Submitted by Evan Boldt on Mon, 01/27/2014 - 21:33

Basic Features

The Udoo is relatively pricey, but has some great features and is relatively well documented. They bill themselves as a "Raspberry Pi + Arduino", but that is selling themselves a little short. Anyone could plug an Arduino into the USB port of a Raspberry Pi. The ARM processor is faster and more capable than the Raspberry Pi, but also has the same pinout as the Arduino Due with the exception of a few missing pins like the analog ones. Additionally, there is an Arduino Due-like processor that has full access to the same pins. That's right. Both processors can access the same pins. They can access different ones at the same time, or even send signals to each other if you configure it that way.

It features an ARMv7 processor, not ARMv6 like the Raspberry Pi. The newer instruction set means each core of the ARM processor is significantly (2x) faster at many tasks. More importantly, it is the same instruction set supported by popular Linux distrobutions like Ubuntu and Android. The Raspberry Pi's ARMv6 processor is pretty much restricted to the Raspbian Debian derivative.


It took exactly 1 week for SECO USA to ship to my address in the US. They shipped it from Italy, apparently. There are very few details on shipping deadlines and they never notified me that they even shipped the thing, let alone give me a tracking number. Even after I received it, the order was still listed as "processing". I contacted their support, which responded fairly qucikly, and this is apparently standard procedure. The shipping method is referred to as "FCA shipping", but it was fullfilled through UPS. As a result of the lack of transparency and risk of delay due to the fact that it came from oversees, I might suggest purchasing the Udoo from Maker Shed instead if you are in the US.

I would not recommend using the SD card in their accessories package. It is class 4 and is noticably slower than a class 10. Painfully slow, actually. The udoo itself is actually plenty fast, and capable of using the class 10 speed. I ran a benchmark using palimptest (gnome-disk-utility) and a $14 16GB class 10 SanDisk SDSDQU-016G-AFFP-A managed to pull 21.1 MB/s read with a 1ms access time, which is well above even the class 10 spec. Benchmarks run on class 4's tend to be more in the 4-5MB/s. One of the great features of the Udoo is its speed, so I don't know why you would skimp on such an important feature. A lot of class 4's are actually more expensive than 10's depending on where you buy them. I thought it might even be worthwhile going for one of the Extreme lines that promise 90MB/s. It turns out the speed is limited to 21.4MB/s on the uSD card, so the socket can't quite deliver the same speed of SATA. All that being said, the accessories package has some other cool things like a SATA power adapter and an SSD would be many times faster than any uSD card. I wonder if it is SATA I, II, or III though. The documentation does not seem to say anywhere, but this page has a benchmark where the SATA plug goes up to 110 MB/s read on the same palimptest. 


The documentation on udoo.org/getting-started are maybe a little too basic for most users. All you really need are to download the latest Ubuntu image from here, and write it to the uSD card using these instructions.

Here are some packages I would strongly recommend:

sudo apt-get install bash-completion python-smbus

Here are some others I would also recommend:

  • midori: A lightweight web browser
  • guvcview: Way to preview webcams to see if they are working and tinker with settings
  • sparkleshare: Dropbox-like syncronization using git
  • vlc: plays everything
  • qalqulate-gtk: great calculator that even does algebra
  • minicom: command line viewer for RX/TX serial

Add some swap

Probably one of the most limiting features of the Udoo is its 1GB RAM. It is pretty easy to run out of memory pretty quickly with the default installation, and when you do things get bad fast. Processes start crashing until there is some free memory again. What is slightly less bad than that? Writing some of that memory to the slow SD card. If you do this a lot, the SD card may slowly degrade since there is a limited number of writes you can do. Still, it seems preferable to the alternative which is guaranteed crashing. So, look into adding a swapfile or a swap partition. Partitions are easy to do in gparted. It's pretty easy to do and well documented elsewhere, so I won't do it here.



Pin Muxing

To change the pin mode you have to change a .h file in the kernel source recompile the kernel. This can be done according to the manual, but they leave out exactly how to compile a kernel, which is maybe the more daunting of the two tasks. There is a pretty detailed tutorial here.

wget https://github.com/UDOOboard/Kernel_Unico/archive/master.zip
unzip master.zip
cd Kernel_Unico-master

nano arch/arm/mach-mx6/board-mx6qd_seco_UDOO.h # modify the pinout here

sudo apt-get install ncurses-dev
make menuconfig
make -j5 uImage modules # makes using 5 cores

sudo cp /boot/uImage /boot/uImage.bak #make a backup copy of the old uImage
sudo cp arch/arm/boot/uImage /boot/uImage
sudo make modules_install
sudo rm /usr/src/linux && sudo ln -s . /usr/src/linux

The actual compile process took less than 15 minutes for me. Probably less, but I wasn't watching that closely. The wget and unzip may have actually taken longer if that's even possible.

Networking Notes

The wireless chip is actually on the same USB hub as the two external ports. This means that the wireless speeds will be limited to USB 2.0 speeds and that it will compete for the same USB throughput as other devices like thumb drives, hard drives, or webcams. The wireless chip that comes on it is actually wireless 802.11 N compatible, but probably is not capable of any great speed increase. It is a Ralink RT5370 with the USB ID 148f:5370. This chip may be able to go into Master / Access Point mode, but I have not managed to do so yet.

Somewhere when considering purchasing the Udoo I saw that the gigabit ethernet speeds were somewhat limited. I did a speedtest on my 100mbit line and was able to get 90-80 Mbit/s. I did not test a full gigabit LAN connection.

Installing OpenCV

The default OpenCV is quite old due ot the two year old Ubuntu release, and has a couple bugs in it. As a result, download the newest version from the website:

sudo apt-get install gcc g++ cmake build-essential libgtk2.0-dev pkg-config python-dev libavcodec-dev libavformat-dev libswscale-dev libjpeg-dev libpng-dev libtiff-dev libjasper-dev libavcodec-dev libavformat-dev libswscale-dev libdc1394-22-dev libxine-dev libgstreamer0.10-dev libgstreamer-plugins-base0.10-dev libv4l-dev
wget # find url from http://opencv.org/downloads.html
tar -xvf opencv-*
cd ???/release
make -j 5 # will probably take a very long time (hour+)
sudo make install