Orange Pi PC

This blog item last update May 2016 – and it is all thanks in large part to you, the readers.  Thank you. Well, let’s see shall we…

Orange Pi PcThe Orange Pi PC (note, specifically the PC version, I’ll make no comment about others – this is the CHEAP one – cost me something in the region of £12 + post from AliExpress) is a “Raspberry Pi rippoff” in that it is very similar in look and function.  It has an Ethernet connector, 3 USBs, HDMI and audio as well as a power connector and micro-USB “host mode” connector (you CANNOT apply power via this connector so don’t confuse that with the RPi).

Mine arrived around 3 weeks after I ordered it. I eagerly opened the box and noted I had to give it a power supply able to handle up to 2 amps.

The first issue I had, NONE of my large number of 5v supplies had a connector that fitted – why on earth we have to have so many variations of 2-pin connector defeats me. So I took out the soldering iron, carefully checked to find that of the 3 pins under the connector, 2 were ground, one was 5v power – so I carefully soldered a lead and hooked it up to my power supply. I plugged in a monitor to the HDMI connector, plugged in Ethernet and…  I don’t know what I was expecting with no microSD but I expected SOMETHING. I turned on the power. In total, the two lights in the Ethernet controller came on – and that’s IT. NOT what I expected – I at least though a power light might come on.

I had it in my brain from the very misleading ads that this would take a “Raspberry Pi image” – well, it doesn’t – and so after plugging in a microSD with RPi setup on it and getting nowhere (NO more lights, NOTHING on the monitor) I started looking for help. Well, DON’T make the mistake I did and go looking to the design company – you’ll get no replies and their website is often as slow as HELL – I think they might be running the site on a Pi (and there are no schematics for the PC version of this board, at least  not at the time of writing).

So then I turned to the forums. It turns out (and this is important) that you will NOT see a board light until you have a valid SD image in there.  I found a Debian 8 ”Wheezy” image (NOT a Raspberry Pi image – still not resolved that claim), formatted the SD (16G class 10) with SD Formatter (on my Windows 10 PC) and then blew the unzipped image using Win32DiskImager.  I plugged in the SD, applied power, ON came the red board light, UP came the monitor. I was getting quite excited.

That was soon dashed when I realised the hardware ETHERNET wasn’t working. The instruction onscreen said to run a command to expand the disk partition. I did that and immediately the board rebooted, showed a TON of disk errors and died. I tried that several times – same result.  Just on a whim – I used Windows to LONG format the SD before using SDFormatter to quick format it. I don’t know if that helped, but… read on.

Next attempt – I went off for the Ubuntu version. This worked better, allowing resizing and coming up in graphical mode – with horrendous overscan on my monitor – but hey…   still no hardware Ethernet. I plugged in my WIFI usb board (I don’t like to use it, not reliable enough for my use as an MQTT/Node-Red server) and rebooted. Wifi was up.  No hardware Ethernet, no sound but it was all working so I started to install my script designed (kluged) for the Raspberry Pi. WELL don’t you know it – some of the folders are different in Ubuntu – so much for complaints about Windows versions.  The script largely installed – I had Webmin, Node-Red, MOSQUITTO and other programs running – but the lack of wired Ethernet and other features and the awful screen res made me want to give up.

One of you kind readers had previously send me off here for images…

http://www.orangepi.org/orangepibbsen/forum.php?mod=viewthread&tid=342

I kind of thought that with the formatting I may have cured some ill with the SD – perhaps I should give Debian another go – but with no wired Ethernet – what was the point. I re-read one of the emails in here and it turned out there were a couple of scripts needed – but where were they?? The GIGA link in that page link above made no mention of the scripts… however, one thing at a time – I went back to Debian and put that on the SD with Win32DiskManager, having reformatted the disk.

At that point I took a look at the SD – sure enough – sample scripts were on the Windows-readable boot partition – just waiting to be renamed – so ALL you need is the Debian image. I renamed the two scripts (see comments from cnxsoft below) and booted up the board. THIS time it booted up, taking a little longer but with the ethernet WORKING. No graphics – I didn’t really want that anyway as I control everything via the PC using WinSCP and then after installing TightVNCServer, using TightVNC viewer.

I gingerly followed the command line instruction for resizing the partition (one instruction, trivial) and LO – all working.  I moved to WinSCP so I could work from the comfort of my Windows PC – and – apt-get-update and upgrade worked a treat.

