FAQ: CHIP - The World's First Nine Dollar Computer

Check out the project updates on Kickstarter

How is C.H.I.P. so cheap?

QUANTITY. Our partners at Allwinner worked hard to help us find how to reduce costs, so that we could introduce C.H.I.P. to EVERYBODY. To sell C.H.I.P. for $9, we need to order tens of thousands of chips. By using common, available, and volume-produced processor, memory, and wifi chips, we are able to leverage the scales at which tablet manufacturers operate to get everyone the best price. Last updated: Thu, May 7 2015 6:29 pm EDT

Can I buy multiple C.H.I.P.s right now?

We’ve held off on allowing multiple C.H.I.P. orders from our early production batches in order to make sure that everyone who wants to be an early adopter via Kickstarter is able. Offering Multiple-C.H.I.P. packs would mean that a single manufacturing run reaches fewer people. Don’t worry, we plan to make C.H.I.P. available in larger quantities later. Last updated: Fri, May 22 2015 6:20 pm EDT

Will C.H.I.P. be available after the campaign?

Right now, we are entirely focused on the Kickstarter campaign. The only way to be an early adopter of C.H.I.P. is through Kickstarter. We plan to make C.H.I.P. available at a later date, but are committed to fulfilling our Kickstarter backers’ pledges first. Last updated: Fri, May 22 2015 6:20 pm EDT

Can I add extra to my pledge to get more items?

Unfortunately, no. Kickstarter does not allow us to offer add-ons to rewards, or allow multiple rewards, and with the amazing number of backers C.H.I.P. has, we simply can’t track each pledge + reward individually! Please take a minute to make sure your pledge and reward tier match. Last updated: Fri, May 22 2015 6:20 pm EDT

You've hit your goal already. Why does my pledge matter?

We are working very hard to make C.H.I.P. possible, and every pledge on Kickstarter helps us prove that the world wants access to lower cost computing. By backing C.H.I.P.’s Kickstarter campaign, you add your voice to the conversation, and help show that the world wants a $9 computer for everything from education to home automation. Back C.H.I.P. today, and be a part of the early adopters that made it possible! Last updated: Fri, May 22 2015 6:20 pm EDT

International shipping is (still) too expensive!

Yes. And we are still very actively looking into it. We’ve been in contact with dozens of specialists: distribution centers, freight forwarders, fulfillment companies and customs brokers. We’re doing our best to find more competitive international rates and are trying to get our shipping costs down. Even though C.H.I.P. is small, there are handling, distribution and shipping costs that can’t be skimped on if we want your package to arrive safely. Last updated: Fri, May 22 2015 6:20 pm EDT

How many accessible pins does C.H.I.P. have?

8 digital GPIOs, one PWM pin, SPI, TWI (I2C), UART, USB, MIPI-CSI, Parallel LCD output, touchpanel input, stereo audio out, mono audio in, composite video out, and a whole bunch of power rails in and out. Most of these are set by the processor, but others are still subject to change as we finalize part selections. We’ll post more specific pinouts and electrical specs when we have finalized the design for “Alpha” modules in September. Last updated: Tue, May 12 2015 3:11 am EDT

Can I get C.H.I.P. sooner?

Yes. If you come work with us. :) Otherwise, September for Kernel Hacker backers, December for C.H.I.P. backers, and early next year for everyone else. Last updated: Thu, May 7 2015 6:29 pm EDT

Does C.H.I.P. run Ubuntu?

Not yet, but the real beauty of open source hardware/software projects is that there is nothing stopping a motivated user from getting Ubuntu.. or a media player.. or ??? working on C.H.I.P. Last updated: Thu, May 7 2015 6:29 pm EDT

How can you power C.H.I.P.?

C.H.I.P. takes power in from an attached battery, runs on wired 5V DC input power, or can be powered via the same microUSB port that is used for battery charging and USB-OTG. Last updated: Thu, May 7 2015 6:29 pm EDT

How does C.H.I.P. charge an attached battery?

