General Approach for Manufacture of SBCs

I would like to talk about Radxa’s approach to the design concept of their boards. At my company we are looking at various SBCs to see which ones can be used for various purposes. We bought a Rock Pi X with a view to using it as a very lightweight Windows 10 platform.

When you first get this product there are lots of steps that one has to go through just to get the OS loaded, let alone making it work with specific applications, etc. One could almost say that it’s like a puzzle, made for the entertainment of enthusiasts. Fair enough you may say but companies don’t have time to waste like this. The Rock Pi has turned out to be far more expensive than a high end laptop because of all the time we have wasted trying to get it working. It wouldn’t be so bad if they assigned someone to watch the forums but we haven’t had any reply to our query on the forum. We are clearly not alone in having problems.

Compare this to the difficulty of getting a LattePanda working. Here are my full instructions:

  1. Plug it in.
  2. Switch it on.
  3. Press the start button.

That’s it. It works first time with zero wasted effort. We could therefore get on with our work and it is now loaded up and working with the software it was intended to run. It was so much easier despite the fact that it sits firmly in the same market as the Rock Pi X.

I think there needs to be some sort of ‘health warning’ on these devices which states whether SBCs are either practical devices like the Raspberry Pi which can be used by people who just want to get on with their work or ‘hobby puzzles’ which are designed to keep people entertained in the quest to get them working.

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The first thing that comes to my mind is price difference, if you can’t see the price difference then your comparison is completely invalid.

I agree that you just need a device to buy and it will work out of the box that’s for normal users, if you’re a company and you want cheap device to make your services work on it then you have to do the work on the device yourself.

Not to forget that rockpiX is their first edition so with future editions radxa can get their thinks right.
Thank you for your feedback maybe radxa team can fix some of the points here and there.

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Not to forget that all this effort only has to be done once. Then you should be able to clone the system. And then the price difference quickly comes into play again.
But yes, if we are talking about a few planned systems, it would be better to wait for the next revised version. In my many years as a technician it has always been shown that the first version of something still had teething problems.

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I don’t believe my comparison is invalid because the cost of a (super-reliable) Raspberry Pi running Windows is about the same if not less than a Rock Pi X running Windows. Remember, with the Rock Pi X you need their special heatsink.

In terms of the electronics, it seems somewhat unstable. We have tried a number of different power supplies and despite the fact that the current draw is well within their capabilities we seem to get very random results when starting the device.

And then we come to the instructions which and generally ok but at one point they tell you to install Windows without giving you any guidance on where to get a license and what type of license you need (advice kindly supplied by Ron in fact).

The fact that it is a first edition is hardly an excuse unless they sell the device as a demo/development device.

I stick to my view that the degree to which these devices are ready and easy to use should be made clear.

I’m afraid ur Rock Pi X is now in the junk box and will probably stay there. The LattePanda just seems so much better.

HAHAHA, this shows that you have no idea about SBC or any difference between an ARM based board and x86 based board.
I think you should use RPI with windows instead of LattePanda, I hope that will serve your needs well in the same price range.

I don’t think they need to tell you anything about Windows Licensing, as any desktop level technician will know the basic’s of windows licensing.
If you don’t have someone to advice you on this and you expect the manufacturer to do it for you then I guess you have way too high expectation from a manufacturer who is trying to design cheap hardware for the community.

It is advertised as development board in fact any SBC or barebone device is for development only and again if you didn’t know this then your going in the wrong direction, No manufacturer will sell a barebone board and call it a consumer device, whereas lattepanda is a consumer device hence it is priced according to give free support for novice users like you. :smiley: oh wait they only have community support and no official support tickets even after paying so much. So sorry about that.

Not mine I am just a community member here and I do not have any stake with radxa, I do like their devices and I support their hardware on Linux distribution.

Good luck with your project.


