Long Term OLinuXino supply – How it works?

Screenshot from 2019-05-16 14-50-39

We got question from customer of ours: “We are using your A20-OLinuXino in our product and I’ve heard that you are going to stop the production soon, is this true?”

Most of our customers are industrial machine producers and they need long term supply from their vendors. They do certification for their machines which cost a lot and they can’t afford to spend more money every year because the Linux module is not produced or changed. We already wrote several post on our blog that we supply our boards until there is demand for them and that we have long term supply agreement with Allwinner, but some people spread rumors and I have to write it and make it clear again: We will produce OLinuXino boards until there is demand. It’s even included in our GTC.

When back in 2014 I posted that we can supply OLinuXino forever many people were skeptical (well yes it is exaggerated 🙂 ) and wrote back – do not believe Chinese suppliers, they will let you down etc. etc.

Allwinner though is keeping their promise and we can buy all Allwinner SOCs we use without problem. Our volumes allow us to meet their MOQ.

For instance A13 SOC is very old and Allwinner discontinued it several years ago, it’s even not listed on their web as product, but we still keep buying it and producing A13 boards for our customers. We have also many customers which used our boards as template to make their own variants and now we supply them with A13 SOCs so they keep manufacturing them. You will not find A13 for sale anywhere even in China, but we are expecting next lot of 90Kpcs A13 to come from Allwinner in few weeks. Yes we have to order such quantities as Allwinner need 3 month to produce the SOCs from the order to shipment.

Many customers ask can you guarantee 10-15-20 years of supply? I doubt anyone in industry can see so long ahead. Allwinner is young company, founded September 2007, i.e. less 12 years old. Who knows what they will do after 20 years? We see that Western companies with much more history change owners every year and no one knows what the new owner will decide to do, so no one can give you 10-20 years prediction or will simply intentionally or unintentionally mislead you.

For A13 and A20 this agreement works well last 7 years. Both we at Olimex and Allwinner has no reason stop production, which brings money to both of us. We got visit from Allwinner sales manager in March this year and he said that they never though they can sell A13 and A20 for so long time. Most of other SOCs they sell target consumer market where lifetime is 1-2 years top.

Linux and Open Source Hardware works well for them and prolong their sales.

TuxCon 2016 schedule is now completed


TuxCon is only 49 days away! TuxCon is completely free event and every one is invited.

I got note from the organizers that the schedules for July 9th and 10th is now complete.

In Saturday the talks will be as usual in Plovdiv Fair “Kirov” hall and  starts at 11.00

Saturday July 9th:
11:00 – 11:30 Reactive Java Robotics and IoT, Trayan Iliev, Bulgaria
11:40 – 12:10 Jitsi Meet, Yassen Pramatarov, Bulgaria
12:20 – 12:50 Security updates of GNU/Linux distributions, Damian Damianov, Bulgaria
13:00 – 13:30 WELEARNERS “Make Create Learn Digital in Europe”, Roland A. Burger, Sweden
13:30 – 14:10 Lunch
14:10 – 14:40 Puldin retro computer, Orlin Shopov, Bulgaria
14:50 – 15:20 FPGA FOSS toolchain, Edmund Humenberger, Austria
15:30 – 16:00 How to calculate 3D pixel coordinates with 2D camera, Lyubomir Dinchev, Bulgaria
16:10 – 16:40 Android customization, Nikolay Dimitrov, Bulgaria
17.00 – Lighting talks:
OpenSCAD, Delyan Tsonev
Web sited with Drupal, George Atanasov

few words for the talks:

Trayan Iliev will talk about Java Robotics he will also make workshop in Sunday.

Jitsi Meet doesn’t need presentation as it’s very popular FOSS video conferencing software, Yassen Pramatarov will speak for the latest development with this platform.

Damian Damianov will speak for GNU/Linux security and what sane precautions we should take when use Linux distributions.

Roland Burger is our first guest speaker from University of Stockholm and will present his idea about the Digital Learning in Europe i.e. how to sparkle the interest for IT in kids in schools.

Orlin Shopov is one of the software developer of Puldin retro computer and he will speak about how it was born and probably we will see other members of the team who worked on it also.

Edmund Humenberger is our second guest speaker, he is from Austria and his interest is FPGAs and how to use them with free and open source toolchain.

Lyubomir Dinchev will try to introduce us to new approach for Computer vision with direct image processing trying to explain it without too much math

Nikolay Dimitrov will speak about the Android distribution for Amazon which is made in Sofia by MM Solutions.

It will be long day and it will end with Beer party at 20.30 in local pub in Plovdiv.

Sunday July 10th we will continue with three workshops at Olimex training building.