C.H.I.P has an onboard X-Powers AXP209 PMIC chip which handles battery charging, pass-through-power, and DCDC conversions for the onboard power rails. It's a real workhorse! Last updated: Thu, May 7 2015 6:29 pm EDT

Does the WiFi support AP mode?

YES!! Last updated: Thu, May 7 2015 6:29 pm EDT

Is C.H.I.P. Open Source? Where are the docs?

YES. Very open source, but we are still in the process of testing and refining the whole family of C.H.I.P. boards, and are not yet releasing our design files. We expect to be pushing files out publicly soon after the campaign. Last updated: Thu, May 7 2015 6:29 pm EDT

Is there a battery in PocketC.H.I.P.?

YES! PocketC.H.I.P. is a real portable computer. It has a 3000mAH 3.7V LiPo battery included, which should turn out to about 5 hours of operating time, depending on use. Last updated: Thu, May 7 2015 6:29 pm EDT

Is PocketC.H.I.P.’s screen color?

YES! 16 million beautiful colors on a 4.3” TFT backlit LCD screen. The exact screen may change slightly in sourcing, but we are committed to making PocketC.H.I.P. useful and fun right off the bat. Last updated: Thu, May 7 2015 6:29 pm EDT

Does PocketC.H.I.P. have exposed ports?

YES! All of C.H.I.P.'s ports are exposed through the bottom of PocketC.H.I.P.'s back: USB, microUSB, and headphone/mic port Last updated: Fri, May 8 2015 10:07 pm EDT

How does PocketC.H.I.P. charge?

Through C.H.I.P.'s microUSB port. PocketC.H.I.P. is literally powered by C.H.I.P. Both the battery charger and power supply for PocketC.H.I.P. are on C.H.I.P. So to charge the battery, plug power into C.H.I.P.'s microUSB port, the same way you would for a battery operated C.H.I.P. on its own. Last updated: Fri, May 8 2015 10:12 pm EDT

What kind of battery can I use with C.H.I.P.?

Any single-cell (3.7V) LiPo battery will work with C.H.I.P. You can go bigger or smaller than 3000mAH as needed for your project! Last updated: Sat, May 9 2015 11:59 am EDT

I want to know more about the Allwinner R8 processor!

The R8 is based on Allwinner's A13, so for tech references you can get a good sense of the R8's features from the A13 datasheet on linux-sunxi.org https://linux-sunxi.org/images/e/eb/A13_Datasheet.pdf Last updated: Sat, May 9 2015 1:19 pm EDT

Can I upgrade C.H.I.P.'s RAM/Storage/Processor?

Technically, yes, but the components are soldered on and not intended to be swapped out. If you really like reworking small BGA and fine pitch components, though, we won't stop you. :) If you want additional storage, you can attach a USB drive! Last updated: Sat, May 9 2015 1:26 pm EDT

Does Linux come preinstalled?

YES! C.H.I.P. comes with Linux installed, and a selection of our favorite programs and games. Like any real computer, you can download more software and customize C.H.I.P.s applications and operating system to suit your needs! Last updated: Sat, May 9 2015 1:46 pm EDT

Can I plug in a Keyboard, Mouse, AND power?

The easiest way to accomplish this is to power C.H.I.P. as usual via the microUSB port, and attach a USB keyboard with an accessory USB port on it, then connect your wired mouse to that port. Alternatively, a bluetooth keyboard or mouse can be used to free up the need for one or both USB device ports. For more advanced use cases, C.H.I.P. can be powered via its interconnects, leaving both the full size USB and microUSB ports available to attach devices to. Last updated: Mon, May 11 2015 2:25 am EDT

What connector is used on the battery?

In our initial prototypes, we are using a JST-2.0 PH 2-pin shrouded male connector to connect LiPo cells to C.H.I.P. In the current design there are also BATT pins available on the interconnect headers, which allow alternate battery connectors/placements when attaching C.H.I.P. to a custom PCBA. ** FINAL CONNECTOR SELECTION WILL HAPPEN AFTER MORE REVISIONS!!** Please do not buy a whole pile of JST-PH crimps and housings just yet. Last updated: Mon, May 11 2015 2:25 am EDT

What voltage are GPIOs?

