#1 – Orange Pi Zero Emulator Box, part 0

March 03, 2018

I have been wanting to buy Raspberry Pi devices for a long time, but the export fee and price markup making them expensive to buy locally. That's until I found Orange Pi Zero.

orange pi zero set open source mini pc 512mb

Locally, a RasPi 3B priced around 41 USD and the Zero model was around 22 USD. I bought OPi Zero only for 20 USD and that includes an expansion board and a fitting case! With the quad-core CPU clocking at 1.2 GHz and 512 MB RAM, it performs better than Pi 2 but less than Pi 3.

It contains an Ethernet slot, a Wi-Fi bgn, and a USB 2.0 slot. And with the expansion board, extra 2 USB slots, a 3.5mm jack that outputs analog video and stereo audio, a tiny microphone, and IR. All contained within a small 5x5.5x3.6 cm custom case. The lack of HDMI output doesn't bother me since I plan to use this with an old CRT TV, and most new LCD TV have analog input anyway.

So, the plan is to use my OPi Zero as an emulator box on my living room. That itself can be done with RetrOrangePie, a RetroPie fork for Orange Pi devices. Then, I want to tackle the CPU overheating issue. Running normally, OPi Zero's CPU will generate a lot of heat and it's recommended to put small heatsink and provide active airflow on the CPU. But the included case doesn't have slot to put a fan in it, therefore I need to mod the case to put the fan. The small form of the case might not provide enough clearance for the fan mod, so I have to plan it carefully. And since I'm modding the case and working with GPIO, I want to add a physical button on the case. The button will be either a reset or sleep/wake button, it will be decided later. While I'm ordering things I need, I will try to install and configure RetrOrangePie on it. Read my next post on RetrOrangePie installation and my thoughts on it.