looking for an ARM cpu board to be used offgrid

Aug 15, 2011
Bristol, England
OK so I'm going off grid for a significant amount of time in my caravan.

I'll be using solar power for things so I'm looking to get a low cost, low power ARM dev board to basically mount on my caravan wall next to my TV for occasional entente retainment. I'd like to do a bit of gaming on it but that's not a huge priority.

Mostly that is can run Debian and play HD movies.

Anyone recommend a board?

The quad core wandboard looks cool http://www.wandboard.org/

How much knowledge would you need to get it working?


Mar 22, 2013
Maybe not as good as this devboard, but very cheap and energy efficient: I suggest to have a look on the Raspberry Pi.

There are multiple distributions for it, so the amount of required Linux knowledge depends on what you want to do with it.

If you want to run Debian (here called: Rapbian), then you should already be able to handle Debian.

If you want to watch HD movies, then get Raspbmc. It's a stand alone XBMC and has best performance for HD videos.

Keep in mind, the Raspberry Pi is not the fastest computer. It has similar specs like a Pandora, but built in hardware acceleration for decoding movies.

About XBMC use:

Expect loading times, longer than on a common PC. 

You can remote controll the Pi via network. XBMC has a webserver with a virtual remote control. Also there are Apps for Android and IOS.

There is also a data line in the HDMI port. That means, connected to a modern TV, you can controll the Pi with your TV remote control. The TV will send the control signal via HDMI to the XBMC.


- SD card slot for booting the OS

- double USB 2.0 Hub -> handles USB 1.1 and 2.0 devices, USB3.0 is also compatible.

- GPIO + I2C

- ethernet


- composite video + 3,5mm audio jack (line out)

- custom ribbon connectors for Pi cam and (not released yet) display

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Sep 15, 2012
Seattle, WA
Raspberry Pi also suffers from a flaky USB implementation.  Biggest symptom is to get hit with "stuck" USB keyboard keys.  You have to type the key again so it can try to send the key up event again.  Lame.  And let's not even talk about trying to pump data out to a DAC--not pretty, trust me.

My local workhorses are Marsboard A20's.  But I can't tell you much about HD decode, as that isn't at all what I use them for.  They are a pale shadow of my i7 server, but seem to run at about 2 watts, and are fast enough for everything except heavy lifting like video file conversion.  For that, the i7 gets powered up, but I'd say 98% of the workload here is now on the Marsboard's Allwinner A20's.  I even have my mass storage served from them via USB SATA docks; the drives power down when idle long enough, so the power efficiency is excellent.

Intel should be worried.  This stuff is coming on strong.


Repent($NOW) || embrace($NWO)
Dec 14, 2012
Why not connect a nomad directly to the usb charger of the openpandora?


or if you got the money: http://powersurvival.com/monsterpowerkits.htm

... otoh... I tried it with my freeloader and my eton radio... the pandora opens up random mplayer stuff with the freeloader instead of charging (how commands get executed through the miniusb.. no idea... it sounded like a radio with lots of dials, had to reboot, just in case). And the pandora discharges faster when you crank the eton actually.... no idea why... both expensive hardware...

hmm.. my HQ crank light maxes the electricity out at -700 to -800 mA (from -200mA in idle)... but... here the polarity is also reversed... have to be very careful it seems phone polarity is not the same as openpandora's. It means that if I connect the pedalpower+ 6volt 3watt 5.2v 800mA I have idle here... it will not work either... aargh... (at least my nokia phone is charged...)
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