May 27, 2018
Orange PI - basic setup
This is my idea of a basic getting started guide.
The goal here is to pull the board out of the box and take steps to making it
I spent some time making plates from 1/4 inch thick aluminum and standoffs to hold the boards.
This makes them heavy enough that the cables don't drag them off my desk and onto the floor.
All kind of things are possible, including just setting them on a static bag and hoping for
the best. Some places sell little cases.
You need at least 2 amps, or better 3 amps of 5 volt power. Forget trying to run these from
just USB power, that is only 0.5 amps. I have had good luck with a 2 amp Toshiba supply I found
in my junk box, but many cheap 2 amp supplies will not yield reliable operation.
The barrel jack is a 4mm x 1.7mm DC barrel jack.
People say this is the same as is used on a Sony PSP, which may help some people.
Do not expect any LED's to come on when you plug it in!
There is no power LED. This confuses many people and makes them think that
they have a defective board when they do not.
You will have to give it a bootable image (such as U-Boot) and have it
boot that image before you will see an LED come on.
You are going to need some kind of USB to serial gadget.
It will need to work with 3.3 volt logic levels and you
need only 3 wires (Tx, Rx, and Ground).
I use a cheap CP2102 based unit and run at 115200 baud
with complete satisfaction. I use picocom as my serial
port software on my linux host.
If you have a unit without eMMC (like the Orange Pi PC), you will absolutely need
to have an SD card to provide software. I use an 8G Sandisk microSD card, but
you can certainly use smaller cards if you can even find them these days.
Be careful that you do not damage the SD card holder. I reinforce mine
with epoxy since they are so fragile, but if you take care not to put any sideways
force on the card when inserting and removing it you will be OK.
I recommend some epoxy. But take care not to epoxy your SD card in place like I did.
Take even more care not to let epoxy ooze inside and make it impossible to insert
an SD card. In other words, be careful.
If you have a unit with eMMC, it probably ships with some software.
My Orange Pi PC Plus came with some kind of Android, but I immediately flashed
U-Boot over it and ignored that. If you have something like the Orange Pi PC
you will have to dedicate an SD card to it. I have detailed instructions
elsewhere about putting various images onto SD cards, but suffice it to say here
that you will need an SD card, and you may as well buy several micro-SD cards.
And you will need a card reader/writer that actually works (many are available
that do not work, so take care). If you plan to run from the SD card itself,
you just use the linux "dd" command to put the image on the card and go.
If you want to put an image onto your eMMC, the process will require putting
a runnable linux system onto an SD card to accomplish that.
Details on this are elsewhere in my notes on specific cards.
Have any comments? Questions?
Drop me a line!
Tom's electronics pages / firstname.lastname@example.org