So… 2 hours = 100$? That’s…actually great if you have that much money per hour, not everyone here have this salary… even more for Russia with our Rub to $ ratio…

Because you can’t use search. Question regarding wifi were answered like 4 times already? Two times in “One step further” and two more times in new threads.

Sure, please donate to Radxa team the same amount of money as Broadcom donated to Rasperry Pi’s team, then we can talk :slight_smile:

erm. No. You just need to place any heatsing on top of it. Even RasPi ones are fine. And use any cooler, you know, even LattePanda use one, right? :smiley:

Yes? Because LattePanda cost x2 of RockPiX, galaxy brain right here :smiley:. Not even talking about CPU.

Yeaaaah, have you tried this Windows? Or you just read some titles? If so, just read whole article about how Windows ARM is working on RasPi :slight_smile:. Try to watch 1080p video on it for example :smiley:

Windows 10 on a Raspberry Pi is more of a gimmick or a feasibility study than a serious PC alternative.

Officially, the Raspberry Pi is only suitable for Windows 10 IoT applications.

And since you talked about a job in a commercial environment, you will definitely not want to use a community OS, or maybe you will?

$ 100 for 2 hours is still very cheap. It’s not about the money the technician gets, but about what the company calculates internally for it. My last boss was charging customers € 89 every hour. Much more for server / network requests.

It would have been nice if I only got half of it.

eh…good for you :sob:
And here is Russia with 1$ to 80RUB ration…

Some replies:

  1. It’s amazing how nasty some people get in response to a simple suggestion. In my original post I said, quote “I think there needs to be some sort of ‘health warning’ on these devices which states whether SBCs are either practical devices like the Raspberry Pi which can be used by people who just want to get on with their work or ‘hobby puzzles’ which are designed to keep people entertained in the quest to get them working.” i.e. to provide an indication of the TRL level of the SBC. This sounds like a reasonable suggestion to me. Spikerguy’s comment “HAHAHA, this shows that you have no idea about SBC or any difference between an ARM based board and x86 based board.” is in fact more of a comment on how little he knows about our work and makes him appear to be typical of the sort of techie that constantly has to prop up their ego by showing how clever they are. Spikerguy, see how others see you here

  2. I pay our contract technicians $500 a day minimum. I think that’s reasonable and they don’t complain. We pay within 24 hours of receiving their invoice - always. I remember once paying someone $6,000 for one week’s work. It seemed a lot but it was certainly worth it. The people who work for me have done so for the last ten years and seem content. Dante4, if you want to earn more I strongly suggest you try using Upwork - it is a very effective platform and has provided us with good contract people from Russia and Eastern Europe (and also once a Russian guy working in the US). For people like me who occasionally need specialist skills it works very well.

  3. Dante4 says that the reason I didn’t get an answer to my query is because I can’t use search. This is interesting because a) I did indeed search extensively for an answer to the question and could find nothing that referred to the problem and b) presumably Dante4 can’t use search either because he didn’t know what question I was asking (as proved by his reference to Wi-Fi etc. - a topic I have not asked about) and the fact that it would only have taken two minutes to find my post by looking in the list. In any case, I think it would be a good idea for the manufacturer to have someone keep an eye on the forum and respond to queries - if they are so easily answered they only need to reply with a link. If they can’t be bothered to make sure that customers are happy then they are sealing their own fate.

  4. Regarding heatsinks, Dante4 may be right that you don’t need a heatsink - but if this is correct why do they sell such an enormous one as the ‘standard’ one for the product? Are they trying to sell us something we don’t need?

  5. When Ron says “Windows 10 on a Raspberry Pi is more of a gimmick or a feasibility study than a serious PC alternative.” I completely agree. The problem is that this description also fits the Rock Pi X. The LattePanda fits my description of a saleable item, my only criticism being that they designed the power button in such a way that it can’t be ‘remoted’.

Dante just said that you don’t need a special heat sink.
No matter where I got information, everyone says that the Rock Pi X gets too warm without cooling. But this is general with the built-in CPU and not only with the Rock Pi X.

