Orange Pi Zero NAS Expansion Board with SATA, USB, and AV Port Sells for $10 Shipped

Orange Pi Zero is a $7 and up board based on Allwinner H2+ quad core Cortex A7 processor with 256 to 512MB RAM, Ethernet, WiFi, and USB, but no video output except on headers, making it more suitable to headless applications. The company has just launched Orange Pi Zero NAS Expansion port adding SATA, mSATA, two more USB ports, and an AV port allowing you to add a hard drive or SSD, and connect it to a TV with composite input.

Orange Pi Zero NAS Expansion Board preliminary specifications:

  • Storage – 1x SATA port, 1x mSATA port both through a JMS578 USB 3.1 to SATA bridge with UAS support each, which should be better than some other USB to SATA solution despite only being connected to a USB 2.0 interface.
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 ports
  • Video & Audio Output – 3.5mm AV jack with composite video (TBC) and stereo audio
  • Misc – Microphone and IR receiver
  • Header – 13-pin female header connecting to OPi Zero board

There won’t need any specific support for SATA, since the drive will be seen as USB mass storage devices. The best way to get started would probably be used Armbian Debian or Ubuntu image.

Orange Pi Zero and NAS Expansion Board

Orange Pi Zero NAS Expansion board is sold on Aliexpress for $6.98 plus shipping adding up to just over $10 in my case. Ideally, Shenzhen Xunlong should also offer a kit with both boards and potential a case to lower overall shipping costs, but that’s not available (yet).

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56 Replies to “Orange Pi Zero NAS Expansion Board with SATA, USB, and AV Port Sells for $10 Shipped”

  1. “Ideally, Shenzhen Xunlong should also offer a kit with both boards and potential a case to lower overall shipping costs, but that’s not available”. well, just buy orange pi pc or any other offering? opi0 is a tiny board by itself, adding this hat makes it quite big. so unless its a retrofit for users gulping base board and having regrets, i would simply just get board that has all features already. adding opi0 and its hat makes a 19.72usd with shipping.

  2. @kc
    The problem is that AFAIK it’s quite difficult (read impossible) to get this type of board for less than $20.
    If you have a kit with OPi0 + NAS Expansion, it could sell for maybe $18 with shipping.

  3. It should be noted that the used JMS578 USB-to-SATA bridge (especially when combined with mainline kernel) is really superiour compared to most other bridges since featuring UASP (USB Attached SCSI protocol), SAT (SCSI / ATA Translation) and also TRIM when used with an SSD.

    Mainline kernel is a prerequisit to use UAS with H3/H2+ boards but then they exceed ~40 MB/s data transfer rates over USB2.0 (as a comparison: The GL830 bridge as used on some SBC is only capable of 15/30 MB/s write/read). SAT means attached disks can be queried using SMART and the benefit of TRIM with SSDs should be obvious.

  4. Well this is still a USB- SATA board limited by the H2+/H3 support. So JMS578 “superiority” doesn’t count for much !

    And basically is overkill for the tiny OPi0 with its comparably big price tag and size.

    There is this $2 OPi0 expansion board that makes much more sense, with 2xUSB (likely on shared bus with onboard USBs), mic/speaker, IR receiver and TV out composite:

    New Orange Pi Zero Expansion board Interface board Development board beyond Raspberry Pi

    That power barrel on this for a little extra would be perfect but then not all wishes will come true.

    Still waiting for eMMC on a OPi0, like on others.

  5. @manuel
    ODROID-XU4 for example. And with mainline kernel, UASP and a fast SSD this rocks. But I don’t think USB 3.0 Superspeed is suitable for such HAT connections 😉

    The above HAT when combined with Orange Pi Zero is somewhat strange though… since OPi Zero is only Fast Ethernet equipped. So you have a HAT good for combined 80 MB/s storage throughput but a connection to the outside limited to 10 MB/s max.

  6. @tkaiser
    Ah right, the XU4. But it is kind of expensive. I would like a board with GbE + USB3.0 Ports and/or SATA for a small server <50$. But i could not find such a thing. Probably have to go with the Orange Pi Plus 2E, which you recommended.

