In the Bananas technological tree, there is a very special one : the BPI-R1 Open Router.
The board shares the original Banana Pi design with a few but very important differences :
The BPI-R1 is still powered by a AllWinner A20 ARM-Cortex DualCore SOC with Mali 2.0 graphics, 1Gb DDR3 SDRAM, HDMI, IR receiver and microphone. But it also have a 4+1 ports Gigabit ethernet, onboard WiFi and a « slot » for a 2.5″ hard disk (secured with a single screw). There’s also a 2 pins connector for an external li-po / li-ion battery (there are only solder pads on the B-Pi / B-Pro).
The Raspberry Pi compatible 26 pin GPIO port, camera and LCD connectors are still present.
One USB2.0 port and the composite video output disappeared.
As I see it, this board could serve many purposes : a powerfull server / router including home security, a multimedia central box, a mobile NAS / router / access point…
|CPU||A20 ARM Cortex™-A7 Dual-Core 1Ghz|
|GPU||ARM Mali400 MP2 Complies with OpenGL ES 2.0/1.1|
|Memory (SDRAM)||1GB DDR3 (shared with GPU)|
|Onboard Storage||Micro SD (Max. 64GB) card slot
onboard 2.5 SATA disk (up to 2 TB)
|Onboard Network||4+1 ports 10/100/1000 Ethernet RJ45 (BCM 53125),
WLAN @802.11b/g/n (RTL8192CU) with 2x external antennas connectors
|Video Input||A CSI input connector compatible with Banana Pi camera module|
|Video Outputs||HDMI, LVDS/RGB|
|3.5 mm Jack and HDMI
|Power Source||5 volt via Micro-USB (DC In Only)|
|USB 2.0 Ports||USB Host and Micro USB (OTG) USB Host|
|Buttons||Reset button: Next to Power button
Power button: Next to Battery connector
|GPIO (2X13) pin||GPIO, UART, I2C bus, SPI bus with two chip selects, CAN bus, ADC, PWM, +3.3v, +5v, ground.|
|LEDs||Red : Power
Green : User
2 LEDs on each ethernet port
|OS||OpenWRT, Android 2.0, Bananian (at the moment, 6 of january 2015)|
|Board size||148 mm × 100mm|
The main GPIO header (con3) shares the Raspberry Pi A/B and Banana Pi pinout, with 2xUART, I2C, 1 hardware PWM, CAN, 1 SPI with 2 chip select lines.
A first additional 8 pins header (J12) adds a UART and 2 common GPIOs, and finally a 2 pins header adds the main UART.
SinoVoip actually provides 2 distributions for this board : OpenWRT and Android 2.0. Unfortunately, the Android port is not very stable and missing some features, and WiFi doesn’t work with OpenWRT. The SinoVoip forums are not of great help either.
Fortunately, some talented people on Lemaker forums do great work with this board, and Bananian (a very good headless server oriented distro) is now working. Part of the problem was the BCM53125 chip, where software support was absent. It is now working, and Bananian people provide very good support on Lemaker forums.
BPI-R1 offers very complete networking features :
– onboard RTL8192CU wifi b/g/n, with 2 external antennas connectors. It is compatible with host and client modes. I’m not so sure about monitor mode, I’ll do some tests about that. This chip is present on many Wifi USB dongles, so software support is great.
There’s no onboard antenna, so an external one is mandatory. Unfortunately, there is none shipped with the board.
– 4+1 Gigabit Ethernet : single port PHJ1 is noted as a WLAN port, and the 4 ports PHJ2 switch is noted as LAN. The Broadcom BCM53125 chip is not really documented and worked only in OpenWRT build at start. It is now working in Bananian, with single port acting as a regular ethernet and additionnal 4 LAN ports acting as VLANs with unique IP and MAC adresses.
Bananian is configured for hotspot mode on Wifi and 4 ports LAN. The single WLAN port is used as a client to the outside world.
Networking software support is still limited at this stage, but it’s working.
The BPI-R1 Open Router board offers many very interesting features : with its powerfull hardware, it could be used as a very powerfull router / NAS, multimedia home server, home security device, etc. It offers a full set of network connectivity, a onboard SATA slot, is powerfull enough for HD decoding and keeps camera / display interfaces and GPIO for hardware development.
Unfortunately, software support is not so great at the moment, but I bet it will improve over time. Fortunately, it shares the Banana Pi hardware design, so Lemaker community can work on it.