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Posts Tagged ‘shenzhen xunlong’

Orange Pi RK3399 Development Board Launched for $109

January 29th, 2018 25 comments

Last Friday, I wrote there was already a decent choice of Rockchip RK3399 boards, and added AAEON RICO-3399 pico-ITX board to the list. I forgot about Shenzhen Xunlong’s own Rockchip RK3399 board that was spotted as early as last spring, and was told Orange Pi RK3399 was now up for sale in for around $110 (699 CNY) in Taobao.

The board is now also for sale on Aliexpress for $109 plus shipping ($4.35 here), and the company has released the specifications, so we can have a better look at what the board has to offer.

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Orange Pi RK3399 specifications:

  • SoC – Rockchip K3399 hexa-core big.LITTLE processor with two ARM Cortex A72 cores up to 2.0 GHz, four Cortex A53 cores, and an ARM Mali-T860 MP4 GPU with support for OpenGL 1.1 to 3.1 support, OpenVG1.1, OpenCL and DX 11
  • System Memory – 2 GB DDR3
  • Storage – 16 GB eMMC flash, micro SD card, mPCIe (for mSATA/LTE), and SATA interface
  • Video Output/Input & Display Interfaces
    • 1x HDMI 2.0 up to 4K @ 60 Hz
    • 1x DisplayPort (DP) 1.2 interface up to 4K @ 60Hz (via USB type C port?)
    • 2x MIPI DSI interface up to 2560×1600 @ 60 Hz
    • 1x eDP 1.3 (4-lanes @ 10.8 Gbps)
    • 1x HDMI input port
  • Video Decode – 4K VP9 and 10-bit H.265 video codec support up to 60 fps
  • Audio
    • Digital audio output via HDMI or DisplayPort
    • 3.5mm combo jack with stereo audio output and mic input
    • 1x optical S/PDIF
    • 1x speaker header (1.5W 8Ω or 2.5W 4Ω)
    • 1x on-board microphone
    • 1x microphone array interface
    • 1x I2S output and input interface up to 8 channels
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet port (via  RTL8211E transceiver), dual band 802.11ac 2×2 MIMO WiFi and Bluetooth 4.1 LE (AP6356S module)
  • USB – 4x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x USB 3.0 type C port
  • Camera – 2x MIPI CSI interfaces up to 13MP for each interfaces
  • Sensors – Gyroscope+G-Sensor (MPU6500), Gyroscope (LSM6DS3), HALL Sensor (HAL248TWCL), Light Sensor (CM32181) and Compass (AK09911)
  • Debugging – 3-pin serial header
  • Expansion
    • 40-pin GPIO 2.54mm pitch female header with 4x I2C, 1x SPI, 2x UART, 5x GPIO, etc…
    • 1x mini PCIe for LTE (USB) or mSATA
    • SIM card slot
  • Misc
    • IR receiver
    • 2x power status LEDs (red and green)
    • 1x SATA power status LED (green)
    • Buttons: reset, power, recovery, menu, return, vol+ and vol-
  • Power Supply
    • 12V/2A via DC jack (5.5/2.1mm) or 2-pin header
    • 5V via type C port or 2-pin header
    • Dual battery support (7.4V)
    • RK808 PMU, BQ25700 Charger IC, CW2015 Fuel Gas
  • Dimensions – 129 x 99 mm
  • Weight – 99 grams

The company can provide Android 6.0 and Debian 9 images for the board, but they have not uploaded them to their resource page yet. Usually we need to wait for a few days before Shenzhen Xunlong uploads the firmware, SDK, and potentially PDF schematics. As usual, it may take a while before all advertised features work out of the box.

$25 Orange Pi Lite2 Board Comes with Allwinner H6 Processor, 802.11ac WiFi + BLE Module, USB 3.0, and More

January 10th, 2018 15 comments

After Shenzhen Xunlong launched of the first low cost Allwinner H6 development board with Orange Pi One Plus at the very end of last month, we know more Allwinner H6 were coming, and the company has now launched Orange Pi Lite2 development board with 1GB LPDDR3, 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth module, and a USB 3.0 port.

