There was a time when computers were enormous, expensive machines that filled entire rooms. Now you can pick up a tiny desktop computer like the Raspberry Pi for about $35.

But there’s room to go even smaller… and cheaper. Three new projects hit crowdfunding campaign Indiegogo recently, with the developers hoping to raise funds to offer incredibly small computer modules for prices as low as $15.

These aren’t necessarily systems that will replace your Core i7 desktop PC anytime soon. But they could be used to help set up a wireless media server, print station, home automation system, or other DIY projects.

asiarf AWM002

AsiaRF AWM002 mini kit

The AWM002 mini kit is basically a little computer module with integrated 802.11n WiFi, 8MB of flash storage, 32MB of RAM, and a connected USB port and Ethernet jack as well as a micro USB port for power.

It’s based on the Ralink RT5350 micro board, and the system is so small that the Ethernet jack is by far the largest visible component. The system measures about 1.4″ x 1.1″ inches.

The system runs the Linux-based OpenWRT operating system and features a 360 MHz MIPS processor.

AsiaRF is hoping to raise at least $6,000 through an Indiegogo campaign to get to the next phase of development, and the company is offering the module itself for as little as $15 to early bird backers.

Prices will go up to $23 per unit after the first 50 modules are claimed, and the estimated delivery date is July, 2014.

If you want the Tiny kit with Ethernet and USB ports, the price goes up to $38.

WiFiDuino

Looking for something a little more versatile? The WiFiDuino is another tiny board aimed at the DIY set — but this is an Arduino-compatible board that measures about 1.5″ x 1″.

WiFiDuino

The developers are offering three different versions of the system. There’s a WiFi + Duino board with 802.11b/g wireless, a Duino + OLED without wireless, but with a smaller 128 x 64 pixel OLED display, or the WiFi + Duino + OLED with the whole kit and caboodle.

Prices for the WiFiDuino start at $29 with an estimated ship date of October, 2014 if the team can meet its goal of raising $23,000.

What makes the WiFiDunio system different from the AsiaRF board is its compatibility with the Arduino system which means you can use Arduino development tools  — but it’s smaller and cheaper than a typical Arduino device.

WiFiDuino uses the same processor as the Arduino Leonardo with a WiFi Shield, which would cost about $65 if you ordered from the AdaFruit store.

VoCore

Like the AsiaRF AWM002, this little guy uses a Ralink RT5350 chip with a 360 MHz MIPS CPU, 8MB of flash storage and 32MB of RAM. It measures about 0.95 inches by 0.95 inches square.

vocore_00

It supports interfaces for Ethernet, GPIO, USB, UART, JTAG, and more, but the VoCore itself doesn’t actually come with any USB or Ethernet ports unless you buy a separate dock… which is also ridiculously small. The VoCore does support WiFi though.

While the VoCore module itself can be yours for a pledge of $20, the VoCore plus dock starts at $40.

The developers suggest you could use this little system to connect a hard drive, printer, speaker, or camera to a WiFi network, create a portable VPN router, or create your own projects.

The VoCore project smashed through its $6,000 funding goal pretty quickly and early backers have already snapped up the lowest-priced rewards. But even at full price, the VoCore module can be yours for just $20. It should ship around October, 2014.

vocore dock

via CNX Software and DigiSpeaker

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6 replies on “Crowdfunding: 3 incredibly tiny PC modules starting at just $15”

  1. sorry if i am missing something here how exactly is this any better than running linux on an old smartphone like the optimus v or even a first gen android tv box running linux?

    1. I guess size. These seem to also be meant to go into very small devices or part of wearable tech. A smartphone (especially if you add an Ethernet adapter) and Android TV boxes would be too big for those types of applications. Plus, there’s a chance of better developer support on these. Smartphones and TV boxes aren’t meant to be used for other things than their original purpose so DIYers tend to have more issues using them for projects than devices meant for developers.

      Of course, if you’re planning on making an HTPC, these micro devices are definitely not what you’d be using. For the hobby projects I’m planning, I’m thinking of spending more money to get bigger but more powerful and more Linux friendly x86 SBCs like the MinnowBoard MAX.

    2. Some combination of lower power, smaller size, (potentially) more reliable supply. Depends on your goal. An old smartphone migh be fine for a one off, but what if you want to do a trial run of 100?

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