Hands-On Review: Grove AI HAT for Edge Computing

Bring next level intelligence to your Raspberry Pi projects with the Grove AI HAT for Edge Computing. In this article we will take a quick hands-on view of the Grove AI HAT board & Ultrasonic Sensor in standalone mode, and used as a Raspberry Pi HAT.

Introduction

The Grove AI HAT for Edge Computing is built around Sipeed MAix M1 AI MODULE with the Kendryte K210 processor inside. It’s a low cost but powerful stand-alone board that can also run as a Raspberry Pi Artificial Intelligence HAT.

The board not only bristles with peripheral connections (I2C/UART/SPI/I2S/PWM/GPIO), but has built in audio and video processing capabilities for AI projects.  This means you can connect multiple Grove Sensors to the board. Couple that with its video and audio capabilities and it makes it an interesting choice for Edge Computing environments. 

Seeedstudio provided me with a Grove AI Hat board for review. There are plenty of articles on the technical specs of the board, so this article will be more of a “hands-on” usage review. Let’s hook a Grove sensor up to the board and use it on its own, and as a Raspberry Pi HAT.

The Grove AI HAT is a new board, so there are not a lot of usability instructions available at this time. One of the quickest ways I found to interface with the board is to use the Seeedstudio Arduino interface. The ArduinoCore-API interface has been added to the board, allowing support for multiple development environments, including Arduino IDE, Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X. This basically means you can run Grove Arduino Libraries and many other Arduino libraries on this board.

Enough intro, let’s see it in action!

Basic Arduino Instructions

The Grove AI HAT can function entirely on its own and in conjunction with a Raspberry Pi. A good starting point is to connect one of the many Grove sensors to the board, and perform basic input/ output using the Arduino library.

In this section, we will see how to interact with a Grove Ultrasonic range sensor and view the output using the individual board, and then as a Raspberry Pi HAT.  

Follow the Arduino setup instructions on the Seeed website carefully. You need to add board drivers and use a specific writing option (K-flash), if you pick the wrong options, your board will not function properly.

Follow the setup instructions here:

http://wiki.seeedstudio.com/Grove_AI_HAT_for_Edge_Computing/

Summarized below:

  • Download and install the Arduino IDE on your computer
  • Run Arduino IDE
  • Add the K210 Grove AI HAT for Edge Computing driver
  • Select the K-flash programmer

The Arduino IDE is now configured to work with the Grove board.

Using the Grove Board Standalone

Once everything is setup, you can use Seeed’s sample Arduino code to control the board directly. For example, the Ultrasonic sensor.

WARNING: Do no connect or disconnect sensors to the board while it is powered up, you could damage it!

Connect your range sensor to the board (I used port D13)

Then using a USB C cable, connect the board to your computer. This will power up the board and allow your computer to communicate to it.

  • Next, load in the ultrasonic Arduino library into your sketch project folder.
  • In the Arduino IDE, enter the sample code provided by Seeed:
  • Compile and write the code to your board

Now, open the Arduino serial monitor and you should see live range detection:

Move your hand back and forth in front of the range detector, you should see the range update live in your Serial Monitor tab.

That’s all well and good, but this is a Raspberry Pi HAT! How do you use it with a Raspberry Pi?

Grove on the Raspberry Pi

In this section we will look at using the Grove AI board with a Raspberry Pi 3b+. The Pi 3b is running Raspbian and is setup up for remote access via Putty. To use the Grove Board and Pi in tandem, we need to connect them together. Disconnect power (the USB cable), connect the riser board to the Grove board, and then carefully connect the Pi and grove boards together. Make sure no power is applied to either board, and the pins line up correctly, or you could damage your boards.

Only provide power to one board, the Pi or the Grove Hat, if you connect power to both boards you need to change a switch on the Grove board.  

Connect the USB cord from your PC to the Grove power port. Both the Grove board and Raspberry Pi should power up at the same time. In this configuration, you can still use the Arduino Serial Monitor to view the sensor output. But we want to see it on the Pi.

To use the Grove board on a Pi, we will need to install the Grove Python library.

Instructions can be found here:

http://wiki.seeedstudio.com/Grove_Base_Kit_for_Raspberry_Pi/

Basically, from a Raspbian install:

Now with the Grove library installed, we can run a short Python program to communicate with the Sensor through the Raspberry PI.

  • cd ~/grove.py/grove

Enter in, save and run the following Python program in the grove directory:

ultrasonic.py:

It should look like this when done:

Now, just run the ultrasonic.py program:

And that’s it! You should see distance displayed in real time.

You can open the Arduino Serial monitor and get readings from it at the same time, as seen below:

One interesting feature is that if the Pi is shutdown, or the Python program stopped, the Grove board can continue to work.

As seen below:

The Ultrasonic program was stopped, but the device continues to operate as seen in the Arduino serial monitor.

