Note: ARMWorks (www.andahammer.com) is having a week long sale with some 7″ ARM11 6410 systems at nearly half price.
I have been able to experiment with the new NanoPi from FriendlyARM. This is a Samsing S3C2451 400 MHz ARM that can run Debian (Jessie as of Aug 2) and use all the FriendlyARM LCDs. It has ‘Pi’ in the name because the double row 0.1″ header is Raspberry Pi compatible. But, the NanoPi also has WiFi and Bluetooth. Plus, the MicroUSB is recognized as Ethernet by Ubuntu or Fedora and you can SSH into the NanoPi to set up your WiFi connection and do anything else you would do with SSH. The NanoPi is half the size of an RPi at 30x75mm and much lower power usage.
Anyway, I was able to very easily with just a few commands, prepare a uSD with the bootloader (u-boot) and Debian Jessie. I connected the USB and the board started up. SSH worked fine and with two commands I had set up my WiFi and restarted the service. I pinged a few places without problems and I had a FriednlyARM P43 4.3″ LCD attached and all looked good. SSH worked just as easily on Fedora 20 and the MicroUSB was recognized as an Ethernet gadget.
FriendlyARM has gone full Open Source on the software and there is work to do. The camera driver is not finished and I’m sure there are plenty of projects to use the GPIO and make sure it can drive various Pi expansion boards. If you are a driver/kernel/application tuner, check out the Github repos and dive in. WiFi camera with a decent battery sounds like a good project for me.
I had to send my samples out to developers and as soon as I get more I’ll do a power test and a test with a LiPo battery and a muRata DC/DC converter while WiFI is running. These 3 pin devices are like a TO-220 package and will provide 5V at 1.5A 90% efficiency. Digikey has them. There are cheaper eBay solutions bit none this small and simple and in volume these are $3.70.
Next, the FriendlyARM Matrix sensor and driver add-ons usable with NanoPi, Raspberry Pi, and basically all the FriednlyARM boards with GPIO.