The board however does not come with an Ethernet port, so people wanting to get H6 with Gigabit Etheret and USB 3.0 will need to wait a little longer. Orange Pi Lite2 is sold for $25 plus shipping on Aliexpress.

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Orange Pi Lite2 board specifications:

  • SoC – Allwinner H6 V200 quad core Cortex A53 processor with Arm Mali-T720MP2 GPU
  • System Memory – 1 GB LPDDR3
  • Storage – micro SD card slot up to 32GB
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0a up to 4K @ 60 Hz with HDCP 2.2 (TBC)
  • Audio – HDMI audio output, built-in microphone
  • Camera – Parallel CSI connector with support 5MP camera up to 1080p30
  • Video Decoding – 10-bit H.265 up to 4K @ 60 fps, VP9 and H.264 up to 4K @ 30 fps
  • Connectivity – 802.11b/g/n/ac WiFi and Bluetooth 4.1 via Ampak 6255 module
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0 port, 1x USB 2.0 host port, 1x micro USB OTG port (also used for power)
  • Expansion – 26-pin header
  • Debugging – 3-pin serial console header
  • Misc – Power & status LEDs, power button, IR receiver
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A via power barrel jack, or micro USB port; AXP805 PMIC
  • Dimensions – 69 x 48 mm
  • Weight – 50 grams

The company provides Android, Ubuntu, and Debian for the board, but as mentioned for Orange Pi One Plus, Allwinner H6 is pretty new, so if you plan to use Linux, expect some initial pain… The images will eventually be one Orange Pi resources pages, and I can see the company release Android 7.1 firmware & SDK, tools, and a “user’s manual” for Allwinner H6. I’d expect Allwinner H6 to be supported by Armbian in a few months.

7″ LCD Display with HDMI input, Audio output Launched for Orange Pi (and Other) Boards

September 15th, 2017 10 comments

If you want a cheap and simple way to add a screen to your development board, there are some 7″ displays with HDMI inputs that costs under $30 shipped. But Shenzhen Xunlong has decided to make their own 7″ LCD display with HDMI input and audio output, and sell for $22 + shipping.

The company only provided minimal technical information about the board and display:

  • Display  – 7″ TFT LCD with 1024×600  resolution
  • Video & Audio Input – HDMI
  • Audio Output – 3.5mm audio jack
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port

If we look at a closer picture of the board, we’ll see they used Lontium LT8619B, but the company’s website is down… The board also features three different connectors for displays, so they probably have other displays planned. While the company claims the display is made for  Orange Pi H3 boards, it should really work with any board that can output 1024×600 over HDMI.

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All you need to use the kit is a board, a HDMI cable (preferably less than 1.5 meters), and a USB power supply for the “transfer” board and the display. It should also be possible to connect speakers via the 3.5mm audio jack. As usual, no documentation is provided, but I would not expect too many issues as long as the hardware works.

$14 Orange Pi R1 Allwinner H2+ Board Comes with Two Ethernet Ports, 256 MB RAM

August 18th, 2017 13 comments

Shenzhen Xunlong has introduced the new Orange Pi R1 board with Allwinner H2+ quad core Cortex A7 processor that’s a bit different from their other models, as it includes two 10/100M Ethernet port, and should be suitable for intelligent controllers, or simple IoT gateways.

