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4K Android media player SBC has 40-pin Pi expansion

Mar 15, 2016 — by Eric Brown — 2662 views

Futarque’s “Rho Board” 4K media player SBC is up on Kickstarter, starting at $35 with a quad-core, Cortex-A7, a Pi 2 connector, and optional DVB-T2/C tuner.

Danish digital video specialist Futarque needs another $5,000 or so to reach its Kickstarter goal for the Rho Board, with eight days left to go. The board is primarily designed as a 4K HEVC Android TV media player, but its 40-pin Raspberry Pi 2 connector also supports DIY electronics for a wider range of embedded explorations including home automation.

Rho Board (left) and detail view showing main chips
(click images to enlarge)

A $35 package gives you the SBC, and a $58 package tosses in a clear acrylic case and a 12V worldwide power supply. A $68 package bumps the case up to black plastic and adds an Android airmouse remote. A $78 package adds to that with a DVB-T2/C terrestrial digital video broadcast tuner, which is supported in a variety of mostly European countries, including Denmark. The $78 package also includes Futarque’s Android-based, DVB-T2/C dedicated TV app, AuroraTV. All packages ship in May.

Rho Board’s AuroraTV app
(click image to enlarge)

Futarque has partnered with Taiwan-based Mstar, which bills itself as the worldwide leader of FTA (Free-To-Air) and Pay-TV STB controller SoCs. The company has supplied the Rho Board with its MStar MSO9280 SoC, also called the MStar 9280, the same SoC used in a Futarque designed STB development kit announced last year, which appears to be very similar to the Rho Board.

Rho Board port detail view
(click image to enlarge)

The 7000DMIPS, quad-core Cortex-A7 MStar 9280 is clocked to 1.4GHz, and is mated with a hex-core Mali 450 GPU. MStar does not appear to offer product pages for its processors, but according to Futarque, the Rho Board supports decoding and output of 4K video and graphics.

Rho Board with Pi connector hooked up to Gertboard Raspberry Pi breadboard (left) and acryclic case version
(click images to enlarge)

Other Rho Board features include 1GB DDR3 RAM, 4GB of eMMC flash with a preloaded, customized Android distribution, and a microSD slot for up to 128GB additional storage. A 10/100 Ethernet port is provided, and there are two USB 2.0 host ports for hooking up WiFi and other peripherals. A micro-USB port and an SDIO expansion connector are also available.

DVB-T2/C tuner

For displays, there’s an HDMI 2.0 port and an analog A/V output. Additional features include optical SPDIF, an IR receiver, an RS232 mini-jack, and the aforementioned RPi expansion connector and optional TV tuner. A reset button is also supplied. An example app for controlling the Pi connector is available, as are libraries, example code, and documentation.

Further information

The Rho Board Kickstarter campaign is on for eight more days, with packages starting at the early bird price of $35 (see pricing above). More information may be found at the Rho Board Kickstarter page and the Futarque website.

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