A Real Raspberry Pi Clone (Not ‘Inspired By’)

odroid A few years ago, Broadcom had a pretty nice chip – the BCM2835 – that could do 1080 video, had fairly powerful graphics performance, run a *nix at a good click, and was fairly cheap. A Broadcom employee thought, “why don’t we build an educational computer with this” and the Raspberry Pi was born. Since then, Broadcom has kept that chip to themselves, funneling all of them into what has become a very vibrant platform for education, tinkering, and any other project that could use a small Linux board. Recently, Broadcom has started to sell the BCM2835 to anyone who has the cash and from the looks of it, real Raspberry Pi clones are starting to make their way into the marketplace.

Other Raspberry Pi clone boards out there like the Banana Pi and the HummingBoard don’t use the same BCM2835 found in the Raspi and the new Odroid. The new board also has the same 26 pin GPIO expansion socket, and runs the same binaries as the Raspberry P;. It is a clone in every sense, with a slightly different form factor geared towards very tiny, portable, and battery-powered use cases.

Unlike the official Raspberry Pi Compute Module, the Odroid isn’t meant to be used as a system on module, shoved into any product that needs a fast-ish ARM core without needing engineers to actually design a circuit with an ARM. The Odroid is a cut-down, extremely minimalist version of the Raspi, perfect for any project where space is at a premium.

There are a few interesting features included on the Odroid: there’s an on-board battery connector, a real-time clock on the board, and more of the BCM2835 GPIOs are exposed (although not the same ones as the upgraded RPi Model B+). There’s no Ethernet, but odds are if you’re building something that’s battery-powered, you won’t need that anyway.

As far as price goes, you can pick one of these Odroids up for $30 USD, with $9 shipping from South Korea. That’s pretty comparable to the price of a real Raspberry Pi, but if the features in the Odroid are worth it to you, it might be a worthwhile clone.

63 thoughts on “A Real Raspberry Pi Clone (Not ‘Inspired By’)

      1. Oh, you know, the usual. For instance, a gatling gun/multi-grenade launcher fire controller because the little SD card would fall off from the vibration, plus if the enemy steals the card, then it’s a pain to “dd” or rawrite another one in the heat of a firefight; an implanted auto-defibrillator because having an SD card slot in one’s chest is just icky.


        1. For me sd card died quite a few times, in Raspberry pi (if it freezes, you need to reboot -> sd card does not like it), and also in smartphone (along with all the pictures).

          I think everyone knows someone with an SD card with unrecoverable photos.

          1. I think you just need to get a good SD card.

            Standard MLC/TLC NAND cards are not designed for running OS’s, that much is true, but you can buy (at least for the boards with SD card slots), SLC cards with proper wear levelling such as the Integral Endurance range that should last the lifetime of a project/product.
            For the new B+, you can buy SD to MicroSD adaptors which might be a good option.

      2. You shouldn’t be implementing any critical systems with someone else’s module especially a commercial grade anyways.

        What if they change parts or assembled the board with a different RoHS solder or different soldering process in their design without telling you (tin whiskers, solder joint mechanical characteristics) ? Those could affect long term reliability of a product.

        As a system integrator for a critical product in medical field or defense, you have to run your final environmental qualification on your final product and you are ultimate liable for your product.

        1. That’s not how the real world works, I’d agree you wouldn’t use a module from some unknown hobby shop, but bought modules are used all over the places. You wouldn’t build you own mother board if you need a PC and even that won’t guarantee anything
          what if an IC manufacturer changes a part?

      3. Because they can permanently corrupt on power failure. As the internal wear-leveling gets corrupted. You’re pretty much screwed if your root filesystem has random corruption.

        (I’ve investigated their use for as storage in traffic light systems, found them unsuited. Tested everything from cheap cards to really expensive, few 100 euro costing “industrial” cards)

        1. Maybe add a little buffer with some SRAM or EEPROM, a controller, and a few seconds’ power backup? So you’d only ever write to the SD when you were sure you had enough power available.

          Then again, I’m thinking just for logging a few bytes or something, maybe traffic lights these days run Linux.

          Not Windows though -shudder-. I’m convinced the reason Microsoft never enter any safety-critical markets is because they know one day they might be at the mercy of one. Even Paul Allen wouldn’t want Windows 8 running his life-support machine, or a traffic crossing he uses.

