Saturday, July 2, 2016

SBCs: All hands on deck!

The C.H.I.P.

Introducing: the C.H.I.P.
 Today I received the last of the Single-board computers I ordered. Despite ordering the devices spread over a year, they all ended up arriving within one week. The C.H.I.P. was the device that I was most excited about, so it's sort of appropriate that it arrived last. This way, it couldn't steal the thunder of any of the other packages.

There are many reasons why I was so excited about this delivery. I had waited for this device the longest. I had spent the most money on it. The device has the most interesting features in my opinion. The PocketC.H.I.P. is just pure awesomeness. And there's probably more reasons.

Top view and bottom view
The C.H.I.P actually has some of its most important components moved to its bottom side, including its processor. This happened late in development, as they changed to a larger version of the same processor. To protect the processor, the computer now comes with a case, which only covers its bottom. This is definitely true for all the Kickstarter C.H.I.P.s, but I'm not sure if the "store-bought" C.H.I.P.s will also have this case.

Safe and well
Additionally, the Kickstarter version of the C.H.I.P. also comes with a Composite cable. This is a cable you can just buy at many stores, but it seems to be a bit undermarketed. It is also the same cable you could use for analog video on your Rapberry Pi 2 or 3.

In NTC Pink!
Unlike many of the other boards, this board is definitely not trying to be another Raspberry. Fro example, it uses female GPIO headers, as opposed to the male headers we've gotten so used to since the original Raspberry. This has the advantage that they could actually mark all the headers on the board.

You'll have no reason to use the wrong header

 For comparison's sake, let's just put it side to side with a Raspberry (it's a model 2B).

They're quite different - at least, to the trained eye

I actually own three C.H.I.P.s now. There was one in my pledge, another in the PocketC.H.I.P. that was in my pledge, and then finally one extra I added after the Kickstarted ended. I also pre-ordered a couple more, so there's several more of these machines on the way. I guess I may have gone a little overboard...

The power of threes!

Compared to the Pi Zero

The Chip lives in the same product space as the Pi Zero. It's the closest product in size and cost, and its specs are in fact rather similar. Let's put the two side by side.

Fighting for <$10 mastery
 As you can see, they are actually rather comparable in size. The Pi Zero is thinner, but it's also slightly longer. In the end, the C.H.I.P. is a bit bigger, though.

That's TWO computers!

Putting the Zero on top of the Chip, shows how close in size they are. The Zero actually fits so nicely between the GPIO headers of the Chip that it almost looks like there's only one board there. When talking about height, though, the story is a bit different.

No competition there...

The extras

I backed at the "All the things" level, so there's more things that were in the package. Let's have a look.

All the things!

There's the two C.H.I.P.s, the HDMI extension board, the VGA extension board, the Composite cables (which we already looked at) and the PocketC.H.I.P. Though it's a bit outside of the scope of the single-board computer - and a bit more expensive, I really like the PocketC.H.I.P. so let's have a closer look at it.]
Not truly pocket-size, is it?
On the front, we see a fully featured keyboard and the screen. The screen has a resolution of 480x272 and has a resistive touch layer (so no multitouch!). Neither is exactly optimal, but they definitely kept the costs down. There's also the possibility of using your GPIO headers, as they seem to be connected to the holes at the top of the device.

On the other side...
The backside clearly shows the C.H.I.P. It is held in place by its GPIO headers, so you can get it out with some carefully applied force. You can also see the battery, which gives the device its portability. The battery is charged through the CHIP, which has the required circuitry for this.

Jumpin' 'n' Dashin'
Getting the PocketC.H.I.P. up and running was extremely easy. I just held down the power (and home) button for a couple of seconds and that was it...

The whole family

Since this was the last of the boards I was expecting, let's all pose together for a photo.

Clearly, if a board's green, it must be a Raspberry
Alright, alright. The raspberry belongs in there as well...

You see?

And finally

Before I end this blogpost, there's one more thing I've got to do. You see, I've completely forgotten the shot with the pen for comparison. So here you go:

Same pen as before.


Aardvark said...

Yes! The C.H.I.P. definitely is a cool little board, with interesting mobile/embedded hacking possibilities... but considering how many you ordered, I guess we will soon be witness to the first C.H.I.P. computing cluster , or maybe a nice little swarm of hivebots?

Jasper said...

Maybe... ARM computing is little more than an educational tool, though. And swarms are cool, but I'm not exactly looking to build a robot. (I'll leave that to you.)

Perhaps something with iBeacon-like technology. Or something with swarm-like behavior (or just leader election) but what to do with that without a physical component? Maybe, I'll just end up using them all for different projects...