NanoPi Neo PLUS2

PLUS2No, I’d not heard of this one either until a couple of weeks ago. With a small form factor, 2 USB sockets and a $25 price tag it has to be worth a second glance.

I’ve used the NEO and this is definitely an improvement – H5 processor,  the Ethernet connector is giga-speed, 2 USB sockets, Bluetooth and WIFI (with external aerial which I hate using), 1GB RAM and 8GB eMMC on-board, the board looks like it could be a little winner – but as always it’s as much the software that matters as anything else. the board also has audio out on an (unpopulated) 2mm connector and gets it’s power from microUSB. Size is 40mm x 52mm.  Starting to look good already…

There is also a Mali GPU – the purpose of which is lost on me as there is no video output on the board – though you can stick one of FriendlyArm’s 320x240 LCD displays on – with a lead -  I did notice there was no way to plug it straight in as the Ethernet connector gets in the way!

Out of the box, the unit needs either an operating system on SD or an “e-flasher” utility on SD which then blows the operating system – choices for the former include Debian and Ubuntu, choices for the latter include Ubuntu. I chose the latter by simply downloading the image from their site, putting it in the board, via serial and putty talking to the board to tell it to put the software onto eMMC – and waiting a while – I encountered no problems.

The board came with a little case and heatsink but I’m impatient so they are sitting in the box right now. I’m running “the script” on the unit – who’s core temperature is 60c. Clearly that will drop dramatically with the heatsink attached but that’s not bad as it stands.

pinouts

I’ve no idea how much effect the many emails I’ve exchanged with FriendlyArm had have (probably a lot) but just about all of their new software includes WiringNP which includes the GPIO utility – allowing you to mess with GPIO, I2c etc… all fairly well documented on their site – this in my mind puts them streets ahead of several other manufacturers who just leave you to get on with it. I’d like to see more Python stuff pre-the scriptinstalled as I had problems getting a little SSD1306 display running on the original NEO – but the company is aware of this and will no  doubt seek to make this stuff available.

So basically – nice little board, the question is – will it run “the script”.  As I was writing this I had the script running in the background, having just successfully set up a Raspberry Pi 2 with Node-Red, MQTT, SQLITE 3 etc. I’m hoping for the same result with the Plus2 and expecting a little speed boost from the eMMC. Mind you – as I didn’t fit the heatsink and by now the temperature is creeping up to 67c – I would not be surprised if the installation is being slowed down by throttling.

And at the end of 41 minutes (I just did a blog entry on the Pi2 and that took 1 hour and three minutes for comparison) and I don’t have a heatsink on which might’ve made the gap even wider – and …. everything works!!!  Node-Red, MQTT, serial, SQLIte, Webmin – everything.   I’ve not done in-depth IO testing but I plugged in my little SSD1306 board which happens to have handy pull-up resistors – used the command “sudo gpio i2cd” and sure enough – the range of available I2c ports came up with my little board sitting at address 3c.

I tested the Python code detailed in another recent blog entry and that works - I have a little SSD1306 display running i2c on the board.  4 UARTS are showing in the Node-Red serial setup. I suspect one will be tied up with Bluetooth – but that still leaves 2 or 3 – compare that with the Pi.

Oh this is definitely a good start and even better – a brand new version of Node-Red has just been released and that is running a treat.

That’s a GOOD start. Temperature at idle is down to 51c but I think at this point I might just fit that heatsink.  (I should clarify – it is 29c in my office and 36c outside so you might get lower CPU temperatures depending where you are.

Update:– running the script again to test a cosmetic mod – I put the (slim) heatsink on first and temperature is down to 37c which is just fine – and the total script time this time around was 39 minutes. I put the unit in it's “case”  (2 pieces of perspex and a bunch of brass fittings) but the 4 short screws provided were not long enough to handle the board and heatsink and supplied spacer without countersinking the perspex first. When that was done I put it all together - and generally fine except that the slots to gain access to the connector pins are not perfect -  I've reported that back to FriendlyArm. Other than that - everything seems to be running reliably. I've also asked the company if there is a front panel for these boards to go with their NAS box.

 

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17 thoughts on “NanoPi Neo PLUS2

  1. Interesting new board - thanks Pete! I'm having trouble keeping up... my Man Cave already has most of the (vast)OrangePi range, all of the post Raspberry Pi 2b range and quite a few FriendlyARM boards (plus randoms - LattePanda/Pine64+).

    The FriendlyARM boards always tend to run quite hot to me so you'll be needing the heatsink methinks. I've always found their boards very crowded and can't help thinking that cramming so much in doesn't really help with cooling as it then encourages people to enclose them in tiny 3D printed cases. I've got a NanoPi NEO2 runnning as a baby NAS (just for fun) and the performance is good and it's nice not to be strangled by 100Mb LAN speeds (something that puts me off exclusively deploying Raspberry Pi boards).

    I've got an H5 version of the OrangePi Zero Plus 2 coming from China as we speak. I've been quite impressed with the H2+/H3 versions especially with the add on board which adds USB and video out. I'm not 100% convinced by the onboard WiFi but the new PLUS version of the OrangePi Zero comes with 8Gb EMMC and different WiFi hardware allegedly (something to do with a joint Bluetooth/Wifi chip...?).