AI Computing

As mentioned at the beginning of this video, the Grove HAT has video and audio processing capability built in. I ran into some questions on how to access the video and audio part of the card and am waiting to hear back from Seeed tech support. So, I will explore this capability in future articles, but for now, Seeed has a great demo video of this capability on their website:

https://project.seeedstudio.com/SeeedStudio/face-count-and-display-using-grove-ai-hat-and-pi-3e100f

Conclusion

This was just a very basic intro to the Grove AI HAT for Edge Computing. The board is very exciting as it brings a host of sensor capabilities to the Raspberry Pi platform. I believe this will allow for much more intelligent Pentest drop boxes (it could sense and record when someone was in the room, for example), robotics projects, Magic Mirrors, and whatever else you can dream up. Stay tuned, more to come!

Pi 4 Hacking Platform using DietPi and PTF

Building a Raspberry Pi 4 Ethical Hacking platform using The Pentesters Framework and DietPi.

I’ve been playing with using different hacking tools and Operating Systems with the Pi 4. In this article I cover installing The Pentesters Framework on a RPi 4 running DietPi.

DietPi is a very lightweight Debian OS for the Raspberry Pi. The Pentesters Framework by TrustedSec is an Ethical Hacking installation script that automatically installs and updates over 250 modules/ tools. It would be great if they would work together on a Raspberry Pi 4. The good news is that is does – With a couple tweaks.

I cover installing and using The Pentesters Framework on Raspberry Pi in my latest book. So, I am not going to go into great detail on using the tools in PTF. I just want to cover actually installing it on DietPi.

Installing

NOTE: You will need a Raspberry Pi 4, and at the minimum a 32 GB MicroSD card if you want to install all of the PTF tools. Don’t have a Pi 4? Seeed is currently offering free shipping for orders over $119 with a Raspberry Pi 4 4GB.

Insert the MicroSD card into your Pi, attach peripherals and lastly connect power (always connect power last). When DietPi boots up you will be presented with some options.

  • Pick any software install options you want, then “Go install software”
  • Requested software and updates will be installed
  • Reboot when finished

I just run through it quickly the first time to get the latest OS updates. Note the CPU temp warning, it’s a Pi 4, it runs hotter than a Pi 3.

To install an “X” Desktop or any other included software, type, “dietpi-software”.

There are a ton of add-on software options under “Software Optimised”. For example, if you want a graphical desktop, pick the X-Desktop you want and then the “Go install software” option. You can also setup your login preferences from this menu – auto login, desktop login, etc.

All we really need here is to install Python. Then we need to make a small config file tweak and finally install PTF.

Installing Python

From the DietPi-Software menu, go to “Software Additional” and install Python:

  • Cursor down to Python Pip, hit the space bar to select it.
  • Select “OK

You will return to the main menu.,

  • Cursor down and select “Go >> Start Installation
  • Reboot when finished

We need to install git:

  • Open a terminal and enter, “apt install git

Next we need to comment out a line in the ‘/etc/hosts’ file or the PTF install will error out.

  • Comment out the “::1 localhost  IPv6 localhost” line
  • Reboot

That’s it! We can now proceed with the standard PTF install:

You will then see the main PTF interface:

Type “show modules” to see all available modules. You can install individual ones if you wish. If you have a large memory card (32 Gb), you can install all of them.

  • To install all tools, enter “use modules/install_update_all
  • Reboot when finished

The install will take a very long time, especially if you install all of the modules. After install, all tools will be located in category themed directories under the ‘/pentest’ directory, as seen below:

Many of the tools can be run from anywhere, but some tools require you to change into its install directory for it to work properly. This is usually ‘/pentest’, but some run from ‘/usr/share’ as well. Check it out, there are a ton of very good tools at your disposal, like “Sniper”:

And there you have it. Again, I go into much deeper detail in my book about using PTF on a Pi, I just wanted to show how it could be installed on DietPi. If you want to learn a lot more about using Raspberry Pi for Ethical hacking check out my latest book – Security Testing with Raspberry Pi

Installing Kali Linux on Raspberry Pi – Partial Book Chapter

This is a partial sample chapter from my latest “Security Testing with Raspberry Pi” book – The full chapter (chapter 4) is over 20 pages long and includes how to use several of the installed Kali Linux tools.

In this chapter we will cover installing Kali Linux on a Raspberry Pi 3b+. We will also see how to run several Kali tools on this platform. As I assume the reader has used Kali Linux before, the goal is to show how to get up and running quickly on a Raspberry Pi, not necessarily to show how to run each individual tool. Most of the tools work just like they would in a full PC install of Kali. Though some of the tools, like Hashcat, apparently don’t have ARM compatible binaries and are not included in the Kali Pi version.