  7. @manuel
    I’m hoping here for Marvell ARMADA 3700 (as used on the ESPRESSOBin board). But this SoC has already real SATA and PCIe (so you can add 2 more SATA ports with a cheap ASM1062 card) so there’s not that much need for an USB3-to-SATA bridge anyway…

  8. @tkaiser
    Yap, for the future the ARMADA 3700 looks excellent. But for now i should stick to USB 2. The EspressoBin can also only be preordered with 512MB Ram at the moment.

  9. @manuel
    If I would now build up an USB 2.0 el cheapo NAS my SBC of choice would be clearly Orange Pi PC 2 (including shipping still less than the €23 EU VAT redemption treshold). The official OS images from Xunlong have a few issues but the good news is that some linux-sunxi folks have already mainline kernel running on OPi PC 2 with all necessary features working (DVFS, USB with UASP support, Gigabit Ethernet with excellent throughput numbers — way better compared to Allwinner’s legacy kernel used on the ‘official’ OS images from Xunlong). Though no mainline kernel OS images available at the moment…

    Still hoping for a Gigabit Ethernet equipped OPi Zero Plus Turbo with H5 SoC to be used together with this NAS Expansion board (Xunlong plans for an OPi Zero Plus 2 — great name BTW 😉 — that is said to not even contain Fast Ethernet but is WiFi only)

  10. Given all the dirt cheap usb to sata connector cables on Amazon, eBay, Aliexpress which claim Linux support . Wonder folk have not been experimenting with these slow options.

  11. @manuel
    OPi PC 2 does not rely on an internal USB hub, you get 3 real USB 2.0 host ports and one USB OTG that do not have to share bandwidth (just as on OPi PC, PC Plus or Plus 2E). Combined with Gigabit Ethernet that does exceed 900 Mbits/sec with mainline kernel and H5 CPU performance comparable to A64 (so maybe still the slowest Cortex-A53 SoC around but slightly faster than H3).

    And that’s what I want in Zero form factor with 2 USB host ports exposed on the 13-pin header to be combined with this NAS HAT above. 🙂

  12. Also the Sunxi devices as Nas page, has a beware notice against some devices and some Soc H3/A83T/H8 and GL830

  13. Pity it’s missing an I2S … it could be a very good air music player (squeezebox,airplay,dlna,spotify connect)

  14. @Schmurtz
    If you’re really good at soldering you can do I2S on OPi Zero (nasty hardware hacks required, just do a google search for ‘hyphop PA20 PG12’) but the better idea is to choose NanoPi Air then (driver for the better WiFi chip there is also in a better state and in case you love to go through hassles you could even try to get audio over BT working). Though I don’t understand how that’s all related to NAS context 😉

  15. @xxiao
    Nope, OPi Plus and Plus 2 are not recommended since they’re too expensive and use the ultra slow and buggy GL830 USB-to-SATA bridge that should be avoided since not UAS capable and limited to 15 MB/s sequential write and 30 MB/s read speed. The better choice would be OPi Plus 2E combined with external enclosures that use quality USB-to-SATA bridges. Information is available, if you do a ‘H3 devices as NAS’ web search you should get to the relevant Armbian forum thread and also Sunxi_devices_as_NAS page in linux-sunxi wiki. Same with ‘H3 board buyer’s guide’

    With ‘NAS HAT’ I was referring to this Expansion board here (‘HAT’ as used with Expansion boards for Raspberries), sorry if that wasn’t clear enough…

  16. @Schmurtz
    As already said: NanoPi NEO/Air have been built with your I2S use case in mind and now also an I2S expansion board is available called ‘NanoHAT PCM5102A’ (I would assume when you order this as an option you get the NanoPi with headers populated but this is something that should be checked with FriendlyELEC before)

  17. Some of the guys getting this setup should post some numbers here. I am actually looking to build a multi-purpose server (NAS/file sharing) for my own use and I want it to be powerful enough (2 GB of RAM, Gigabit and USB 3.0 are all a must for me).

