Part 1: Introducing the Omega2

Over the next few blogs and days I will delve into some simple programming examples on the Omega2 single chip computer.

Introduction

Omega2 and Omega2+ are made by Onion. These replace the original Onion which was introduced in 2015.



Here are the basic hardware specs:

Omega2 Specs

Processor 580MHz MIPS MT7688 CPU
Memory 64MB
Storage 16MB
USB 2.0
(0) MicroSD Slot
WiFi 802.11b/g/n
(15) GPIO
(2) PWM
(2) UART
I2C
SPI
I2S

Omega2+ specs are the same except it has
Memory 128MB
Storage 32MB
MicroSD slot underneath the chip


Software

Omega2 runs LEDE Linux.
LEDE stands for Linux Emedded Develoment Environment, a fork of OpenWrt Linux.


Linux and Python newbie?

You may detect from my notes and comments that I am new to both Linux and Python. You are most welcomed to join me on this exciting journey.


Getting Started

You will need WiFi and an internet connection. Also the Expansion Dock and micro-USB cable are required. The Expansion Dock will become essential in the experimental stage.

Micro-USB to USB A cable:



Photo shows the Omega2 chip plugged into the Expansion Dock:


A fresh chip needs some firmware update and software installation. The Onion website has detailed instructions on how to proceed with this. At the time of writing, this is a quirky hit & miss process. I cannot say with certainty why things don't work and why things eventually work. It may have something to do with how your WiFi router is set up.

Anecdotal experiences so far have found the following possible problems/solutions:
  1. Setting the WiFi router security to WPA2 appears to fix the connection problem.
  2. When the setup process appears to be stuck in the Configuration loop for a long time (more than 10 minutes), refreshing the browser page appears to get pass this stage.
  3. The browser fails to connect to omega-xxxx.local but works when the IP address is entered. This has something to do with DNS resolution. A work-around is to modify the HOSTS file on your PC by adding the IP address and URL. (If you had followed the instructions in Getting Started and had downloaded Apple's Bonjour Service for Windows this problem should not occur. If you are using a Linux system to communicate with the Omega2 you may want to try installing zeroconf on your system.)

Once you get through the setup stage successfully, there are some additional software to download.

There are two ways of communicating with the onboard Linux system.

1) You can invoke a terminal emulator on your PC such as HyperTerminal or PuTTy connected to the Omega2 via the USB cable.




2) You can use your PC browser and connect to the Omega2 using your WiFi connection.

A console screen appears from which you can launch various utilities such as a Terminal and an Editor.




Clicking on Terminal will invoke a terminal utility. After logging on to Linux, enter:

opkg update
opkg install python-light pyOnionGpio

This will install Python and the GPIO library. You only need to do this once on your workstation PC.

In Part 2, I will demonstrate the first simple example: How to blink an LED.

Happy Hacking!

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