balenaFin Raspberry Pi CM3+/Lite Developer Kit Launched for $179 and Up – previously known as – first unveiled Project Fin in March 2018. The carrier board for Raspberry Pi CM3L was designed with the aim of easing the management of fleets of connected devices thanks to ResinOS operating systems and the ability to deploy apps packaged in containers through their balenaCloud service.

The project had been renamed to balenaFin a little while ago, and the company has now announced availability of balenaFin 1.1 developer kit with various improvements including support for PoE, dual camera, and Raspberry Pi CM3+/Lite module.

balenaFin v1.1

balenaFin v1.1 carrier board specifications with improvements highlighted in bold:

  • Supported SoM
    • Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3 Lite with Broadcom BCM2837 quad-core ARM Cortex A53 processor at 1.2GHz, 1GB  RAM
    • Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3+/Lite with Broadcom BCM2837B0 quad-core ARM Cortex A53 processor at 1.2GHz, 1GB  RAM
  • Storage – 8, 16, 32, or 64 GB industrial grade eMMC 5.1 flash
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, Dual-band 802.11ac/a/b/g/n 2.4 & 5GHz WiFi + Bluetooth 4.2
  • Expansion
    • Color-coded Raspberry Pi 40-pin HAT
    • 1x Mini PCI Express subset socket (USB, UART and I2C) with nano-SIM card socket
    • Video Output / Display – HDMI output, RPi display connector (multiplexed with one RPi camera)
    • Camera – 2x RPi camera connectors
    • USB – 2x USB 2.0 Type-A ports, 1x micro USB port for flashing, 1x 4-pin USB 2.0 header
  • Co-processor
    • IoT Module – Samsung Artik 020 IoT module with  Silicon Labs BGM111 Arm Cortex M4 MCU @  40 MHz,  32kB RAM, 256 kB flash, Bluetooth 4.2 Smart connectivity
    • I/O  – 1x I2C, 1x SPI, 1x debug UART, 8x GPIO / ADC
  • Misc – RTC via I2C chip with CR122 coin-cell battery, 1x dimmable RGB LED, 9 x Status LEDs, power in fuse (3A 125VAC/VDC), HAT 5V fuse (3A 125VAC/VDC) PoE headers
  • Power Supply
    • 6 to 24V via barrel jack or 2-position phoenix connector
    • 5V @ 2.5A via HAT connector
    • PoE (Power-over-Ethernet) via add-on board
  • Dimensions – 90 x 90 mm (PCB)
  • Temperature Range – -20 to 70°C
balenaFin Block Diagram
Block Diagram

Other improvement include the ability to flash via micro USB port without having to connect a power supply, an extra mounting point for the Compute Module in order to improve vibration resistance, and each board has now an uniquely identifiable data matrix printed on the board (Unique ID).

The board comes without OS, but you can easily flash one of the balenaOS 2.x variants (production, development, standalone)  o the board using Etcher tools while the board is connected to your computer via the micro USB port as explained in the getting started guide. Standalone balenaOS is just a Linux distribution with docker, but without access to balena’s app / device management service.

balenaFin 1.1 developer kit
Click to Enlarge

The board is sold as part of balenaFin 1.1 developer kit for $179 with a balenaFin carrier board with 8GB flash a Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3+ Lite (CM3+/L), a 12V/1.5A international PSU, and a micro USB to USB cable. You may want to spend $20 extra to get the modular DIN-rail case as part of the kit as pictured above.

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13 Replies to “balenaFin Raspberry Pi CM3+/Lite Developer Kit Launched for $179 and Up”

      1. Yep, it’s really strange to make complete products out of such crippled base components. It’s like trying to build a car starting from square wheels and hoping most customers won’t care.

    1. > Are they recreating a raspberry pi out of a cm?

      Sure, but in a more expensive, reliable and flexible way.

      What almost all RPi users forget (or don’t know): the primary OS of those VideoCore things is called ThreadX, an RTOS not openly available. Hardware needs drivers here too but this is closed source area.

      So to provide greatest compatibility (running other secondary OS than BalenaOS, allowing for features like netbooting or booting from USB — I bet they’ll provide an USB2 attached SSD for the mPCIe slot if this thing is a success) it’s a requirement to use exactly the same hardware components here than the larger RPi do: that’s Microchip’s LAN9514 hub/Ethernet chip or the LAN7515 known from RPi 3 B+ with its crippled Gigabit Ethernet.

      1. Instead of using a proper hub and eth in separate chips.
        Im aware of the VC IV’s mastrr role over the arm cores. But still can’t serm to understand whats now better by having the same ICs on a separate PCB… Whatever in any case I just own a rpi because you must have at least one TM else im more interested in sunxi or whatever – the new STM32 seems interesting too.

        1. > Instead of using a proper hub and eth in separate chips.

          Well, since Balena specifies a temperature range of -20°C to 70°C I would believe they use the industrial grade LAN9514 variant on their carrier board (the commercial one on RPi 2/3 has a 0°C-70°C temperature range).

          Other than that I’m surprised people pay +100 bucks more for ‘just’

          * unique device ID since RPi SoC serial numbers suck (not unique but based on RNG)
          * 2nd camera input
          * reliable powering instead of crappy Micro USB
          * industrial grade eMMC
          * USB2 on mPCIe socket + SIM slot
          * Additional Cortex M4
          * RTC

          But maybe I don’t understand the purpose of this device here, it’s just a dev kit and Balena provides a cheaper variant for mass deployment?

          > Im aware of the VC IV’s mastrr role over the arm cores.

          Then you’re one of the 0.01% of RPi users. I always wondered how RPi Trading wants to hide the true nature of their current lineup once they present the next RPi not basing on VC4 any more generating a massive backwards compatibility problem. But by switching to RISC-V they found an easy solution.

          1. Sorry if my answer is slightly shortish: LOL

            The long version:
            Why would anyone in his proper state of mind base an industrial grade piece of HW on top of an SBC that’s manufactured by an emtity as transparent as google? I want someone where I’m having some securities being it only knowing who to talk to in case I need to. Also how can I ensure long term support with a board based on a hype?

          2. > Why would anyone in his proper state of mind base an industrial grade piece of HW on top of an SBC that’s manufactured by an emtity as transparent as google?

            No idea. But obviously it happens. I linked to the Balena blog post above for a reason since there an interview with Steve Jobs Eben Upton is mentioned where he’s telling one third of the RPi sales would go to industrial customers.

            Wrt long term support I would believe RPi Trading is in a better position than those device vendors relying on TV box or smartphone SoCs like Neutis who were ready for pre-order at the same time Allwinner H5 has been discontinued.

          3. I mean Allwinner can be convinced with a bucket of bucks (see Olimex’ longevity statement) bit bcm SOCs are not even procurable thanks to the raspi folks read Steve Jobs, as you named him. Weird basis for industrial HW. I would anytime prefer a more expensive or less powerful SOC by a reputed manufacturer unless im big enough to buy directly from someone like Allwinner with the weight of a big customer to negotiate special terms.

            But maybe I’m just biased by markets requiring RTCA DO-160, EN50155 and similar environmental testing standards.

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