So, I’m now officially a Trucker. A CubieTrucker, that is.
It arrived yesterday, sadly about half an hour before I had to go out, so I pretty much just had chance to put the case together (almost), and didn’t really get to play with it properly at all.
But, it’s beautiful, look at it!
Before putting the case together, you need to attach the heatsink (this fella has a lot of CubieTruck & CubieBoard videos up, it’s worth checking out his channel).
My case issue is a slight manufacturing mishap. The CubieTruck “case”, is basically three pre-cut acrylic plates held together by M3 (I think) standoffs – much like the original CubieBoard “case”. You can see this in the image I linked up top.
You might’ve seen standoffs sold as “PCB Spacers”.
Basically, you have a baseplate with eight holes in it. The four inner holes are for attaching a 2.5″ hard drive via small standoffs. The four outer holes, use slightly longer standoffs (to prevent the other four holding your hard drive from touching the surface of whatever you stand it on), which act as feet.
To the four feet standoffs, you attach more standoffs above, sandwiching the base plate in between. These clear the height of your 2.5″ drive, and you place another acrylic plate on top of those.
Above this you place four more short standoffs. The threads from these go through the four mounting holes in the CubieTruck itself.
On top of these, you guessed it, four more standoffs, the top plate above (you’ll instantly recognise which is the top plate, it’s the one with the holes cut out to allow for the USB sockets, ethernet and GPIO), and then four little M3 nuts hold the whole thing together.
It’s a faff, but it works. You can actually configure the platforms in a multitude of different ways to suit your needs (if you have an oversized SSD drive, for example, you can place the drive mounting plate on top, but this limits being able to connect anything to the GPIO), but the process detailed above is the way I initially planned to set mine up (before realising a couple of the parts weren’t made correctly).
So, job done then, except that the bottom plate on mine doesn’t have one of the holes drilled, and one of the standoffs doesn’t actually have any threads on it to screw it into the standoff above.
Right now it’s running sans-hard drive, with a slightly different configuration of the plates. I’ll send over some photos to Cubie and see if they can send me replacement parts.
An enclosed case would’ve been great, but after thinking on things for a while, this type of design would make an excellent stacking system if you wanted to run several units as a cluster, all mounted on top of each other, sandwiched between sheets of acrylic.
Anyway, after getting back home yesterday evening, I started to play around with various distros that I had previously downloaded in anticipation of it arriving.
I want to run off the SD card, so the NAND-only distros were out.
First up was Cubieez. Win32 Disk Imager wrote the card out just fine, it booted up, but no matter what I did, the ethernet wouldn’t talk to my network.
The IP was right, the netmask was right, the default gateway was right, the settings seemed identically to the two Raspberry Pis and the CubieBoard also sitting on my network, but it just wouldn’t connect out (even across the LAN) and nothing could connect to it.
Turns out, Cubieez doesn’t actually support the CubieTruck wired ethernet or WiFi adapters (or BlueTooth, or god knows what else), so why it’s the most recent blog post on CubieTruck.com I’ve no idea.
I’d wasted too much time on it already to mess around with recompiling the kernel to add support for the missing hardware.
I was going to have a go with Cubian (and I still may, eventually) as it works so well on the original CubieBoard, but I’d been working all day, and didn’t want to have to mess around setting up ethernet and wifi from scratch given the experience of the previous couple of hours with Cubieez.
I already knew beforehand that the default Cubian A20 setup didn’t support the built in NIC or WiFi, so I didn’t bother with it, but instructions online show that it’s a fairly straightforward affair to add support for the missing hardware.
I wanted to stick with a Debian based distro. As Ubuntu is based on Debian, I decided to have a go with Cubiuntu, which is based on Ubuntu.
This video shows Cubiuntu installation on the CubieBoard2, but the process is basically the same for the CubieTruck.
Win32 Disk Image, again, performed flawlessly, writing out to a 4GB MicroSD card (this will be switched out with a 16GB Sandisk Extreme as soon as my order arrives – but for now, the 4GB will do for testing).
Upon booting, it ran through the expected screen, but booted straight into a GUI (I’ll have to change that).
After logging in and switching to root, I edited /etc/network/interfaces, set wlan0 to dhcp, added my SSID & password, set the encryption method, rebooted and it was on my WiFi.
Super simple, quick and easy.
Right now I’m still at the playing stage until my new Sandisk cards arrive, at which point I’ll give it a more serious go towards my end goal.
That end goal, btw, is to be part of my “TTSOL” setup. It will basically run as backup storage and a server to be able to view & edit stills and video while out in the middle of nowhere.
When you’re away at an event for 5 days, the cards can fill up quickly, and even faster if you’re also shooting video.
With it being connected to WiFi, it means that I’ll be able to access all the data from iPads, iPhone or laptops over a web server, or network shares.
It also means I can setup BTSync, and if I happen to find myself somewhere that has free Internet, I can start sending those photos and video files back to my main editing machines. My files will be home before I am.