A month off, Day 9, 10, and 11: Waiting, Rushing, and Rock64


The last few days of The Month Off all seem a little more blurry than the previous week.

Much of the Tuesday and Wednesday I was helping my housemate get ready for, and get to the airport. She's visiting a friend, leaving the house to myself for most of the rest of my month off. In the end, we managed to get her there and on time, but we both slept very little those two days, making the whole thing a blur.

I would have gotten some time in on the Voron, but I also ran out of gluestick the previous day, resulting in a full stop of production until more arrived.

It's been nearly impossible to find Raspberry Pi Single Board Computers (SBCs) for almost a year now. A lot of them are going to manufacturers with only a small set going to the enthusiast market. Fortunately, the Pi isn't the only SBC out there. Over the last few years, I've grown fond of Pine64's products, such as the PinePhone. And of course, they also sell their own SBC, the Rock64. This is actually the most Pi-like of their offerings, utilizing the same mounting holes and similar GPIO functionality.

I decided to order one and a Power Over Ethernet (PoE) hat over a week ago. The idea was to remove the Pi400 from TCHeRI, and instead replace it with the Rock64 acting as a Kubernetes manager node. The specs were comparable, and I didn't want to do significant reprints for TCHeRI if I could help it.

Unfortunately, it turned out the Rock64 didn't quite fit in my existing printed carriers. No problem, I thought, I'd simply modify one of the carriers to make it fit. The bigger problem, however was the PoE hat. The Pi Foundations PoE+ hat is able to be installed without adding much height to the board. Pine's PoE hat was as tall if not taller than the computer itself. If I wanted to maximize density using Rock64's, I'd need to reprint both the carrier, and the body from which the carrier hangs.

I certainly could remove the currently empty bay in TCHeRI and replace all the carrier bodies with larger versions. Another option is to capitalize on the removal of the Pi400, and repurpose that space for a dedicated Rock64 bay. That could be a fun project with my limited modeling skills, but there's no rush.

Getting the Rock64 up and running wasn't much different than a Pi. The wiki page points to several different Linux distributions with SD card images ready to run on the Rock64. The PoE hat is drop in, and once connected to a switch and HDMI, the system can up without a problem.

Getting it to take over as the cluster's management node, however, was more difficult. I kept having difficulty with certificates until I discovered that the Rock64 wasn't grabbing the current time as expected. Instead, it defaulted to January 2019. After configuring systemd to set the time and timezone, I was able to re-setup the cluster using the k3s ansible playbook.