C.H.I.P. is a $9 personal computer



Is it just me, or is there no link to the product in this post?



there, FTFY



It’s not just you. Here you go.

This has the potential to be really disruptive in the IoT space. I thought the ESP8266 was going to be a big deal (and it is, sort-of), but this will be much bigger. It’s a hell of a lot of power and connectivity for the cost of a cheap lunch. I can already think of 3 or 4 projects I wouldn’t mind throwing one of these into.


I love this idea, but I think applications are limited. For example, that network of hundreds of sensors needs not just hundreds of processors, but hundreds of actual sensors, and hundreds of solar cells, and hundreds of hours of workers who are skilled enough to assemble electronics without screwing it up - so no hung-over undergrads. By the time you’ve custom-designed and built these gizmos, I’m willing to be there’s something off-the-shelf that’s a good deal cheaper.

Also, they already make wall clocks. It’s fun to do it yourself, but it’s not a thing everybody needs.


I think you are missing the most important use of this – profiting from time travel. The CHIP is roughly as powerful as a typical desktop from 1999, but over 100x cheaper. So the plan is, buy a bunch of CHIPs, go to 1999 and immediately get 100x the money. You could even make more by investing the proceeds in dot-com stocks of the time. Just make sure you cash out before the crash.


The actual downside is that this is an Allwinner product, and that’s not a company that plays well with the community.

The only upside I can see is that this might get more people interested in reverse-engineering their stuff.


The applications are pretty much unlimited. For this cost, you can have not only a lot of processing power, but enough processing power to waste on inefficient crude software.

When hooking up the sensors means connecting power, ground, MISO, MOSI, CLK, and CE# (yes, 6 wires, 4 for I2C), and software is about half-dozen lines of python, the time from parts bin to the prototype can be shorter than driving to the store.

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This would be pretty great for cheapo soil moisture sensors, but another thought occurred to me.

Could a person build a pH sensor? For example, like the day water sensors, they measure resistance in fluids. Could a similar approach be used to measure acidity?

(I always break my pH meters, and they are never calibrated)


Mostly see this as a thing you can seriously go portable with out of the box. Raspberry pi is great, but this thing has a battery hookup on the board plus wireless, again, on the board. Biggest downside is you have on chip EMMC memory as opposed to an Micro/SD card you can expand with. Sure there’s a USB device but that is your one port for any expansion without resorting to hubs.

Great, 1ghz processor. How many cores? What kind graphics can it do? Sure the spec lists OGLes 2.0 but I don’t know what that means.

Those questions aside I love the portable pocket chip thing. Case/Screen/Keyboard you just plug into and go. Kidcould take his computer out of the home dock, put it in the pocket unit, and go. Alternatively a wirehead like me could theoretically update the pocket’s processing power with the next gen chip. On the other hand I wish they’d gone for a raspberry pi compute module workalike with their own line of boards it could clip into. Granted the appeal here is 'you don’t need to buy a bluetooth or wifi dongle. Just plug in and here you go.

Seriously wish they’d included at least a second USB port.


Certainly. The crucial part here is the electrochemical side, the electrode/reference, and the amplifiers. There are some robust/rugged pH sensors that aren’t based on glass membrane.

There’s also some rumbling out there about ion-selective ChemFETs. Such sensors should be able to measure not only hydrogen ions but also various other cations/anions. I can see a single chip with several such ChemFETs, tailored for agricultural applications.

Raspi and this are two different (overlapping) usage segments. For more graphics-heavy, HDMI-requiring, Ethernet-requiring fixed setups, go raspi. CHIP is more for portable or internet-of-things applications.

The EMMC is a disadvantage (no upgrades) or an advantage (no added cost); for lightweight IoT applications I’d classify it as an advantage.

More USBs would be good. Hopefully they are on the pin headers… (Could you attach a SD card to the GPIOs or the SPI on the headers?)

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It does look like fun, doesn’t it? Here is what they have for specs on the pins:

“8 digital GPIOs, one PWM pin, SPI, TWI, UART, USB, MIPI-CSI, Parallel LCD output, touchpanel input, and a whole bunch of power rails in and out.”

Nothing mentioned about ADC capability. But hey, it’s one fifth the cost of a Beaglebone Black. I’ll take some!

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I’d really love to see a proper GPIO shield. An AD5593R and a TCA9535 would give you 8 analog and 16 digital points over I2C. Throw in a few relays and jumper-electable voltage dividers and you would have a very capable project controller for peanuts.

ADC, probably none. But that’s what those I2C or SPI ADCs are for.

I hope they’ll have models without soldered headers…

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This would probably be a better fit for my ‘portable solar powered personal server’ idea than the raspi.

Hey can we start working on Doctrow’s PAN now?


Came here only to post the above comment.

Many of the fragments are already under intense development, albeit for different purposes. What we can do is join such a fragment project (sensor node, comm gear, feedback system, host computer…), and/or start integrating them together. And/or just play with the tech and learn its aspects; it will be handy later.

Remember it doesn’t have to be perfect. Keep it open, let others learn and improve, and we can have the world in just a few tech generations. Mere few years ago the thought of opensource, well-documented boards of such cost would be only a wet dream.