Pine64: My first adventure into crowdfunding as a backer.
Back in 2015 I started looking at Kickstarter after watching the movie Capital C ( IMDB) on netflix (which just happends to be a crowd funded movie on kickstarter as well. I had heard of Kickstarter and knew what it was about, but I hadn't looked at it. So I decided to dive in and see what interesting gems I could find.
The category that most interested me at that time was technology. There were many projects I looked at, wished I had enough money to jump into and wanted right away. After some thought I decided to try the small board called Pine64 ( Kickstarter Pine64). It was a 64 bit machine with lots of bells and whistles. It would also give me a chance to dip my fingers into the world of IoT and home automation.
So I backed the $89 "PINE A64+ Box w/ Touch Screen" level and waited to see how things unfolded. After a short while, a couple of stretch goals and various feedback from the community the project was funded and now it was just a matter of time before I had my own device with some similarities to the popular Raspberry Pi.
They set up a backerkit project so we could order additional components and boards. I went with an IoT set and picked up the remaining sensors and hats that weren't already in the list of items I would recieve.
It was then a waiting game. I got my first taste of what a Kickstarter campaign is really like - delays, setbacks and communication problems. I was still hopefull to get it soon! A few months went by and there were a few more delays. Issues with the case molds, issues brought up by early receivers about the board being bent, issues with the default software not working, etc.
Communication being spotty caused many frustrated backers to demand refunds. Eventually updates started to trickle in and orders started to come through to backers (though, at one point it seemed like pre-orders were going to be filled before Kickstarter backers).
Months after the estimated shipping date, after many updates and many backers thanking them for their delievered pledge, I decided it was time to engage the makers of the Pine64 and find out the status of my pledge. Many comments pointed to the forums provided by Pine64 to be more reliable than the Kickstarter comments section or message system. So I wandered over, created and account, read a few threads and found one where many people were asking about their pledge. I joined in and recieved a fairly quick response saying mine was now in line to be shipped. Horray!
Shortly after an email came with a tracking number. My order was on the way from China. Now I just had to hope that my order, being late, would not run into the shipping problems they had before. Apparently it was the post office in China that decided to just send items without properly scanning them because there were too many being sent in a day. So many people had no idea where their package was, or what was happening to their order. My wait-and-see attitude paid off. No shipping issues and no customs issues. It arrived!
Now, it wasn't the whole pledge. The cases were still missing, but that was expected due to molding problems. They would send out the cases later. (which it did after a ticket was filled to remind them)
Finally I had time to start tinkering with my new toy. I placed the sd cards in that came with my device, booted it up and.... nothing really happened. It was expected at this point since many comments mentioned issues like this. I wasn't phased. A search on google brought me to https://www.pine64.pro/. It has the tools and ISO images needed to flash my newly purchased mirco SD cards.
First I wanted to try the touch screen panel. It took a few tries to figure out how to flash the card, then a few more tries to get the right image for the touch panel. It turns out it only worked using android (so the touch panel turned my board into a clunky, small screened tablet).
I put the screen away and moved on to trying my IoT components. I don't have much experience with IoT components, so I started by figuring out how to plug everything in. Much easier than I expected (at least the plugs all fit in...). I then went to try and install openHab ( http://www.openhab.org/). There wasn't an official build for the Pine64, so I searched online for tutorials. I finally found a few that seemed might work, installed Linux and then openHab. At least I think I did, I didn't get it working. The components are still collecting dust, but I will get around to trying again.
Next I decided to turn my little machine into a small HTPC to go under my tv. I used to use xmbc a bit years back, and decided to try installing the newest version (renamed to Kodi). With instructions found while googling, it was pretty easy to set up and now I have a little box to play movies from under the tv.
That's about it for now, but I'll post more once I get back to tinkering with the home automation or integrating it with some other kickstarter adventure!