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Orange Pi R1 board specifications:

  • SoC – Allwinner H2(+) quad core Cortex A7 processor @ 1.2 GHz with Mali-400MP2 GPU
  • System Memory – 256 DDR RAM
  • Storage – micro SD card slot, 16 MB SPI flash
  • Connectivity – 2x 10/100M Ethernet (including on via RTL8152B USB to Ethernet) + 802.11 b/g/n WiFi (Realtek RTL8189ETV) with u.FL antenna connector and external antenna
  • USB – 1x micro USB OTG port
  • Expansion headers
    • Unpopulated 26-pin “Raspberry Pi B+” header
    • 13-pin header with headphone, 2x USB 2.0, TV out, microphone and IR receiver signals
  • Debugging – 3-pin header for serial console
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port
  • Dimensions – 60 x 45 mm

Since it’s based on the same Allwinner H2+ processor as on Orange Pi Zero board, the extra Ethernet port is implemented via USB, and the I/O headers looks to be the same, it should be possible to run Armbian images on the board without that many modifications. The board may not be the best solution for small router, as there are already many cheap OpenWrt compatible routers that should do the job just as well, but thanks to the expansion header, it may make a useful intelligent controller or ModBus gateway to manage relays, sensors, robots, etc…

Potential Use Case for Orange Pi R1 Boards – Source: MGate MB3170 Product Page

If you have the kind of cascaded setup above, the 16MB SPI flash could save you the use of micro SD card, with network boot either from the control PC (if it is always on), or one of the Orange Pi R1 fitted with a micro SD card.

Orange Pi R1 board is sold for $13.90 plus shipping ($17.29 in total here) on Aliexpress.

Thanks to Anton for the tip

$15 Orange Pi Zero Plus Board Released with Allwinner H5 SoC, Gigabit Ethernet, WiFi, and SPI flash

August 12th, 2017 33 comments

We had Orange Pi Zero, followed by Orange Pi Zero Plus 2, then Orange Pi Zero Plus 2 H5, but now there’s another “Zero” model that’s called Orange Pi Zero Plus, which like Orange Pi Zero Plus 2 H5 board is based on Allwinner H5 processor, but adds a faster Gigabit Ethernet port, and offers a fairly different features set compared to the first Orange Pi H5 board, albeit in the same form factor.

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Orange Pi Zero Plus specifications with highlights in bold and stricken-through showing difference with Orange Pi Plus 2 H5 model:

  • SoC – Allwinner H5 quad core Cortex A53 processor with hexa core Mali-450MP4 GPU
  • System Memory – 512 MB DDR3
  • Storage – 8GB eMMC flash, micro SD card slot + 2MB SPI flash
  • Video Output – HDMI ; AV port via 13-pin header
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n WiFi (Realtek RTL8189FTV) with u.FL antenna connector and external antenna. No Bluetooth
  • USB – 1x micro USB OTG port, 1x USB 2.0 host port
  • Camera – MIPI CSI port
  • Expansion headers
    • Unpopulated 26-pin “Raspberry Pi B+” header
    • 13-pin header with headphone, 2x USB 2.0, TV out, microphone and IR receiver signals
  • Debugging – 3-pin serial console header
  • Misc – 2x LEDs for power and status
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port
  • Dimensions – 48 x 45 mm
  • Weight – 26 grams

The eMMC flash is gone, but has been replaced with an SPI flash that should allow for network boot without micro SD card. HDMI output is gone, so your only video output option would be via the video composite signal on the 13-pin header. Bluetooth is gone as they replaced the Ampak module by a Realtek one, and the camera connector. All those differences means the two Orange Pi H5 boards have different uses case, with the new board is better suited to headless application where you need Gigabit Ethernet connectivity, and potentially want to save a few dollars on the board price, and remove the need for storage (if you use network boot).

The board should also be compatible with Orange Pi Zero NAS expansion board, so you’d have an inexpensive micro NAS with performance and price that rivals with FriendlyELEC NanoPi NEO 2 NAS kit, minus the enclosure. 2017 has been an exciting year for affordable networked storage so far, with various options from the two lower-end solutions aforementioned, to the better upcoming ODROID-MC1, and the higher end EspressoBin board, with some interesting work also taking place on ROCK64 board.

Software-wise, it may be worth noting that there’s no stable Armbian build so far, but there are experimental Ubuntu Xenial images for Orange Pi Zero 2 H5 board with mainline Linux kernel, which should work on the new board by just changing the DTB file. However, I did use NanoPi NEO2 with Allwinner H5 as a OpenMediaVault NAS, and it worked well enough, so I would not worry too much about software support for this use case. I’m not sure about U-boot support in the SPI flash, but hoping for some feedback in the comments section.

