OH2 server on NTC CHIP - only $9!

I recently went through a rebuild of my OH2 server, which I run on a $9 CHIP from Next Thing Computing. I’ve been running OH/OH2 on this hardware for about a year now, and it’s been great. From my perspective, the CHIP has a few advantages over the Raspberry Pi (I’ve used both):

  • It’s only $9!
  • Trivial to flash with Chrome app
  • USB power connection doubles as a serial modem (makes bootstrapping a snap, as we’ll see)
  • On-board WiFi and Bluetooth

Now that I’ve been through the build process a few times, I thought I would document the steps here in case anyone else would like to do the same. Note the the serial connection steps will vary by your host OS; in my case I’m using a Mac with OS X.

So, to go from bare metal to a functioning OH2 server, follow these steps:

  1. Visit https://flash.getchip.com/ in Chrome

  2. Flash the CHIP with the latest headless firmware

  3. Disconnect and reconnect the USB cable

  4. ls /dev/tty.usb* will give you the serial address of the CHIP, in the form of /dev/tty.usbmodem????

  5. sudo cu -l /dev/tty.usbmodem???? -s 115200 will open a serial terminal connection

  6. Login as root, password chip

  7. Run nmtui to activate WiFi and connect to your WLAN

  8. Confirm the CHIP’s IP address with ifconfig

  9. ~. will disconnect the cu session

  10. If you don’t have an SSH key on your non-CHIP PC, generate one using ssh-keygen -t rsa

  11. Push your SSH public key to the CHIP with cat ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub | ssh root@CHIP-IP "mkdir -p ~/.ssh && cat >> ~/.ssh/authorized_keys"

  12. Open an SSH session with ssh root@CHIP-IP

  13. Configure the Java and OpenHAB repositories

apt-key adv --keyserver hkp://keyserver.ubuntu.com:80 --recv-keys EEA14886
echo "deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/webupd8team/java/ubuntu xenial main" | tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/webupd8team-java.list
echo "deb-src http://ppa.launchpad.net/webupd8team/java/ubuntu xenial main" | tee -a /etc/apt/sources.list.d/webupd8team-java.list

wget -qO - "https://bintray.com/user/downloadSubjectPublicKey?username=openhab" | apt-key add -
echo "deb https://dl.bintray.com/openhab/apt-repo2 stable main" | tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/openhab2.list
  1. Add support for HTTPS repositories and update
apt-get install apt-transport-https
apt-get update
  1. Configure time zone and locales
dpkg-reconfigure tzdata
apt-get install locales
dpkg-reconfigure locales
  1. Upgrade components and install
apt-get upgrade
apt-get install oracle-java8-installer openhab2
  1. If rebuilding, restore your configuration backup to /etc/openhab2/

  2. Start the OH2 service

systemctl enable openhab2.service
systemctl start openhab2.service
  1. Installation complete

That’s it! If you have any questions or run into any trouble, please let me know.


Excellent tutorial. I don’t find those steps to be significantly easier than getting a Pi boot strapped but the price point on the CHIP makes it an excellent choice for a host.

For completeness for those who may come later, the process for setting up a headless Pi, assuming you are not using the excellent and highly recommended openHABian:

  1. Download the latest rasbian lite
  2. Burn the image to an SD card using the program of choice
  3. Create a file named “ssh” in the “boot” partition
  4. Create a file named “wpa_supplicant.conf” in the “boot” partition and populate it with your wifi settings
  1. Insert the SD into the Pi and plug it in. Wait a minute.

  2. ssh pi@raspberrypi with password “raspberry”

Configure as normal.

Thanks, that’s definitely a lot easier than it used to be. I have a Pi Zero W kicking around here somewhere, and this will be handy if I want to fire it up again.