BPI-R1 Open Router : first look

In the Bananas technological tree, there is a very special one : the BPI-R1 Open Router.

This board is built and sold by SinoVoip, a chinese hardware manufacturer but the board shows « Lamobo » branding.

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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…

Hardware specifications

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
Audio Output
Audio Input
3.5 mm Jack and HDMI
Microphone
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
Remote IR receiver
OS OpenWRT, Android 2.0, Bananian (at the moment, 6 of january 2015)
Board size 148 mm × 100mm
Weight 83g

interface1

interface2

GPIO

GPIO

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.

The Lemaker rpi.gpio_bp and wiringBP librairies are working with this board and adds Raspberry Pi GPIO compatibility.

Detailed pictures

Audio out, 4 ports Gigabit switch, Gigabit ethernet, HDMI, 1xUSB2.0, USB-OTG, microphone, power Micro-USB

Audio out, 4 ports Gigabit switch, Gigabit ethernet, HDMI, 1xUSB2.0, USB-OTG, microphone, power Micro-USB

Broadcom BCM53125 ethernet switch chip

Broadcom BCM53125 ethernet switch chip

RTL8192CU wifi b/g/n chip

RTL8192CU wifi b/g/n chip

Wifi external antennas connectors

Wifi external antennas connectors

Micro-SD card slot

Micro-SD card slot

IR receiver, LCD and Camera connectors, serial ports, external battery connector

IR receiver, LCD and Camera connectors, serial ports, external battery connector

AllWinner A20 DualCore SOC, Samsung DDR3 memory modules, onboard 2.5" SATA

AllWinner A20 DualCore SOC, Samsung DDR3 memory modules, onboard 2.5″ SATA

Raspberry Pi compatible 26 pins GPIO

Raspberry Pi compatible 26 pins GPIO

Software

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.

Network part

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.

Conclusion

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.

Availability

The BPI-R1 Open Router board is available on NewEgg and SinoVoip AliExpress store at 69$ (shipping excluded).

About Captain Stouf

Spécialiste en systèmes informatiques, Développeur matériel et logiciel, Inventeur, Maker : électronique, Systems on Chip, micro-controlleurs, Internet of Things, Modélisation / Scan / Impression 3D, Imagerie...

2 thoughts on “BPI-R1 Open Router : first look

  1. b1nb4sh
    07/03/2015 at 1 h 19 min

    Hi,

    I think you have some false information on your page.

    The BCM 53125 acts only as switch with 5 Ports. The separtions of the ports is made through vlan as you mention, but the vlan devices (in linux ex. eth0.1, eth0.2) doesn’t have a own mac, they use all the same mac address of the switch.
    Due to this limitation it isn’t possbile to create a lacp with this router which is really annoying :/

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