couple of months ago i ordered two Orange Pi Zero Boards, without to actually know what to use them for. But they were cheap and available. Especially availability is a problem for small cheap SBC’s like the Raspberry Pi Zero or the CHIP.
So when you look of the specs of the Orange Pi Zero it looks perfect. Quad Core SoC, 512MB Ram, onBoard Wifi and many header pins. So what could be the drawbacks with such a device costing only approx. 9€ plus shipping.
Well how i found out there are a few.
First of all software support. You cant expect such a great community support just like for the Raspberry Pi. While the Armbian Community does a great job supporting these Allwinner SoC’s most of the distribution rely on really old kernels.
Than there is the Wifi on this boards, it is nearly unuseable. There is no quality driver for Linux, thats why the Armbian devs threw it out of the mainline Kernel releases. So if it works it only does with the old legacy Kernel. Being honest even the Orange Pi devs must have come to the conclusion that the XR819 Wifi SoC is a piece of crap. Newer Orange Pi SBC’s now have a Realtek Wifi SoC onboard.
Another problem that i came across when i thought of using the Orange Pi Zero as an audio streaming client is that you cant use I2S without soldering. Simply because PA20 is used to enable WiFi. Wouldn’t be a problem if the onboard Sound wouldn’t be so horrible, same problem like with the Raspberry Pi.
If you can deal with this issues you can get a cheap SBC, which is also available. I will see what i will do with my two boards. Maybe i dig out the soldering iron an try to fit a PCM5102A. If i do so i will write a blog entry.
- Software support
- WiFi is crap
- No I2S without soldering