  18. @Mihai
    Why would anyone want USB3 when you could use ‘native SATA’? Still, there are no native USB disks around (only the WD jokes called PiDrive) so disk + USB3 means ‘USB-to-SATA’ bridge needed. Some of those are real crap (GL830 as worst example), some are really good (like the on on this specific NAS Expansion board that’s bottlenecked by just USB2 and later Fast Ethernet) and they always introduce new disadvantages.

    I would enter ‘espressobin’ in the search bar in the upper right corner to get the idea. And if we’re talking about data that has some value I would choose a HP Microserver instead (since cheapest possible alternative making use of ECC DRAM)

  19. @tkaiser
    Thank you for pointing out the Espressobin. Unfortunately the variant with 2 GB of RAM is not available. An HP Microserver is definitely out of question because it is too expensive in my country and really hard to find. I will not have sensitive, personal information on my NAS.
    I know a USB to SATA is not as good as a native SATA, but I have a Q10 Pro and I have pretty good copying/writing speeds over ethernet, so the oDroid XU4 should do. I am not mentioning that there is a massive community behind oDroid XU4 and a lot of reviews with it as a NAS. OpenMediaVault will do just fine.

  20. @Mihai
    I’m always surprised where the demand for ‘at least 2GB RAM’ originates from. Especially if people think performance would improve with more RAM available. BTW: There’s also a reason why typical NAS boxes don’t have that much RAM: since more or less useless with home/SOHO NAS.

    A lot of RAM is great to improve write performance if storage is the bottleneck and network is faster (since then buffering data in RAM and later flushing it to disk is possible as long as the amount of data fits into RAM). And there are storage requirements that need large amounts of RAM (ZFS ARC cache, ZFS deduplication tables) but the usual ‘NAS use case’ doesn’t benefit from huge amounts of DRAM.

    Other stuff is way more important (Marvell SoCs being made for highest I/O and network throughput unlike phone/tablet SoCs as present on all the other SBC around) but I’m pretty sure ‘the SBC community’ believes in count of CPU cores, DRAM size and all the other irrelevant stuff instead 🙂

  21. I suggest to you that it is more to do with the knowledge level of the users and majority are not as technically inclined or using them as you do.

    There is a bigger market of consumers than technical ,hardware optimisers. Many watch Blueray HD rips stored on PC based Nas, where they throw cpu power and memory at the problem. Mostly because in 12 to 16 months time there is another cpu being sold.

    It is a old maxim the quick dirty fix beats the high investment hardware solution, because the market moves fast. But only in some market levels!
    Yesterdays throw away 1080HD box is cheaper to replace than try to up grade it to a 4K UHD box. Consumers treat them like phone upgrades. Not long term investments.

  22. Theguyuk :
    It is a old maxim the quick dirty fix beats the high investment hardware solution

    ‘Interesting’. Just for your info. It’s here about the right device for the use case and avoiding high investment since looking for the wrong ‘parameters’ (more DRAM, more CPU cores, more bits — this 64-bit madness some people are infected with). It’s also not about consumers but hopefully about human beings able to learn. At least I hope this is not a consumer portal but a source of information for smart people!

  23. @tkaiser

    I do not plan on using it just as a NAS. I would like the extra power for transcoding as well, since I am getting it. I do not really care about it having a 64 bit SoC. I would not want to look at another setup in a couple of years.

  24. @tkaiser
    You think some people are below you, not smart enough!

    Says it all really …

    CNX better stop reviewing those TV boxes consumer purchase so much, don’t want to lower the tone of this site for smarter people only.

    1. @theguyuk

      Be careful 😉

      You are talking to a really smart guy who claims to have designed the USB3 SATA shield to work on USB2 based OPi0 ! How dare you call him out ? 🙂

      But this smart guy is totally AWOL when it comes to mundane stuff like a wifi driver for OPi0 just to make it actually useable.

      Not to mention pitching GigE and USB3 for a new OPi0 version, maybe to fit his wonderful shield ( but not supported by the OPi0 H2+ chip !)

      Moral : Can’t fix basic problems, go on to the bigger hype, and call it tech excellence. But let him spend 80% of his time on SD card and power repair jobs- he loves crap stuff.

  25. tkaiser :
    At least I hope this is not a consumer portal but a source of information for smart people!

