The FriendlyArm NanoPi 2 Fire

NanoPi 2 FireA package arrived for me this morning – a BIG one – and in it a little box containing the new FriendlyArm NanoPi 2 Fire,

Well, you’ve heard of lots of these by now – yet another Pi-like board. This one has a nice feature – it is SMALL – way smaller than the Raspberry Pi2 yet has the same connector, an Ethernet connector, one USB and one (thankfully) standard HDMI cable as well as a small camera connector.

As for specification – it has a Cortex 9 Quad Core processor running at 1.4Ghz, 1GB of 32 bit DDR RAM, GigaHz Ethernet and is equipped to handle Debian 8.1 and Android 5.1

The pinout of the connectors etc is on the inside of the box and the spec on the outside – so no space wasted there. They have various versions, according to their website the Nanopi 2 (as against NanoPi 2 Fire) also has bluetooth and WIFI (but no Ethernet connector).

For more information – lots more –

So the one I received was the NanoPi 2 Fire. I also received the 7” LCD. I didn’t need a manual to figure out how to plug that in – so I did. I went to the site and grabbed the Debian image and blew that onto an 8GB microUSB – as recommended – and turned the power on.

LCDI must admit with all the boards I’ve tested recently – I wasn’t expecting this – it just worked – in under 30 seconds the 7” touch-LCD display was up and running displaying Debian 8.  I reckon with something like a Samsung EVO that could be even faster.

At this point I realised I’d not plugged the Ethernet cable in and so rebooted. 

At this point I did a quick check to see if I could access it remotely from my PC – a quick “Advanced IP Scanner” scan suggested it was not yet available.

It was at this point that I realised –  no on-screen keyboard – oh, dear.  Never mind I plugged in a bog-standard keyboard and that worked straight away… don’t you just love it when stuff works.

I figured my best bet here as I was running out of desk space (I’m still working in a temporary area in the house – cables for my office only went in today… it’s a bomb-site out there right now, was to get remote access running ASAP. In the picture above taken from their site – the LCD is a nice white one with a little arm in the back to make it stand up – I got a nice black one – with no stand.. but I’m thinking maybe I can pinch something from a photo frame….. Good idea…

Using the keyboard I entered:

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get upgrade

And that took me to needing a password – oh, dear. Well the username was “fa” – so I tried “fa” for the password – bingo – straight in.

After the upgrade, the unit rebooted which seems a bit odd.. I continued…

sudo apt-get install samba samba-common-bin

At this point I got a warning to say that the upgrade had been interrupted (I knew there was something wrong) and could I type something in – which I did – and tried the upgrade again – to be honest it could have been me as the setup I have is very temporary.  Off it went doing the upgrade again – this time it took a LOT longer but no worse than any other upgrade I’d done recently.

I have to say that the capacitive touch-screen they provided was more than adequate for the job – they even helpfully included an on-screen keyboard called matchbox-keyboard (it would be nice however if it popped up on demand like Android onscreen keyboards).

Now with Samba in place I would be able to see the unit from my PC. I ran the IP scanner again…

So NOW I could see “FriendlyArm” in my list of devices – wheeeee.

I hurriedly went off to winSCP and plugged in the name and that short name (fa) with the same password (fa) and…LO AND BEHOLD – it worked – back to working with my comfy PC!!!

At this point I thought I’d better check the processor – I now have a little square mark on my finger. It gets hot – but not hotter than the Orange Pi. I can see a little heatsink purchase coming on.

So – fast, small, neat, works out of the box – what more could you want – and if you are interested head off to their website for pricing – my ONLY fear here – when we first tried the site – was the postal costs… I can’t really pass comment as I don’t know where you, the reader, live – but to England the postal cost could be significant. 

I did try plugging a WIFI adaptor in – standard type – nothing – I even tried putting it onto a USB hub – nothing. I’d assumed that because the Debian installation appeared to have Bluetooth and WIFI controls that they’d set it up for boards with and without WIFI but apparently not.

For my next trick – I will try modifying my script – I can’t wait to see Node-Red editor actually running on the unit itself on the LCD instead of via a PC – and that may be for me where the LCD comes into it’s own – ideal for little manual overrides and monitoring etc… could this be the actual machine that gets the job of controlling the house?  One downer for that is lack of audio. There is no audio connector on here and it seems they did not fit the audio drivers into HDMI… I wish if manufacturers don’t want to spend the money on a 3.5mm connector they would at least bring the audio out on a header – some of us DO have a use for it.