11:00 – 13:00 Workshop: Reactive Java Robotics and IoT, Trayan Iliev, Bulgaria
13:00 – 15:00 Workshop: Open source hardware robotics, Olimex
15:00 – 17:00 Workshop: Hands on FPGA, Olimex
Open Source hardware robotics workshop will be done with our recent experiments with Robot hand with ESP8266 WiFi link and controllable with JavaScript.

Hands on FPGA workshop will introduce our new iCE40 FPGA boards and surrounding modules with fast DAC, ADC, Digital IOs, VGA etc. All who participate will receive 20% discount code for ordering of these boards and modules.

TuxCon is only 86 days away :) with lot of interesting talks and workshops FPGA, Retro Computing, Robotics


TuxCon 2016 the conference for Open Source Software and Hardware technologies in Plovdiv is approaching.

In Saturday the organizers prepare dense program with 8 lectures, Lighting talks and ending with Free (not as in speech) Beer Party thanks to the event sponsors!

Edmund Humenberger (http://icoboard.org/) is one of our confirmed speakers, he is Open Source evangelist worked as a Open Source Expert for the European Commission and do currently work on bringing an open source FPGA toolchain to the world.

Orlin Shopov is one of the software developers of Puldin computers manufactured back in 1988-1992 in Plovdiv. He accepted our invitation to come and speak and have idea to invite and bring all other people who were involved in the design and production of this unique 100% made in Bulgaria (no clone of Apple or Oric like Pravetz) retro computer. This will be celebration for all Retro Computer fans who come.

Many other talks are submitted and we wait more to come by May 15th when is the dead line.

In Sunday at Olimex building we will have two workshops:

First is for  FPGAs, with introduction which talks about how FPGAs are made, where they are used, the history around them, the different ways of programming, HD languages, with practical work – using iCE40 FPGA and Open Source tools you will be able to understand the design process flow and to write your first program in Verilog and run it on the board.

We will give away 10 boards to random people who attend this workshop, so you can challenge your luck!

The second workshop will be with Robotics topic and we will keep it surprise by now, but will include competition and will also have prizes.

We are Sponsoring again Embedded Linux Conference Europe (ELCE)


Embedded Linux Conference Europe this year will be in Dublin, Ireland from 5th to 7th of October.

For these who don’t know once per year there is LinuxCon at different spots of the world. Linux developers and supporters come together, talk about news and trends in Linux and discuss the future. There are lot of presentations, talks, discussion groups.

Embedded Linux is exactly what we use with OLinuXino Open Source Hardware computers.

In 2014 we have been invited and decided to sponsor LinuxCon for very first time. We went there and loved it. It’s nice to see face to face and chat with lot of people who you just know as IRC and Mailing Lists nicks.

This year we decided to do it again, so we will be there again. All sponsors have their own booths where show what they have, so if you are there you are welcome to pass to our booth!


Retro Computer Memories: Sinclair ZX81


ZX81 is home computer produced by Sinclair Research.

It was launched in 1981 and was designed as ultra low cost entry level home computer.

While the Apple ][ cost about $1300 at that time, ZX81 was just $100 and could be bought also in form of kit so you can solder it yourself.

Here is picture of ZX81 kit content:


ZX81 was designed to be small, simple and cheap. It uses TV tuner so you connect it to your TV and in 8KB of ROM it holds BASIC interpreter which have 1KB of RAM memory!

Its distinctive design brought its designer, Rick Dickinson, a Design Council award.

The unexpanded ZX81’s tiny memory presented a major challenge to programmers.

Simply displaying a full screen takes up to 768 bytes, the system variables take up another 125 bytes and the program, input buffer and stacks need more memory on top of that.

Nonetheless, ingenious programmers were able to achieve a surprising amount with just 1 kB. One notable example was 1K ZX Chess by David Home, which actually managed to squeeze most of the rules of chess into only 672 bytes! http://users.ox.ac.uk/~uzdm0006/scans/1kchess/

The ZX81 conserved its memory to a certain extent by representing entire BASIC commands as one-byte tokens, stored as individual “characters” in the upper reaches of the machine’s unique (non-ASCII) character set.

Let’s see what is inside:


nice red soldermask laquer 🙂



surprise: the top side have no protection mask – remember the PCB have to be cheap and soldermask cost money, as the components are soldered only on the bottom side there is just bottom solder mask.

As you can see from the picture above the ZX81 have just few ICs and all glue logic is in ULA Ferranti chip in the left of Z80. The two small ICs in the right side are the RAM memory and the big chip with the window is 8KB of UV-light Erasable ROM where the BASIC interpreter is.

I like ZX81 as it’s master piece for it’s time – showing how one home computer can be produced on budged and to be profitable.