    Don’t be like D. Trump, please! 😉
    ‘The Internet’ is for everyone, and sometimes people may feel a little intimidated by the way you express your convictions.
    But please keep on posting your opinions, they have been valuable, even if not always agreeing with you.

  26. @Athar
    Hi 🙂

    When you look at Allwinner leaving the H3 stuck on Android 4.4 and now rushing out H5 chip. To me that means less H3 sales as everyone moves to Android 5.1, 6.1, 7 etc.

    So software wth struggling hardware graphics support and a mashed up pile of differing boards from Orange Pi and fragmented software doing only niche limited sales markets.

    I suspect also a growing number of people thinking why share with Orange Pi or Armbian. They take the help, claim all the glory and ignore the contributions made by others. Time will tell.

    1. @theguyuk

      Agreed, again 😉

      I believe we have a chicken-egg problem here.

      Like other Pi firms, Xunlong is focused on price, but unlike CHIP ( and maybe Omega2 with OpenWrt virtually mainlined already), is unwilling to invest in software development and product marketing.

      Then we have a volunteer forum ( Armbian) that has done good OS work but most contributions are in the past. Armbian now sits on its laurels and as some weird quid pro quo, “designs” these farcical SATA over USB2 stuff ( not even for USB3 models!), even talking about GigE on the OPi0 H2+ chip which doesn’t support it.

      So the net result is that the new players have pulled ahead while Armbian keeps talking up “tech”, that doesn’t work. Xunlong definitely will pay a price having lost time with OPi0 “minus” and this SATA adventure.

      Personally I rather see them fix their relatively simple issues without even motherboard changes, and also have Android 5.1+ support ( tons of Android apps for free, truly useful.)

      E.g., maybe Xunlong can redo their OPi0 $2 expansion board to add onboard flash and a power jack, then price accordingly.

      But then it is a matter of vision. There will be a difference always between the very professional Free Electrons (hired to get CHIP mainlined ) and those volunteers doing their own thing, with no real stake in user benefit. Free Electrons has long term experience with Allwinner, and I would think fixing Xunlong issues should be a natural and inexpensive extension.

      I wish Xunlong could see the light, or it will remain a niche hobbyist player with Armbian “community support ( repair jobs, mostly.)” It has a great opportunity to tackle the growing media-IoT market.

  27. @Athar, @tkaiser never claimed to have designed that HAT, if you look at the forum link he posted, he literally says “The next such HAT should add…” which Xunlong luckily went and picked up the parts he asked them to use, built a HAT and started selling it.

    BTW, if you read any of @tkaiser’s comments in this thread or on the Armbian forums, he commonly recommends other boards from FriendlyARM and others depending on what the user is trying to do (like I2S). While you *can* get I2S and other things to work on a Opi Zero, its probably not worth it unless you have one laying around, as the NanoPi has a HAT for it.

    Comparing Free Electrons work to the Armbian community and all the others who have cleaned up Allwinner’s mess is fine, but set expectations appropriately. The community will scratch its own itch usually, instead of methodically adding support regardless of need.

    1. @Dan

      I believe we both mostly agree 😉

      First if you read my earlier comments as well, I always said that Armbian had done a great job, but not much lately, mostly repair ones as Armbian devs said themselves in that forum.

      Second I still say OPi has the best price/performance, but should invest more in development ( not Armbian’s fault.) CHIP and now Omega2 have pulled ahead because they are listening to the market. Calling their working tech inferior is a joke
      when the “high tech” products Armbian works on are not working according to Armbian itself!

      Tkaiser has been boasting on Armbian Forums that the SATA for OPi0 likely was his recommendation (of course he is not an Xunlong employee to my best knowledge, so he officially could not have designed anything.)

      Yes this was “lucky” for him and a stupidity for good design thinking. And tkaiser still defends the approach by asking people to “however realize…”

      So here is the problem: why not acknowledge the SATA-USB2 travesty, and instead of talking about an OPi0 GigE/ USB3 version (for fitting motherboard to SATA shield? H2+ can’t even do GigE), why not urge Xunlong to solve basic problems with simple fixes?

      E.g., add onboard flash and DC jack on the nice $2 OPi0 expansion board with enough space,then price accordingly?