Keep eyes peeled for a follow up article on this.


11 thoughts on “The FriendlyArm NanoPi 2 Fire

  1. As I understand it – pure ESP8266 is rarely used. He has a limit in speed, and low memory. For example, it categorically does not make a secure connection type SSL/TLC. Now the authors are developing a new, multi-core chip. And while the most stable boards contain microprocessor 51-series – on which they write a survey and ports for which the million’s application libraries (on classical Keil uVision5), and using ESP8266 – WiFi only make the wireless-gateway. In general, it is not expensive cost but make it very flexible.

    1. Where did you get this from? It it certainly wrong. Pure ESP8266 is used widely by the community using the SDK in C. It is fast and has plenty of memory, the only caviat being that you have to be careful with the RAM used to store functions. You certainly CAN make secure connection – and the new device is not meant to compete with the ESP8266. It is also incredibly cheap.

  2. Thank’s ! I also bought the card, but nanopi2 with internal WiFi adapter. I have absolutely no complaints about the quality – very sturdy and high quality welded product. But I have traditional claims to the software. Chinese colleagues have a strange attitude to the include libraries. They like to communicate ?
    I already “talked” and realized how to work with ports GPIO, I2C, LCD, HDMI , sound.. Why not just describe it on the website or in the documentation – if by default this functionality doesn’t work “out of the box” ? Traditionally, in the Android image not working Google Play . Not pleased that despite the presence of the graphic accelerator, Mali 400 – his support is absent in Debian OS / (Accused Samsung Co that it does not give the library – which is very strange). These problems are categorically not in the Raspberry Pi2 – maybe because the software was completed in Oxford, with “european seriousness” ? So wish the producers to seriously pay attention to the software and its regular actualization.

    1. If you have worked out how to use the GPIO and the likes of I2c etc in Debian – please DO share with others.

  3. Ok, time to register and post some of my thoughts to these devices 🙂
    But first – thanks pete for this blog!

    Why does all these devices have no PoE Support? If an IoT device has an ethernet port – it would be the best to power it over ethernet too instead of add an extra psu…

    I wait since my first rpi for a rpi with PoE support that would make much things much easier.

    @Aris – i´ve backuped the chip project and received mine some weeks ago – but only the chip without the extension boards – still waiting for them before i start playing with the chip itself. So far it looks like a good piece of hardware – i really like the printed female pin headers it will make things a lot easier 🙂

    best regards

    1. I guess POE would add a little cost – and there is also the point that many of these devices take quite a lot of current – some of the boards ask that you use a 2 amp power supply – so POE might be a bit of an issue there – any length of cable….

  4. You can try ARMWorks in the States ( if you can wait for USPS First Class. It is pretty low cost shipping. They don’t have any of the NanoPi2 Fire yet and China is on holiday. They have NanoPi2 though, the WiFi/BT one. SSH into that and run Python. Also some of the original NanoPi with ARM9 which is much lower power and smaller – but discontinued. Still runs Wheezy though just fine on 400MHz Samsung 2451.

    There is a thing called a PSU-ONECOM (and add the 5V 2A PSU) that anyone should get if they get a NanoPiX. It plugs into the white 4 pin serial connector. Too many PC USB ports don’t live up to the rating for power. With a display and wireless going you probably need a little extra. Some of mine drop to 4.3 volts without much of a load. The ONECOM is great for development and in deployment you will most likely use that port for power anyway. My NanoPi2 booted to the Debian desktop on a 7″ in 14 seconds — Class 10 MicroSDHC helps a lot. I used 16 GB in case I get ambitious 🙂

    Now, how to turn 16 of them into an Ethernet connected 64 core gizmo to stick in an old Mac Pro case…….or 128 or 256 cores. There is plenty of room.

    1. Good evening Aris – well today I also set up and started to write about CHIP – as it happens – one of the first people to get one – sent his CHIP to me to play with – isn’t that nice. All is not TOO well however – I won’t spoil the review coming up but it did not do as expected – at least not the first time around – keep an eye open in here as I will provide a review shortly.

      And thanks for looking in and commenting!

      1. mmm… disappointing… let’s hope it will have better official support than the OpiPC…
        are you on the Pine64 train, too? 😀

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