The Onion Omega is described as “an invention platform for the Internet or things”.
Mine arrived with a bunch of modules including Ethernet, OLED, relay and other modules but the basic setup is the Omega board itself and in order to do anything with it, the base board which features usb, micro-usb and a couple of switches.
The package is interesting – OpenWRT Linux, a 400Mhz chip, 64MB RAM and 16MB Flash – not the kind of thing I’m used to – where the SBCs I normally review have a GIG of RAM and usually 8GB of EMMC or the ability to handle large microSD boards – this system has none of that.
Having plugged the Omega into the baseboard the first thing I did was head on over to the getting started guide here. https://wiki.onion.io/Get-Started
I plugged the unit into the USB (for power) on my laptop and a pretty RGB LED on the baseboard lit up along with a dim light on the actual Omega.
A good start (as anyone who’s tested the Orange Pi PC will no doubt know, it really IS good to have visual indicators). The instructions suggested that I should log into the access point created by the unit – of course that’s a great idea but I was using the laptop to read the instructions…
So I used my phone instead… the access point sure enough was there and connected immediately.
I logged into the page as “root” with passsword “onioneer” and sure enough a reasonably phone-friendly page came up to ask me for my WIFI details.
The device then said “configuring” for what seemed like far too long. It could also only see two of my three access points – something that has never happened before. As I sat there I wondered if the phone had gone back to my WIFI access point – sure enough it had – so I pointed it back to the Onion and all was well – the device went off somewhere and updated itself. “You have successfully set up your Omega”.
At this point the instructions wanted me to hook up serially to the unit to get to the command prompt – I hate that so I had a quick look using the IP scanner and sure enough the Omega was on my network. I set up an SCP session (WinSCP) using the same credentials and I was straight into file manager of WinSCP and then via Putty to the command line. All looked very familiar but I noted that there is already a webserver in there and BOWER.
That was the setup tutorial here done – magic. https://wiki.onion.io/Get-Started
The next obvious move to my mind would have been to go to the documentation page here - https://wiki.onion.io/pages/Documentation/
Sadly at the time of writing – it says “All pages in master” – followed by “there are no pages in master”.
Not really sure what to think about that.
Thankfully there was somewhat more info under “tutorials”. https://wiki.onion.io/pages/Tutorials/
In the tutorials was info for setting up a LAMP environment (Linux, Apache, MYSQL etc) but.. but didn’t I already see a www directory. I opened a browser on my PC and just typed in 192.168.0.111
A lovely web page came up – with some interesting buttons…
The GPIO tool lets you graphically play with up to 12 GPIO lines – setting them up as inputs or outputs and sending values.
I noted the OLED button and quickly plugged in the OLED display (without turning the power off – probably not a sensible move) – I pressed the OLD button and a picture of an OLED came up in the browser. The window was editable – so I typed in “Hi” into the window and pressed the button – lo and behold “Hi” came up on the TINY OLED display.
This was certainly getting off to a fine start – ideal for someone new – so many of these gadgets assume you LOVE arcane commands and hence put beginners off immediately. Up to now my grandkids would have no problem with this at all.
Trying to send an image to the OLED – I loaded up an image in the browser, I could see a black and white representation of it (upside down compared to the text but never mind) – and within a second that same image was on the OLED. Very good.
The Servo expansion board allows it would seem up to 16 PWM outputs – and again all controllable via the web interface – a lot of work has gone into this.
Relay expansion – 2 relays – again controllable from the web interface – the only thing is the relays are tiny and as I understand it NOT suitable for 240v mains - so of limited use I guess.
You don’t actually need my chosen SCP connection as you can do everything via the web interface – there is an editor – a setup button, status and more – all VERY well put together.
And so for someone starting off – this is nice – within minutes you are up and running. The price of all of this of course is another matter. All of these modules total up to quite a bit – see pricing here https://store.onion.io/collections/onion-omega-expansions
If you want to control some lights – this is NOT the way to do it – but if you want to learn and are perhaps just starting out – the quality of the web pages and of the interface is FAR better than some of the stuff I’ve reviewed in recent months. Everything I checked just worked.
I did notice that they even do t-shirts in the store – and a quad-coptor. I’m still busy puzzling over what on earth the latter has to do with anything.
Following an example – I pulled up the terminal, logged in and typed:
Well, the nice blue LED on the expansion board turned pink! Success!
So… having concluded that the serial port is not needed as you can do everything via the web, my next job will be to find out if you can access said serial port – I could see a Nextion display being attached to this.
There are vague references to using multiple languages including node.js – could this mean that it will run Node-Red? Sadly it might be me but apart from the examples I could not actually find “documentation” so for now that will have to remain on my wish list unless someone can tell me I missed a huge pile of documentation somewhere.
Here’s an article describing installing node.js but it’s a little old…. https://gregwareblog.wordpress.com/2016/01/10/onion-omega-first-steps/
Definitely a good start and an interesting idea. Something for the holidays perhaps.