      Maybe do similar expansion cards for other models and upgrades? This way both SD card folks with class 10 dollars and tinkering ability and time, and those wanting easier configuration would be happy without need for motherboard redesigns.

      But that is the problem. Armbian is a volunteer forum and they do their own thing without necessarily thinking about walking before running- they are tinkering with SD cards and solving repair problems against easier, sensible solutions.

      Lastly OPi0, with so much hoopla about Armbian OS “superiority,” is stuck on a basic issue- a driver for its obscure x819 wifi chip. Again not Armbian’s problem, but then what good is OPi0 now with Armbian and its price/performance?

      Calling everything crap and still toiling on it is a Marx Brothers’ art for general entertainment, but it doesn’t advance the state of art.

      It would be nice to have a single Armbian FAQ about main issues and progress updates as opposed to links referring to other, dated links. Lots of forums do it.

      For instance, know about Android support (given HW acceleration) and whether OPi issues of voltage regulation have only been solved for Armbian OS, not others. If Armbian is a volunteer forum it should have no issues with updates and comparison with “competitor” firmware. It is community support, right?

      Open Source volunteers should have responsibilities too, whatever “open” means nowadays. Going alone is not a positive answer.

  28. Athar :
    Armbian is a volunteer forum

    LOL! And Free Electrons is a ‘hired forum’?! Can’t believe it. Unfortunately you don’t get how amusing all this weird stuff is you leave here in the comments section. Please be assured: you still have not the slightest idea what you’re (constantly) talking about and every time someone tried to explain something to you it gets more and more weird 🙂

    For anyone else and to get back on topic: The NAS Expansion board this blog post is about is obviously not the best choice to be combined with actual OPi Zero since this device is limited to 100 Mbits/sec with wired connections and way less when it’s about wireless. Please don’t believe in the BS some people constantly spread but the main problem is not the driver but the hardware (and of course lack of understanding Wi-Fi technology). I tried to summarize this real problem where those guys actively working on improving the mainline version of the driver discuss development efforts:

    Regarding possible other devices that could be combined with the NAS Expansion board: We already know that Xunlong has a H5 board in the works called ‘OPi Zero Plus 2’ (but since they renamed ‘OPi Zero Plus’ in the meantime maybe the name will change). According to hardware descriptions on Github this new device features H5 SoC but no Ethernet at all and Ampak Wi-Fi/BT instead (also crappy since 2.4GHz/1T1R only — lowest NAS performance possible).

    Since combining superiour storage interfaces (JMS578 features support for SAT (SMART), UASP and also TRIM/UNMAP when used with SSDs) with devices that lack network bandwidth doesn’t make that much sense we can only hope (!) that Xunlong plans a Zero variant with Gigabit Ethernet and hopefully H5 instead of H3 too (sometimes in the future). That’s the whole story.

    On a related note: Due to Allwinner being not that innovative and H5 being more or less a H3 SoC with CPU cores exchanged linux-sunxi community was able to do an amazing job providing mainline kernel support for the only H5 device currently available: Armbian build system supports now OPi PC2 with mainline kernel (4.9.6 ATM) and now the most time consuming process (testing and improving settings) can start. Experienced users who want to join H5 development (testing) efforts please see here:

    1. @tkaiser

      You are great at wordsmithing while most folks do get the big picture 🙂 If only you guys can improve your communications with a single FAQ, but you are volunteers pleasing yourself.

      Free Electrons is a professional firm (NOT Forum) that did a great job mainlining CHIP single core R8/A13, and their work now is directly applicable to quadcore H3/5.

      Your embarrassed comments about SATA “design” are telling. Hopefully Martin Ayotte at Armbian will finish the OPi0 WiFi driver early February or so as he promised.

      Guess what: the *crap* label is out there for most ARM SBC stuff … I just wonder why you toil so much with crap?

      So you are also the guy who thinks *crap* ( sub $10) USB cams cannot output mjpeg?

