Orange Pi PC – a good media server for $ 19

Orange Pi PC – Chinese clone Raspberry Pi with Allwinner ARMv7 processor. This platform is faster than the one used in the first version of the original Broadcom card with the ARM11 architecture. Of course, Orange is inferior in performance Raspberry Pi 3. But the original fee is $ 36, and the copy is only 18.5.

Characteristics

orangepi.org
CPU: Allwinner H3, 4 cores Cortex-A7
Video Core: Mali 400MP2
RAM: 1 GB DDR3
System Interfaces: microSD (as a permanent memory and boot disk);
LAN (10/100 MB);
3 × USB;
microUSB (with OTG support);
GPIO (40 contacts compatible with Raspberry);
IR receiver;
Serial port for debugging
Inputs: CSI (for connecting the camera);
microphone
Outputs: HDMI (with support for HDCP, CEC, CVBS);
mini-jack (3,5 mm), combined audio-video signal, 4-pin
The size: 85 × 55 × 10 mm
Weight: 40 grams
orangepi.org

The board has all the necessary interfaces and can work not only as a media server. Those who want to make sure of this can find the necessary materials here. Just in case – pinout GPIO:

Orange Pi PC: pinout of GPIO
cnx-software.com

An important aspect of the board design is the quality of the main output interface – HDMI. In Orange Pi PC, he can not only output the signal directly to the TV, but also work with a variety of additional devices: converters and splitters. This extends the board’s capabilities.

OS

At the moment for Orange Pi PC there are the following OS:

  • Android (Orange OS);
  • Lubuntu;
  • Ubuntu 15.0 (Mate);
  • Debian 8 (XFCE);
  • Raspbian;
  • Fedora;
  • Kali Linux;
  • Arch Linux;
  • openSUSE.

The choice of software depends on the capabilities of the board. The Orange Pi family is less popular than Raspberry Pi, so in some systems not all functions are implemented. For the media server, Android and Ubuntu with the Kodi add-in (the shell for creating the media center) are suitable.

Implementing a media server

The board will require high-quality food. Unlike other similar devices, Orange Pi PC works through a proprietary connector (a cylindrical connector with an external diameter of 3.9 mm and an internal one of 1.2 mm) or a GPIO (+ 5 V on 2- or 4-pin, “ground” on 6 -pin). Required current parameters: 5 V / 2 A (minimum), 5 V / 3 A (recommended by the manufacturer). At the slightest drawdowns, the system is suspended: friezes appear, fade. In some cases, the system may hang completely, a reboot is required.

In addition, because of the strong heating of the processor requires cooling: a radiator or cooler. The cooling set for Raspberry Pi is ideal. There are no wireless interfaces on the board, so you need a Bluetooth or Wi-Fi dongle. The best option would be a driver that does not require a USB adapter. If desired, you can buy a DVB-T2 tuner.

For stable operation, you need a high-quality memory card that is not lower than the 10th grade. Better is UHS.

After all the components are assembled, you must install the operating system on the USB flash drive. Suitable and Ubuntu, and Android (the latter implemented hardware video decoding). A detailed instruction in English can be found here, in Russian – here.

With any selected system, the device can play files up to 1080p / 60 fps (1 920 × 1 080 at 60 frames per second). The set of codecs can vary, if you want, you can always install additional ones.

The output of the A / V stream can be made via an analog or digital output, so that it is possible to connect the Orange Pi PC even to older TVs with a cathode-ray tube. If you use an HDMI-VGA adapter, you can also connect the card to an old monitor. Moreover, the system’s performance will be enough to surf or work with small office files (and Quake III works well).

Conclusion

If it is possible to extend the Ethernet cable, this variant of the home media center is the most affordable one available. Cheaper – only from a broken smartphone.

The cost of an Orange Pi PC with a Wi-Fi module reaches $ 24. And when buying a case (5-10 dollars) and a tuner (up to 15 dollars), it becomes comparable to the price of the TV Box. But is the finished option a substitute for the pleasure of working with your own hands? Especially since installation and configuration will take only a couple of hours.

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