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PineCube camera kit arrives for $30

Oct 22, 2020 — by Eric Brown 1,644 views

Pine64’s $30 PineCube camera dev kit runs Linux on an Allwinner S3 and offers a 5MP, OmniVision OV5640 based M12 camera with IR night-vision plus audio I/O, WiFi, 10/100 LAN with PoE, USB, 26-pin GPIO, and optional battery and display.

The open-spec PineCube was first revealed by Pine64 in early 2019 as a device called The CUBE with an 8-megapixel Sony iMX179 CMOS sensor. By early this year, it was recast as the CUBE IP Camera, which was promised for a delayed 2Q release due to issues with the Sony camera implementation. Since then, Pine64 switched to a 5MP OmniVision OV5640 sensor and a new PineCube name. The camera dev kit has now shipped for $30.

PineCube, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

The 55 x 51.5 x 51mm, double-board PineCube runs on an 800MHz, Cortex-A7 based Allwinner S3, a camera-focused SoC co-developed with Allwinner by Sochip that appeared on Sochip’s Quanzhi S3 dev board. Last November, Olimex teased an S3-based S3-OLinuXino board, inviting its community to comment on the specs, but the SBC has yet to arrive. The Allwinner S3 offers 1080P@60fps decode and encode with support for up to two HD cameras.

The OmniVision OV5640 is used in embedded devices such as Arrow’s 96Boards compatible DragonBoard 410c Camera Kit, which combines the DragonBoard 410c with the DesignCore Camera Mezzanine Board OV5640. The OV5640 is a 1/4″ CMOS sensor that supports 5-megapixel @ 15fps and 1080p @ 30fps video. It has a 3.5-inch focal length and 10cm-to-infinity focus distance, as well as a 65-degree field of view.

PineCube and upcoming M12 lens selection
(click images to enlarge)

The PineCube specs have shifted slightly since the Feb. 2019 announcement. In addition to the new sensor, there is only a single RAM option for 128MB DDR3 and the GPIO has shrunk from 32 to 26 pins.


Other features include Fast Ethernet with passive PoE, 2.4GHz WiFi, micro-USB power and USB 2.0 host ports, mic and speaker, and a microSD slot. A battery pack and 4.5-inch display are optional. The PineCube offers an M12-compatible attachment. A variety of lenses, including a long-range zoom and a 185 degree fisheye, will soon be offered in the Pine Store.

A Linux SDK and schematics are available for the kit, which is designed for developers with “extensive embedded Linux OS experience and an interest in open source IP camera or embedded computer development.” Linux Mainline development has begun, but the CNXSoft post that first covered the launch noted that mainline may take a while and will be dependent on developer interest.

Specs listed for the PineCube include:

  • Processor — Allwinner S3 (1x Cortex-A7 @ 800MHz)
  • Memory/storage:
    • 128MB DDR3
    • 128Mb SPI NOR flash
    • MicroSD slot (bootable)
  • Networking:
    • 10/100Mbps Ethernet port with passive PoE
    • 2.4GHz 802.11n/g/b
  • Media I/O:
    • OmniVision OV5640 camera sensor — 5MP with M12 attachment for optional lenses
    • IR LED array for night vision
    • Photoresistor sensor
    • Mic, speakers, volume button
    • Optional 4.5-inch RGB LCD screen
  • Other I/O:
    • USB 2.0 host port
    • Micro-USB port for PD
    • 26-pin GPIO
  • Other features — Home button; schematics and other documentation
  • Power — 5V/1A via micro-USB or 4-18V via PoE; optional 950-1600mAh Lithium Polymer Ion Battery Pack (model 903048)
  • Operating system — Linux SDK; supports NixOS, stock Linux

Further information

The PineCube is available now for $29.99. More information may be found on Pine64’s shopping and wiki pages.


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