At this point my script which installs the kitchen sink. I’m going to cut a long story short – the Debian Wheezy mini installation just DOESN’T WORK, TightVNC would not work, Webmin. It doesn’t work. i detailed it all in here but what was the point!

So I started again – using Jessie this time in no time I had a properly working graphical interface running. I pulled up the Chromium browser, went off to the BBC website, tried to run a video – it wanted the FLASH player, I said ok – and the entire graphical interface came to a halt.  But… I think I heard something out of the speaker… and accordingly having remoted into this installation via ROOT (which in this case CAN be accessed externally) – I decided to give my script another go.

Well, both TIGHTVNC and WEBMIN installed – which is a plus compared to the previous version, and…. alas, no sound –  I loaded an MP3 onto the machine – set the sound mixer to analog output – turned the volume up – the little bar was showing the music playing, but as for any sound actually coming out of anywhere… nothing, zilch. PHPLiteAdmin would not work but I realised – no unzip – so that quickly got added to my script – just in case..

And what do I find? A brand new version of Apache2 – for **** sake!!!! – which now doesn’t work out of the box!

DEAD easy – says the web – NOW you have to put all your files now into /var/www/html -  and you can change this with THIS file  -

/etc/apache2/sites-available/000-default.conf 

Ok, THAT worked….. going to need some conditional coding in my script! I also discovered UNZIP was missing – I added that to the script.

PM2 installation started to throw out errors as had the node installation – I seem to recall npm WARNINGS before.. maybe they too were errors.

Password setup for Node-Red failed but that always fails – always complains about no bcrypt – even though bcrypt is installed – that needs work… solution is simple – run it again after the script is done – and remove the dead entry. I need a SED text to prevent duplicates – that’s a detail.

Despite gripes during the PM2 installation it still worked!

I can likely fix most things here but the SOUND – absolutely no joy…

SO – the CONCLUSION: I believe that the only thing wrong with the Orange Pi is an AWFUL, UNRESPONSIVE COMPANY, RUBBISH documentation and incomplete implementations of drivers. When I wrote this  I had a functioning equivalent of my setup on the PI with Node-Red, MOSQUTTO etc all running – for £12 but since then the Pi3 has taken us another step forward and I doubt this model of Orange Pi would compete.

BEAR IN MIND for those of you not familiar with the more expensive alternative – the Raspberry Pi (and possibly with less time to experiment)– all this stuff works first time every time out of the box on a Raspberry Pi. You have to ask yourself if it is worth the bother?  probably not - at least not until the Orange Pi people get their finger out and provider better documentation, better drivers and get rid of the out of date stuff on their website.

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69 thoughts on “Orange Pi PC

    1. I think you'll find that the Orange Pi PC is not covered here - no schematics or other info for the Orange Pi PC - further, there is no Raspbian for the Orange Pi PC in there either - nice of them to bring a product out - sell it and then not bother to support it properly. Mine is still dead.

    1. Hi thats normal mine does that,its prbebly you power supply,they are realy mardy about the ampage,3 amp mine corrups the sd and 1 amp will not boot 2 amp is also hit and miss,the two lights are ment to light up,the red led on the board lights up when it reads the kernal and scrips,if it doesnt light up then try differant firmware,ime using android zidoo x1 tv box firmware its realy stable and good,also Beelink X2 firmware works too and tronsmart tv box firmware,the ones on orange pi site dont work that well if boot at all

        1. Hi all ive added 3 links to great stable android firmware that will work with the orange pi board H3 quadcore chipset only. wich is orange pi pc and the other two witch have the same chip,it needs a rtk8188 wifi dongle for wifi,not sure if ethernet works but i dont see why not,

          ZIDOO has some kind of protection that checks if it runs on zidoo hardware.
          You can disable it by installing the firewall AFWall+.APK

          Start OPI2 without ethernet cable attached, install AFWall+ from USB flash drive.
          Open AFWall+, select blacklist mode (click on Mode:)
          Disable WAN access for Input Devices, ..... (check only second check box)
          Also enable Menu -> Preferences -> Experimental Preferences -> Fix Startup Data Leak
          Enable Firewall (Menu -> Enable Firewall)
          that will dissable the check do it before you go online.

          H3 runs hot, so ensure good cooling (at least heatsink.
          Have fun

          1. Zidoo firmware owners dont mind us enthusiasts using the firmware but dont want other companies using it for profit,they say they are honered that we orange pi users like there firmware and use it for our personal use.this i read on zidoo website.

