There are so many inexpensive Wi-Fi modules running Linux that it would be easy to discard Onion Omega as yet another Wi-Fi module based on Atheros AR9331 WiSoC. However, the developers have tried to bring some added value by making programming easier for web developers, integrating it with a cloud platform (free for non-commercial use), and providing basicor Arduino dock, and add-on boards for Ethernet, OLED, Relay… to make building hardware projects easier too.
Let’s go through the hardware first, starting with the module specifications:
- SoC – Atheros AR9331 400MHZ MIPS 24K
- System Memory – 64MB DDR2 400MHz
- Storage – 16MB Flash
- Connectivity – 10/100 Mbps Ethernet + 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi up to 150Mbps with PCB antenna w/ uFL connector
- I/Os – 18 GPIOs
- USB – 1x USB 2.0
- Power Supply – 3.3V; Typ. consumption: 0.6W
- Dimensions – 28.2mm x 52mm (1.1″ x 2.0″)
Since this type of module is not always convenient to use standalone… three docks have been designed:
- The dock – Simple baseboard with USB, power supply, RGB LED, push buttons, and 2.54mm header to access I/Os
- Arduino dock – To leverage your existing Arduino shields
- Servo dock – For controlling up to 16 motors
But the latter won’t go for sale, as it will be reworked as one of the expansion boards that currently can add support for Ethernet, OLED, or relays, and are stackable as shown in the picture below with “The dock” and Omega.
That’s about it for the hardware, although they also have full kits, as we’ll see later.
The whole idea behind the project is actually more about software support than hardware:
- Built-in integration with Onion Cloud so that the module can interact with Web services, communicate with other Internet connected devices, and be accessible from anywhere in the world. Onion Cloud is free for non-commercial use.
- User-friendly Firmware upgrade procedure
- Multi-tasking to avoid switching between firmwares.
- App store for apps for hardware like a robotic arm, printer, heater, and so on.
The company has also setup 5 kits (Ping Pong blaster, tweet printer, robotic arm, spycam, and LED matrix) that you can try live online @ Onion Lab. Sadly I could not make the ping pong blaster work, but the tweet printer worked great.
Once you had some fun, you may consider backing the project listed on KickStarter. A $19 pledge should get you an Omega + Dock (early bird), and once 100 reserved rewards are gone, it will go up to $25. You can also combine Omega, Dock and expansion for prices ranging between $35 to $65, and the kits start at $99 for a Wi-Fi camera, up to $499 for a spider bot or a drone. Shipping appears to be included, and delivery is scheduled between August and October 2015 depending on the rewards.
Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011.