    1. http://www.hardkernel.com/main/products/prdt_info.php?g_code=G140610189490&tab_idx=2
      Sorry, but you can see here that it’s a microSD card slot besides a fast eMMC socket at the other side of the board. Do you know any other PI boards with an eMMC slot?
      I think this is just a fast PI.
      You can see that you can also use this board as a fast PI watch.with this eMMC slot.
      Just a shame that you can’t make calls with it. But If someone writes the software where it connects to Whatsapp or Skype or a phone, I’m sure it can.
      I just follow this company. I don’t sell their stuff. But I think they do make interesting stuff.

      1. I do not know if eMMC suffers from the same problems as every SD card I tested.

        Look a bit up, and you’ll notice that I replied that SD cards have the problem where their wear-leveling accounting gets corrupted on power-failure. As I never tested eMMC, I do not know if they suffer the same problem.
        (I do know certain brands of CompactFlash cards that do not suffer from this issue)

        1. Is it just a matter of losing power before the controller gets the chance to write down it’s housekeeping data? Really seems like better programming could solve this. Have a new version and an old version of the data, and some atomic operation that switches from one to the other. Admittedly I don’t know much detail about the internals besides what’s commonly known among geeks.

          Or how about having a capacitor store enough power for the SD for, say, 5 seconds after main power goes down? After main power goes, there’ll be no more writes, so would 5 seconds or so be enough time for it to finish juggling it’s bits?

          These sound like very costly and annoying problems. I’ve had a bit of strife with SD cards on a Raspi, but I think that was from re-partitioning them. From what I’ve heard, some cards absolutely require a FAT-formatted partition on them, at all times, for their own internal work. I removed all partitions, before I was going to create a new set. But once the partitions had gone, the card locked-up dead. It responded at a certain level, would tell a host computer what it was, but no data access at all, and no partitioning attempts worked.

  1. I’m not quite sure if this has composite video or not. There is a pin labeled “Composite” in the diagram, but seems to correspond to a point labeled “TP1” on the board itself.

    Composite video would be quite handy for hacks where you need a small, cheap, screen that isn’t GPIO connected. The recent novelty computer-shaped radio to functional computer hack, and the one where a gameboy has a Pi stuffed in it both use a composite screen and could benefit from a smaller formfactor board.

    1. If you look closely at the pictures of the board however, you’ll notice TP1 is actually a full through-hole pad right next to the jtag header maintaining .1″ spacing with it.

      1. Seems an odd place to put it, on top of it not being listed in the “Video Output” of the hardware specs, making me wonder. On the old Raspberry Pi Rev. 1 I have, TP1 and TP2 are plated through-hole as well, so being through-hole is no guarantee it’s not a test point.

    1. I wanted to just go full flame mode and call you a n0ob, but then I realized maybe this is a legitimate question. So to definitively find out the answer I typed HDMI into the ole Google and then clicked the first link to Wikipedia. I then looked to see which pins could possibly supply power. Only one has a 5 volt positive, and it is rated for 50 mA. So, no chance in the world it will power much of anything but an LED. Another problem is the ground is already used for many of the other signals, so you wouldn’t want to contaminate it with power fluctuations.
      Sorry to be a jerk, but I think Google would have been faster than posting your comment to start with, much less waiting for someone to answer it and wondering if they were even right.
      On topic; I think the competition of the free market is a great way to get smaller and more powerful computers into the hands of hobbyists. I have b!tched and moaned on the RPI forums for a while to release a board with none of the connectors on it but to no avail. As a decent hand with a soldering iron, I could just put my own connectors on. Plus that option would allow me to put it in different enclosures and mount the connectors in a more useful position for my application

      1. If it were connected to an MHL port (almost identical to HDMI) in most modern TV’s, this would be a do-able hack. MHL lets you hook up your phone to a tv and charge it at the same time.

      2. Still, since you’re that good, how hard is it for you to remove the connectors you don’t want? Most people need at least some of those connectors, you can’t produce something for such a low price, and offer “boutique” custom options for everybody.

        It’s also pretty small to start with, running a cable here or there will solve your connector problems, just use a slightly-larger box.

        1. james: Thanks for the info, I was unaware.