Orange Pi Zero Plus is sold for $14.90 plus shipping ($18.29 in total here). If you’re interested in mini NAS / home cloud system, you’ll need to add the NAS expansion board for $6.98, which in my case brings the total to $27.13 including shipping. A direct comparison with NanoPi NEO2 NAS kit is not possible, since Shenzhen Xunlong micro NAS solution does not include a case, nor heatsink, but for reference, a complete NAS kit v1.2 with NEO2 board goes for $28.98 plus shipping, or $44.98 in total in my case.

How to Setup an Orange Pi Zero DIY Smart Speaker with Google Assistant SDK

July 30th, 2017 102 comments

A preview release of Google Assistant SDK working with Raspberry Pi 3 and other ARMv7 boards was released in May, and soon after, AIY Projects Voice Kit was offered for free with Raspberry Pi Magazine in order to a complete smart speaker kit working with RPi 3. I wanted to try it on one of FriendlyELEC or Shenzhen Xunlong Allwinner board, since all we need is audio input and output, and an Internet connection. Earlier this month, I came across Orange Pi Zero Set 6 Kit that had all I needed: Orange Pi Zero ARM Linux board, an expansion board with built-in microphone and audio output jack, and a cute and small case to neatly put everything together.

Orange Pi Zero Set 6 Kit Unboxing and Assembly

Shenzhen Xunlong sent me the kit so that I can try it out.

The package includes two Orange Pi packages, the plastic case, some a bag with screws and rubber pads.

One of the package comes with Orange Pi Zero board powered by Allwinner H2+ quad core processor with 512 MB RAM, micro USB for power, 10/100M Ethernet, a USB port, a WiFi antenna, and expansion headers on the top…

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.. and a micro SD card slot on the bottom, which we’ll use to boot the operating system.

The second package is for Orange Pi Zero Interface board v1.1 with two more USB port, an IR receiver, a 3.5mm audio jack, and a built-in microphone (top right).

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The next step is just to plug the interface board into Orange Pi Zero board, bending the WiFi antenna between the two boards…

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… before pushing the board from the bottom of the enclosure, tightened the cover with the 4 screws, and adding the 4 rubber pads.

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Installing Ubuntu on Orange Pi Zero & Configuring Networking and Audio Input & Output

Google Assistant SDK requires Ubuntu or Debian operating system, so I downloaded Ubuntu server legacy image on Armbian website, since the mainline image does not support XR819 WiFi module at all. I then extracted Armbian_5.30_Orangepizero_Ubuntu_xenial_default_3.4.113.7z and flashed Armbian_5.30_Orangepizero_Ubuntu_xenial_default_3.4.113.img  with Etcher on a micro SD card using my main computer.

Once it was done, I took the micro SD card to Orange Pi Zero board, connected my own speakers to the 3.5mm audio jack and USB for power, as well as a 5V/2A USB charger to power the system.

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You may notice an extra USB dongle on the picture above, but we’ll talk about that later.

I’ll use WiFi to test Google Assistant, but I also connected an Ethernet cable to make it easier for first time setup. If you don’t have Ethernet, you could also connect the board via a USB to TTL board to access the serial console.

After looking up the IP address of the board in my router, I connected with SSH using root (password: 1234):

The very first boot it will ask your to change the root password, and create a new user. You may want to create “pi” user at this stage. We should not be able to access the command, and run the following command to configure Orange Pi Zero board:

I first changed the timezone.

Then selected WiFi – Connect to wireless access point to connect to my WiFi router.

We can quit armbian-config, and optionally disconnect the Ethernet cable, and reconnect SSH over WiFi, which I did.

