The Onion Omega2: The Latest Router Dev Board

A few years ago, the best way to put a device or project online was by hacking a router. With an inconspicuous Linksys WRT54G held onto a project with baling wire, anything can connect to the Internet. A lot has changed in a few years, and now those routers are development boards themselves. The latest of these is the Onion Omega2, a follow-up crowdfunding campaign to the very popular original Omega. Now, this tiny dev board is faster, more capable, and now it’s giving the Raspberry Pi Zero a run for its money.

The original Onion Omega was released last year with specs you would expect from an Internet of Things development board designed upon a chip for a cheap router. The original Onion used an Atheros AR9331 SOC running at 400 MHZ, had 64MB of RAM and 16MB of storage – enough to run a lightweight Linux distro – and also included USB, 802.11b/g/n, and a handful of GPIOs and a single UART. The Omega2 is a vast improvement over the original Omega, featuring a CPU that is 45% faster. The upgraded version of the Omega sports twice as much RAM, twice as much storage, and a MicroSD slot. This enables some Linux distros with a little more oomph behind them, and of course the SD card allows for local storage.

The original Onion Omega was funded through a crowdfunding campaign, with a single Onion Omega and dock available for a pledge of $19. Taking a lesson from the C.H.I.P. and the Pi Zero, the team at Onion have slashed the price. The Omega2 is only five dollars. If you want more RAM, storage, and an SD card socket, that price goes up to $9 USD. That’s amazing, and just goes to show how far hardware designed to service the Internet of Things has come in just a few short years.

42 thoughts on “The Onion Omega2: The Latest Router Dev Board

      1. For what it’s worth the Zero has been fairly available the last couple weeks. I finally was able to pick one up without back ordering. Adafruit has them in stock now.

  1. “and also included USB, 802.11b/g/n, and a handful of GPIOs and a single UART”
    Should read “and also included USB, 802.11b/g/n, a handful of GPIOs and a single UART”

      1. Benchoff, you doofus!
        Won’t you understand that people of this ilk will only be satisfied when you withdraw the article, re-write the article employing all the corrections (note the root word: ‘correct’), and then re-publish the article, giving full credit to the REAL intellectual in this mix?
        Where’s your sense of propriety, man?

      2. Seriously, just take the 30 seconds per article to run this through the spelling/grammar checker built into most Office suites. It’ll make these guys shut up (about this anyway) and will be easier for the rest of us to read (yes, there are others who are bothered by this that don’t usually say anything!)

    1. You missed an opportunity to make a game of it, the “And Go”: Find the extra “and” and replace it with comma to win a permission to buy virtual commas for the next round.

  2. Shipping is undetermined, but they say it will be similar to the amount in their store. It is quoting me $7 to ship a breadboard to the US. So I guess this is a $12 or a $16 board.

      1. You might want to check the datasheet: “The controller contains five 10/100 Mbps Fast Ethernet ports, each containing four levels of Quality of Service, 802.1Q VLANs, port based VLANs and RMON statistic counters.”

  3. What happened to 802.11a. A few years ago loads of wifi offerings gave you that, particularly Atheros with the CM9 but they all seem to have disappeared and it really was excellent to be able to get out of the way of all the free wifi routers that ISPs offer.

    1. Probably too expensive, since that needs a 5GHz radio next to the 2.4GHz radio. Maybe the newer 802.11ac chipsets also support 802.11a (but why use 802.11a if you have 802.11ac?)?

    2. 802.11n and 802.11ac use the same 5GHz band as 802.11a. They use better modulation techniques, wider frequency bandwidth and they support MIMO, all resulting in faster networking. So 802.11a is obsolete.

  4. In the article they state the RFKIll signal of the wifi could be used to disable the radio. This is not bulletproof, in most radios this setting can be configured by software: radio always on, radio on when rfkill low, radio on when rfkill high and radio always off.

    You can try this if you have a linux laptop: switch off the hardware wireless switch
    run this command: rfkill unblock all

    In a few seconds your wifi and bluetooth will likely connect and function normally. Depending on the radio chip and firmware this command may screw up the status of your radio indicator lights, it may be correct, always on, always off or inverted.

    You can use the radio lights as nice status indicators for other things as well (eg. email received). Look in the datasheet of the radio soc on how to configure these output pins. Then you can write to the registers via debugfs on most drivers (eg ath9k).

  5. I would like to see something like this but with just Ethernet and PoE for power. With this kit, it would cost ~$30 to have a wired connection. You can get a Raspberry Pi or other SBC for that price.

  6. My omega device was great! But I found openWRT to be limiting, especially coming from using other SBC such as Beaglebone Black and RPi which relied on the more scalable OS ..Debian. Sure you need more RAM and Flash, but it makes the SBC significantly more flexible. And a Raspberry Pi Zero costs just as much as this ..If Integrated WiFi is a must, the CHIP is a great alternative for only $4 more.

    I’m sure some out there prefer OpenWRT to Debian and that’s cool. I personally like running Debian and on occasion ArchARMLinux on my SBCs.

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