The not $25 LeMaker Guitar

Lemaker GuitarYou may well not be familiar with the name LeMaker but you are likely familiar with “Banana Pi” – same people (Shenzhen LeMaker Technology). This is NOT like other boards I’ve reviewed in here. This morning a large box arrived in the post from LeMaker.

So the Guitar is a small board with a solid-looking heatsink and an edge connector – that’s it. One button and a slide-switch. Bit of a worry until you see the baseboard into which it makes a smart fit. At this point it really just looked like one board – BIGGER than the Raspberry Pi by maybe 50% and square unlike other boards I’ve looked at recently. The specs are quite impressive and the processor is running at 1.3Ghz.

I’ll list here the specification of the combined baseboard and processor board as one is pretty useless without the other.

  • Actions S500 Soc with integrated quad-core ARM Cortext A9R4 CPU and Imagination PowerVR SGX544 3D GPU
  • On-board 8GB eMMC nand flash storage
  • Input 5-12v at 2ADC max.
  • 10/100Mbps Ethernet and 801.11 b/g/h WiFi.
  • 1 microUSB 3.0 and 2 type A USB 2.0
  • HDMI type A and LVDS. (Audio included on HDMI)
  • Camera interface
  • 40 pins including GPIO. SPI.I2C, UART, I2S and PWM
  • MicroSD card slot
  • Power key, reset key, 2 x user-defined LEDs, ADC, IR receiver and battery connector.

LeMaker Guitar

This combination came complete with Android 5.11 running in eMMC. The pack did not have a power supply but the connector is standard so I plugged in 5v, an HDMI monitor, keyboard, screen and keyboard.

LeMaker GuitarSo – a good start, almost everything worked out of the box. I could not get the keyboard to work, instead an on-screen Android keyboard came up, not a pleasant experience when you’re sitting in front of a proper one. I checked out the usual – memory showed only 2.3GB of internal SD left (the eMMC) which was a bit low – I quickly popped in a 32GB microSD and this appeared as an external SD. I’ve not yet checked to ensure that programs will go into external SD but it would be pretty daft if they didn’t.

LeMaker GuitarNot for the first time when running Android on a single-board computer, screen resolution was low. I altered it to 1920*1080 but it still had an interpolated feel about it  -maybe that’s a limitation with Android.

The pack also came with some peripheral boards, one of which provides even more I/O lines and 4more USB 2.0 connectors (for a total of 6 USB 2.0 connectors). The boards are stackable so you can just keep going. The next peripheral board provides 2 10a relay outputs,8 LEDs and even more outputs. A third board provides I2C connector, 2 UARTS and 2 SPI connectors along with a connector for an LCD1602 and more GPIO. All in all there’s something for everyone in this system “kit”.

So Android – the good news is it bang up to date – the first time I’ve seen that – but then with something this sophisticated, for me, Android doesn’t do it. So I went off to their site to see what else was available.

Looks can be deceiving but this looks like one of the better systems I’ve seen – albeit not the cheapest. As well as Android, they have Ubuntu Mate and what I assume is a variation, Lemuntu, LeMedia (KODI) and Arch Linux. In a future article I will be checking these out.  Having lots of peripherals is one thing – being able to use them is another.

As for pricing – you’ll see $25 out there with no-one sure if that is for the little processor board or the whole lot – well, the only price I’ve seen up to now is £47 sterling and that DOES include the baseboard. Someone on EBay is trying to get £105 for it – I think they may be disappointed. Right now there are more “pre-order” sites than anything else  – but hey – you wouldn’t want a review of an old product Smile

More on this one later – still awaiting the construction of my new office where I can properly photograph this stuff and do video etc… (we moved recently). Installing Ubuntu looks easy. If you put an operating system on SD it takes priority over the one on internal eMMC.

Update 23/02/2016

Turns out that the LeMaker Pro uses the same processor as the RoseApple Pi which is interesting – it should mean that the operating systems would be compatible but I just tried putting the microSD from my RoseApple Pi unit into the LeMaker – no joy – however I did download their media centre image using a stripped down Linux and running Kodi.  I have to say I did notice a slight amount of juddering on 180p videos – but only just – and it could have been because I’m running on WIFI… but otherwise it seemed to work just fine until I got carried away and started messing with the settings – could not find any reference to infra-red remote and you can’t drop to the operating system level…. so no remote? Erm, no. Next stop – Lemuntu which despite the name is not Ubuntu – but Debian!