Banana Pi M2 Zero, an Allwinner H2+ clone of the Raspberry PI Zero W at $15

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It’s Banana Pi’s turn to release a compact version of its connected objects development board, the Banana Pi M2 Zero (also known as BPI-Zero). It is a clone of the Raspberry Pi Zero W on many points. The new Banana Pi M2 Zero developed by Sinovoip is built around a quad-core SoC Allwinner H2+ also used by Orange Pi for its OPiZero Ethernet POE. It is available now for $15 (plus shipping) on AliExpress. It takes again the general design of the PiZero W. The board takes again the rectangular form of the foundation. BPI announces a dimension of 60 x 30mm comparable to that of the RPi Zero W (65 x 30mm). This is great news for Orange Pi boardholders as BPI’s new platform shares many similarities. GPIO support should be greatly improved in the future.

Comparison of the Banana Pi M2 Zero with the Raspberry Pi Zero W

The MIPI CSI standard camera connector sits on the end. It supports cameras up to 5MP up to 1080p at 30Hz. No indication on the compatibility of the connector with that of the Raspberry Pi. Hope that the designers did not make the same error as for the Orange Pi which must be content with a 2MP camera. In contrast, there is SD board reader supporting boards up to 64GB. The Broadcom BCM2835 CPU is replaced by an Allwinner H2+. It is a quad-core CPU that can reach the frequency of 1GHz. The 512MB of DDR3 memory is shared between the CPU and the GPU, a Mali400MP2.

WiFi and Bluetooth LE are supported by the AMPAK AP6212 module. The AP6212 module also used by the Orange Pi Win, the Orange Pi Prime and the Orange Pi Zero Plus 2. Versions based on the AP6181 or AP6335 modules should be proposed later. An IPEX connector will allow you to install an external antenna to improve reception, increase range or install in a metal box. There is no clarification if the antenna is shared with Bluetooth.

The board is powered by a micro USB OTG 5V connector. As it is a perfect clone, the power connector is placed exactly in the same place as on the RPI Zero. The BPI-Zero has a POWER button, a RESET button, an LED indicating that the board is powered on and a second LED indicating access to the SD board.

The audio/video output is in mini HDMI format. You will need a mini HDMI to HDMI adapter or use the serial port to install a Linux distribution like the Orange Pi using an FTDI cable from another computer.

All technical information is available on the official page here.

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Banana Pi M2 Zero specifications

gpio banana pi m2 zero

Here are the main features of the BPI-Zero. On the right, the pins of the GPIO 40 pins

  • SoC: Allwinner H2 + quad core Cortex A7 @ 1GHz
  • CPU: Mali400MP2
  • Memory: 512 MB DDR3
  • Storage: microSD board up to 64GB. A class 10 SD board is recommended
  • Audio / video output: mini HMDi (an HDMi adapter may be necessary)
  • WiFi connectivity 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth LE supported by AMPAK AP6212 module also used by Orange Pi WinOrange Pi Prime and Orange Pi Zero Plus 2. AMPAK AP6212 module also used by Orange Pi Win, Orange Pi Prime and Orange Pi Zero Plus 2. AP6181 or AP6335 optional later.
  • Camera connector: 1x MIPI CSI connector supporting 8-bit YUV422 CMOS, CCIR656 NTSC and PAL formats. Compatible with 5MP cameras, 1080p@30Hz
  • USB:
    • 1x micro USB OTG
    • 1x micro USB
  • GPIO connector: 40 pin compatible Raspberry Pi 3
  • Accessories
    • Reset and Power buttons
    • LEDs: power and status LEDs,
    • UART 3-pin serial communication connector to install Linux from another computer using an FTDI cable.
  • Power supply: 5V / 2A via micro USB port
  • Dimensions: 60 x 30 mm
  • Weight: 35 grams

Regarding the Linux distribution, the BPI-Zero is announced as compatible with Android and Linux distributions. The architecture being very close to the Orange Pi Zero H2+, Armbian should be able to work. For now, this new board is not yet visible on the Armbian website. For the moment, it will be necessary to be satisfied with the distribution Ubuntu 16.04 mate proposed for download on the official page here.

The Banana Pi M2 Zero is available now on the AliExpress website at a price of $13. It will be necessary to add to this tariff the shipping costs. Count between $7 for Germany and the US and $30 for France via EMS. At this price you can track your package, but the note is a little salty all the same. No documentation or links to drivers (including AP6212) is available.

Until the BPI-Zero is fully operational, you can still consider the Raspberry Pi Zero W for your projects.

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