          Greenaum: Others have asked for such a board, I think they could get 10000 sold, which might or might not be a good enough incentive. My problem with the connectors is that they are usually globbed on with high temp solder, along with plastic friction tabs too. Also in the example of HDMI, USB, and the other connectors is that the male end of the connector has a piece of it that sticks out, like the HDMI or USB drive/keyboard. It increases the overall footprint of the board significantly. I have succeeded in desoldering the USB, power, composite, and HDMI on one of my Pis. The ethernet is put in really well, and I’m afraid to damage the board if I use the amount of heat I feel it would require. Also the first time I jumpered the pads of the HDMI to a cord, it didn’t work. After a rework it was fine, but it was a hard time, lol

  2. A battery powered Pi. I think there is a market for this. I like the 5v DC/DC adapter. I’m guessing that should keep it from browning out if it is powered over a poorly functioning usb device. (it may kill that device, but at least it is trying to stay alive)

  3. “There’s no Ethernet, but odds are if you’re building something that’s battery-powered, you won’t need that anyway.” says who? think solar powered repeater/router in the middle of nowhere that needs to interface via ethernet to another system….
    Ethernet is VERY important and serves a need. Don’t EVER underestimate the importance of Ethernet.

    Church of the Eternal Ethernet.

    1. Instead of battery power how much harder would it be to get PoE from an Ethernet connector? I suppose it is an additional chip, but is it included in the Ethernet module? I’ve never looked into what it would actually take. But PoE on a Pi would seem like a great addition.

      1. I don’t recall the details, but it was discussed more than once and I think the conclusion was that the added complexity and cost would have destroyed the idea of a “$35 computer” that they were aiming for. I don’t think it requires any additional logic, but it definitely requires some additional components to handle the power input and distribution.

        PoE can either use the unused wires in 100baseT, or it can carry power over the same wires as the data signal. So, the first step would be figuring out which of those methods works best with your setup, and then go from there. I don’t know if there are any add-on boards that would support such a thing, but it may be worth looking into. If not, I know there are several PoE routers and wifi access points on the market that could possibly be reflashed to do whatever you want. At work, I installed TP-Link PoE access points so we’d have seamless wifi over the entire 300,000 sq. ft. building without having to run extra wiring for power.

    2. The standard Pi only does Ethernet over it’s USB bus anyway. USB Ethernet adaptors are small and pretty cheap, just add a dongle or a chip.

      Also doesn’t PoE come at something like 48V? So you’d need a whole voltage convertor on there, with enough power for the whole thing. Which wouldn’t be too small or cheap. Certainly not something you’d include as standard. PoE I think is meant for bigger things than this, USB is more the Pi’s neighbourhood.

  4. Is it just me that finds it a slightly dickish thing to rip off clones of a an educational computer produced by a charitable organisation?

    I mean, you might save a dollar or three that those bastards might have spent on educating some kids in Africa or something.

    1. How are they “ripping off” anyone? Broadcom released the chip to be used by anyone for anything, and someone did. This board serves a specific audience: People who want something that can do what the RPi can do but with a smaller board, more GPIO, and built in battery control. Sometimes the RPi just isn’t the best solution, and this product steps in and fills that niche.

      Besides that, as far as Broadcom was concerned, the RPi was always first and foremost an advertising and marketing platform for their BCM2385 chip. Eben has said it, Liz has said it, and before the Pi was even released it was a known thing. The educational benefits are awesome, but again that’s just good politics for Broadcom.

      1. I wonder how many of the 2385 chips Broadcom sell end up in Raspis, vs other things like the media boxes they were originally intended for? I wonder how much of Broadcom’s total output, and income, is from Raspis?

        1. Looks like it was several models; one of the LT series, several of the 2 series, and the Streaming Stick all had the BCM2835 (sorry, I got dyslexic with the model number above), but at 600MHz as opposed to the RPi’s 700MHz. I wonder if that was for heat concerns, since the Roku cases don’t seem to be ventilated well. I know our Roku 3 gets uncomfortably warm during use.


    2. There were people (mainly mods and RPi foundation people) on the RPi forum moaning about this ripping off all the money and hard work they had put into the (open source) RPi software. Since when has using open source code in a commercial project without breaking the license been bad taste?
      As if the RPi doesn’t depend heavily on Linux or Debian or Python or scratch.

  5. i have to say i like that board. RPi foundation is just to slow in development an the RPi doesn’t fit everybodys needs. and this board has some real good adds the lipo charger, the ADCs, the RTC. The RPi in my eyes was the last two years just software development. what would you like to add to an Quad copter this tiny bord or an RPi with ethernet …

  6. The main reason to use a clone instead of the original is to save money, isn’t it? Now, the original PI is now available for 25US$ so a clone for me would become attractive for a price remarkable below 20$, ideally not over 15$. So is there a product that is available at that price? Anyone has experiences?

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