Computing stuff tied to the physical world

Meet Raspie and Quadie

The most recent Raspberry Pi “+” models are still based on the same CPU and most of the peripherals are also still the same, but they have a new form factor with a 40-pin header, which extends the original 26-pin header.

Not only that, but as you can see in the picture below, there are now also 4 holes, very conveniently located to create add-on boards:

DSC 4918

The Raspberry Pi B+ is the one on the left. Basic specs are:

  • 700 MHz ARMv6 CPU, 512 MB RAM, µSD card slot, HDMI out, audio out
  • 4 USB 2.0 ports, wired Ethernet 10/100 MBps
  • expansion for camera and LCD
  • 2×20-pin 0.1″ expansion header, using 3.3V logic I/O levels
  • for the exact size details, see the mechanical specs
  • runs Raspbian, an ARMv6-specific build of Debian

Pretty amazing for a €35 (+VAT) board!

But there’s another board out, with the same shape and size as you can see, called the Odroid-C1 from Same basic options and the same 40-pin header!

There are also some important differences:

  • 1.5 GHz quad-core ARMv7 CPU, 1 GB RAM
  • same µSD, 4x USB 2.0, but faster Ethernet (not quite Gbit, though)
  • optional eMMC storage (8..64 GB, not included), which is faster than µSD
  • IR receiver, connector for RTC battery, console (needs special 3.3V adapter)
  • no camera or LCD expansion headers, micro-HDMI i.s.o. HDMI
  • powered through a 2.5 mm 5V jack, the micro-USB is for device/host/OTG use
  • runs Ubuntu 14.04

The Odroid-C1 is available from (€44) and Lilliput Direct (£32) – both incl VAT.

The issue here is not which one is better, but that this means that boards with more or less the same functionality and exactly the same size and expandability are now available from more than one source. The “risk” of making a choice and then being stuck with it is gone.

To put it differently: the RPi “+” series is setting a new standard!

There are minor differences between the 2×20-pin headers of the two boards, as you can see in the following overview (especially pins 37 and 40). Here is the Odroid-C1 pinout:

Screen Shot 2015 01 14 at 08 08 48

If you already have an older Raspberry Pi with the 2×13-pin header: the good news is that those first 26 pins pins are identical on the newer boards.

This platform makes a superb development- and project-board for home monitoring and automation projects, or anything really which needs mainstream application functionality:

  • standard Linux, essentially equivalent to a 32-bit desktop setup
  • runs tons of servers, programming languages, developer tools
  • amazing hardware floating-point and video processing power
  • the Odroid-C1’s speed is not very different from a low-end laptop
  • there is a fast-growing ecosystem of developers, forums, and books
  • should it ever break: get another one, the price is no longer prohibitive
  • if you make a custom project board for this, it won’t become obsolete
  • power consumption is in the 1..3 watt range, perfect for always-on use
  • a shiny case? what case? this is for inventing, hacking, and making new stuff!

These boards will let us take “embedded physical computing” to the next level. No less.

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