  29. First users received the Expansion board and start to look into the stuff we still don’t know. I hope that we get a few answers the next days here

    Stuff that’s already known: Though mentioned in this blog post this board is obviously no USB3 solution. Starting with USB 3.0 and SuperSpeed a new Protocol, a new Link and a new Physical Layer has been introduced incompatible to USB 2.0. On this Expansion board only USB2.0 data lines (2 per port) are routed on the PCB but not the needed 2 differential pairs for SS (again per port). Also performance is somehow predictable and that S.M.A.R.T. and using hdparm will work with any disk connected to the shield due to good USB-to-SATA bridges used.

    What’s unknown (yet): How powering exactly works and what’s the mode for the 2 Type A receptacles on the board. Also how JMS578 support for TRIM/UNMAP looks in reality. Maybe we find out soon, just check the above link.

  30. So buy a H2, H3 board which has a Soc Allwinner ignore, and now in 2017 vender still struggling to have install and forget soft ( software that works out of the box ) .

    Do the maths on how many hours of your life wasted on boards design by Xunlong, priced to be cheap on parts cost. But Xunlong don’t know how to program or have software drivers for.

    Remeber there will be pie in the sky when you die. Don’t stop to notice past promises are never fulfilled.

  31. @theguyuk

    That’s the whole point! Just spin the Linux SBC OPi0 story generating “work” for those Armbian “volunteers,” 80% being completely unnecessary repair jobs.

    Now what’s wrong with buying a real, very hackable product that is way better specc’ed and tested and priced than above boards, soon to be sub$20:

    Well no need to “design” USB2 SATA here, no “work” load ! Ko

  32. @Athar
    There is the Khadas Vim Amlogic s905x, originally desigened for signage display but comes with base Android 6 installed. but it costs more. Asus tinker board prices, but you get a case and power cable. and double the memory of a sdcard based pi 3 and has emmc.

    ( I declare a interest here as I received one with hdmi cable and remote free from Khadas Vim, months back)

  33. Small addendum: Still no schematic released for this board but a user manual can be found in Xunlong’s download area (since January but I spotted it just recently). At least now the role of the 2 USB type 2 receptacles is documented. Using — standards violating — USB A-to-A cables any other USB device can be connected and uses then the appropriate JMS578 bridge (it’s either connecting through 2 pins per port on the pin header or the receptacle)

    It should be noted that the whole board design is of course USB2 only (the USB3 SuperSpeed data lines are nowhere exposed which is good given EMI situation with 5Gpbs) but the use of two USB3 capable bridge chips makes it possible to benefit from UAS. The latter requires appropriate hardware and mainline kernel though: (H5 is missing in the wiki since no one tested so far but it should work there too)

  34. @tkaiser
    So if I understand your comment correctly, you can use this Nas hat on every PC just by soldering/connecting a USB cable to the appropriate pins and benefit from the JMS578 bridge chip through the usb-ports and the SATA expansion?

  35. @roel
    Yes, you can either solder the USB2 data lines to male jumper wires and insert them in the bottom of the NAS HAT (take care of shielding) or you need those special A-to-A cables (on aliexpress you find a couple of them by searching for ‘usb type a to type a’ without ‘cable’ or you search for ‘usb male to male’ in cables section)

    Though this makes only sense with USB2 only capable host ports since SuperSpeed data lines can’t be used. If you’ve USB3 hosts better search for good USB enclosures featuring ASM1153, JMS567 or JMS578 (but at least here in Germany the best price I get for such a single enclosure with a good USB-to-SATA bridge is €10 without shipping so to combine SATA devices with SBCs this Xunlong solution is still a bargain)

  36. @roel
    Update: Today a simple search on Aliexpress for ASM1153 and JMS578 turned up some interesting solutions from JEYI that should show superiour performance when used together with USB3/SuperSpeed host ports (though when used with average 2.5″ HDDs the difference between USB2 and USB3 is negligible more or less)

  37. hello – many thanks for this great article
    i own a Orange Pi
    – pc
    – prime

    does the Orange Pi NAS Expansion card (also know as Orange-Pi-Zero-NAS-Expansion-board-Interface-board )
    fit to these above mentioned boards too
    love to hear from you

  38. The vendor should also offer a kit with both boards and potential a case to lower overall shipping costs – or can we buy a bundle from any adress!?

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