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The Banana Pi

I am a big fan of the Raspberry Pi. It has many uses and is well worth the small price tag that accompanies it. If you are learning to code or learning about hardware there are projects for you. It was not a surprise to me that the open hardware Raspberry Pi would spawn similar devices but I wasn’t expecting much.

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I am a big fan of the Raspberry Pi. It has many uses and is well worth the small price tag that accompanies it. If you are learning to code or learning about hardware there are projects for you. It was not a surprise to me that the open hardware Raspberry Pi would spawn similar devices but I wasn’t expecting much.

recently I was in contact with the folks at Banana Pi. The Banana Pi is a single board computer like the Raspberry Pi. It uses the same concepts as the Raspberry and even uses a similar layout but improves on some aspects of the device including the processor and RAM which makes a huge difference when using the device.

campare table

There are some key differences between the Raspberry and Banana Pis. first of all there is a SATA connector which is really cool if you were going to turn this device into a small HTPC or Emulation Station. There is also a dual core CPU, Gigabit Ethernet Port, and a Microhpone. Some useful HTPC features include an IR receiver for remotes and composite RCA.

The best addition in my opinion is 3 hardware buttons that have been added to the board. You can actually power your device off and restart the device properly, which is something that is lacking for the Raspberry Pi in my opinion.

Hardware

The hardware is quite a bit better than the hardware for the Raspberry Pi, roughly double the specs.

Hardware specification

CPU A20 ARM® Cortex™-A7 Dual-Core
GPU ARM Mali400MP2 Complies with OpenGL ES 2.0/1.1
Memory (SDRAM) 1GB DDR3 (shared with GPU)
Onboard Storage SD (Max. 64GB) / MMC card slot UP to 2T on SATA disk
Onboard Network 10/100/1000 Ethernet RJ45 (optional USB WIFI Dongle)
Camera Input CSI input connector
Sound Input Mic
Video Outputs HDMI, CVBS , LVDS/RGB
Audio Output 3.5 mm Jack and HDMI
Power Source 5 volt via MicroUSB(DC In Only) and/or MicroUSB (OTG)
USB 2.0 Ports 2 (direct from Allwinner A20 chip)
Buttons
  • Reset button: Next to MicroUSB connector
  • Power button: Next to Reset button
  • UBoot button (optional): Behind HDMI connector
GPIO(2X13) pin
  • GPIO
  • UART
  • I2C bus
  • SPI bus with two chip selects
  • CAN bus
  • ADC
  • PWM
  • +3.3v
  • +5v
  • ground
LED
  • Power Status LED (Red)
  • Ethernet Status LED (Blue)
  • User Define LED (Green)
Remote IR
Supported OS Android 4.2, Android 4.4, Linux, Raspbian, Lubuntu
Supported Apps
Scratch

Interface definition

Product size 92 mm × 60mm
Weight 48g
Android is a trademark of Google Inc.
Debian trademark is a registered United States trademark of Software in the Public Interest, Inc.
Ubuntu is a registered trademarks of Canonical Ltd.
Raspberry Pi is a registered trademark of the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

Experiance

I got home from work and found a notice from my post office saying there was a package. I rushed off and picked up my delivery and within 45 minutes had a working device. I had no trouble grabbing the Pheonix SD card imager. This is what is necessary for installing Android on the SD card. You can also install Debian, Ubuntu, or what they call Raspbian for Banana Pi but I opted to install Android because I am interested in this as a media device.

banana pi 3

The device was quick and easy to set up which is nice because I was not expecting that. Android was in Chinese by default which was kind of annoying but needless to say it was not too bad. I enabled ethernet and signed into Google.. I have a working media consumption device. The speed is quite a bit of an improvement over my Android MK 802 II and quite a bit better than running the Raspberry Pi with a GUI.

As I continue to use the device I will find more projects for the board. It has all the same hardware that the Pi does including the GPIO pins, USB, and Ethernet. With the additional hardware and ability to use Android on the board it seems like a promising device that I look forward to showing you guys. If you are in Winnipeg, MB I will be showing the device off at the Winnipeg Android user group.

If you have any questions about the device, please ask. I will leave you with some pictures of my Banana Pi running, as well as the Banana Pi along side the Raspberry Pi, Arduino Uno, and Beaglebone Black.

Android Android 4.4 Debian Ubuntu Raspberry Pi

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