30 RC2 Milkymist One boards for the 27C3 (at the latest), as prototyping/development boards for now.
  • Yanjun Luo is working on a JTAG + UART combined cable made specifically for the Milkymist One. Hopefully, this cable will be sold with the RC2 batch!
  • Michael Walle has been successful using urJTAG that he modified and a FTDI-based cable to reprogram the Milkymist One. This is one less proprietary tool in the chain.
  • Rez from Corelabs is working on a case design.
  • Yann Sionneau has completed the Ethernet and GPIO drivers for RTEMS.
  • We have had quite a bit of media coverage lately, with the project being posted at MAKE blog and Create Digital Motion. Thanks!
  • The last major step for the SoC design is to finish implementing USB (see the SoC roadmap). Then, software (Flickernoise/RTEMS) will become a major priority along with the RC2 board production.
  • Software contributors are most welcome.
  • New website design by Corelabs (work in progress): see preview at

--Qi team 04:00, 11 August 2010 (EST)

Qi community news 2010-04-28

Ben NanoNote

  • Xiangfu posted a report on disassembling
  • David published a video showing the communication between his Ben and an Arduino board
Arduino nanonote serial demo001.ogv
Ben and Arduino talking to each other.

  • Xiangfu presented a new project - "xbboot" - aimed at replacing the current usbboot as the main tool to reflash the Ben
  • Ernest Kugel posted he got xburst tools working on Slackware
  • David created a logo contest for the OpenWrt splash screen
  • Mirko re-raised the environment / identity partition issue


  • Adam sourced all parts necessary for the next small run of SAKC, and sent a package to Carlos which Carlos already received in Bogota. That includes LCMs, FPGAs, crystals, even some HopeRF modules to play with. Carlos is now waiting for his new PCBs to arrive (currently scheduled for May 5) before starting to mount the next load of SAKC boards. We don't know yet how many fully working boards we will have in the end, but if you are interested in one please speak up. They will go to people who can contribute back the most...
  • Carlos reported on that he has a soft MIPS processor

from Open Cores working on SAKC FPGA


  • Sebastien announced the release of Milkymist 0.5
  • Sebastien presented new Milkymist Logos and Stickers
  • Sebastien congratulated Yann on his GSoC project which will serve as a basis for the future OS of Milkymist
  • Adam finished a first pass of routing of the PCB of the Milkymist One interactive VJ station, currently under review.


  • Mirko announced the plan to release different flavors of the uboot, the rootfs as well as the kernel, among them a debian compatible kernel image


  • David announced Tuxbrain was chosen to be one of the representatives of the Open Economy sector in the 20+20 project of Escuela de Organizacion Industrial (Industrial Organization School)
  • David send a list of events organized by the Spanish copyleft hardware community happening in may
  • Mirko announced changes in the wiki and Wolfgang gave more details
  • Wolfgang announced the upgrade of indefero to version 1.0
  • Wolfgang setup public searchable archives for the #qi-hardware IRC channel on freenode, and all commits into projects at will trigger a 1-line commitlog into #qi-hardware as well.

--Qi team 04:00, 28 April 2010 (EST)

Qi community news 2010-04-04

  • Mark Adrian Bell created a HowTo about Time settings on the NN and how to use the NN as a calendar
  • Wolfgang announced an IRC webchat as an easy way to get support here at Qi
  • Zeartul announced that with the current kernel the NN is now completely compatible with Dingoo A320 games
  • Richard Weinberger proposed splitting the rootfs in two in order to save boot time
Gmu on Ben NanoNote

  • Wolfgang improved the wiki, adding a threaded forum, support for anonymous edits (hopefully spam-safe), support for OpenID, PDF previews, timeline, charts, external data. GraphViz and SiteChart were removed because nobody used them and they are not maintained in the MediaWiki SVN.
  • Rubén Berenguel ported Gnugo to the Ben, and proposed several other math related packages to continue with (pari/gp, octave, gforth).
  • Carlos Camargo uploaded a video showing SAKC as an oscilloscope.
SAKC as scope.ogv
SAKC as a simple scope.

  • Guylhem posted binaries to flash the NanoNote from OS X

--Qi team 04:00, 4 April 2010 (EST)

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