Open Source Wireless Router | Banana Pi-R2

Banana Pi BPI-R2 Router Board Review

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Banana Pi R2 Open Source Wireless Router

The Banana Pi R2 is a router based development board, which can run on a variety of open source operating systems including OpenWrt, Android, and Bananian. It has 4 Gigabit LAN ports, 1 Gigabit WAN, and 300Mbs wireless N capabilities. Banana Pi is an open platform device, it is for anyone who wants to play and build its customized platform based on open source development technology, instead of simply using consumer technology.

Banana Pi welcomes all companies, DIYers, and tech-loving people to join their community and start building practical projects for home or commercial applications that will be low power consumption and also cost-effective. Having said that, for more detailed information including new hot products you are welcome to check SinoVoip official Aliexpress store (Link posted below):

Buy Banana Pi R2 Board

Banana PI R2 – Acrylic Case

Banana Pi R2 – Metal Case

 

Banana Pi R2 | Front  view

Banana Pi R2 | Back view

Banana Pi R2 Review focus:

  • Product Introduction
  • Specification.
  • Product Package
  • Package Content
  • A Closer Look at the Banana Pi R2
  • Optional Accessories
  • Software Support
  • CPU information, SSD Read/Write Test
  • Final Words
  • Pros / Cons

 

Banana Pi R2 Specifications:

  • CPU –  MediaTek MT7623N, Quad-core ARM Cortex-A7
  • GPU – Mali 450 MP4
  • Memory – 2GB DDR3 (shared with GPU)
  • Storage – Support MicroSD (TF) card, SATA 6Gbps ,8GB eMMC Flash
  • Onboard – Network x5 10/100/1000Mbps Ethernet (MT7530) Ports
  • Wireless – WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n 2.4GHz/ 5GHz (MT6625L)
  • Bluetooth – BT4.1 BLE with the MTK6625L chip
  • USB Ports 2x USB 3.0 host, 1x USB 2.0 OTG
  • Software – OS Android 6.0, Ubuntu, Debian, Bananian
  • Power Source 12V @ 2A via DC power
  • Mini PCIe interface – Yes
  • LED Operation – Red, Green, Blue
  • GPIO 40 Pins Header compatible with Raspberry Pi3
  • 28×GPIO, some of which can be used for
  • Specific functions including UART, I2C, SPI, PWM, I2S
  • Buttons Reset button, Power button, U-boot button
  • Dimensions 148 mm × 100.5 mm
  • Weight 100g

 

Video / Audio Interfaces:

  • Video Out – (Type A) HDMI 1.4 (Max resolution: 1920×1200 pixels).
  • CSI video input for video cameras
  • Audio Out HDMI, I2S audio
  • Audio In Onboard microphone

 

Product Package ( R2 Board )

Package Content

The default package only contains the R2 router board that costs $89.50 and above, depending on selected postage service selected. to power the board you will also need to buy a 12V/2A adapter. other accessories such as plastic or metal made are also optional, but not a “must have” item.

 

Banana PI R2 Case

Composed of two parts. The upper cover that is made from plastic and the base made from bend sheet metal. from my personal experience, the case quality is excellent, and I was impressed with the design and build quality. The case lake some venting holes. SINOVOIP could have added few venting slots on both the sides of the case to let the extra hot air out of the case. if you decide to buy the case, you will need to add few by drilling or melting the plastic using a soldering/welding Iron Tool.

The case package contains all necessary screws, legs, including a pair of data and power cables to connect two 2.5-inch hard drives that also mounted using provided screws. if you need to access the GPIO Header pins and other external interfaces its best to close the upper cover with the screws for easy opening when needed.

 

Additional Cooling (Optional)

If your planning on installing a heatsink with a fan you also have an additional 5V power connector option on the R2 board you can use. for this review, I used few aluminum heat-sinks, purchased from SINOVIP Aliexpress that cover the CPU chip as well as the ram memory chips.

 

Adding WiFi Antennas (Optional)

Although, there are two holes within the case cover for mounting a pair of external WiFi Antennas with RP-SMA connectors, in his Board you can only use just one, because this case was initially designed for R1 board that has two of onboard sockets, but because in the R2 you only have one onboard antenna slot its not relevant, therefore you can only use one antenna.

 

Antenna Items / elements :

  • x1 Mini gold plated coaxial cable RP-SMA to U.Fl
  • x1- Gold plated lock nuts.
  • x1 3db gain router omnidirectional 2.4 GHz dipole antenna with 3 swivel positions 45, 90 and 180 degrees

Banana PI R2 Metal Case (Optional) | Full view

  • Banana PI R2 Metal Case | Front
  • Banana PI R2 Metal Case | Rear
  • Banana PI R2 Metal Case | Left
  • Banana PI R2 Metal Case | Right
  • Banana PI R2 Metal Case | Base+ Upper view (TOP View)
  • Banana PI R2 Metal Case | Base (Rear View)
  • Banana PI R2 Metal Case | Base (Side View)
  • Banana PI R2 Metal Case | Base (Front View)
  • Banana PI R2 Metal Case | Upper cover (Side View)
  • Banana PI R2 Metal Case | Upper cover (Top View)
  • Banana PI R2 Metal Case | x2 HDD Cables (Power+ Data)