Surf to the Offensive Security Website:

https://www.offensive-security.com/kali-linux-arm-images/

Navigate to the Kali ARM images and then select the Raspberry Pi branch. Download the version of Raspberry Pi for the Pi that you have. I used a Pi3b+ for this chapter, so I downloaded the Kali Linux Raspberry Pi 3 64-bit image. If you have a Pi 4, you must download the Pi 4 version of Kali.

Once the image is downloaded, all you need to do is write it you your SD Ram card.

Etcher works great:

Insert your memory card into the Pi, attach keyboard, mouse, network line, and video cable. Lastly, plug in the power cord. The Pi will boot up and give you a graphical login screen.

  • Login with User: root, Password: toor

At the “Welcome to the first start of the panel” message, click on “Use default config”. You will then be presented with the Kali Desktop. Take a second and familiarize yourself with it. You will notice it is slightly different looking than the regular Kali Desktop, as it is using a different desktop environment. Xfce is used as the default Pi interface as it is a lightweight and fast desktop. But it is the same Kali underneath that you know and love.

Click the “Applications” button to see the tools menu. They are pretty sparse at the moment; we will fix that soon. There are a couple house keeping things we need to do first.

Setting up SSH

The first thing we will want to do is regenerate the SSH security keys.

  • Open a Terminal
  • cd /etc/ssh/
  • mkdir default_keys
  • mv ssh_host_* default_keys/
  • dpkg-reconfigure openssh-server

In a couple seconds we should have new SSH security keys.

In the current version of Kali for the Pi, root login is permitted by default. This is fine for our lab, but this is something you would want to change in “/etc/ssh/sshd_config” if you were going to use this for regular purposes. You will also want to change the root password using the “passwd” command.

The SSH server is already started by default in the Kali Pi install, so all we need is the IP address of Kali. If you are an old time Linux user like me you will probably still use Ifconfig, the old “deprecated” commands are easier to use and look nicer in my opinion, (have to love change, lol) though you are supposed to use the “ip” command now.

  • Enter, “ip a” to see all the network addresses or “ip -4 a” to only see the ip 4 address.

Now you can just SSH or use Putty like we did in the previous chapter to connect remotely to the Kali system.

Metapackages

The Kali-Pi image comes pre-installed with some tools already installed. They were called the “top 10” in an earlier release of Kali and include Metasploit, nmap, Recon-NG, etc.  The rest of the Kali tools can be downloaded via Kali “Metapackages”. Metapackages are security tool packages grouped by function. If you have a 16 GB or greater SDRam card, and a lot of patience, you can install the full Kali Linux install. If you didn’t need all of these tools, you could install just the Wireless tools (kali-linux-wireless) or the Web Application Assessment tools (kali-linux-web), depending on your needs.

All the available Metapackages are listed on the Kali Metapackages website:

Installation is simple, in a terminal just enter, “apt install” along with the metapackage that you want. You basically have 2 options; you can install the full package or individual tool packages. The only drawback to option 2 is that some of the necessary “helper” tools may not be installed and you may need to install them manually.

Option 1

If you want the full Kali install:

  • apt install kali-linux-full

This includes all the tools from a normal Kali Linux install. This will take a very long time to install, so be patient.

Option 2

If you want to install a specific category of tools:

Depending on what you want to do with your Kali install, a good choice is the Wireless tools. The wireless package includes numerous tools including ones for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth & SDR. You can see what packages are included by using the following command:

  • apt-cache show kali-linux-wireless |grep Depends

If these are the tools that you want, then proceed with the install:

  • apt install kali-linux-wireless

Whichever option you pick, the new tools will show up in the Kali menu after the install:

Either install option seems to take hours, be patient, and reboot when it is finished.

The downloaded tools are the SAME tools that you would receive on the regular Kali install. These aren’t watered down versions or anything like that. I have run into a couple tools that didn’t work, or seemed to be missing, but it is a rare occurrence. If it works in the regular Kali install, chances are you can do the same thing, the same way, in the Raspberry Pi version. So, after that long install, let’s play!


If you liked this sample and want to learn a lot more about using the Raspberry Pi for Ethical Hacking, check out my new book, “Security Testing with Raspberry Pi“!

Basic Security Testing with Kali Linux Giveaway Contest

Want a chance to get a signed copy of my latest Kali Linux book? I am giving away a total of 10 signed copies of “Basic Security Testing with Kali Linux, 3rd Edition”!

Simply follow, like and share this article, or my official Twitter or Instagram announcement, for a chance to win a signed copy of my new book!

10 lucky winners will be randomly selected on October 31st.

The Contest is for those living in the United States only. I may do another one for international readers in the future.

Liking this article & sharing the Official Contest announcements on Twitter and Instagram will increase your chances of winning.  Winners will be notified on October 31st. If a winner cannot be notified or does not respond by the end of the first week of November, another winner will be picked.

Good luck!