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sirmike

Important OPI won't boot? Overscan got you down? ..try again and benefit..

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If you are reading this you've probably discovered that there are a few things about 

the Orange Pi series of boards that can be frustrating.  I know I have been..

 

I purchased an Orange Pi PC and two Orange Pi Ones anticipating Pi bliss at a 

fraction of the cost of the Raspberry equivalent.  I tried, and tried hard, to 

load distro after distro of various linux flavors onto micro SD cards with many 

a blank screen or an aborted boot attempt.. Orange Pi site distros, 

laboris distros, Armbian distros.. nothing seemed to make a difference.

 

Reading about power supply issues, ornery boot processes, and overscan issues 

I was really beginning to think this was money poorly spent, after all the boards 

weren't much use as intert bricks.. too small and light to make for a decent paper 

weight or door stop.. no practical use at all.. perhaps I could crush them with 

a lump hammer to derive some satisfaction for fruitless hours spent trying to get 

these things to work..

 

Then it dawned on me.. perhaps there was something to the advice I was seeing 

on the forum.. Out of curiosity I tried a decent USB-lithium battery pack instead 

of the little 5v wall wart I was using to power my Orange Pi PC and low and behold 

the thing booted reliably. Go figure.. all this time I was blaming the board when 

it was really the #$!#!@ underpowered wall-wart causing the issue.. try the OPI-One..

same deal, it booted.. try the next One.. same deal, it booted happily.

 

I then measured the current draw during the boot process and found that the Quad 

core board was actually a hungry little bugger.. peaking out at almost 600ma 

at one point in the boot process with no accessories attached.. before settling 

down to around 240ma at an idle. Lesson learned: Don't cheap out on your 

power supply for these boards... and you've made it over the first hurdle.

 

Next hurdle..  the damn video is overscanning my LG HDMI monitor.. no adjustment 

on the monitor to scale the desktop image to fit the screen size, and no easy boot 

config file like RPi to turn underscanning on in the linux OS. This means I can't 

see the menus at the top of the screen.. I didn't have this issue with the RPi.. 

but hey the RPi cost more, has a user base of 6 million users and a dedicated, paid 

software development team with 4 years under its belt.

 

Put it in perspective.. OPI is a smaller community and it takes time to develop 

code and work out the kinks in a product.. so a bit of patience is in order.

Thank you to the Armbian developers and testers, your efforts are appreciated.

 

 

 

So what to do about the overscan issue.. well I happened to have an HDMI to VGA 

adapter with a 3.5mm audio jack output on the side.. so I added it into the mix, 

and lo and behold the overscan issue was dimished a great deal..not perfect, 

but much more usable desktop real estate. 

 

Then I tried the MPV media player with Armbian distro to play canned mp4 videos 

and was favorably impressed with the play quality with the built in Mali hardware 

graphics acceleration.. easily as good as the RPi and Omxplayer.. perhaps even 

with better controls in the MPV media player app.. score one for OPI.. 

things were looking up.. this was along way from the inert brick I owned earlier in the day.

 

So what about the overscan issue.. yes it is annoying, but perhaps over time there will

be a software fix developed to make it go away.. patience.

 

What else to do in the mean time?  

 

Well it is likely that the OPI in you life is not the only computer you have at 

your disposal..  so why not VNC into your OPI..?  You can set the X-window defaults 

to a reasonable screen size.. and have your OPI desktop arrive in a window on 

your other computer..  

 

Googling RPi VNC I found xtightvncviewer and xtightvncserver install instructions.. 

I installed, and went with a desktop size of 1280x600 for a comfortable fitting window 

on my RPI desktop..  and soon had a serviceable non-overscanned OPI remote desktop 

from my RPI..  hooray!

 

No hardware accelerated video through the VNC session.. but a decent desktop experience 

for most other pursuits.

 

Lesson learned.. OPI software is in it's infancy, and with time and effort spent, 

and some temporary workarounds.. it will find many uses.

 

If you want closer to perfection out of the box than what OPI has to offer? Pay more and benefit from a 

more developed product.. however, if you want to work the line a bit -  between cost and functionality -

perhaps you have more time than money available at the moment - don't dispair at your purchase.. 

persist a while before you opt for the lump hammer option.. and you may get what you need out of 

the RPi's clone-family with a bit of effort spent..  Good Luck.

 

 

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Go figure.. all this time I was blaming the board when it was really the #$!#!@ underpowered wall-wart causing the issue.. 