        2. Oh i may add for people that are new to flashing android,you must flash the sd card using PhoenixCard_V3.10.
          win32imge wont work!

        3. Oh forgot to add the beelink firmware uses the orange pi power button to boot the firmware,witch is lucky,you can power on and off using the button on the orange pi pc board.first boot with all android firmware takes a few minutes longer as it extends the partion to the card size,thus is what i belive is happening lol or somthing to that extent,sorry if i miss spell anything.

  1. I was almost to buy one, the price is hard to resist, but I've read so bad things over the Allwiner chipset and the lack of documentation and drivers, that I've decided to wait. I'm glad I did.

    Anyway since I didn't own a Rpi, I ended up buying an Odroid-C1+ and it's great. Worked out of the box, 1GB ethernet, if using for NAS duties, supports emmc. And it has also good comunity.

    It's available in the UK and Germany. Have a look.

  2. Well, it's not often I'm wrong but...

    The Orange Pi DOES work. Thanks to one observant chap who noted that lights only appear on the board when a "correct" image has been installed on the SD. I found this highly unlikely because the blurb suggests you can use a "raspberry Pi image" - what they mean is THEIR version - not the original. See blog update coming up.....

    1. Well, I just did. I tried the Wheezy mini image. It came up, I logged in - tried it - no eithernet - tried to expand as per the instructions, rebooted, MASSIVE amounts of what looked like bad sectors - on a high speed 16GB SD that works a treat on a RPi, and came to a grinding halt. I'm beginning to wonder if this little board is doomed.

    1. Sure enough - the email was messing things up - erm, specifically - I looked at his - I'm not familiar enough with this device to know how to use one of the scripts so an image would be easier. In his MEGA account I could not see an image specifically for the Orange Pi PC version? Can you point me in the right direction please?

      Pete.

  3. So the latest state of affairs - the Debian code would not work - so I tried Ubuntu - that seemed to work apart from wired ethernet - but when resizing the partition, I got a load of errors. So - I did a PROPER format of the SD and started again - this time it worked - and MOST of my script is up and running in Ubuntu - however there remain some serious issues - NOTHING I tried would work with the wired ethernet - only the WIFI - and I'd rather use wired. There is no sound - even after carefully going through the Ununtu panel, selecting analog, un-muting it and using the speaker test, nothing. Also, trying to install mpg123 (mpeg playback) failed miserably. There does not appear to be SERIAL support - as the Node-Red installation threw that out.

    So technically it works and if the serial and eithernet were sorted along with the ability to run Debian - then yes, it might make a competitor for the Raspberry Pi - but as it stands, no WAY... comments welcome.

    1. I'm using Orange Pi mini 2 board, about the same as Orange Pi PC, except it has an extra USB port, and the board is a bit larger. I've used Debian 8 image from that link successfully.

      Just to make sure... After could flash the image with dd, you can remove it, and insert it again in your computer.
      Then go to the FAT32 partition called BOOT, and copy:
      1. script.bin.OPI-PC_1080p60 to script.bin
      2. uImage_OPI-2 to uImage

      umount the SD, and insert it into your Orange PI PC. If this is already what you have done and it does not work, maybe there's a hardware issue.

      1. Hi there. Questions about your helpful response above. So Debian 8 - that's easy to get - flash the image with DD ?? I flash with Win32Diskmanager? Not aware of other options. At that point surely I can't read the files in Windows???

        1. I'm using dd in Ubuntu, but Win32DiskImager should work to, and normally the FAT32 partition (BOOT) can also be mounted in Windows, so you should also be able to copy/move the two files just like in Linux.

          1. Good grief - it does appear to be working - I'm going to blog about this to save others so much hardship - and I will credit you for this. Question - so right now I'm doing the apt-get update and upgrade stuff - did you get SOUND to work (the hardwired network is now working).

  4. As you can see from the updated blog - "doing the job properly" helps - thanks to thel iikes of CNXSOFT in here - no thanks to Orange Pi documentation - but even then - this has so VERY far to go before it could ever replace a Raspberry Pi. Even the slight squeek I got out of the sound system went away on reboot.

  5. I just got my orange pi pc and I love it! I have a fedora 22 image and it's blazing fast. I am having trouble using wifi. What is the protocol? Do we have to add the wifi connection under the network panel? Or is it supposed to be added automatically? Ethernet works fine, think I need to reinstall the driver? I thought the image on the orangepi site had that built in.