Back in the command line, I tested audio recording & playback with the built-in microphone and speakers using the same commands as in ReSpeaker guide:

The first command recorded my voice, and then I pressed Ctrl+C to stop, and play it back with the second command. I worked fine for me. If you wish you can adjust the playback and recording volume with:

We’ll also need to create .asoundrc file for Google Assistant to work with ALSA. For we need to note the microphone card and device number (0,0):

as well as speaker card and device number (0,0):

If you want to use your TV as speaker, you’d use Card 1, device: 0.

If you have not created a pi or other user yet, you’ll want to add one belonging to sudoers and audio groups, and go the home directory:

Now create a ~/.asoundrc with the following match the card and device for our mic and speaker:

[Update: As we’ll see below this won’t work with the built-in microphone, but as indicated in the comments below, this can be fixed by changing pcm.mic section with:

I have not changed the rest of the post, but the built-in microphone on Orange Pi Zero does work now]

Setting Up Google Assistant on Orange Pi Zero

Now that audio and networking are both setup and working, we can carry on with the instructions to install Google Assistant SDK and demo. Those are the same for all boards, and I’ll describe them below in details.

We need to configure a Google Developer Project.

Go to the Project page in Google Platform Console, and click on Create Project.

I called it Orange Pi Zero Smart Speaker, and clicked on Create.

Next, we’ll need to enable Google Assistant API for our project. Simply click on Enable on that page. The “Orange Pi Zero Smart Speaker” project was already selected in my case.

We’re then being asked to create an OAuth Client ID. I only filled my email address, and a product name before clicking on Save.

Select Other in the next page, and give another name – I used “Linux Thingy” – before clicking on Create.

You should now see an OAuth client pop-up window with your client ID and secret. You can just click OK, no need to copy or save either.

Instead we’ll download client_secret_[your_client_id].json file on the next page by clicking on the arrow circled in red.

I then copied that file to Orange Pi Zero board using scp (change [your_client_id] with your actual client ID):

Now that we have configured most options we need in Google Cloud platform, let’s install Python 3 and dependencies:

At this stage to need to make sure “Web & App Activity” with “Include Chrome browsing history and activity from websites and apps that use Google services”  checked, Device Information and Voice & Audio Activity are enabled in the Activity Controls page. All options were already enabled for me by default.

We can now install Google Assistant SDK package including library and sample code:

and the authorization tool:

Run the authorization tool:

This should show a text reading “Please visit this URL to authorize this application: https://….”. Select the URL and open it in a web browser, and copy/paste the authorization code you see in the web browser back into the terminal.

We can now start the demo

That’s the initial output

I went to say “OK Google” and “Hey Google”, and… nothing. No answer, and no info in the terminal window either. I tried several times, and also played with:

as explained in the troubleshooting section in Google Assistant documentation, incrementing the value by 6 until I reached -60, before running the demo, and no luck. So I thought maybe my “American accent” could have been the problem, so I launched Google Translate in my phone, and make it say “OK Google”. Same disappointing result. I went to Google Cloud Console, and good see some activity, but with 100% errors.

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So I did some searching on the web, I could find one person changing the .asoundrc file, but I did not work for me with the file generating plenty of sound related errors when running the demo, and another fix a similar problem by changing the microphone. Which reminded me, I had bought a cheap USB microphone on eBay for $1.45. So I connected it to Orange Pi Zero board, and that’s the extra USB dongle in the photo with the speakers higher in this guide, and check the card and device number:

We can see the USB card 2, device 0, so I update the relevant line in pcm.mic section in .asoundrc:

and ran the demo again. Success! The device would reply to make “OK Google” request, and tell me the time, my name, the weather for tomorrow, sing a song, do some calculus and so on.

This is what the output looks like when the demo works:

Bear in mind that Google Assistant SDK is in preview mode right now, and it’s mainly aimed at developers. First, I understand you can’t do automation tasks, or play music like you can on an actual Google Home. The good news is that you can roll you own implementation, and for example, somebody made his AIY Project Voice Kit work with Google Music, something you should be able to reproduce on other boards. Google Home also includes a microphone array, which will make hot word detection more reliable even in noisy environment. Orange Pi Zero + USB microphone did a decent job though, as I could use it 5 or more meters away.