Owing a piece of computer history: PRAVETZ 8D – ORIC ATMOS retro vintage computers


Oric was the name used by the Tangerine Computer Systems in UK for a series of home computer.

As you can see from the company name they were inspired by the very successful Apple Computer 🙂

Tangerine first released Oric-1 in 1983 and after they sold 160 000 pcs in UK and 50 000 in France they made Oric-Atmos in 1984 which was much improved version with better keyboard and more memory (48KB of RAM).

Oric-Atmos was a bit more sophisticated than Apple ][ as it had GI8912 programmable sound generator.

Oric-Atmos inspired lot of clones, one of them was Pravetz-8D, produced in Bulgaria from 1985 to 1991.

Pravetz computers were Bulgarian personal computers brand. They were designed by Ivan Marangozov in ITKR (Institute for Technical Cybernetics and Robotics) which was part of Bulgarian Academy of Science.

First computer designed by ITKR was IMKO2 in 1980 an Apple ][ clone with Mostek 6502 at 1Mhz processor, the processor was also cloned and produced in Bulgaria under the name CM630.

These computers were great success and good opportunity to export them to all around Ex-communist economy zone. Statistics says that in the period 1980-1990 around 40% of all computers sold in ex-communist countries in Eastern Europe were made in Bulgaria.

Pravetz computers had several modifications:

  • Pravetz-8M – dual processor computer with both 6502 and Z80A which could be selected by motherboard jumper so you could run Apple DOS or CP-M on same computer
  • Pravetz-8E – upgrade of original Pravetz-82 with more RAM memory (E=extended memory)
  • Pravetz-8A – based on CM630 with up to 1MB RAM divided in 64KB memory banks
  • Pravetz 8С – cut down Pravetz-8А version, 128Kb RAM integrated, but not expandable, less number of slots, integrated Centronics, FDD controllers, Joystick and sometimes RS-232.
  • Pravetz 8S – 128Kb RAM integrated, exapandable to 1080KB, less number of slots, integrated Centronics, FDD controllers, Joystick and sometimes RS-232. Could control 3.5″ floppy disk drive and a 5MB HDD.

as you can see ITKR did not blindly copy the Apple computers, but also improved the hardware, there were also team of software developers which had released lot of system software including DOS, compilers etc which support Cyrillic alphabet, also talking program which add voice to Pravetz and many other originally developed software.

The major problem with Pravetz 82 and etc to become real home computer was it price, the computer with the special monitor cost about 1600-1800 Bulgarian Leva which was about 6 average salaries at that time and not many people could afford to have at home.

This was changed with Pravetz-8D which was copy of Oric-Atmos and could connect to any normal TV and was with sale price only 420 Leva. This is why many students at that time had Pravetz-8D as their first computer.

The production of Pravetz-8D started in 1985 (!) i.e. it was cloned one year after Tangerine released it to the market.

Initially Pravetz-8D had no floppy interface but only cassette interface, but later Borislav Zahariev wrote DOS-8D operating system and there were lot of amateur hacks how to attach floppy disk from Apple ][ / Pravetz-82 to Pravetz-8D. Borislav also was famous at that time with his text to speech program for Pravetz which was performing pretty well for that time.  Checking where Borislav is now found it in Linkedin http://ca.linkedin.com/in/borislavzahariev  seems he is now in Canada and working for local company and enjoying playing guitar in his free time http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Jsap__e8sA .

I’m still keeping my Pravetz-8D and recently I bought on e-bay the original Oric-Atmos, so there they are:


at left side is Oric-Atmos at right side is Pravetz-8D

As you can see Pravetz-8D is bit bigger but have integrated power supply inside, while Oric need external power adapter.

Let’s see what is under the box in Pravetz-8D:


In the upper left corner is the RF TV modulator, then the composite video output, cassete interface, parallel port/printer interface and phone modem interface. The power supply is inside the box with large aluminum heatsink.


here is side view of the connectors


on the back we can see the year of manufacture 1986 and serial number 03163.


the keyboard is on separate board with ribbon cable connected to main board.


Oric-Atmos is with very compact size as power supply is with external adapter. This way UK company makes it easy to export to European countries which use different style of power supply plugs.


to open it I had to remove the warranty label 🙂


this is the main board assembly


the keyboard is on separate board again connected with ribbon cable:



side view show TV connector, then composite video, cassete interface modem connector (hiden with red tape for some reason) and the parallel printer port and power supply adapter.

Both computers although at 27 years age are still in working condition and in good order 🙂 I have still some cassetes with retro games which run on both

With the years I collected a lot of vintage computers from 1980s and next week will show you something else from my collection.