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Tiny NanoPi Duo2 SBC offers camera connector

Oct 22, 2018 — by Eric Brown 3,398 views

FriendlyElec has launched a tiny, under $20 “NanoPi Duo2” board that updates the original Duo with an Allwinner H3, Bluetooth, a camera connector, and an optional 2G carrier board.

FriendlyElec has spun out a modest upgrade to last year’s $13 (previously $8) NanoPi Duo. Like the Duo, the COM-like, $19.50 NanoPi Duo2 includes two 16-pin GPIO headers with breadboard pins in a dual-in-line layout.

NanoPi Duo2 with GPIO pins deployed (left) and with IoT-2G Application Carrier Board
(click images to enlarge)

Like the Duo, the open-spec Duo2 can be dropped into an embedded design like a compute module or it can be plugged into a breadboard or optional carrier board. The NanoPi Duo2 ships with an optional, $10 IoT-2G Application Carrier Board equipped with a 2G radio, which is specifically designed for the Duo2 (see farther below).

Like the NanoPi Duo, the Duo2 is just barely an SBC by dint of its microSD slot and micro-USB OTG port. Everything else is expressed by headers except for the camera interface.


At 55 x 25.4mm, the Duo2 a bit larger on one end than the 50 x 25.4mm Duo. The extra space makes room for the new camera connector, which supports a ribbon cable connected, OV5640 based camera. Yet, at 1,397 sq. mm, the Duo2 is still one of the smallest Linux-ready SBCs around, even smaller than the 40 x 40mm (1,600 sq. mm) NanoPi Neo line of boards. Some of the more recent Neo models are much larger, such as the 85 x 56mm, Rockchip RK3399 based NanoPi Neo4.

NanoPi Duo2, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

The NanoPi Duo2 advances from an Allwinner H2+ to an Allwinner H3. This offers the same four, 1.2GHz Cortex-A7 cores and Mali-400 MP2 GPU, but supports 4K video instead of HD. It’s hard to see how that will be much advantage on the Duo2, however, which like the Duo and most Neo boards, is headless except for a CVBS connector on one of the dual GPIO headers.

NanoPi Duo2 rear view with camera (left) and detail view
(click images to enlarge)

While the Duo offers 256MB or 512MB DDR3, the Duo2 disposes with the 256MB option. There’s an improved 802.11b/g/n wireless module, which adds Bluetooth 4.0. However, the Duo2 has a narrower -20 to 70℃ operating range than the Duo.

NanoPi Duo

Specifications listed for the NanoPi Duo2 include:

  • Processor — Allwinner H3 (4x Cortex-A7 @ up to 1.2GHz); ARM Mali-400 MP2 GPU @600MHz
  • Memory — 512MB DDR3 RAM; empty SPI flash socket
  • Storage — MicroSD slot (bootable) for up to 128GB
  • Wireless — Ampak AP6212 with 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0 LE; IPEX antenna connector
  • Other I/O:
    • Micro-USB OTG port with power input
    • 2x USB host pins
    • Audio I/O header
    • Camera connector that supports OV5640 based camera
    • Debug serial header
    • 32-pin dual-in-line interface via 2x 16-pin headers (UART, SPI, I2C, audio, Ethernet, IO, etc.)
  • Other features — 2x LEDs; mounting holes; GPIO key; optional IoT-2G carrier
  • Power — 5V/2A DC via micro-USB OTG
  • Operating temperature — -20 to 70℃
  • Dimensions — 55 x 25.4mm; 6-layer PCB
  • Weight — 7.36 g without pin headers
  • Operating systems — FriendlyCore 16.04 (based on Ubuntu Core) with Linux 4.14-LTS kernel and U-boot-2017.11

IoT-2G Application Carrier Board

The $10 IoT-2G Application Carrier Board appears to replace the Duo’s earlier $10, “Mini Shield” carrier. The latter is no longer listed as an option for the still in-stock Duo, although there’s a link to a $23, but out of stock NanoPi Duo Starter Kit that offers the Mini Shield, case, heatsink, and other accessories.

IoT-2G Application Carrier Board detail view (left) and NanoPi Duo2 pinout
(click images to enlarge)

Although the carrier is said to be dedicated to the Duo2, we see no reason why the SBC shouldn’t be able to use the Mini Shield, if it ever comes back to life. Otherwise, it seems odd to limit customers to a 2G carrier since relatively few people live in regions where 2G is still available, and LoRa radios can usually handle the same low-bandwidth, long-range duty more effectively.

Like the earlier Mini Shield, the 85 x 56mm IoT-2G board is sized like a Raspberry Pi, but it’s limited to dual USB 2.0 host ports. The board features a “SIM800C” quad-band, 2G GSM/GPRS module and microSIM slot, as well as a 2G antenna and dual 2G status LEDs. There’s also an IPX to SMA antenna converter for a WiFi antenna.

The IoT-2G Application Carrier Board is further equipped with a power-only micro-USB port and a 10/100 Ethernet port. There’s a debug UART, as well as audio, CVBS, UART, and I2C headers.

Further information

The NanoPi Duo2 is available for $19.50, and the IoT-2G Application Carrier Board costs $10. Shipping ranges from $16 to $20. More information may be found on the NanoPi Duo2 product page and wiki, as well as the IoT-2G wiki, which refers to the carrier as the “NanoPi Duo2 IoT-Box.”

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One response to “Tiny NanoPi Duo2 SBC offers camera connector”

  1. paul scarborough says:

    without h264 or h265 encoding support having camera pretty useless

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