Next time you boot the board, you can login as pi user, and run the following commands to run the demo:

You could also use systemd to automatically start the demo, or your own implementation, and I did so with instructions adapted from Nordic Semi’s Google Assistant Wiki.

First, create /etc/systemd/system/google-assistant-demo.service file with the following content:

I add “Type = idle” as other the app would not run, possibly because it would start after the audio was enable. I did not find any audio specific services handled by systemd, so “type = ilde” will make sure the service starts after other are loaded.

Now we can enable the service, and start it:

The demo will run at this point, and it will start automatically each time your boot the board. I played with it for several hours and it seemed stable. Some people have however expressed concered about WiFi on Orange Pi Zero, so if you encountered some instability issues, you may want to switch to Ethernet instead, or use a WiFi USB dongle, or use another Orange Pi or NanoPi board with a time-proven WiFi module.

I’d like to thank Shenzhen Xunlong Software for sending the kit my way. If you are interested, you can purchase it for $12.95 + shipping.

Office, Factory, Business Model, and Ambitious Plans of Shenzhen Xunlong Software, Orange Pi Maker

July 15th, 2017 61 comments

Parts of the article have been updated after Steven Zhao update at the end.

Since Steven Zhao is the only one contact person at Shenzhen Xunlong Software, the maker of Orange Pi boards, and the company appears to be focusing on hardware development more than on software and documentation, so at one point in time, people were speculating that it could be one person operation 🙂 Last year, Steven told us there were over 10 persons working in the office. But hey, photos, or it’s fake! We now have a definite proof as Renaud Coustellier visited Steven Zhao in his Shenzhen Offices, and published a report on Minimachines (in French). I’ll provide a summary below, but visit Minimachines website, if you want the full story and more pictures.

First, Shenzhen Xunlong rented a floor, or part of it, in one of the many Shenzhen office buildings, and engineers are working in the typical cubicles, you’ll find in most other companies in China. The 200 m² office is now occupied by 50 employees doing hardware design, testing, and some customer support, and another part of the office is used for shipping parcels to customer. Manufacturing takes place in another factory in a cheaper place in inner China.

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The company is not only doing development boards, but also working on projects for their customers such as point-of-sales and game consoles. Those are not Xunlong products, and Renaud was not allowed to take pictures.

Xunlong was apparently initially involved in the development of the first Banana Pi board, and then went on to create their own Orange Pi boards. We also learned the typical development cycle for a new board: two months for the first design, and one month extra for testing, before mass production, so it takes around three monthsin total. Each card has to go through hardware and software tests to pass QA.

Xunlong sells around 40,000 boards per month, but the company is ambitious with a target of around 100,000 units per month by the end of 2017, and a new 5000 m² factory is now being built in Dongguan. Another positive point is that the company plans to hire (more) software engineers in 2017, instead relying  only/mostly on external projects such as Armbian. According to the report, beside Orange Pi board samples, the company also gave $24,000 to Armbian community to help them out. Xunlong also launched an initiative to provide free development kit if you have a specific project for it that would be beneficial to both parties (but I could not find a link).

Renaud and Steven (Right)

Then we also learn a bit more how the company can make boards at such a low price, and this get interesting. This was their conversion:

  • Steven: Orange Pi can purchase a good WiFi component for $1, with which boards will have a good WiFi connection
  • Renaud: Hmmm, if the price of the components is $1, then the price will be higher to the end user, and if you tell me the price, then I know your margin…
  • Steven: No, because today, all Orange Pi boards are sold to the BoM price.
  • Renaud – Does that mean the cost of engineers, office rental, equipment for development and design, and so on, is not reflected int othe price of the board?
  • Steven: Correct.
  • Renaud: But how how is that possible?
  • Steven: We receive subsidies from the government.

There you have it. That explains everything. We all pay about 50% of what we ought to be paying thanks to the Chinese taxpayers.

