Raspberry Pi alternatives

I’m still moving (slowly) ahead with my project to get a weather station sited high up on the moors in the the UK Peak District so that I can monitor some more ‘exciting’ weather. What’s holding me up is trying to get hold of hens teeth, err, sorry a suitable Raspberry Pi. It’s looking like stock for mere humans isn’t going to be more readily available at reasonable prices until 2023H2 which is a long wait, and that’s if the availability estimates are right.

My opportunities to visit the remote site are limited (it’s about a 4 hour round trip from here and a lot of the time it’s occupied which means I can’t have access). I’m hoping to pass the station hardware on to someone this week who can get it mounted on the building so that it’s in a position for me to configure it on a confirmed visit to the site in July. I can’t really live in hope that I can get my hands on a RPi before that visit, so…

I was wondering whether anyone has had any success in getting WD ConsoleWD running on an alternative product, e.g. a Banana PI or Orange Pi or ??? My worry is that consolewd is compiled for the specific chipset found on the RPi and I don’t know how close the CPU needs to be for it still to run, e.g. does the Pi3 consolewd run on any Arm 7 (?) CPU or does it only run on the exact CPU model found on the RPi3? I don’t really want to spend cash and effort on something that I’m not likely to succeed with.

Alternatively, is there any other station software, e.g. CumulusMX, that people have got running on SBCs in the same class/price range as the RPi? At this stage I’m happy to use whatever works so that I can get the site on the web!

Any thoughts are welcome :slight_smile:

I don’t know about hardware but what I can say is CumulusMX runs very well under Linux of many flavours as long as you can run Mono it just runs. You use the same executable as you would under Windows. There is already an RPi download available. I currently run it on a Gigabyte Brix using openSUSE Leap 15.4 but I guess that is not ideal for what you need h/w wise.


I can see how using Mono helps, but I assume that the Linux part of the hybrid executable must still be compiled for a specific CPU? In your case I assume it’s for the i386/x64 and the RPi will be the Arm v7 (or v8) that the Pi uses. You’re correct that a Brix or similar is too expensive, both in cost and power consumption when compared to a Pi-like system.

So this helps but doesn’t get me to an answer, because if I get a SBC that runs Linux but using something other than the specific Arm CPU models used in a Pi then I still can’t be sure whether it would work.

Cumulus MX is written in C# so “compiles” to intermediate code (CIL or IL) that is platform independent, hence the same exe file runs on all platforms. The runtime - mono on linux - is the bit that is compiled to each processor. The act of installing mono on your l in nux automatically installs the correct version.

Thanks Mark. I’ve not had cause to use Mono (or C#) before so I’d misunderstood what its purpose was. I knew it provided .Net functionality but my last exposure to using .Net where I needed to understand a bit about it was back in 2005.

So it looks like I can use pretty much any Arm based device that runs Linux. Thinking about it I may even have a couple of devices in my ‘waiting for a suitable project’ box that I could try.

For balance weewx is written in python so should also run on any Linux with python installed.

I found a couple of SBCs that I got in preparation for a project that I ended up not doing, or not doing yet. They’re pretty nice - Rockchip RK3399 (6 core CPU - 2 fast, 4 slower) with 4GB RAM and as an addon a 128GB NVME drive. I’ve just booted the first one up and I’d installed Debian Bullseye, so I’m just about to try putting Mono onto it and then see where it goes. It’s overkill for the job but it’s a sunk cost so it’s not really costing me anything.

Mono has installed and I’ve done a ‘Hello World’ compile and run so I think that was successful.

Thanks for the pointers…time to experiment!

Just to complete this discussion.

I have CumulusMX running and collecting date from WLL. I’m not sure if it’s safe to collect data from WLL using two software packages at the same time, but it seems to be working for now.

Also I dropped the weather station hardware off yesterday about 90% of the way to the site. It will hopefully be installed up on the roof in time for me to configure it and put it online when I visit at the end of July (or sooner if the opportunity arises).

