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Open spec IoT hacker SBC has a GSM radio

Mar 30, 2017 — by Eric Brown 5,167 views

The $10 “Orange Pi 2G-IOT” SBC runs Ubuntu or Android on an RDA Cortex-A5 SoC, and features RPi 40-pin I/O compatibility, WiFi, Bluetooth, and GSM.

Shenzhen Xunlong quickly followed up on its recent launch of the quad-core Orange Pi Zero Plus 2 and Zero Plus 2 H5 SBCs with its first Orange Pi to stray from the Allwinner SoC family. The 2G-enabled, $9.90 Orange Pi 2G-IOT targets low-power IoT applications with a single-core Cortex-A5 based RDA8810PL SoC from RDA Microelectronics.

Orange Pi 2G-IOT (left) and RDA8810PL block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

Primarily aimed at budget smartphones, the RDA8810PL SoC integrates a 2G GSM/GPRS/EDGE baseband and a Vivante GC860 GPU with 3D graphics support. No clock rate was listed for the Orange Pi 2G-IOT, but the SoC is said to reach up to 1GHz.

Other open source hacker boards with Cortex-A5 SoCs include the quad-core Odroid-C+ and the single-core, but feature-rich SAMA5D4 Xplained, neither of which is directly comparable.


The 68 x 42mm Orange Pi 2G-IOT is a much simpler affair. It’s not quite as minimal as the 40 x 40mm Orange Pi Zero boards, such as the recent Orange Pi Zero Plus 2, but if you’re looking for more than wireless features, you’ve come to the wrong place.

Orange Pi 2G-IOT, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

The RDA8810PL SoC’s 256MB of LPDDR2 RAM and 500MB NAND flash are the only memories available on the board, although you can expand storage with the microSD slot. The SoC includes dedicated accelerators for the GSM/GPRS baseband, and there’s also a 2G antenna and a SIM card. WiFi and Bluetooth are implemented via a separate RDA5991 module.

Real-world coastline ports include USB 2.0 host and micro-USB OTG ports, as well as an audio jack. There’s also an onboard microphone and an optional speaker. The Orange Pi 2G-IOT supplies LCD and MIPI-CSI camera interfaces, and like most Orange Pi boards, offers a 40-pin expansion connector compatible with the Raspberry Pi.

Orange Pi 2G-IOT detail views
(click images to enlarge)

A power jack is available as an alternative to the OTG port for drawing 5V power. There’s also a power button and an option for a battery. The Orange Pi 2G-IOT has an unusually wide temperature range for a hacker SBC, supporting a -10 to 65℃ range.

Like other Orange Pi SBCs, the Orange Pi 2G-IOT is said to be open source. Software support includes the usual Android and Linux distros, but there are few details as of now. A CNXSoft post that alerted us to the SBC suggests that OS support is likely to be spotty for awhile. This is probably true, given the obscure processor and Shenzhen Xunlong’s history of rather tardy OS support with new processors. The story also notes that many countries are in the process of sunsetting 2G support.

Specifications listed for the Orange Pi 2G-IOT include:

  • Processor — RDA8810PL (1x Cortex-A5 at up to 1GHz); Vivante GC860 GPU
  • Memory (via RDA8810PL) – 256MB LPDDR2 RAM; 500MB NAND flash
  • Storage expansion — microSD slot
  • Wireless:
    • WiFi (2.4GHz 802.11b/g/n), Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, and FM via RDA5991 module
    • 2G GSM/GPRS/EDGE (via RDA8810PL)
    • 2G antenna
    • SIM card slot
  • Multimedia I/O:
    • LCD interface
    • MIPI-CSI interface
    • Audio jack with mic, FM
    • Optional speaker
  • Other I/O:
    • USB 2.0 host port
    • Micro-USB OTG port
    • GPIO (1×3) header
    • 40-pin RPi-compatible expansion connector
    • Debug UART with debug selector switch
  • Other features — Boot selector
  • Power — 5V input jack or micro-USB OTG; optional battery input; power button
  • Operating temperature — -10 to 65℃
  • Weight — 21 g
  • Dimensions — 68 x 42mm
  • Operating system — Android 4.4, Ubuntu, Debian, RPi image

Further information

The Orange Pi 2G-IOT is available on AliExpress for $9.90, or $13.21 including shipping to the U.S. More information may be found at the Orange Pi 2G-IOT AliExpress page. More should eventually appear at Shenzhen Xunlong’s Orange Pi community website.


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One response to “Open spec IoT hacker SBC has a GSM radio”

  1. John Morris says:

    Good idea… IF you live in some place that isn’t decommissioning 2G cell service to free up spectrum for more 4G. ATT in the US has already switched off 2G and T-Mobile has set a date. Most of Europe is already talking about when to turn off 3G so good luck there.

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