3D Printing Blog

Klipper on Orange Pi Zero 2

If you want to use Klipper firmware on your 3D printer, you typically add a single board computer (SBC) like Raspberry Pi. Raspberry Pi is great, and it used to be affordable, but nowadays, due to chip shortage and supply chain issues, its price has skyrocketed, and even if you’re willing to pay it, they are out of stock most of the time. I got my hands on an alternative board called Orange Pi Zero 2, and I’m going to test how it compares to Raspberry Pi Zero 2 and Raspberry Pi 4.

Orange Pi Zero 2

Orange Pi Zero 2 comes in a different form factor than any Raspberry Pi. It’s sized in between RPi Zero and a regular Raspberry Pi. The performance and price also fit right in the middle between RPi Zero 2 and RPi 4. See the comparison table I made:

Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W Orange Pi Zero 2 Raspberry Pi 4
CPU Quad-core A53 @ 1GHz Quad-core A53 @ 1.5GHz Quad-core A72 @ 1.5GHz
CPU Score #1 3024 3320 5692
CPU Score #2 528 929 864
Memory 512MB 512MB/1GB 1GB/2GB/4GB/8GB
Memory Type LPDDR2 LPDDR3 LPDDR4-3200
Memory Score 1469 2032 2965
RAM 512MB 512MB/1GB 1GB/2GB/4GB/8GB
WiFi 2.4 GHz 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz
GPIO header 40-pin 26-pin 40-pin
Serial ports 1 3 1
USB ports 1 1 (3) 4
Footprint 1950mm^2 3180mm^2 4836mm^2
MSRP $15 $16/$19 $35/$45/$55/$75

Orange Pi has a lot of differences, and even though it features the same ARM CPU cores as RPi Zero 2, it is not binary compatible with Raspberry Pi. It means the SD card from Raspberry Pi will not work on the Orange Pi. You will have to flash the Orange Pi OS image and install the software you want from scratch.

It also features a smaller GPIO header: 26-pin vs. 40-pin, so RPi shields will not fit. We rarely use any shields for 3D printers, but they may be important to some people. The 26 pin header matches Raspberry Pi, but you can get access to more interfaces with pinmuxing (see pinout here).

There are some unique capabilities too. Because Orange Pi Zero 2 uses a WiFi antenna with u.FL connector, you could switch to a high gain antenna if you need to work with bad reception, or you could route the antenna outside the case if you mount the Orange Pi in a metal enclosure. It also has 3 hardware serial ports, so you could connect more serial devices without the need for USB to serial converters. These features will definitely be helpful to some people.

Can it run Klipper?

Yes, it has plenty of power to run Klipper with Mainsail, Fluidd, or OctoPrint. However, the SD card images you find to download for MainsailOS, OctoPrint, and similar will not work. You will have to flash the Orange Pi OS to the SD card and set up the software from there. I used Ubuntu Jammy based Orange Pi OS, and kiauth made installing Klipper+Mainsail easy.

SPI pins on the 26-pin header match Raspberry Pi so you will not have any issues hooking up ADXLl345 for input shaper calibration.

Final thoughts

I think Orange Pi Zero 2 is a great alternative for the Raspberry Pi. It’s easy to find in stock and it will save you some money too. The only downside, it doesn’t have as big a community as Raspberry Pi. For example, I was unable to find a mounting bracket for it, so I had to design one myself (you can find it here). You may also find that some guides meant for Raspberry Pi will need changes to work. These things make it a bit more challenging to use, but if you already have experience setting up Raspberry Pi from scratch, you should be able to figure it out as well.

Disclaimer: Trianglelab provided Orange Pi Zero 2 kit free of charge but did not have any influence on the contents of this post.

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