Hopefully I will soon be able to test it myself. I don’t have an X yet, only the 4b v1.3.
Windows 10 was a real impertinence on my Raspberry 4b 4GB. Alone that I needed 6 different USB sticks until one worked.

But there is one thing I would like to get rid of.
I am now 51 years old and have been working as a computer technician, software developer and trainer since I was 18. But over the years I always found it a shame when discussions started to become personal. I hope that we can do without such slip-ups here as well.

Thanks Ron. I think we are on the same page :slight_smile:

The heatsink on the Rock Pi X does get warm but I don’t know if the extra cooling is really necessary because the manufacturer doesn’t give any specific advice. I wanted to play on the safe side with mine because I didn’t want any processor throttling.

The USB issue with Raspberry Pi is not one that we have come across because we have never used Windows like this before although, as part of looking why the Rock Pi X wouldn’t even try to boot I have investigated the fact that some USB sticks are manufactured as non-bootable. And I find that USB booting on PCs to be a very hit and miss affair. I don’t know why it should be like this.

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Good for you. Not everyone can just waste 500$ when they can do it by themself :slight_smile:

I will look into it.

Well, that because I never looked for your question. Wifi was just most hot topic around there.

Who are they? I can provide you link that most likely will answer your question:

Sorry, what? Please, don’t say misleading things.

erm, no? I can use x86 apps without problems or lags. There only one big problem i have met so far - Intel is b*tch in regards to their own old hardware and i can’t install Windows 7, because of AMI redistribute BIOS without VGA driver.

As for your lattepanda compare. I’m tired of it, so let talk realistic.
If someone have money - he can just buy cheap notebook or miniITX board and be happy with it.
If you need GPIO and x86 - there is enough DAC boards around here. The thing is it all require MONEY. So. If you need 100% working hardware with software support and GPIO on top of it - go buy Asus notebook for 500$ and Arduino. Problem solved.
It’s always same triangle
Money (that we spent) <–> Quality (that we get) <–> Time (that we spent)

You can’t have all three at once. Here we are getting Quality (the board itself is working just nice) and Money (it’s cheap board), but people NEED to have at least BASIC windows knowledge (like how to install windows or how to enter license key. Or they need to spent time to understand how it works.

If you can allow yourself to spent extra money - good for you. As for your first point - " Perfect for IoT applications based on Windows or Linux OS" does this ring any bells for you? It’s not saying “Perfect for your everyday work with enterprise class of support”, i hope you see the difference

Dante4 - I run a business. I need rapid answers to problems presented by customers. The money spent on work done by someone who is specialized in their field is entirely worth it if it gets the work done. Routine work (e.g. working in McDonald’s) doesn’t get paid very highly because almost anyone can do it and it’s routine. If I pay someone $6,000 for one week’s work I am not really paying them for those specific hours - I am paying them for all the experience that they have gained over the years to get to the point where they could do the work. If there are lots of other people with the same experience then market forces will bring the price down. The ease with which one can work with the contractor is another critical factor. I simply won’t hire anyone who doesn’t want the team to succeed.

I am glad you will look at Upwork - you can make good money there.

In answer to your question (and I understand that English is probably not your first language) when I referred to “they” I meant the manufacturers I referred to in the previous sentence. ‘They’ should be watching the forums and answering the questions. They should care about their customers. The modern model where a company produces junk and then starts a forum to ‘allow’ the customers to find answers is really just saying ‘we can’t be bothered to fix the problems we created so we’re just going to let our customers do our work for us’. Some companies get away with this but it doesn’t help their marketing.

Regarding my comment “Dante4 may be right that you don’t need a heatsink” - how can that possibly be misleading? I can say that ‘Dante4 may be the first person to walk on Mars’ - this is not misleading - it is just very unlikely. Perhaps this is a language problem.