  6. I haven't attemped to utilize the GPIO or serial. Is there any available documentation on the pinout?

    That's what I'm worried about. When I plugged in the dongle and start up it doesn't connect. When I run LSUSB, I see that Bus004 sees a RTL8188CUS WLAN adapter. How can I identify whether I'm having a driver related problem or software setup issue. When I click on network connection on the toolbar I only see Ethernet Network / wired connection. I don't see any options for connecting wireless.

  7. While I test this wifi dongle out, is there one that anyone can recommend works with the Fedora 22 image? I need a second dongle anyway as I was borrowing this one from my RPi.

  8. I'm sorry I bought this Orange Pi PC. Too much work to get it going and still I can't locate drivers for my Wifi dongle. The Raspberry Pi was made with noble intentions - to bring computing to kids at an affordable price. The support is great. I believe Orange Pi just ripped off the Raspberry Pi people simply for profit. No real support provided. I won't buy another one.

  9. Did you try the OrangePI-PC_Ubuntu_Vivid_Mate.img on the download page? I haven't tried the sound. (I like my PCs to be quiet.) But, other than that, I've had no problems with that image. I think that one strength of the RPi is that they support fully Raspian. There's no way to focus on supporting 15 distributions of Linux, plus Android.

    Speaking of $15 SoCs, the PCDuino 3 Nano Lite is selling for $15 on Amazon US. It's pretty cool. I've been playing with it for a few days.

    I also expected to plug in my Rpi SD and boot the Opi. It turns out that the Rpi compatibility is (supposedly) the GPIO configuration.

    Also, one really helpful thing is a UART cable. You can get one for $1.32 on AliExpress. Finally, you should try the create_ap-master script for creating an access point that will allow you to ssh or vnc into the OPi. One really cool thing is that, with one wi-fi dongle, you get both the AP and internet access. I used a cheap $5 dongle from AliExpress. (REALTEK 8188) I can give you more info if you need it.

    The only thing I couldn't get working was USB Tethering to my Samsung tablet. Ubuntu won't assign USB0 to my tablet. Some program, cdc_acm, rejects the tablet because it doesn't have a modem.

    Sorry the post is so long. I guess I should get my own blog. 🙂

    1. One other thing, there are dedicated UART pins on the OPi. They don't go in the same place, nor in the same order, as the Rpi pins.

      1. There seems to be so little info on how to use the serial console. I am interested in using the serial console on the Orange PI PC that I just bought. So my questions:
        1) Is the serial console output on the 3 pin header marked debug uart? Or is this on the 40 pin header?
        2) Do I need to create/update the cmdline.txt file on the partition with uImage and scripts.bin files? Does updateing the cmdline.txt have any effect at all?

        I have tried Ubuntu, Raspbian, Fedora22, and Debian images, but I do not see anything on the console. With the current HDMI cables and adapters that I have I cannot setup the VGA/HDMI consoles, hence the need for UART/serial console.

  10. Hi people,try using android for other h3 chipsets,they work better and are in english,zidoo x1 firmware is great and it works with wifi dongle rtk8188 and beelink x2 is good also and uses rtk8188 dongle and tronsmart works too,these are all android kitkat for tv boxes and are verry stable and have ethernet too,only thing with my orange pi is it keeps corrupting my sd cards i have the orange pi pc,i notice when i use 3 amps power it doesnt like it and wont boot but 2 amps is flaky and 1 amp corrups sd card,ive tryed 6 sd cards they all end up corrupted after a few minutes,i bought mine from banggood,they wont exchange it for me,they keep fobbing me of,then they deny me buying it from them they acuse me of buying from elswhere and trying to exchange a broken one,they delete my order no from there site,bloody horrid people,i never buying from them again be carefull folks of banggood!!!

  11. Another thing,i dont know why people got confused thinking this would run raspberry pi image,its got a differant cpu,you all should know by now that you cant just run any old chipset on another chipset,never mind lesson learned,i for a second thought hold on thats not right when i read the part saying will run a version of raspian and banana image but then realised it must be ported version they made,wich is in the downloads,

  12. One thing i noticed and is what i belive to be the main problem with the orange pi is heat,and its doing an exbox 360 trick,desoldering itself,whell expanding and its causing loose conections,cold joint,when mine plays up,i push down on the cpu and it runs propely again,mine haad bad booting problem,i wouldnt boot anything for days then it started working,it says sometimes its shutting down cpu1 and cpu2,as its quad core thats running on 2 ,its weard,at first i thought it was firmware,but i think mine was not soldered properly at factory,they didnt get the bond right,thers rows of balls under the chip and thats how they conect,