Just for completeness and because I’m a glutton for punishment…

I tried installing Pi3 Consolewd (which matches the CPU that’s on the SBC I’m using). Copied the Deploy files into place and used a more or less identical config to my working setup on a real Pi. Unfortunately I just got a memory violation with a meaningless address. So there’s nothing I can really do to go any further with that. I assume that the Pi version is hard coded to use a Pi resource that’s different on non-Pi devices.

It is safe - though there will be another release of CMX shortly that improves the collision avoidance between the WLL broadcasts and CMX requests to the WLL local API - like most of these ‘simple’ internet devices the WLL doesn;t multitask too well, and skips broadcasts if it is busy doing something else. This change also appears** to fix a memory leak in the WLL station code when running under Mono.

** still running a longer test - only 30 odd hours so far, the fault is in Mono.

I made a silly mistake so I have to completely rebuild the SBC :oops: I thought it was running Debian like all my other ‘servers’ so I added some other Debian repositories to add features, e.g. MariaDB. Things started to go whacky after some updates/installations and I’d just figured out that it was actually running Ubuntu when it gave up and refused to boot. That sent me on a long journey figuring out how to regain control of the SBC (it was booting from the onboard emmc and initially refused to boot from USB or SD card.

I think I’m back in control now…I got it running Armbian just before I went to bed, so I’m hoping I can get back to a stable system today and then put CMX back on again. Frustrating, but then what else would I do at this the of the year? Visit family and friends, go out to parties, eat and drink?

Might Odroid be a suitable candidate for your project as replacement for the earlier-planned-but-unavailable Raspberry?

I’ve seen Odroid adverts but hadn’t looked at them too much previously. They do look like they might be an alternative, although their prices do seem to reflect the current premium prices for the RPi when they’re available.

For now though, I’ve repurposed another SBC I’d bought for a Smart Home project until I found it was easier to use a RPi for that (there was a custom image for the Pi). I’m also working towards freeing up an RPi 4 by migrating some apps off it so I’m now hoping I’ll have enough hardware to get me through until the Pi comes back into stock again.

It worth checking here as well for stocks of RPi – https://rpilocator.com/
The RPI4’a re pretty hard to get hold of but there are some RPi 3’s still about

Just to add that i have no affiliation to the above site, just found it when i was looking to buy a RPi

I’ve looked at the site a few times over the months but have never seen any RPi 4’s available in the UK and even RPi 3’s are pretty rare on the list. I could even use Pi Zero 2W’s for some projects but they’re also about as available as genuine rocking horse droppings at the moment.

I know there are alternatives around but there don’t seem to be any that have a well supported software infrastructure. I got a couple of other SBCs working but it took many hours of trying to figure out how to reliably boot them using a suitable OS. With the Pi I know I can stick a number of different OSs onto an SD card and be pretty sure it will boot.

There’s nothing quite like the RPi , just a shame that it so hard to get any of them at the moment…

Just ordered a couple of 3’s for myself for a few projects, did look at some alternatives but, like yourself, found that alot of them don’t have the same well supported infrastructure… so would involve a lot more work to get things going … unfortunately have plenty of projects but so little time :slight_smile:

I am using a Microfine M6 single board PC (whilst it is small it still happily runs windows 11!) I had Pi’s for a long time, their are a lot of interesting boards about that run arm and linux. I also had a Azure board running a lightning detector and weather station :slight_smile:

I’ve been using a couple of Khadas Edge SBCs. Apart from being tricky to initially get up and running without a monitor (which I now have) they’ve been fine. They also have daughterboards available which allow an NVME SSD to be attached which is much better than trying to run off an SD Card forever.

Having said that I also have a Pi that’s got an SSD attached. I use that to run Home Assistant because there’s a lot of data writing which I think would eventually cause SD cards to fail.

The Pi 5 has a NVME slot - though the adapter isn’t out yet - it also has an onboard RTC - you need to add a battery - and a power switch!

I have it to take over as my main work horse from a pi 4 I have other plans for. I just need to get it ready. The new USB 3 ports are pretty fast with an SSD so I’ll stick with that I think.