Lichee Pi – Another Contender for the Raspberry Pi

If you are looking for an alternative to the ubiquitous Raspberry Pi (RBPi), check out the Lichee Pi Zero. The basic board costs only $6.00 and another two dollars will get you the Wi-Fi version. Powered by the Allwinner V35 CPU, it is even smaller than the RBPi Zero, and works with the latest Linux kernel 4.10. The crowdfunding campaign offers a huge range of accessories.

The ARM-based processor on the Lichee Pi Zero, the Allwinner V35, is an ARM Cortex-A7 CPU. It has a maximum speed of 1.2 GHz, has 512 MB DDR2 RAM integrated in it, and you can boot it from the TF card or the on-board SPI Flash. The Lichee Pi Zero runs its processor at 1.0 GHz, and the board consumes less than 100 mA, so you will not need any cooling arrangements such as fans or heat sinks.

The Lichee Pi Zero is well designed for external connections, as it has plenty of pins available for the task. For instance, you can use its 30 pins to easily plug it into a breadboard, or solder all the 60 pins on it. You can also connect its TF Wi-Fi Card.

On the top side of the Lichee Pi Zero board, one can see the MPU, RGB LED, LCD backlight circuit, TF Slot, and the microUSB ports for OTG and Power. On the bottom side is the Touch Screen Controller, SPI Flash, DCDC Power, and the FPC40 RGB Connector. You can connect the Lichee Pi Zero directly to the LCD, no video cable is necessary. Therefore, if you add to the Lichee Pi Zero an LCD, a Li-Polymer battery, a wireless keyboard, and a simple holder, you can make a mini Laptop.

Like most MCU, the Lichee Pi Zero can connect to several low-speed interfaces, such as GPIO, UART, PWM, ADC, I2C, SPI, and more. Moreover, it can run other high-speed peripherals such as RGB LCD, EPHY, MIPI CSI, OTG USB, and more. The Lichee Pi Zero has an integrated codec that allows direct connection to a headphone or microphone.

The Dock for the Lichee Pi Zero is quite powerful. It offers support for a 5 MP MIPI camera, battery manager, 4 ADC-keys, Ethernet RJ45 Connector, audio jack, microphone, an additional TF slot, and multiple pins for PWM, I2C, SPI, and UART.

The Dock also has a PA slot, through which you can plug in PA modules. Several speakers are supported, including bone conduction speakers, 1-W, and 3-W speakers. The Dock will also support small sized LCD and OLD displays, such as the 2.4-inch 240×320 TFT display, or the 0.96-inch 128×64 OLED display. You can also connect a joystick and keyboard for the setup to work as a miniGameBoy.

On the software side, the Lichee Pi Zero uses the newest Linux 4.10 kernel, and is able to run the Debian Jessie with pixel. The buildroot root file system allows you to put the kernel and the root file system of the Lichee Pi Zero into 8 MB of SPI Flash. The ZeroW Dock mini laptop suit allows you to build your own laptop, with battery manager and Ethernet support.