Beside the new factory, Xunlong has other bigs plans, as while they now sell though Taobao in China, and Aliexpress to the rest of the world, they plan to setup their own shop, where we should be able to buy the board directly from them. They intend to expand to IoT boards with 2G to 5G boards, ARM servers, and so on, and over the next 3 years, the plan is to recruit around 500 engineers, and sell ten times more boards than Raspberry Pi foundation. Maybe subsidies will have long been gone if that happens…

[Update from Steven:

Yes, there are some mistake, maybe it is because our translator wrong expressing.

1. About time arrangement for designing a new board: yes, we need 2 month for first design which also include samples production, but usually we take only 40-45days(30working days). Then after tested at customer side, we need around one month (20working days) for mass production. Which mean for a new product we need 3 months if do not take customer’s time calculating in testing.

2.  The new factory size is only 5000㎡ in Dongguan, and yes, we will donate Armbian $24,000 by the end of this year, for now we have only donated them part of the total amount.

3. About our cost and subsidies from government, yes, we sell most of our product at BOM cost, but we also have some models that still have margin profits, like PC Plus, Plus 2. If we keep running behind our expenses, how could government could support us? Government would not support you, if you have no income, they could only support you parts of the cost, like engineering cost, or part or office renting cost. So most of the cost should cover by ourself, we need to figure out how to how to sell more with margin profit. As you see, we do it now.

Finally, yes, we know what our weakness is, we will try to improve it in the following days.]

Thanks to Nobe for the tip.

Orange Pi i96 96Boards IoT Edition WiFi & Bluetooth Development Board Finally Launched for $8.80

July 1st, 2017 31 comments

Orange Pi i96 board was first unveiled at Linaro Connect US 2016 in September of that year, as one of the first boards compliant with 96Boards IoT Edition specification, and expected to sell for just $9.99. The good news is that the board is now finally available for $8.80 plus shipping on Aliexpress ($12.19 in total in my case)

Orange Pi i96 specifications:

  • SoC – RDA Micro 8810PL ARM Cortex A5 processor @ up to 1.0 GHz with 2Gbit (256 MB) on-chip LPDDR2 RAM, 4Gbit (512 MB) on-chip SLC NAND flash , 256KB L2 cache, and Vivante GC860 3D GPU
  • External Storage – micro SD slot
  • Connectivity – WiFi 802.11 b/g/n + Bluetooth 2.1/EDR module (RDA5991)
  • Camera – MIPI CSI-2 connector for camera sensor up to 5MP
  • Video – 1080p30 H.264 encoding
  • USB – 1x USB host port, 1x micro USB OTG port
  • Expansion – 40-pin GPIO header with SPI, I2C, GPIOs, etc…
  • Debugging – 3x pin UART for serial console
  • Misc – 8 selection jumpers, power button, power LED, boot selection header
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port; optional support for battery power
  • Dimensions – 60 x 30 mm as per 96Boards IoT Edition specification
  • Certifications – CE and FCC based on the silkscreen

The hardware is a cost-down version of Orange Pi 2G-IoT board without 2G / GSM support, no display interface, no heaphone jack, and a smaller PCB (60×30 mm vs 68×42 mm). The company claims the board supports Android 4.4, Ubuntu, and Debian, and we already have Android SDK with Linux and u-boot source code. Note that the board is not listed on 96Boards IE page yet, and I’d like to remind readers that while 96Boards specifications target both hardware and software, many companies do not comply with the software part of the specifications, and having a 96Boards compliant board does not mean Linaro engineers themselves are working on it. RDA Micro 8810PL processor on development boards is also pretty new, so you can’t expect everything to mostly work out of the box, like you would on Allwinner H3 boards, and for example booting Linux from NAND (Android is OK), and controlling GPIOs may still be an issue at this stage.

Nevertheless, the price, features, and dimensions of this Linux board could make it an alternative to ESP32 boards such as Wemo LoLin32 for some IoT projects, especially where the RAM and storage might be tight. The board could also be interesting for connected camera applications.

Thanks to theguyuk for the tip.