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Open source Omega2 module gives way to a “Pro” SBC

Dec 14, 2018 — by Eric Brown — 1352 views

Onion’s “Omega2 Pro” update to its WiFi-enabled Omega2 board boosts RAM to 512MB and flash to 8GB and adds real-world USB and micro-USB ports. The Pro model runs OpenWrt on a 580MHz MIPS SoC.

Boston-based Onion launched its IoT-oriented Omega computer-on-module on Kickstarter in early 2015 and returned the next year with an Omega2 model that switched the 400MHz Atheros AR9331 with a similarly MIPS-based, OpenWrt-driven 580MHz MediaTek MT7688 SoC that supported additional I/O. The open source module was also available in an Omega2 Plus model that added a microSD slot and doubled RAM and flash to 128MB and 32MB, respectively.



Omega2 Pro (left) and Linux-based OnionOS GUI
(click images to enlarge)

Now Onion has launched a new Omega2 Pro model on Crowd Supply, starting at $49 — a far cry from the single digit prices of the earlier models. The increase partially reflects the huge boost in memory. Main memory has jumped to 512MB (128MB RAM and 384MB flash swap file) while flash storage has expanded even more to 8GB.


Omega2

The microSD slot on the earlier Plus model is gone, but the USB 2.0 host interface found on the Omega2 models, as well as the USB/serial interface from the Plus model, are now expressed via real-world USB and micro-USB ports. Together with the new 30-pin I/O expansion port, this is enough to reclassify the board as an SBC.

The 73 x 44mm board once again uses a 580MHz MIPS SoC, but Onion does not identify it as the WiFi-enabled MediaTek MT7688. Other continuing features include the 2.4GHz 802.11n WiFi radio. Unlike the WiFi modules on the Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone Black Wireless, it provides access point support and can simultaneously run a client session. You also get a 2 dBi directional chip antenna and a U.FL connector for an external antenna.



Omega2 Pro detail view and legend
(click images to enlarge)

The Omega2 Pro continues to run on 5V, 500mA power, now conveniently available via the micro-USB port, and it’s equipped with a new onboard PMIC that supports LiPo battery power. This feature was previously available only on an optional power dock. Several LEDs are also onboard.


Omega2 Pro and pinout
(click images to enlarge)

Because the Omega2 Pro now has a 30-pin expansion header, the previous expansion and power docks appear to have been abandoned. You can now directly plug in the same expansion modules available on the Omega2, including Ethernet, OLED, GPS, servo, and more (see diagrams below).


Omega2 Pro expansion modules and legend
(click images to enlarge)

Onion now provides its own Linux-based OnionOS GUI stack on top of the underlying OpenWrt 18.06 Linux distro. Running within your browser, OnionOS supports languages such as Python, GoLang, NodeJS, PHP, C, and C++. It also includes Terminal and Code Editor apps. Alternatively, the Omega2 Pro supports command line control.

Onion promotes the open-spec Omega2 Pro for its thriving open source community, including forums and other resources. In many ways, this is the last refuge of the Linux-on-MIPS hacker community.

Last year, Onion launched two surface-mount “Omega2S” spin-offs of the Omega2 module designed for high-volume production. The Omega2 also appeared in Onion’s Oboo Smart Clock Bluetooth music streaming device.

 
Further information

The Omega2 Pro is available on Crowd Supply for $49 (plus $6 shipping) through the end of January, with shipments due Jan. 31. An $82 package adds the Ethernet and OLED expansion modules and a $169 “Ultimate Collection” gives you all eight modules. A discount package is also available. More information may be found at the Omega2 Pro Crowd Supply page and the Onion website.

 

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2 responses to “Open source Omega2 module gives way to a “Pro” SBC”

  1. Rogan says:

    I find it particularly dodgy that they claim it had 512MB RAM, then acknowledge 3/4 of that is actually swap space. Why not claim that it has up to 8GB RAM, using that logic?

  2. DurandA says:

    I was expecting a C.H.I.P successor. This is 5x more expensive in a less-than-ideal form factor.

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