When I first read about this little board I was intrigued:
- WiFi B/G/N Built-in
- 1GHz Processor
- 4GB of High-speed Storage
- 512MB of RAM
- Bluetooth 4.0
All this for $9!
It sounded too good to be true. After researching and waiting a bit I decided to take a gamble and ordered four of them. A gamble because after reading some of the horror stories of crowdfunding I was reluctant to say the least but I had a good feeling about this one and decided to risk $40+ on them.
The good feelings payed off, although it took a while before I received the boards. I submitted my order on December 3rd 2015 and totally forgot about them; I received an email in May 2016 that they were getting ready to ship and received them shortly after that in June.
When I opened up the first box I was pleasantly surprised by the small size, approximately 60mm by 40mm or 2-1/2″ by 1-1/2″. That makes it smaller than a Raspberry Pi 2 or 3.
Smaller and they are packed with nice features for $9: no need for a micro SD card, no need for a WiFi or Bluetooth dongle, built-in serial through the micro USB port and a built-in LiPo charger!
No wonder the Raspberry Pi Zero W for $10 came out after the CHIP hit the market. The main differences between the CHIP and the Raspberry Pi Zero W are the following:
- Display output: the CHIP has a composite output while the PI Zero has and HDMI output. You can purchase an add on VGA or HDMI interfaces for the CHIP.
- Storage: the CHIP has built-in 4GB of High-speed Storage while you will need to purchase a micro SD card for any Raspberry Pi . You cannot upgrade the built-in storage on the CHIP.
- GPIO: the CHIP has two 40 pin GPIO interfaces versus one for any Raspberry Pi.
- The CHIP has a built-in LiPo battery charger and you can monitor it through Linux or Python. The Raspberry Pi does not. You can purchase add-on LiPo chargers for the Pi, but none of them offer monitoring features yet.
- The CHIP has a built-in serial interface through the micro USB port. You will need to use a FTDI serial interface and cable for any Raspberry Pi .
A comparison between CHIP and the Raspberry Pi Zero W
Maybe I am coming across as bashing the Raspberry Pi, but I’m not: I am just pointing out the differences. So you know, I have 4 CHIP boards and 7 different Raspberry Pis. I do like the Raspberry Pi. Both have their strength and weakness. I like to use the CHIP in headless projects like a rover, while the Raspberry Pi are best suited for multimedia tasks. Chose the best one for your project.
Of course being the new kid on the block, the CHIP only has a fraction of the support and resources available to the Raspberry Pi, but hey, I like to tinker, and after all, how bad could it be if it runs Linux?
I have been playing with the CHIP on and off for a year now; one of them is dedicated to a remote control rover, however, my sporadic approach to my projects makes it challenging to remember what I did and sometimes why. This is the reason I decided to start documenting my work and share it as well via this Blog.
The CHIP is made by a company named Next Thing Co. and they offer a few different products on their website. The $9 CHIP is getting an upgraded CPU at this time so you cannot order one until the upgraded model will become available. They also offer a CHIP Pro which is much smaller and sells for $16, I might give a couple a try soon. I did place an order for their new Voder which I should receive next year, can’t wait to put it in my wife’s Fiat 500…
Now you are probably wondering how did I set one up after unboxing it? Look for that on my next post coming soon…
Ciao for now.