The Return of the C.H.I.P. Looks Beagle-ish

Alasdair Allan
3 min readJun 26, 2018

The demise of Next Thing Co. has left a number of C.H.I.P. owners pining for an upgrade, or at least a pin-compatible replacement to keep their PocketC.H.I.P working. Enough so that Christopher Alessandro, a maker from Phoenix, AZ, has decided to take on the problem.

A C.H.I.P.-style single-board computer based around the OSD3358, showing top (left) and bottom (right) of the board. (📷: Christopher Alessandro)

His new board is based around the Octavo Systems OSD3358, better known as the “BeagleBone on a chip.” The OSD3358 is an Arm Cortex-A8 running at 1GHz, with 512MB of RAM, and has similar performance to the Allwinner R8 which was at the heart of the original board, but with an improved GPU.

“I expect pricing to be more expensive. I had originally decided to make these for myself but I figured I would offer them to people once I get them made. If I continue making them 1 at a time, the price with be about $80 or so each. The price is because the BOM is just over $60 and I have to hand assemble and test each one.”—Christopher Alessandro

The new board is compatible with the PocketC.H.I.P. and the HDMI DIP. While Alessandro isn’t guaranteeing that it will work with all DIPS, he does mention that SPI, I2C, and other relevant pins are are all in the “proper spots.”

The board will have both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth LE, as well as support for being externally powered using LIPO battery.

Routing the new board. (📷: Christopher Alessandro)

Essentially a BeagleBone Wireless with a C.H.I.P. form factor, the board has generated a lot debate on the Next Thing Co. forums which—despite the company filing for insolvency—are still up and running.

“…right now buying the CPU alone one at a time is $43.73. Now if I buy 100 of them, the price goes down to $36.84, thats a $6.89 difference each. Thats a huge savings when you can buy a lot more. Now imagine if that scaled up to 1000 CPUs, even bigger savings. I think in large quantity these could be $25–30” — Christopher Alessandro

With several commentators encouraging Alessandro to take his project to Kickstarter, if you’re interested in picking up one of these boards you might want to get in touch with him to offer some encouragement.