Any recommendations for a mini PC for an EtherCAT setup?
This is my first post on the forum due to being intrigued by using an EtherCAT setup, having seen MarcoReps video followed by Hakan's.
I have ordered some EtherCAT compatible stepper drives to test, and thought I could test using an RPi, but having spent most of yesterday getting rather frustrated trying to get LinuxCNC to run on a spare RPi I have laying around, I'm wanting to buy a suitable mini PC to test on.
Is there anything specific to look for in a mini PC?
Or will something that meets the generic LinuxCNC requirements be fine?
My main concern is, is there a preferred LAN chip? I don't want to buy something cheap, to find it's going to cause issues.
I was thinking something like this with the i3 processor - CHEAP HP EliteDesk Desktop PC Tiny Small 6th Gen Core i3 i5 8Gb RAM 480Gb SSD | eBay
Or if somebody has any better suggestions around that price?
If it's not a Pi4 then don't bother trying (as the ethernet was on the USB bus prior to the Pi4)
As for the MiniPC, I am afraid I have no real recommendations. I used a Beelink BT Pro a few years ago, because it was very cheap, but they are not cheap any more and are rather outdated.
Something with dual LAN might be advantageous, but a quick search at Mini-itx.com showed that those get expensive.
I tried various options, but I just felt it wasn't running ideally.
The premade LinuxCNC iso worked, and I could load LinuxCNC, but Chromium wouldn't open, and the updater done nothing.
The LinuxCNC sim profiles also done nothing, but I'm guessing that is because the hardware doesn't get simulated on a Pi?
Trying to update in the desktop done nothing, other than give a warning about Buster not being current. (I'm a relative beginner as far as Linux is concerned)
Updating via command line did result in updating, but it finished with an error message -
Then when rebooted I only got the Pi bootscreen, and it acted like the SD card wasn't inserted.
Unpacking vlc-plugin-visualization: armhf (188.8.131.52-0+deb10u1+rpt1) over (3.0.11-
Preparing to unpack.../207-wpasupplicant_2%3a2.7+git20190128+0c1e29f-6+deb10u3_
armhf.deb Unpacking wpasupplicant (2:2.7+git20190128+0c1e29f-6+deb10u3) over (2:2.7+git201
90128+0c1e29f-6+deb10u2) Errors were encountered while processing:
E: Sub-process /usr/bin/dpkg returned an error code (1)
Trying to do a clean install using the latest clean Pi Bullseye image, and the Pi wouldn't even boot to the desktop. I got the loading flash, a message appeared briefly, then darkness. I could access the Pi via SSH, but it wouldn't output on either of the HDMI ports, at which point I gave up. I was only wanting to test on the Pi anyway, but it's proving to be far too frustrating.
I had been looking at the dual LAN options on mini-itx, and it is something I might consider for the planned machine, but I'd rather keep expense down for testing, although I don't want to buy something too cheap and have it not work.
Now they have a H3 and H3+
I think the standard and cheaper H3 would be adequate.
I would recommend you install the ethernet driver from the realtek site as suggested on the Odroid Hard Kernel forum. They say its 15-30% faster than the standard debian one.
UK dealer wants quite a premium for it though!
It's a lot cheaper direct from Hardkernel, but they don't say if they've got it in stock or not.
Can get it from Sweden cheaper than in the UK, but it's still quite a bit more expensive than direct.
Works out at £283 for the H3+, 2x8GB SODIMMs, PSU, Type 3 case, and a cooling fan.
No doubt I'll get hit for import tax, VAT and a handling charge though, but even at that, it should work out cheaper.
It would have been £277 for the H3 plus alone in the UK, or £245 from Sweden, and then I still need to buy all the other bits.
If it doesn't end up being used for LinuxCNC, I'm sure I'll find another use for it.
With some luck, it might be here before the stepper drives...
Not a touchscreen, though, despite appearances.
I got one just because it it easy to move around when not in use.
And the USB Live won't load. Some kind of error message flashes up, before the screen goes back to blank with the cursor flashing at the top.
I suspect the hardware may be too new for Buster, so am currently downloading Grotius's bullseye iso to see if that will work :/
I've also just downloaded the basic Debian bullseye iso, which I'll try shortly once I've done some other work.
I think the grotius iso will work. I had problems with it for running it on a laptop with non-free filmware.
This resulted in a black startup screen. Had something to do with rt81.. drivers. An sich this is solvable, but
is quite a lot of work.
Sinds then i use linux installed on a bootable usb.
The creation of the usb with linux on it was not as easy to figur out.
I downloaded the latest live iso from debian, burned it on a normal usb device [4gb].
Then i started the pc [esc key, F9, etc] from the usb, booted the linux-live system.
When live was running a saw a desktop icon for installing
linux on the system. This discovery made things simple.
Then i inserted the big-and-fast-ssd-usb [1tb+] and selected this one for install. Everything went well.
Then you can use the same ssd on your machine or on your laptop, or on every pc in the world.
This is ethercat's cmake build system, brand new :