Current designs are for 3V3 digital logic on GPIOs, but part selection (and associated specs) may change slightly as designs are revised and prototypes are tested. Last updated: Mon, May 11 2015 2:43 am EDT

Does C.H.I.P. have an ethernet port?

No, but you can add one via the USB ports if that suits your project. There is however, built-in 802.11b/g/n wifi. Last updated: Mon, May 11 2015 12:35 pm EDT

Does C.H.I.P. come with a banana?

C.H.I.P. is strictly B.Y.O.B. ;) Last updated: Tue, May 12 2015 12:28 pm EDT

Does C.H.I.P. have a Real Time Clock?

No, but adding an RTC is a great (and easy) hardware hack, for the folks that need it. For most people, though, an RTC isn’t necessary since it is easy to get C.H.I.P. to pull time from a remote NTP server over wifi. Last updated: Tue, May 12 2015 3:08 am EDT

What does C.H.I.P. stand for?

We’re curious to hear what you think ;) Last updated: Tue, May 12 2015 3:05 am EDT

What programming languages does C.H.I.P. support?

C.H.I.P. is a /real/ computer, and can run software written in all kinds of programming languages, so long as there’s a compiler for them. Python, Ruby, PHP, C++, JS, Assembly, BF.. even our favorite, ArnoldC, and lots lots more. Last updated: Tue, May 12 2015 3:08 am EDT

Does the HDMI adapter have HDMI audio output?

Not at this time. Because there is no onboard digital audio support from our processor, C.H.I.P.’s current design only has analog audio output via the ⅛” headphone/composite jack. Adding a USB sound card is the easiest way to beef up your CHIP’s digital audio output options. Last updated: Tue, May 12 2015 12:27 pm EDT

Does C.H.I.P. support /some specific program/?

Maybe! C.H.I.P. comes pre-loaded with some of our favorite open-source applications, and the ability to install hundreds more. What’s even more exciting, though, is that if any given program isn’t supported out of the box, the community can work together to make it happen. That’s what we <3 about Open Source Software. Last updated: Tue, May 12 2015 3:08 am EDT

Can I connect to composite video AND audio out at the same time?

YES! The 1/8" mini (TRRS) jack can be used either with a video-only cable, audio only cable, headphones, headphones with mic, OR a combined Audio/Video composite cable. Pretty versatile little port, isn't it!? Last updated: Tue, May 12 2015 3:15 am EDT

Does C.H.I.P. have a power switch?

Yes! C.H.I.P. has a tiny power / reset button and a status LED on the board itself. Last updated: Fri, May 15 2015 11:54 pm EDT

Does PocketC.H.I.P. have speakers?

PocketC.H.I.P. doesn’t have speakers built-in, but you can plug headphones or a portable amplifier into C.H.I.P.s ⅛” output jack. Since C.H.I.P. has onboard bluetooth, you can also pair a b also connect a BT speaker or headphones! Last updated: Fri, May 22 2015 6:20 pm EDT

Why composite video?

Several reasons: Televisions are the most commonly available screen in the world and the vast majority of them have a composite input. Composite video can also be integrated without having to work in licensing fees to the cost of C.H.I.P. Composite is also a very low profile connector, allowing us to keep the footprint of the board small for people wanting to build C.H.I.P. into projects. Last updated: Fri, May 22 2015 6:20 pm EDT

Does C.H.I.P have an SD Card slot?

No. But by integrating reliable storage onto the device, we’re able to both save you a “getting started” cost and allow Linux to come preinstalled on C.H.I.P. meaning it's ready to go when it arrives at your door. One of the big goals of this project is making C.H.I.P. easy to use, and this goes a long way towards that end. If you need additional storage, it’s easy to add an SD card reader over the USB ports on C.H.I.P. Last updated: Fri, May 22 2015 6:20 pm EDT

Can I make my own adapter / shield / extension board?

Absolutely! The schematics and layout for the boards, both of C.H.I.P. and C.H.I.P.’s adapters will be released as they are finalized for production. From that, you can build whatever sort of adapters or add-ons you want! Last updated: Fri, May 22 2015 6:20 pm EDT

How do I connect a display?