Banana PI R2 | Asemmbing All Together 

  • Banana PI R2 | installing a 120GB 2.5" SSD Assembly inside the Case base
  • Banana PI R2 | Installing a 2.5" 120GB SSD
  • Banana PI R2 | 120GB 2.5" SSD Cables (Power + Data )
  • Banana PI R2 | Power & Data cables connected to the board (Full view)
  • Banana PI R2 | Power & Data Cables connected to the board (Top View)
  • Banana PI R2 | Power & Data wires connected to the board (Side View)
  • Banana PI R2 | Antennas + Wire
  • Banana PI R2 | Case Upper cover (Top View)
  • Banana PI R2 | Case Upper cover + Antenna wire (Top View)
  • Banana PI R2 | Case Upper cover - Antenna wire (A closer view)
  • Banana PI R2 | Installed Antenna wire (Side view)
  • Banana PI R2 | WiFi Antenna connected to the R2 Board
  • Banana PI R2 | Case Closed
  • Banana PI R2 | Rear View
  • Banana PI R2 | Full View

A Closer Look at the Banana Pi R2

The R2 Board is powered by a Cortex-A7 quad-core Mediatek MT7623N processor. It comes with 2GB of RAM, 8GB eMMC onboard storage, x1 Micro-SD Card socket, x2 USB 3.0 ports, HDMI 1.4V port, A pair of SATA 3.0 interfaces and 5V power plugs for connecting two 2.5″ hard drives.

As for other onboard external interfaces. you have an IR Receiver, 40 Pin GPIO header Interface, Debug UART port, MIPI DSI, USB OTG port that is used mainly for flashing firmware to the device eMMC chip. The only missing interface this board was missing is the popular CSI (Camera Serial Interface) and external battery backup interface that exists in the older R1 board.

Having said that, the main highlights of this board are definitely the SATA V3.0 interfaces, onboard WiFi support, 1 Gigabit WAN and 4 Gigabit LAN Ethernet ports, and the fact that you can use the Mini PCIe interface to add a cellular modem card with 3G/4G support via A SIM Card. With all of those features in one device, the R2 can be used for a wide scale of applications. For example, building a flexible open source based router that also functions as a NAS which can be used to share multimedia content across a local or remote network.

Banana PI R2 Board (Color)

Banana PI R2 Board (White Background)

Banana PI R2  | Optional Accessories

  • Banana PI R2 | 12V/2A Power adapter - PIC 1 of 4
  • Banana PI R2 | 12V/2A Power adapter - PIC 2 of 4
  • Banana PI R2 | 12V/2A Power adapter - PIC 2 of 4
  • Banana PI R2 | 12V/2A Power adapter - PIC 2 of 4
  • Banana PI R2 | Aluminum Heat sinks (CPU+ RAM) - PIC 1 of 2
  • Banana PI R2 | Aluminum Heat sinks (CPU+ RAM) - PIC 1 of 2
  • Banana PI R2 | External WiFi Antennas

Software Support

OpenWrt

OpenWrt is an open source project for an embedded operating system based on Linux, primarily used on embedded devices to route network traffic. Unfortunately, Sinovoip R2 images currently do not have HDMI interface support so you basically get a useless blank screen and cant use the board to an external monitor and see what you’re actually doing. If you still want to make the OpenWrt image workable to adjust all settings with the R2 Board the only solution is buying a USB to UART converter to connect to the board directly.

 

Other Linux Distributions

From my personal general impression, Ubuntu and Fedora Images I have tested worked smoothly with WiFi and LAN adaptors configured properly. Also, Raspbian Jessie which is a lightweight Debian distribution also worked very smooth as expected.

Banana PI R2 Wireless Router | Ubuntu (Screenshots)

Banana PI R2 Wireless Router | Fedora (Screenshots)

CPU information

Testing SSD Read/Write Speeds

Drive Parameters:

  • Brand: KingSpec
  • File system: NTFS
  • Average Acess time: 0.1ms
  • Model: C300-120
  • Capacity: 120G

Data transfer rate | Read Test

Data transfer rate | Write Test

Results:

Overall general results are not amazing, but still reasonable. with a much higher performance boost in favor of the disk reading speed tests.

 

Final Words

The R2 is a  nice board with good accessories packed with lost of interfaces you can use for various open source DIY projects. It runs on Ubuntu, Debian, and other distributions pretty well. What I was missing as a user where two types of images that could have made this product perfect, or almost perfect. As a user, I felt its too complex and time-consuming to configure the OpenWrt to work with this board, especially when the HDMI interface doesn’t work and just output a black screen. Also, OpenMediaVault image support was not available, which could have added extra value to this product, making it much easier setting it as a type of home/office NAS device. If you sum up all the cons and pros of this board has to offer, it has many functions and value. especially if you are planning to add one or two internal SSD drives vs. just connecting them externally via USB interface. Bottom line, I recommend the product and hope that soon SinoVoip will fix the OpenWrt image and provide OpenMediaVault support.

80%
Very Good

Banana Pi R2 Review Rating

  • Design
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