Our Last Meeting : listed as AGM and Pandaboard.

Unfortunately our last meeting which was expected to be the AGM was not possible because our Treasurer was unable to attend as he was in Yorkshire.

So the AGM is hopefully going to be at this next meeting on 16th May assuming Andy is able to return in time.

Our Next Meeting: Wednesday 16th May - AGM + extras

7.30 p.m. Wednesday 16th May
Bourne Vale Social Club, Halifax Road, Ipswich IP2 8RE

1. Apologies for Absence.

2. Minutes of the last meeting.

3. Matters arising.

4. Chairman's Report.

5. Treasurer's Report.

6. Election of Officers and Committee.

7. AOB.


After the formal part of the evening we have a demonstration of a USB microscope by Peter and possibly a slide scanning demonstration by John Rye. The USB microscope is one purchased from Maplin recently. Peter will give a demonstration of what can be doe with it including the software supplied for Windows which comes with it. We also had a discussion at our Committee meeting on future programme and will be having a meeting devoted to scanning on July 18th , however John may decide to show his slide scanner as well tonight as it is similar in operation to the USB microscope.

Our Last Meeting: Committee meeting and RISC OS on Pandaboard demonstration - by Gareth

At our last meeting Gareth was able to bring along the Pandaboard that had not arrived in time for our recent meeting on ARM Linux. This modern dual-core ARM board is of a near identical spec in terms of CPU and graphics ability to an iPad 2 or equivalent Android tablet and is able to run a full Ubuntu Linux desktop quite impressively. Of course for the meeting we were more concerned with the fact it can now run RISC OS although the port isn't yet quite as stable as that for Beagleboard.

Gareth began the evening with an overview of the Pandaboard and how to install RISC OS before demonstrating the system, and handed the actual board around which was only 4.5" x 4".

The Pandaboard features a dual core 1GHz Cortex-A9 ARM CPU with 1GB of RAM. RISC OS currently only uses 1 of the CPU cores but this A9 core is up to 150% of the performance of the Beagleboard Cortex-A8 chip. The onboard graphics are capable of high performance display at resolutions up to 1920 x 1200 to an LCD monitor or 1080p to a modern LCD TV under both Linux and RISC OS.

The board contains an SD Card slot to boot the system, and onboard Fast Ethernet and Wifi/Bluetooth for connectivity. No RISC OS wireless drivers exist, but the onboard Ethernet has driver support and works well. 2 high speed USB 2.0 ports are available for attaching peripherals, and a USB hub would be advisable for RISC OS to allow attachment of a keyboard, mouse and external hard drive or USB stick.

To be able to boot RISC OS an SD Card must be prepared containing UBoot which is the ARM boot loader used by the Pandaboard, together with a RISC OS ROM image, and some associated boot scripts. This can be done manually, but a RISC OS application !SDCreate is available to simplify this process. The ROM image and this tool can be downloaded from the RISC OS Open Ltd website. SDCreate will write a ROM direct to an SD Card on an Iyonix, A9Home etc. with USB, or can create an image file that can be written to a card using a Windows or Linux machine.

Once we have a suitable RISC OS equipped SD Card we are ready to boot the Pandaboard into RISC OS 5.19. At this stage we have no ADFS boot drive e.g. HardDisc4, this must be created using RISCOS itself in a USB hard drive or flash key.

We insert the SD Card, attach a keyboard, mouse and monitor via HDMI and then apply power. If everything goes to plan after a short delay the familiar RISC OS boot process will be seen. Debug output from the RISC OS HAL can be seen by connecting to the serial port and can be useful for debugging.

Once RISC OS is booted for the first time InstallHD4 can be used to format a USB drive and copy the RISC OS 5 !Boot structure into place. Gareth has been using a 4GB USB flash disk as his "hard disc". At this stage we can also download the EtherUSB module to enable networking.

The Pandaboard has a number of caveats when running RISC OS. There is no CMOS available directly to store settings for the OS, however a CMOS dongle that connects to a header on the board has been produced, is inexpensive and enables CMOS functionality. The board also lacks a battery backed RTC or real time clock. It is therefore necessary to use the NetTime module to set the clock from the network at boot up.

In addition there are some software compatibility issues due to the Cortex A9 and the A8 found on the Beagleboard expecting different behaviour in terms of alignment of access to memory. This is similar in some ways to changes that needed to be made when moving to 32 bit and over time software will be updated or patched. A lot of software is already available and this is an active process as RISC OS must adapt to modern ARM processors.

Following the formal presentation Gareth set up and booted the actual Pandaboard running at 1920 x 1200 on a 24" LCD monitor to show the performance of the desktop at maximum resolution which had no slowdown or visible window redraw. While there was not much software installed we were able to do some standard tests including the render of the Artworks Apple which was very quick, as was thumbnailing images using !Thump and modifying images with !Variations.


Unfortunately we had to postpone the AGM last month, but were able to use some of time to plan our meeting topics for the next 12 months. We do need to hold our AGM at the May meeting however, so please make every effort to attend!


ICENI Future programme

May 16th AGM (we hope)
followed by a demonstration of
Peter's USB microscope and
possibly John Rye's slide copier.
Peter and John.
June 20th "PC and Mac Tips and Tricks" Michael and Peter et al
(Gareth is away)
July 18th "Scanning evening" All
August 15th Social evening - Venue:TBA All
September 19th "Linux update" Gareth
October 17th "Mountain Lion" (Mac OSX 10.8) Gareth
November 21st "Windows 8 - The Final Version!" Michael
December 19th "Party and Gadgets evening" All
January 16th Social evening - Venue:TBA All
February 20th "Cloud computing" TBA
March 20th "RPC Emu" TBA
April 17th AGM + extras All
Emergency topic - "Slideshow" All

Meetings are now on the Third Wednesday of the month unless otherwise stated.

Our meetings are held at the Bourne Vale Social Club, Halifax Road, Ipswich IP2 8RE , for a map and other details please see the website. http://icenicomputerclub.users.btopenworld.com

The first visit is free and subsequent visits for non - members is £2·50. The membership fee is £20 due from the AGM date in April, but may be reduced for those joining late in the year.


Continuing our publicity for EAUG events, there is now a full list of meetings up to the end of the year on their website.


Meetings are at the Great Baddow Village Hall, on the second Tuesday of the month

opening at 7:30 p.m. for a start at 7:45 - 8:00 p.m.

For directions see below (note the new web addresses)

http://www.eaug.org.uk or 'phone one of the contacts on http://www.eaug.org.uk/ppl.htm

Tea/coffee/biscuits usually available.

Visitors pay 2.00 GBP for the evening, which is deductible from the normal joining subscription if you decide to join at a later date.

See the Membership page of the website for more information:


St Andrews Computer Club (formerly Ipswich Computer Club and prior to that Mid-Suffolk Computer Users Group)

They have now moved to the St. Andrew's Computer Club at Britannia Road, Ipswich.

They have a full programme on the parish website (http://www.ourstandrews.co.uk), We may be able to make new contact with them to arrange something in common.

Special Notice - Insurance

"ICENI does not have any Insurance cover for computers or other equipment so please be advised that you bring machines to the club at your own risk."

However many household insurance policies will include cover away from home often with no increase in premium. (Ed.)

Our Website and Email

If anyone would like a copy of the CD of our old newsletters this could be arranged.

I am open to suggestions on what people would like to have included in the website.

Our website URL is

http://icenicomputerclub.users.btopenworld.com as a virtual domain,

it can also be reached using http://www.btinternet.com/~icenicomputerclub

Email to: iceni@woolridge.org.uk