The Blueberry Pi, Just Another Fruity SBC?

Alasdair Allan
3 min readAug 15, 2018

The Raspberry Pi is a the uncontested winner of the single-board computing market. The form factor has become a de facto standard, and the community that has gathered around the board has made it one of the pillars of the maker movement.

However, there isn’t any way you can build a Raspberry Pi yourself. The board is mostly open hardware, but the notable exception is the Broadcom chip that the Pi is based on. Not only is that not open, unless you’re intent on ordering several million units, it’s unlikely you’ll even be able to buy the chip itself. It’s just not available on, or off, the grey market.

Which is where the Blueberry Pi, made by Marcel Thürmer, might come in?

The Blueberry Pi. (📷: Marcel Thürmer)

The Blueberry Pi is equipped with an Allwinner V3s, an SoC original intended for the action camera market. The V3s has an Arm Cortex-A7 core running at 1.2GHz, along with 64 MB of RAM and Ethernet built-in on the chip.

The PCBs for single-board computers are usually very complex four, or more, layer boards. The Raspberry Pi, for instance, uses a six layer board, and a fairly tightly packed one at that. However, the “all in one” nature of the V3s chip means that no external memory is needed, and Thürmer has managed to get his design down into a simple two-layer PCB that’s cheap to produce, and that’s probably buildable on your bench at home.

The Blueberry Pi. (📷: Marcel Thürmer)

The board itself doesn’t have a modern Raspberry Pi form factor. Instead of the now immediately recognisable 40-pin GPIO header, it has the older 26-pin header from the original Pi—neatly labelled “Pi Header” on the silk screen.

Beyond the 26-pin GPIO header, the board features OV2640 and OV7670 pin headers, alongside 100Mbps Ethernet, SPI Flash, a USB host port, an audio jack, an on board microphone, four buttons, an SD card slot, and both WiFi and BLE. While the board also has a populated MIPI CSI interface, there isn’t currently support in the Linux kernel for that yet.

“The Blueberry PI can boot from an SD card or SPI Flash. Since the V3s doesn’t have a standard video output, I’m planning on creating a video add on board which provides VGA or HDMI. In combination with the ADV7611 it is possible to capture HDMI.”—Marcel Thürmer

If you’re thinking that you might want to put together, everything you need is in the project’s GitHub repo, including design files and u-boot instructions.

[h/t: Hackaday]