Customer Review: ODROID-GO!

Customer Review: ODROID-GO!

By Jonathan Scott

This is a post about an ODROID-GO that I was recently given by ameriDroid. I’ll talk about getting the emulator set up, the materials that come in the kit, and a few of the endless possibilities with this ESP32 board.

Ever since ameriDroid launched their web storefront, I’ve lurked, read, planned, and coveted my way through the site. About the time I bought my first ODROID-C2, I discovered that the company is based only an hour from my house. A few years later, I realized that I go to church with the family that started it. Last Monday, I finally made my long-planned pilgrimage north, hoping to get a glance behind the curtain.

Bo gave me the grand tour, and I got to meet all of the people that make the organization run. The place seems like a Garden of Eden for SBCs and electronics innovation, with experimental projects happening everywhere I turned. I also got to see the set up that Bo wrote about in his Thinking Outside the Box series. Having worked for a few small businesses that paid the costs associated with traditional IT infrastructure, I was fascinated to see a company effectively using single board computers to host their various databases, web servers, and inventory software.

Bo knew that I was going into the hospital for surgery last week, and he gave me an ODROID-GO to play with while there. I’ve had my eye on this since Hardkernel released it to celebrate their 10 year anniversary, so I was stoked to check it out. Additionally, I’ve been very interested in purchasing an ESP32 board to help me step up my game with my IoT projects, and this board is a great intro to that platform.

Putting the kit together was straightforward. There was a lot of thoughtful attention to detail in the design, so assembling the various buttons and switches was easy. If I had decided to read the instructions on the ODROID wiki first, I would have known to use caution when inserting the screen. That’s the only tricky part, but I got it all put together without any problems. Loading the emulation software was as simple as downloading it and copying it to an SD card. Game ROMs for various systems just need to be copied into their respective folders on the card. Once the card is inserted, all you have to do is power it on and you’re good to go! Being both a child of the 80s and a current IoT tinkerer, it’s kind of mind blowing to play Super Mario Brothers 3 on an ESP32 that could be purchased (by itself) for under $10. Which leads me into the “tinkering” side of this post.

The wiki has instructions for flashing MicroPython to the board and for using the Arduino IDE to load projects. The included lithium battery with micro usb charging, LCD screen, and the active forum make the ODROID-GO an awesome introduction to the ESP32. There is a row of GPIO headers along the top of the gaming case, so projects involving jumper wire connections to a breadboard are easy. Getting set up for MicroPython requires several steps, and a bunch of the active users in the forum have posted tutorials that helped me out. One idea that I have for the GO is to write a simple game in MicroPython that uses an IR LED to activate various external lights and buzzers in the real world. My son would get a kick out of that. Ok...maybe I would be the one that enjoys it the most.

The ODROID-GO is an enjoyable project that benefits from the experience and community that a company like Hardkernel brings to the table. I appreciate ameriDroid for hooking me up and for all the great service over the years that I’ve been a customer. If you’ve been on the fence about buying a GO, my advice would be to go for it.
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