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Inexpensive System on Module with WiFi, BT and HDMI

Started by terry86 6 years ago5 replieslatest reply 6 years ago427 views

as the title already suggests I am looking for a system on module that includes WiFi, Bluetooth and is able to playback Full HD video/audio via HDMI. It should be able to run Linux. Although I found some options, many are pretty expensive or (very common) lack HDMI.

One example is http://www.variscite.com/products/system-on-module-som/cortex-a7/var-som-mx7-nxp-freescale-imx-7, which has almost everything I need (no HDMI though), but is already $35 in its most basic configuration. I figured if the Raspberry Pi 0 W is able to deliver the functionality I need for $10, there should be a system on a module for a comparable price (say up to $20) with comparable features. The Raspberry Pi 0 W is no option for me, because I need something that I can order many of.

If someone with experience in the field can point me to some manufacturers or even specific modules, I would be very thankful. The market very large and I simply don't have the feeling for what is and what isn't out there.

I'm looking forward to your replies!

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Reply by iansOctober 13, 2017

Hi Terry,

There is another Variscite module that has HDMI:


but it's a bit more expensive (starts at $42). 

However you still need to consider the cost of your carrier board, and to be honest the cost of designing and building one of those will be considerably more than the cost of the DIMM (unless you're planning on making many, many thousands).

If you are intending to build thousands of these units then why not go to the manufacturers and negotiate a price for their module? Web site prices are invariably low volumes (hundreds at most) so if you have a guaranteed market for their product then I know they'll be willing to talk (we just did a similar exercise for a customer recently)

You do get what you pay for though - if you can find a module that does everything you need for $10-$20 then I'd be looking very carefully at the build quality unless you want to be looking at a large number of field returns. What is okay as a one-off hobbyist product is not necessarily a good choice for the basis of a commercial product...



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Reply by terry86October 13, 2017

Thanks for the solid advice. The current focus lies on getting a working prototype out of the door, fast and cheap.

Talking to the manufacturers about discounts for bulk orders is a great idea and something we will very likely be doing for the next iteration of the product. I'm still curious though how the Raspberry Pi achieves this insane price when a similar SoM costs (in low quantities) more than three times as much.

I think we will most likely choose the Raspberry Pi Zero W for now and improve on this design once we have made some more experiences.

Thanks again for the insight!

Cheers, Terry.

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Reply by trogers531October 13, 2017

The Beaglebone Black WiFi is another recent and interesting option you might consider, but none of the popular hobbiest/evaluation module boards are appropriate for production systems, and the vendors all stress this point.

The BBBW Board is based on an Octavo Systems module (based in turn on the TI Sitara, based on the ARM Cortex A8) that looks to me to be in the same ballpark as the Variscite module. Octavo Systems exists to meet the needs of just the sort of project you’ve described; I’m certain they would love to hear from you.

The Beaglebone Black WiFi Board is essentially a reference design for the Octavo module, more or less intended for rapid prototyping. Usually outfits like Octavo are happy to provide one or more ready reference design packages that can get things moving quickly after your prototypes check out.

(You always make at least two, right? One that proves the concept, and another that proves it’s reproducible...)

This is just the general business model for development in the area of the solution space you’ve wandered into, at least for the present state of embedded system technology. There’s a lot of capability available out there right now that should be more than sufficient for your project, both in terms of specs and speed getting out the door.

Don’t be reluctant to make some phone calls, and good luck.

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Reply by MarkDSylvaOctober 13, 2017

If the RPi zero can do the job for $10, why not use it?   I am sure there is an unlimited supply of them.   

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Reply by terry86October 13, 2017

You are right. I guess I didn't do my homework properly :(. When I first ordered a RPI Zero W a few months back there was a limit of one unit per customer. It seems like this limit has been lifted and you can order a lot more.


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