Regarding heatsinks, they are not all alike. The little extruded aluminum ones that are often used on the Raspberry Pi may be fine but they are only capable of dissipating a certain amount of power depending on the air temperature and its movement. For the manufacturer of the Rock Pi X to create such a large one implies that one of this size is needed - otherwise why would they make it so large? Do they own stock in an aluminum company? You cannot ask people to use “Any cooler” as you describe it because it is not really a good enough description of the requirement.

Finally, I’m sorry but I have to point out the way that like many people on forums you make assumptions about our requirement based on your own experience. You said that we may as well use a laptop if we are going to spend lots of money on the SBC. However, because you don’t know what our requirement is (and you have not asked) you don’t realize that we need the device to be as small as possible. To date we have not found a computer which is smaller and more suitable for our purposes that the LattePanda. I don’t care that much about the price of the device. If it costs $1,000 we would still consider it - the main thing is that it must be small. The problem with any computer is that performance equates to power and power equates to heat. With current (no pun intended) technology, even if we have a very small computer we will still have to get rid of the heat somehow. I suspect that the LattePanda is probably the optimum size even if there are better Windows-capable computers out there.

And why are you tired of the LattePanda? Because it works?

I must say, I realy would like to get a LattPanda in my hands and compare it with other x86 SBC’s.

It’s really stupid that I had to retire from work for health reasons. Otherwise I might come across the work on these devices to test.

Fortunately, some manufacturers make their products available for testing purposes. And if it is also published it will benefit both of them.

I think that for many small applications such SBC’s are exactly the right answer. They consume little energy, are very space-saving and very robust in a metal housing.

At least under Linux there is a very wide range of applications that also get along very well with ARM CPUs.

At the moment I would only go to Windows - on an SBC - if I absolutely have to. Otherwise, an optimized Linux is by far the better choice. The LattePanda also runs much better under Linux than under Windows, at least according to all the information I could find on the net.

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Yes, I agree what you say. We have been running Linux on Raspberry Pi with several different specialized applications and it works superbly and flawlessly. Until recently I was worried about the Pi’s credibility because it might been seen by some as a ‘toy’ but it’s gradually being seen by industry as a credible platform. I am looking forward to trying their new Compute Module 4. We now have the IO boards but not yet the modules to go on them!

I would say that the only reason to use Windows on an SBC would be if a vital application has only been written for that platform or if users have to access it via some familiar user interface. Such is the case with a project we are involved in.

We have not really done much work exploring the wider capabilities of the LattePanda because it ‘just works’. I can only think of two issues with it - one is that annoying little button on the side of the device to start Windows. It is somewhat tricky to get access to it and to remote it when it is placed inside an enclosure. The other issue is that the standard heat sink has a fan. I’m sure that we could simply get or machine a larger fanless alternative I suppose. I love the fact that Arduino is so well integrated with it. The Arduino code runs on start up and when you want to write code for it it’s built into the Windows build. If you need such an SBC I’d certainly recommend it - but if you are looking to experiment and tinker I guess the Rock Pi X would be cheaper.

I’m sorry you had to give up work for health reasons but perhaps you could try Upwork too if you are fit enough and able to take on work that is basically keyboard-based.

After this you could have stopped. We have completely separate mindset about:
“Do something yourself” and “Hire someone to do it”

Your words misleading because i never said what you said. Also. You stopped reading what i said. I will repeat myself

maybe cooler in context of heatsink is not enough for understanding, so i will rephrase my word.
And use any cooler fan. You can find many examples on google, like Noctua NF-A4x10.
And Radxa is selling this kind of heatsink, because it’s just passive heatsink.

Because you continues to only using them as example. Also the thing is. If you so happy with Lattepanda - you wouldn’t be there. Satisfied customer doesn’t look towards other products. So, tell me, what you don’t like in LattePanda that lead you here?
As for “works”. Yeeaah, maybe theirs m3 chip actually works. Then ones that cost ~Microsoft Surface Go.