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WLAN Pi Project Hardware: A Brief History Lesson

[fa icon="calendar"] Mar 5, 2021 3:03:39 PM / by Blog Team

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WLAN Pi Project

wlan-pi-silverThe WLAN Pi Project is community driven project for building a multi-purpose Wi-Fi analysis tool using single board computers (SBC). The project was started by @jolla around 2016 and since then has added several team members that contribute project code and many enthusiasts that market kits and cases for the WLAN Pi hardware.

Many software publishers have added features their products to integrate with the WLAN Pi hardware and software.

AccessAgility WiFi Windows WiFi Scanner can leverage the WLAN Pi as a remote WiFi Scanner / Sensor.

WLAN Pi Project Single Board Computer (SBC)

The single board computer (SBC) hardware most people associate with the WLAN Pi is the silver NEO2 SBC Kit by Friendly Elec but the project started with a different single board computer.

2016 - Pre NanoPI WLAN Pi

An early version of the WLAN Pi Project was started by @jolla using the Odroid C2 SBC board and was introduced to the WLAN community at WLPC Budapest in Oct 2016.

ODROID-C2-wlanpi

(Odroid C2 SBC Board)

  • 1.5GHz 64-bit quad-core single board computer (SBC)
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • eMMC Flash Storage – boots in about 20 seconds
  • Low power consumption - around 1 amp

Odroid C2 Kit

The WLPC maker session used  the Odroid C2 and DietPi operating system. 

  • 5200 mAh USB Battery
  • USB Micro Power Cable
  • Micro SD Card to eMCC adapter
  • eMCC Memory Card
  • Transcend USB 3.0 SD Card Reader
  • Odroid Wi-Fi 4 NIC
  • USB ‘U-bend’ Adapter
  • Odroid C2 – Single Board Computer
  • USB Drive

wlan-pi-odroid-c2-maker-session-with-case

(The WLPC maker session file is archived here)

2017

At WLPC Phoenix 2017 the Odroid C2 kit was updated to include an LCD screen and clear case with buttons. odroid-with-lcd-clear-case

(The WLPC maker session PDF file is archived here)

 

wlpc-odroid-case-hubholster

(Odroid kit with 3D printed case by @HubHolster)

2018 - Black NanoPi / WLAN Pi

For WLPC Phoenix 2018 the single board computer was switched to the NanoPi NEO2 (aka black NanoPI / WLAN Pi) by Friendly Elec. The device was more compact and the kit included a 3-button OLED display and metal case.

NanoPi-NEO2-black-wlanpi

(Black NanoPi with 3-Button OLED Display)

NanoPi NEO2 Kit

  • CPU: Quad-core 64-bit Cortex A53
  • Memory: either 512MB or 1GB DDR3
  • Connectivity: 10/100/1000M Ethernet
  • Storage: MicroSD
  • USB: 1 x USB Type A
  • Power input: Micro USB 5V/2A
  • Dimensions: 40x40mm
  • Display: OLED
  • OS: Linux

2019 Silver NanoPi / WLAN Pi

For WLPC 2019 the WLAN Pi hardware was switched to NanoPi NEO2 Kit (aka Silver NanoPI). This SBC is very similar to black WLAN Pi hardware but has two USB-A ports.

wlan-pi-sliver-nano-pi-four-views(Silver WLAN Pi with 3-Button NanoHat OLED Display)

 

wlan-pi-sliver-nano-pi-kit

(Silver NanoPI NEO2 Kit)

 

NanoPi NEO2 Kit Details

  • CPU: Allwinner H5, Quad-core 64-bit high-performance Cortex A53
  • DDR3 RAM: 512MB
  • Connectivity: 10/100/1000M Ethernet, RTL8211E-VB-CG chip
  • USB Host: USB Type A x 1 and USB pin header x 2
  • MicroSD Slot: MicroSD x 1 for system boot and storage
  • LED: Power LED x 1, System LED(Blue) x 1
  • GPIO1: 2.54mm pitch 24 pin-header, compatible with Raspberry Pi's GPIO pin1 - pin 24. It includes UART, SPI, I2C, IO etc
  • GPIO2: 2.54mm pitch 12 pin-header. It includes USB, IR receiver, I2S, IO etc
  • Serial Debug Port: 2.54mm pitch 4pin-header
  • Audio In/Out: 2.0mm pitch 4 pin-header
  • PCB Dimension: 40 x 40mm
  • MicroUSB: Power input(5V/2A) and OTG
  • OS/Software: u-boot,Ubuntu Core

For WLPC a fantastic 3D printed handheld housing was created by Joel Crane.

wlanpi-handheld-case-potato-fi-solo

(3D Printed WLAN Pi Handheld Housing. Download Free STL Files)

 

2020

As of April 2020, Friendly Elec is no longer producing the NanoPI NEO2 board due to component supply issues.

If you are lucky the silver NanoPi based kit can still be found on the Internet and from third party sellers and enthusiasts that market WLAN Pi kits.

2021

The project is going strong on the software side and the team is working on a replacement for the end of sale NanoPi hardware kit. 

"The team is currently investigating the "Rock Pi E" SBC as a possible replacement to the NEO2, though this will require an additional HAT to provide additional features that are required. Realistically, given the requirement for the fabrication of an additional HAT and items such as printed cases, the end of 2020 is probably a realistic time-frame for new hardware being available. As we move closer to finalizing hardware details, we will be able to provide a more accurate timescale assessment - stay tuned!"

Rock Pi E-wlan-pi

(Rock Pi E SBC Board)

 

Three models of the Rock Pi E are available:

Rock Pi E D4W1P — 512MB DDR3, 2.4GHz 802.11n/BT, PoE (using HAT)
Rock Pi E D8W2 — 1GB DDR3, 2.4GHz/5GHz 802.11ac/BT
Rock Pi E D8W2P — 1GB DDR3, 2.4GHz/5GHz 802.11ac/BT, PoE (using HAT)

Specifications listed for the Rock Pi E include:

  • Processor — Rockchip RK3328 (4x Cortex-A53 cores @ up to 1.5GHz); Mali-450 MP2 GPU
  • Memory/storage:
    • 512MB and 1GB DDR3 RAM available now; 256MB and 2GB on the way
    • MicroSD slot for 16GB to 128GB
    • Empty EMMC socket for up to 128GB
  • Networking:
    • GbE port with optional PoE (requires third-party HAT)
    • Fast Ethernet port
    • Optional 2.4GHz 802.11n (RTL8723DU) or 2.4GHz/5GHz 802.11ac (RTL8821CU), both with Bluetooth 4.2
    • Antenna socket
  • Other I/O:
    • USB 3.0 host port
    • USB Type-C port (5V power input only)
    • 3.5mm AV out jack
    • 40-pin GPIO with USB 2.0, I2C. SPI, I2S, 2x UART, 2x 5V-in, 2x 3.3V-in
  • Other features — Power, user, and 2x LAN LEDs; reset and maskrom keys; optional cables
  • Power — 5V DC input via Type-C or GPIO
  • Operating systems — Debian 10 Buster, Ubuntu 18.04 Bionic, and OpenWrt

Resources

How to Use WLAN Pi as a Remote WiFi Scanner / Sensor

Friendly Elec - Maker of NanoPi Single Board Computer and Kit

WLAN Pi v2 Documentation

WLAN Pi Software

WLAN Pi FAQ

Topics: wlan pi

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