The Omega2 has recently been making waves across the internet with a promise of bringing affordable development boards to the general public.
The Onion Omega2 is a tiny wifi enabled Linux computer than can be used for a wide variety of DIY hardware projects, from infinity mirror coffee tables to homemade microbrewery systems. While other similar projects offer the same functionality, the Omega2 has a tiny price point that matches its size, priced at just $5.
The Kickstarter campaign for the Omega2 is currently in full swing, and has blown it’s original $15,000 USD goal out of the water, having raised over $390,000 USD from backers all over the world with over a week still remaining.
In this article we’ll take a look at the hardware of the Omega2, it’s potential applications, and find out what the heck an IoT computer is.
What is the Onion Omega2?
The Omega2 is a simple, easy to use IoT computer designed for constructing connected hardware applications.
IoT computers and development boards are a huge part of the Maker movement and are used as the brains behind their DIY tech projects.
The Maker movement specifically describes people who find their hobby in making gadgets at home such as robots, custom printers, and programmable devices put together with know how found online, run by open source software such as Linux.
The Onion Omega2 is designed to take the frustration out of using the existing development boards available on the market.
Using a development board is typically rather complicated and involves spending a lot of time reading up on the associated documentation, making the setup process confusing and lengthy.
The Omega2 plans to shake up this industry standard by releasing what they’re describing as the ‘world’s simplest development board’.
Firstly, the Omega2 is small- very small. At just a quarter of the size of a typical pack of playing cards and half the thickness, the small form factor of the Omega2 is able to fit into even the smallest DIY Maker project.
What can the Onion Omega2 do?
Despite it’s tiny size, the Omega2 is actually a fully capable Linux computer. Linux is one of the most widely used operating systems in the world and powers some of the most complex systems ever created.
The Onion Omega2 works out of the box and comes with in built wifi and onboard storage, and can be used as soon as the unit is turned on.
The Omega2 is comfortable to use for tech experts and newbies alike, allowing hardcore software programmers to use high level programming languages and complex developer tools to create their hardware as well as providing simple drag and drop functionality for the less tech inclined.
The Omega2 UI is very familiar to anybody who has ever used a mobile device before, bringing apps to the world of development boards- the creators of the Onion Omega2 have even made an app store for the device available to the public where community-created apps can be found, downloaded, installed and used with the click of a button.
The Omega2 is so easy to program that if users desire they can avoid writing code entirely by using a popular visual programming tool called Node Red, which allows users to create systems with a simple drag and drop graphical interface.
The Omega2 supports a wide range of programming languages, including Python, C++, Node js, php, Bash, Ruby, Perl, Lua, Go and more. Programming the Onion Omega2 is as simple as picking your favourite programming language and getting started on building.
The Omega2 can also be securely controlled from anywhere in the world via a cloud connection, opening up a huge range of applications never before seen in the world of DIY tech hardware projects.
The Omega2 can be expanded up with a wide range of plug and play expansion kits and peripherals that make adding new functionality to the Omega2 system a breeze, offering a lego like upgrade system that’s easy to understand and build upon.
The craziest thing about the Omega2 is the price- at just $5 USD, the Omega2 is cheaper than a pizza, lowering the price point and entry barriers for DIY enthusiasts everywhere.
The Onion Omega2 Tech Specs
The Onion Omega2 packs a surprising amount of hardware into it’s tiny frame. On board is 32MB RAM and 16MB storage, as well as the necessary components for wifi and on board storage. The Omega2 uses a WiSoC 580 MHz processor, and additional plug in boards can add Bluetooth 4.0 LE, GPS, and 2G/3G cellular functionality.
Onion Omega2 Origins
The team behind the Onion Omega2 is a multi disciplined collective of developers, engineers, artists, makers and DIY-heads based in both Boston and China. One of the co-founders, Boken Lin, has described the invention of the Omega2 as a response to the community need for simple computer designed for hardware applications.
The origins of the project are found in the early days of the 13-strong development team’s DIY projects. While attempting to design and construct a new type of DIY custom thermal printer the team encountered many roadblocks and difficult factors in using the development boars that were widely available at the time.
The solution they came up with was the precursor to the Omega2, the Onion Board, which encountered success on Kickstarter. The Omega2 is a refinement of the original Onion Board designs and brings to the market a wider range of features and applications that it’s forerunner.
Onion Omega2 Pricing & Availability
Keen makers are able to back the Onion Omega2 project on their Kickstarter page, with the minimum backing amount just $5 for a single Onion Omega2 board predicted to ship November 2016.
Also on offer is a wide range of backer levels, such as the Omega2 beginner kit, priced at $74, which includes the Omega2, an expansion dock and breadboard, buttons, LEDs, a wall charger, LCD screen, temperature sensors and more.
The Omega2 has already received a huge amount of support online and has surpassed its original Kickstarter goal by over $300,000 USD.
We’re excited to see what kind of developments this project can bring out of the Maker DIY scene, and with such an affordable price, the Omega2 is set to bring the fun of homebrew hardware to thousands of eager new hobbyists and inventors worldwide.