 

Well known issue. The other source of complaints are crappy SD cards. And both basic hardware issues that are neither related to the board nor to the OS image used are not well understood by the average user.

 

I still don't get it why SBC vendors don't emphasize more on this since they could save them and their users from so much hassles.

 

Over 95% of 'Armbian sucks' complaints are related to either power issues or faulty/ultra-slow SD cards used but we can't do much to raise awareness since especially users of the desktop OS images don't read documentation (and to be honest... we do not emphasize on this that much either and take every complaint serious)

 

Regarding your desktop experience it should be noted that Armbian was a stable headless distribution not so long ago, that most if not all of the core devs aren't interested in this desktop stuff that much and that there's a lot of room for improvements. But I fear unless one or more people that are addicted to this desktop stuff join development efforts not that much will change while we see a lot of improvements ready to be integrated (really looking forward to the work done around the C.H.I.P. since all users of Mali equipped sunxi SoCs might be able to directly benefit from)

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Follow-up on the overscan issue.. more egg on face, RTFM material..

 

Turns out  that HDMI on the LG monitor (LCD TV) I have attached to my OPI-PC can be adjusted to remove overscan from the desktop display.. it just isn't called 'overscan adjustment'..   under the monitor's settings menu there are Picture->Aspect Ratio settings that set the screen behaviour up.. 16:9, 4:3, Just Scan, Set by program, Zoom, Cinema Zoom..  selecting "Just Scan" does the trick.. (only if you're attached via HDMI, the option is greyed out using a VGA attachment..)

 

Now I have a very fine OPI-PC Armbian desktop running inside the bounds of the screen.

 

Once again, a simple fix, that does not involve adapters, Armbian code updates, or buying a new screen..  simple stuff that can only be attributed to read-the-*-manual.

 

Having trouble with overscan,,, and think your monitor doesn't have the feature to fix it?  Look harder and you may be going Doh!

..and now it works.

 

 

 

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Lesson learned.. OPI software is in it's infancy, and with time and effort spent, 

and some temporary workarounds.. it will find many uses.

 

If you want closer to perfection out of the box than what OPI has to offer? Pay more and benefit from a 

more developed product.. however, if you want to work the line a bit -  between cost and functionality -

perhaps you have more time than money available at the moment - don't dispair at your purchase.. 

persist a while before you opt for the lump hammer option.. and you may get what you need out of 

the RPi's clone-family with a bit of effort spent..  Good Luck.

 

 

I totally LOVE my OPi.PC and OPi. one running Armbian 5.05.

 

I have the over-scan problem but I am used to it now and can kind of guess whats going on.

 

I just love the low power.

 

It is 50% faster at least than the Raspberry Pi i had been using.

I feel it is quite snappy for low powered applications.

 

Ie it can write a letter and surf the net all for $15.00. I have had bad meals for more money.

 

I am running a Sandisk 32gb Class 4 SD Card and it seems really fine. I am using x11vnc to remote desktop. Its ok but it crashes after a while. So now I ssh into the unit and restart x11vnc. Its kind of a happy compromise.

 

My only problem I have is I can not access a USB storage drive if I plug it into the USB ports.

 

It says I do not have permission?

 

I am thinking of having the OPi on all the time 24 hrs a day and am trying to think of any uses that would be worth setting up on it. So far I use it for a bit of downloading and print server.

 

Do you guys have any other 24hr apps that you intend to set up?

 

 

Once again well done to the Orange PI Armbian Team

 

Seasalt

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Yep, overscan is a pain. I have tried two TVs and both overscan on 720p resolution. Going through the TV settings in both cases reveals options to make the overscan worse, but none to correct it. 

However they both work perfectly when driven with their native resolution. For one, that is 1080i, which displays beautifully. For the other, which I actually want to use with the OPi PC, it is 1360x768. Odd resolution for a TV but there are quite a few older sets like that around. And if you drive it at that resolution, whether HDMI or VGA, there is no overscan.

But will the OPi do that? Well the OpenELEC ROM includes a script.bin to set the resolution to 4k (= 3840x2160 @ 30hz) which translates to mode 28 in the FEX. So there are other modes possible than those listed in h3disp -- I'd very much like to know what they are!

You can view the missing bits of the display from another device using x11vnc. This has another advantage -- sometimes something will go wrong when playing a video, and even after exiting mpv a corrupt image will be left covering part or all of the screen, making it hard to use. However the vnc viewer shows the screen as it should be, so you can start mpv again and close it properly, which gets rid of the corruption. 

Computers that always work right are boring!

    --Jal

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