Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Orange Pi, like Raspberry but less filling :)

Coming in over the transom today, Orange Pi. Yet another amazingly cheap single board PC.

Orange Pi is a family of Linux-powered, single board computers manufactured by Shenzhen Xunlong Software Co., Limited, and sold on AliExpress. As with anything sold on AliExpress, be patient and plan ahead for shipping times of two to four or more weeks, because the products are shipped directly from mainland China to locations around the world.

Unlike the Raspberry Pi, which has had a small but growing family of single board computers for different price points, form factors, and features, the number of Orange Pi boards is much larger. The good news is that you have a tremendous amount of choice in the application you want, but the bad news is that amount of choice could be overwhelming. In my case, I went with the Orange Pi Zero 512MB version, because it has the right balance of features and is priced for use in high school, academic environments.

To see a high-resolution image with all the specs, go to the Orange Pi Zero website.

Key point, the boards range in price from ~$48US to $12US, all of them quad core. The $48 one has HDMI with 4K output, 10/100/1000 Ethernet, WiFi, SATA2 for hard drives and a bunch of other goodies. Perfect little box to make a low-energy cloud server/NAS/router out of.

These little machines are getting very capable. At $12US, the Orange Pi is cheap enough to use as the brain for a wireless audio speaker. Or attach a camera and have a fully PC controlled security camera, able to identify and track objects in its visual field. It is very small and low power as well, good for semi-disposable uses. Like a Pirate Box, ferinstance.

These babies are only going to keep getting smaller, cheaper and more available. You have been warned.

The Phantom

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