    It's always good to share notes on new, affordable single board computers. I notice BananaPi have a "zero" coming out too - sharing the same form factor as the RPi Zero... a quad core H3 board that can be mounted in RPi Zero cases could find quite a few applications - just like the NanoPi K2 sharing the RPi2/3 case. The lack of decent aftermarket enclosure/accessory support for chinese SBCs suddenly disappears if the clones adopt the same board size and layout ... the cheeky chinese!

  2. I got mine a couple days ago --- I'm just running it with the preinstalled image (ubuntu 16.04.2) on the eMMC ... just plug in ethernet + power and good to go.

    It's running well and I have it assembled in the two-plate acrylic case with the heat sink: idle temps around 30-32C, running sysbench cpu test to max out the 4 cores for just over 10 minutes brought it to 65C.

    Got a cloud9 server running on it, and go1.9beta2 (has an arm64 release). All good so far, but I haven't had much time to do much else.

    1. Would you send in a picture of how you assembled that - with the bits they sent me - no way could I figure out how to get the heatsink fastened AND the top and bottom. A photo would help immensely...

  3. I used the longest thin bolts up through the bottom, through spacers, through heatsink+board, then add the nuts on top of board. Brass posts at each main corner connected with short fatter screws from top and bottom. I think the attached neo-plus2 "sandwich" side shot shows what I mean.

    1. That accounts for that - the slim bolts they sent me were two short including those spacers - right I'll get some bolts. Thanks for that. Just got the SSD1306 Python code running on this board- I'll blog it shortly - it is turning out to be something of a winner up to now.

      1. Well, the short ones will at least let you attach the heat sink to the board at any rate. My kit was missing the antenna (I'll get them to add one to my next order).

        The plus2 does seem to be a winner --- several degrees cooler than my neo-air: 32C vs 39C idle, decent performance (seems around 1.5x faster than rpi3 or neo-air), and stable for 3 days of uptime thus far.

        It is destined to take over dev-server duties from an RPi3 (which is getting retasked for a project involving video).

  4. Hi Pete,

    Can you test the maximum number of wifi connection Neo PLUS2 configured as AP accepts?
    For example raspberry pi 3 with the latest raspbian accept max. 32 sonoffs connected on the same time.
    Orange pi 0 with the latest Armbian accepts max. 10 wifi clients

    Maybe the RTL8211E chip is smarter, because 32 IOT devices in house is very low.

    1. > Orange pi 0 with the latest Armbian accepts max. 10 wifi clients

      Orange pi 0 uses badly supported / bad quality XR819 wifi chip. You need to use Zero 2+ which uses the same or at least very similar Wifi chip as found on Rpi. I also can't confirm how many clients can accept, but it's possible that limit is the same as on Rpi3.

      1. if you want to do network "stuff", mikrotik routers/ap are GREAT... this is the cheaper one: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mikrotik-RB941-2ND-RouterBoard-hAP-Lite/dp/B00UR758BM/
        you can use it in every possible way you can imagine: ap, bridge, client, repeater... at work i configured this as a central management unit:
        https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mikrotik-RB2011UiAS-2HnD-IN/dp/B00I4QFQDI/
        which does vlan trunking to allow 5 different wan routers to reach the central firewall, and then i've other routers as the following to do the actual AP work, with different SSID (enterprise ap, standard ap and guest captive portal), all managed by the red one above, configured as CAP manager... they have a windows tool to search for them via udp and configure them very easily... you can put them in different spots in house to cover it fully, with a single large wifi network, without loosing signal when you move from an ap to the other...
        https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mikrotik-cAP-2n-Atheros-AR9331-AL1A/dp/B00OY4OPXG/
        https://www.amazon.it/Mikrotik-RB951G-2HND-WLAN-access-point/dp/B00DBT6SIA/

  5. Thanks for the test, Pete.
    Interesting little thing.

    In your opinion, is this thing as fast/agile as a Raspberry Pi 3 in any way?
    Looking for a faster replacement for my headless Sonarr/Usenet server, currently running on a Nano Pi2 Fire.

    1. Too early to tell John but with the new node for GPIO and the Python I've been using for I2c it certainly will be able to do much of what a Pi does - it is also cheaper but the postage will depend on where you live. It is also smaller which might be important to some - for ME - one of the big things is serial port access - who's bright idea it was to share a single serial port with the Bluetooth on the Pi - how dumb was that. The boards I'm playing with here can have as many as 4 or more proper serial ports that Node-Red can access - and they can be normal GPIOO if you don't use it. Some have fast Ethernet as well - so I guess they all have their place depending on what your needs are. Certainly if we're looking at headless operation, the Plus2 looks good up to now. With luck over the weekend I may get time to give it more of a hammering - right now I'm playing with the new GPIO capability and the M3 which has lots of GPIO. The problem here is time - if I could just miss out on sleep - but it never works....

    1. Completely ignore warnings and NPM errors - these are due to scripts which are written by others which we call - and which are beyond our control. Most of the time, things install regardless of them - but do keep the logs so you can carefully go through them to see what if anything went wrong.

    2. and if you take a look at those "errors", usually they say:
      "oh, there's no prebuilt module, let's compile it from source! Ok, done!"
      why this should go on screen is something to deal with those modules authors...

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