I have received the Maaxboard this week, and I can finally start testing. I was afraid shipping would be affected by the Corona measures, but it came by UPS, and there was no hassle at all.
The maaxboard came in a plain brown cardboard box, with all the specified items neatly packaged:
- the Maaxboard
- a 5V/3A power supply with several adapters for the different plugs, including (luckily) the Dutch one
- a 16GB micro-SD card (Neat!)
- a long and sturdy HMDI cable (even neater!)
There was also a short 'quick start manual' for the Maaxboard, with instructions to download the linux image and set it up.
The Maaxboard itself looks very similar to the raspberry pi, with a somewhat more populated board, and some neat extra's like buttons, leds, etc. The large passive heatsink really stood out, but it looks very sturdy and well-made. I much prefer the layout to the last model raspberry pi, as this has a 'normal' HDMI output, and with 2 USB outputs, there is ample room for the other connections. I much prefer this compact layout, since for IoT applications there is really no need for more than 2 USB connectors. You could alway add a USB hub if you need more.
I downloaded the linux image, which was rather large (1,76GB rar-ed and zipped). I don't quite understand why it is a .rar.zip file, I am used to an .img file just being zipped, but that is just me not being a windows user, I guess… The image file is a hefty 7,26GB, and I had no trouble flashing the micro-SD card with it using Etcher.
The 'getting started' blog entry here on element14 took me to the (familiar) steps of expanding the file system, setting up wifi, updating the OS, etc. All this is similar to setting up the pi and quite straightforward when you are familiar with linux. The only glitches I had was with the mirrors for the OS: they are all servers based in China, so updating the repos took somewhat longer than I expected:
root@maaxboard:~# cat /etc/apt/sources.list
deb https://mirrors.tuna.tsinghua.edu.cn/debian/ buster main contrib non-free
deb-src https://mirrors.tuna.tsinghua.edu.cn/debian/ buster main contrib non-free
deb https://mirrors.tuna.tsinghua.edu.cn/debian/ buster-backports main contrib non-free
deb-src https://mirrors.tuna.tsinghua.edu.cn/debian/ buster-backports main contrib non-free
This is something to fix later.
After all this, I decided to hook the Maaxboard up to a screen, keyboard and mouse, to see how usable the desktop was. Here I ran into another glitch: I was able to get the GUI (Wayland/Weston) working, but my monitor showed a 'clipped' screen, with the borders extending beyond the screen. This is called 'overscan', and I have had this phenomenon on a raspberry pi too, and there I was able to fix it using the '/boot/config.txt' file. On the maaxboard image, there is a similar file, called '/boot/uEnv.txt'. but I couldn't find any documentation on how to tweak this. Another thing to fix later.
Anyway, in the next posts I will concentrate on trying out the various hardware features, like leds, buttons, and GPIO.