Photo via Onion

This tiny $5 computer is giving the Raspberry Pi a run for its money

Raspberry Pi may have a serious contender.


John-Michael Bond


Published Aug 18, 2016   Updated May 26, 2021, 5:47 am CDT

When it comes simple homebrew computers, the Raspberry Pi has been king of the mountain for a long time. The ruler might have some new competition, however, if the wild Kickstarter success of Onion’s Omega2 is any indication. 

With an initial goal of just $15,000, over 11,560 backers have pledged the company $446,792 in hopes of getting their hands on this little wonder board. So why are thousands of people losing their minds? Simple; the Omega2 packs a ton of power into a $5 package.

Billed as the world’s smallest Linux server, complete with built-in Wi-Fi, the Omega2 is perfect for building simple computers or the web connected project of your dreams. The tiny machine is roughly the size of a cherry, before expansions, and runs a full Linux operating system. For $5 you get a 580MHz CPU, 64MB memory, 16MB storage, built-in Wi-Fi and a USB 2.0 port. A $9 model is also available with 128MB of memory, 32MB of storage, and a MircoSD slot. The similarly priced Raspberry Pi Zero comes with a 1GHz Arm processor, 512MB of memory, a MicroSD slot, no onboard storage, and no built-in Wi-Fi.

Where Omega2 makes up for its losses in processing power is its flash storage and Wi-Fi capability. It comes with built-in integration with Onion’s cloud service giving you a head start on controlling your project over the internet. Couple the cloud with flash storage and Wi-Fi and you’re on your way to building some incredible things. Some of the projects suggested on their Kickstarter page include a trigger that turns on a lamp when you sit on a sofa, a wireless media server, and even a streaming music enabled boombox.

Omega2 supports the Ruby, C++, Python, PHP, Perl, JavaScript (Node.js), and Bash programming languages, so no matter your background in coding you should be able to figure something out. In addition, the hardware can be easily expanded using any Arduino electronic components. For $5 you’ve got a development board. For $20 you can have the board and a dock that makes it a whole computer. Expansions can make the Omega2 even more powerful, adding Bluetooth, GPS, and 2G/3G support among other add-ons.

The Omega2 has ignited the imaginations of the thousands of Kickstarter backers. While it remains to be seen how it will fair on the open market the exuberant response to its initial crowdfunding campaign bodes well for the project. We just can’t wait to see what people make this with tiny wonder.


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*First Published: Aug 18, 2016, 4:00 pm CDT