  13. I agree, serial port access is very important. What distro do you found stable and use now? Try asking Loboris (https://github.com/loboris/OrangePI-Kernel) to enable Serial Port for this distro. Reading Wiki on your distro mainline site - another reasonable thing to do most folks miss despite expecting a rough ride with Linux and a test system like Orange PI specially designed and priced to make one learn by trial and error rather than expect consumer level performance. Most common issue - config flies for certain board features aren't set properly in your distro. Try reading say Debian Wiki to see how to config a serial port. Its just smarter than repeating "this and that not working". Learn to make it work. I doubt selling the boards for $15 makes enough room for a software development team. Especially looking at costly orders they had to place with a production hub to get the boards stock.

  14. H3 series of SDC is being mainlined pretty fast. Useful Armbian site review of Orange PI PC (http://forum.armbian.com/index.php/topic/504-quick-review-of-orange-pi-pc/) lists quite a few price & performance advantages of this board compare to contenders, given mainline Linux use. The founder Steven did pretty impressive job over the last year extending the models choice. Software is catching up by community efforts as typical Linux word approach. Before these devices came out, folks tested DockStars and such, and no-one complained that Seagate and Pogoplug provide shitty SW.

  15. Greetings. I purchased an Orange Pi PC from Amazon for $25 US. I exchanged it after trying several of the OS images with no boot success. The ethernet leds would light but not the power led. The replacement boots all the images (including the hacked Raspbian OS but without GPIO access in Python) . I settled on the Loboris image as the most stable. Though the USB ports and ethernet port work, audio does not, at least not HDMI. I haven't tried GPIO yet or installed any flavor of Python. As others, I can't get any wifi functionality with three different dongles after spending many hours and several OSs' trying. It would be nice if orangepi.org had released one fully functional OS like the Raspberry Pi, Odroid, and Banana Pi have.

  16. I tried to make it work with my old VGA monitor by connecting through HDMI to VGA adapter but no luck. I tried all versions of script.bin and even tried changing the [disp_init] setting in .fex file using SunXI-tools. Would appreciate if someone can help me out with a img file or script.bin file to make it work. Or it would be great if someone can point me how to make it work in headless mode. As Trouse1951 said, it would be helpfull if we can get a fully functional OS. Thanks

    1. Hi, i'm using openelec v7 and it works very well as a media center. All USB ports working. You can also use armbian distro as it seems to be the best one tailored for the OPI PC.

  17. Anyone here got an idea about how to connect via ssh (no HDMI or Video out) - using the image suggested here? Debian Jessie from loboris and also implemeting the two scripts renamed as mentioned here. I mean (and guess) the ethernet is pre-set up this way and if so, what is the default IP of this system (OPi PC) . Mine gets booted up... I am avoiding serial connection, if possible.

  18. Oh!, later upon removing the sd card and mounting the linux partion on my system, i inspected the file system and realized that there is a dhcp client already set up, so I need to enable some dhcp server on the network and until now, I was only connecting it to my PC (opensuse) which does not run a dhcp server... So, now I have the IP address...

    I was able to ping the address now, and ssh into it.

    Fearing several issues as described by the users at may places, I when I logged in, everything was just without any issue. ethernet working, all lights okay (i got the red led on, right from the beginning) even no power supply or SD card issues. This is perhaps due to instructions by Peter here and other users in orangepi forums, that I had used a decently powered (2A) supply, Class 10+ SD card (SONY) etc ...

    Thanks to all the users and Peter, for making it a smooth ride, so far. (with the exception of dhcp issue, which I did not find mentioned anywhere). On the contrary, I was assuming that there is some default IP address set up as static on eth0 , which users are expected to modify per their need.

  19. Orange Pi Plus 2E H3 Quad Core 1.6GHZ 2GB RAM just seems to be available...
    Price range up to +30$, I'm temped to test but after reading this I am not sure it'll be a good idea...

    1. Let us know how you get on - Armbian seems to support Orange Pi well but unless things have changed, the company who make them are the world's worst communicators. The Orange Pi PC is however fast so this will be interesting. The Raspberry Pi 3 may be not far behind and of course has WAY, WAY better support.

        1. I love trying out all the other boards as you know from the blog - but I'm convinced once Pi3 gets a proper, graphically supported Android 6 to go with their Raspbian and all the community support that suggests... it will be unbeatable for a while.

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