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6/27/2017 | By Staff

New $10 Orange Pi featuring 2G data connection for IoT

Back in 2016 there was a number of small far eastern companies all trying to muscle in with the existing single board computing market, predominantly lead by the Raspberry Pi. Orange Pi was one of those companies and whilst at first they seem to be just like any other Pi competitor they did something different. They kept up with current trends and demands for the single board computing market. There are currently 10 variations of the Orange Pi development boards, each offering something different for makers alike.

Just recently Orange Pi released the Orange Pi 2G-IoT development board for as low as $10 and it really does pack a punch at that price. The 2G-IoT uses an ARM Cortex-A5 32-bit CPU clocked at 1GHz with 256MB of DDR2 RAM. Unlike other similar boards it also features 500MB of NAND flash alongside an SD card slot for much larger storage expansion. It also has a CSi camera connector, WiFi and Bluetooth, FM Radio and a GSM/GPRS module with SIM card slot.

Front and back of the Orange Pi 2G-IoT 

Front and back of the Orange Pi 2G-IoT

Orange Pi 2G-IoT 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, Vivante GC860 3D GPU, and GSM/GPRS/EDGE Modem
  • External Storage – micro SD slot
  • Display I/F – LCD connector up to qHD resolution
  • Video – Decoding up to 1080p30, encoding up to 1080p30 H.264
  • Audio I/F – 3.5mm audio jack + (FM radio receiver)
  • Connectivity – Bluetooth and GSM/GPRS/EDGE with SIM card slot
  • Camera – MIPI CSI-2 connector for camera sensor up to 2MP
  • USB – 1x USB host port, 1x micro USB OTG port
  • Expansion – 40-pin GPIO header with SPI, I2C, ADC, GPIOs, PWM
  • Misc – 8 selection jumpers, button
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port; maybe one pin on header
  • Dimensions – 70 x 44 mm
  • Certifications – CE and FCC based on PCB silkscreen

The SoC itself is based in a few budget Android phones such as the Aqua G2 or Challenger V40LD and its very inexpensive to source. With this in mind it should also be able to support Android 4.4 Kitkat in addition to Ubuntu. Compared to the other Orange Pi boards I would expect the development for this model to be somewhat slower due to it not being based on the AllWinner SoC, which is well supported.

It should also be noted whilst this development is very low cost and has a number of additional features over its competitors such as Pi Zero and CHIP, some countries are actually shutting down their 2G networks to free up some space for other services, these countries include the US and China, but not until about 2020. So, while this may seem like a good deal, it might be phased out soon, making the board almost obsolete.