You can connect a display through the 3.5mm (⅛”) TRRS composite video port on C.H.I.P. If you’d like to connect to a vga or hdmi monitor, we have adapters available for that! You can also connect any parallel LCD to the exposed display pins on C.H.I.P.’s headers. Last updated: Fri, May 22 2015 6:20 pm EDT

Do the adapters come off?

Yes! C.H.I.P. is designed to be modular, versatile, and mobile. Strip it down and C.H.I.P. remains functional on its own, or stack it up and teach C.H.I.P. new tricks! Last updated: Fri, May 22 2015 6:20 pm EDT

What about a camera?

C.H.I.P. has exposed CSI pins on its headers for integrating a camera directly to the processor, or if drivers and sensor tuning sound like a bit much, you can always add a USB camera too. Last updated: Thu, May 28 2015 8:54 pm EDT

Is C.H.I.P. an exposed circuit board?

Yes! Not having a case for C.H.I.P. is one of the ways we are able to keep our costs down. As makers, we’re excited to introduce people to the physical components of computers and show them that electronics aren’t scary, they’re fun! We hope people are encouraged to begin tinkering themselves. Last updated: Fri, May 22 2015 6:20 pm EDT

What can PocketC.H.I.P. do?

PocketC.H.I.P. adds a molded case, battery, keyboard, and touchscreen display for C.H.I.P. That means that anything that C.H.I.P. can do, PocketC.H.I.P. can do portable! Last updated: Fri, May 22 2015 6:20 pm EDT

Can I make a supercomputer by linking 100 chips together?!

We’re focused on individual uses of C.H.I.P. but what you’re talking about is called clustering, and may be possible -- A good place to start, if you’re interested in clustering, is reading up on Debian-Beowulf. https://www.debian.org/ports/beowulf/ Last updated: Fri, May 22 2015 6:20 pm EDT

Can I stream Netflix?

Due to a lack of support for Silverlight (the back-end software that allows Netflix to be streamed) in Linux, it is unlikely that Netflix will work on C.H.I.P. using entirely open-source software unless someone comes up with an alternate back-end. That said, some very astute backers have reported that Netflix should be possible by installing the Google Chrome browser, which allows Netflix streaming via HTML5. Last updated: Thu, May 28 2015 8:54 pm EDT

What resolution can C.H.I.P. function at?

C.H.I.P. is designed to work at 720p resolution, though the Mali 400 GPU is technically capable of up to 1080p outputs. Last updated: Fri, May 22 2015 6:20 pm EDT

Do I need to install something for C.H.I.P. to be a computer?

No. C.H.I.P. will come preinstalled with a customized Linux OS and with an office suite, a series of tools and handful of games that we like. Just power on, and get started. Last updated: Fri, May 22 2015 6:20 pm EDT

What accessories does C.H.I.P. come with?

C.H.I.P. pledge rewards at the $9, $19, and $150 levels come with a ⅛” mini TRRS to RCA composite video output cable, which lets you hook C.H.I.P. up to most televisions. Any other cable, you’ll need to provide yourself. Last updated: Fri, May 22 2015 6:20 pm EDT

What about the power cable?!

C.H.I.P. can be powered via a standard (>500mA) microUSB phone charger and cable. Many old and existing phone charging cables will work, or most 5V USB power “wall wart” adapters. Last updated: Fri, May 22 2015 6:20 pm EDT

Why hasn’t my comment/message been answered?

We’re doing our best, but please be patient: there are 30,000 of you (!!!) in every imaginable timezone and only 9 of us! We are reading every comment and message and updating our FAQs with the most common questions so they do everyone good. Please take a minute to read through the FAQs, chances are pretty good your question has already been covered. (/◔ ◡ ◔)/ Last updated: Fri, May 22 2015 6:20 pm EDT

Where did you get the Tuk Tuk?

After years of searching, we found a South Carolina built Bajaj 20 miles from the office. Yes it's street legal. Last updated: Fri, May 22 2015 6:20 pm EDT

Shipping Updates No shipping updates are provided.
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