I’m quite involved in developing an autonomous robot platform for outside work. The robot will work in the summer during the day for a few hours, which result in high temperatures for all its components. My main concern is the electronic parts. I have plans to install a cooling system for these, but I’m not sure if I can keep the temperature values at an acceptable threshold.
Besides, I want to reduce the temperature of the electronics using parts that do not work under stress. Low stress results in low temperature generated by the component. Thus, I’ve come to look for Raspberry Pi 3 alternatives to run ROS and communicate with the robot.
I use the Raspberry Pi 3 to run ROS Kinetic, monitor and control the robot. Raspberry Pi is a pretty stable platform and can work continuously for weeks without a problem. Its alternative must provide as much stability in operation, community support, and resources.
The budget for this change is not greater than €150. My research led to the next list (the list will be updated once new alternatives appear).
Jetson TK1 / TX1 / TX2 or Intel NUC is out of the question for the moment. Any of the three Jetson variants or the Intel computer cost a few hundred euros. It is worth investing money in such a board if running ROS and computer vision applications. Otherwise, I do not see any reason in spending hundreds of euro to run ROS nodes for sensors and navigation algorithms.
Added on 19.December.2018
Renegade has the form-factor compatible with Raspberry Pi 3 and can run ROS without a big effort with its 1.4GHz ARM Cortex-A53 processor and 4GB of DDR4. It has a price of $80.00 (the version with 4GB DDR4), but the final price will increase by a few dollars considering that it has no WiFi. Is needed a USB dongle if you desire to use this function.
XU4 has a competitive price of about €63 and on the specifications list is a Cortex-A15 processor that can provide 2Ghz and 2GB of LPDDR3. The only minus of this board is the lack of a built-in WiFi module. I need an extra €5 to buy a WiFi module to have an Internet connection.
Asus Tinker runs ROS nodes on a QuadCore ARM SOC 1.8GHz processor with 2GB of RAM. It has an built-in WiFi module and a price around €49. I have some doubts about the operating system. In reviews from Amazon other users reveals stability issues for Android and Debian images. This makes me think twice about making a decision. It is very important to me to use a single board computer for months without interruption. An unstable operating system can lead to a large number of reboots and downtime.
Rock64 comes in several variants and the strongest one has 4GB of RAM and an ARM Cortex A53 64-bit processor. The board can run a full version of Linux Ubuntu or Debian. The price is also good considering the performance – around €38. The only thing that concerns me is the community support. An active community could save me for a lot of hours to fix issues.