Single Board Computer alternatives

I was searching a lot for an SBC that suits my needs best, but due to the sheer amount of Raspberry Pi alternatives it’s really hard to get a clear view in this mini computer jungle. Therefore I’d like to address people who have some experience with Raspi alternatives and maybe could recommend some. I value your own experience over the clinical “reviews” made in magazines every time there is a new Raspi alternative announced.

The SBC I wish for has the following properties:

  • Gigabit Ethernet interface
  • 1 USB 3.0 slot
  • 1 USB 2.0 slot
  • powered over microUSB (a.k.a. USB OTG) with 5V 2A
  • 3.5mm audio jack
  • HDMI interface
  • microSD card slot
  • CPU & RAM performance at least on the Raspberry Pi 3B level
  • extensive & very detailed documentation, with board schematics, etc. that is written in understandable English
  • cost should be below $50

The more properties of the above list is featured within the to be mentioned SBC, the better.

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You might look at ameridroid.com, they have several raspberry pi alternatives. The specs you listed fit the rock64, I think.

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I never knew there were Raspberry Pi alternatives.

I was a bit of a collector/hoarder of SBS’s up till quite recently…

TL;DR - there’s a good reasonably comprehensive list of SBC’s with reasonable “support” at https://armbian.com/

My collection :
10x NTC CHIP (Kickstarter project and company now defunct) - pretty much like an RPi ZeroW - the best thing about them was solid power-management (i.e. built in LIPO charging), plus good community and vendor support - and they were only $9 each… and the vendor did a fair amount of work on the Linux kernel for them, GPU support, recent kernels (4.11 I think?). One pitfall with them in my experience was the storage was onboard NAND and I’ve found it a bit flaky - MicroSD slot from the start would have been better. They also had PocketCHIP which was a pretty awesome idea (I bought one with my kickstarter reward).

2 x Pine 64 (from Kickstarter) - they’re pretty much garbage (so called gigabit pretty flaky - different MAC address every boot) - the support from the vendor is non-existent, best O/S for them is Armbian (and while I’m there - here’s a plug for Armbian - I’ve kicked them over some money in the past 'cause it’s a great project - check them out - https://armbian.com/ and there’s a good list of SBCs on there). Also Pine64’s forum is run by a bunch of Nazi admins…

1 x BananaPI - pretty “okay” bit long in the tooth - but works okay - also has battery charging circuit (have to solder leads onto the board) - I run Armbian on mine. Only 100 Mbit.

1 x Oranage Pi 2E+ - quite pleased with the specs on this board, I run Armbian on it - but there’s no battery support. “Proper” gigabit.

2 x RPi 3B - these are okay - I run Raspbian “stretch” on both - I keep one at work on my desk (I’ve got about 300 or more RPi to support for one customer) - but the thing lacking is no easy lipo battery path to make them portable - the other one runs 24x7 as my SSH jumphost to my home network from “outside” and I run Pi-Hole on there.

If powering / charging a LIPO was easy with RPi ZeroW I’d probably grab a couple of them…

I saw a neat looking SBC (hex core 64 bit ARM 4 GB RAM) Indiegogo project “Renegade Elite” - but they never reached their funding goal - so I don’t know if it will go ahead : https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/renegade-elite-the-revolutionary-mini-computer#/

Beware when shopping around - many of them have REALLY crappy vendor support - take for example the Pine64 - it’s running an ancient 3.10 kernel (it uses the Android kernel for Linux) and the vendor’s probably NEVER going to do any work on this - although I was tempted by the Pinebook…

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I actually subscribed to Next Thing Co.'s newsletter mailing list a long time ago. I think it was shortly after the kickstarter ended. A day or two ago when I was searching for viable SBCs again, I found stories about the company regarding how dead it is now. You’re one of the very lucky ones who got what the paid for in the first place and you got something that probably won’t ever be produced again.

I’m interested in some examples.

I have two 3Bs and two 0Ws. On one hand, I am very satisfied with these being the most famous SBCs which equals to having the biggest amount of solutions for common (and less common) issues. It also is very solid in my opinion. The WiFi works great. Though GNU/Linux created problems all the time, as usual, the hardware itself is actually very stable.
On the other hand the specs you get for the money are rather mediocre than noteworthy. You get better specs with cheaper boards, but they of course have in return little to no support and bad documentation (looking at you, Orange Pi, this device has one of the worst documentations I have seen in such a big project for a long time).
Btw. I don’t know why you can’t make them portable. I actually had a 100% portable 0W in my pocket for some time like half a year ago. The same way of portability could’ve been applied to the 3B, as well.

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How did you make the 0W portable? USB power bank, or a “hat” for a LIPO battery?

I was using a USB power bank. Is that not enough for you?

I think you just need a good power bank, that has certain qulaities. e.g. my power bank isn’t formed like a stick, as some power banks are, and it can be charged while it is charging something else.

I’ve got one powerbank (Plox) that can charge and be charged simultaneously, but they’re not easy to find… it’s also rather large (bigger than a Pi Zero, or an NTC CHIP)… I found another one a while ago but it needs to be manually switched “on” when you want to power something while it’s charging…

Where do you live? If you live in America, then you are unlucky. I live in a country with relatively high regulations on everything. Additionally we have many pro-consumer institutions, that make public what products are a waste of money and what not. The power bank I am using got an A rating from one of the biggest institutions, so it wasn’t hard to determine a good one for me.

If that wasn’t enough, at my favourite store you can return any product within 30 days for literally any reason. Within a span of entire 3 years, if your product breaks for any reason, then you’ll just get yours replaced without question, because of this free extended warranty that you can actually take advantage of.

Unfortunately for you, 2 years ago I wanted to buy this power bank for someone in America, but I didn’t find anything. I think the specific power bank I am using is only available here.

I want :
GIGAbit ethernet (no,no,no wireless)
prefer 64bit
multicore
available reasonable price to buy in the uk - not buying from Ali Baba (aka Chinese government)

Basically a replacement for a Pi2
As there is a divide over those of us who WANT wireless and us who DONT WANT wireless I’m surprised no manufacturer yet has provided a wireless hardware jumper (default: on) yet !

I have been using an Odroid C2 (64bit quad core, 2 GB DDR3, 64 GB eMMC, 4X USB2.0, 4K/60FPS, HDMI) with an SDR xcvr (Hermes Lite 2.0). Ubuntu Mate 18.04, Quisk, WSJTX, etc.

I think the C2 still sells below $50.

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There’s always this site which I found tonight :

https://www.board-db.org/

I’m thinking about grabbing a beefier SBC with SATA support - and between this site, and Armbian.com makes the decision easier…

I’m currently using my BananaPi (original) with Armbian 5.60 - to “resilio sync” my cloud data : 64 GB SDCard + 128 GB USB drive… runs off a LIPO battery just fine - I take it to work so my work machines can sync (work’s firewall “mostly” blocks sync traffic - but not all the time) - then home again so my home machines get sync’d … BananaPi does have SATA support - but I’ve misplaced my adaptor (was going to use a 256 GB SSD)…


and yes - that is a genuine IBM badge off a 4381 mainframe - they were replaced when the 4381 I was an operator on got upgraded to a 4381 12 :smiley:

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