Update September 2018: Despite my earlier enthusiasm below, it seems things have changed. The Stretch version of Armbian for this board which I grabbed today has a broken armbian-config and the excellent rpi-clone program produces a read-only version of the operating system. The “bionic” version of Armbian for the board kills “the script” very early on. I gave up after several attempts with both versions. As there seem to be no realistic alternatives to Armbian for the board, I guess it is back to the cupboard for the Plus 2E.
Original July update: I’ll not review this as I’ve already reviewed the Plus 2E.. but I recently ordered another one as my enthusiasm for the Plus2E, despite my overall dim view of Orange Pi, is a smashing board – everything just works.
The Orange Pi Plus2E (in brief) has 16GB eMMc, 2GB RAM, Gigabit Ethernet and WIFI, IR sensor, microphone and lots more. It is an H3-based board so not state of the art but very powerful and easy to use. I tested multiple serial ports and multiple I2c channels and they just work. See my original review for more.
The board is supported by Armbian in two versions: Armbian Xenial (3.4) and Armbian Stretch (4.4) – I chose the latter and installed on SD to make life easy initially. This time around after ensuring that the serial ports were enabled in Armbian-config, I ensured user pi had access permission then, after a reboot, gained full access to serial ports /dev/ttyS1, 2 and 3. I could probably use 0 if I turned off debugging but three ports will do for now
If only the Raspberry Pi could do this with serial. Here we have the OP with one of the three serial ports shorted input to output so I could test connectivity – in this case /dev/ttyS2 and firing text into a Node-Red inject node (set to send after 50ms timeout) and the message is being sent back into the serial input, no problem.
Then having added user pi to the i2c group, I then managed a simple test to discover that device 60 (my ssd1306 display) was present. This assumes you connect such a device to i2c-1 as that node-red i2c node only supports the one bus.
Mind you, actually driving the display is different to knowing it is there. Thankfully a quick install of the Luma Python OLED library gave me an instant display (it defaults to i2c-1) at the command line and hence from Node-Red via an exec function. I tried 2 examples, one showing status info, another a very stripped down but cute Jet-Set Willy demo.
Next I tested MQTT (installed along with everything else using “The Script”) and that, too, worked a treat and finally I copied the whole working installation onto eMMC hence killing two birds with one stone…. I got a faster machine and recovered the SD for other uses. Armbian-config turned what used to be a painful procedure into a no-brainer.