The Pine64 develops low cost development boards based on the Allwinner ARM Cortex A53 System-on-Chip (SoC). The Pine A64 is comparable to the Raspberry Pi 3 in performance but lower in price and has a better graphics chip capable of decoding 4k video. You can choose between a version with 512Mb, 1Gb or 2Gb of RAM. A wifi/bleutooth shield can be ordered for it as well. It can run Linux, Android, Windows IoT. There are now other boards by Pine64 as well for various uses, like the Rock64 which is great as a media device and supports 4k60P HDR media hardware decoding.
The Pine A64 runs from a micro-sd card. Depending on the space you need for storage and software, an 8Gb card should be fine, but it is important to get a decent performance micro-SD card. If not, you can run into problems. Pine64 sells good value for money micro-sd cards that you can order together with your Pine64. We have had success with a cheaper SanDisk micro-sd card from local stores, but be aware that your mileage may vary.
The pine64 can be powered by a 5V micro-usb charger like the ones for you phone, but again, the cheapest power supply may cause problems because of insufficient power. If you want to be sure, order a 3A power supply from Lazada. They have worked well for us so far. But again, pine64 also sells a good value for money option.
Getting started with the Pine64 for IoT
The Pine A64 is great for IoT setups. It can be setup as a Wifi Access Point to which other smart devices can communicate, and it can run the Mosquitto MQTT broker which together with the Programming Tool NodeRED gives a simple easy-to-use graphical programming tool that allows you to wire your IoT devices together and build simple dashboards for your smart home or smart farm.
We have built our own SD-card image for the Pine64 base on Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial which comes pre-installed with the configuration as a wireless access point, running node-red, mosquitto, mysql server, phpmyadmin, php7 and all tied together with Nginx.
To get started you need an empty microSD-card and put an operating system on it.
- Download our server image for the Pine64.
- Burn the image to your SD-card using Etcher.
- After burning, safely remove the SD-card form your computer and insert it into the Pine64.
- Start the pine64 by plugging in the power.
- If everything went right, you should now be able to connect to the Pine64 using username root and password 1234.
- A wifi should be available called ARMBIAN. You can connect that with 12345678. If you do, you can reach your pine64 on 10.7.1.1 through ssh (on windows using putty).
- Lastly, you can connect an HDMI monitor and keyboard to it and connect to it that way.
- You can change settings by running "sudo armbian-config" . See the Armbian config documentation for more info.
- Change your network setup with a different wifi SSID and password.
- Set your timezone under "System"
- Under "Software" install "Nginx/PHP/MySQL/NodeRED/Mosquitto".
- You can reach node-red on http://10.7.1.1 if you're connected to the wifi, or whichever IP address you're using to connect through ssh.
- You can reach phpmyadmin on http://10.7.1.1/phpmyadmin. The default username is root and the password is 12345678. You should change this!
Changing things and logging in
If you want to change configuration, you can log-in through ssh or sftps. The first one will put you in the commandline of the pine64 while the second one allows you to change files. The first time you log in through ssh, you are asked to change the root password, and make a new user as well and set a password for that one. So make sure you remember those. Before that time, you can log-in with an ssh client (like putty) with username root, address 10.7.1.1 and password 1234. If you just want to transfer files (for instance to change a config file and then move it back), you can also use filezilla.
The NodeRed configuration is located at /srv/nodered/.node-red (make sure to show hidden files)