• Tag Archives raspberry pi
  • Raspberry Pi Zero – W

    Better late than never? Duno. History will be the judge.
    What am I talking about? Well, after the tech media and myself included took a massive jab at the Raspberry Pi Foundation for releasing one of the most crippled computers in the history of computers, they have done what they should have done in the first place and added Wifi and Bluetooth to the Raspberry Pi Zero.

    I am normally not a fan of the beta news site, but in this case, they have a great wrap up of what you get for your 10 bucks.
    Introducing the Raspberry Pi Zero – W.

    In a nutshell, you get a pretty useful little Linux PC that you can actually connect to. I will buy one in due course, I even have a use for this guy (now that I can talk to it while it’s in my house Wifi range).

    As usual, we can’t buy one. Out of stock pretty much everywhere. Constantly. That’s Ok (for me). It simply proves that I was right all along, they should have skipped the Zero and gone straight to the – W. I suspect before too long they will just quietly stop making / selling the zero and pretend it never happen.

    Note to all future computer / IoT device builders. Make sure your little ‘disruptive’ device has some connectivity huh… Because no matter what Gary says, we need to talk to your little wonder. We just do.


  • Back. Not back.

    Can’t believe that it’s only been 3 and a bit weeks since I got back from the most epic Australian adventure ever.
    Have / having had a little bit of trouble getting my head around being back home, but nothing major.

    Throwing myself into some tech and that has helped a lot. The first week or so consisted of a fair bit of movie watching (I plead jet lag and just wanting to crash after work), but the past week has seen almost no TV and tinkering each night.

    Using the Opto 22 Raspberry Pi starter kit for this one…. That and (as you can see at the end of the video), a tiny bit of Node-RED.

    Bought the boss’s old Phantom 3 Pro drone.

    Been taking it for my Sunday morning Smart Car drives and slowing getting confidence in flying it and getting better at taking landscape photos with it.

    Of course, you can’t fly a drone and not take a dronie….

    Still planning on getting around to committing to study for, sit and pass my Part 107. (aka, drone license).

    So, I guess you could say I am back, but don’t feel back.
    Not sure what to do with the blog. Same as last time I suspect, write about what interests me and you lot can sort it out on your end.

  • Raspberry Pi 3 – now with added Wifi and BLE !!!!!!

    I should have blogged about this the day it happen, but I was rather busy (yah for scheduled blog posts), so we get to hear about it a week and a bit latter.

    Enough to say, I let out a big heavy sigh and said ‘About time’. (Actually, that’s not exactly what I said – but in the interests of keeping this blog PG, it’s close enough).
    They have released the latest Raspberry Pi 3 and guess what, it has Wifi and Bluetooth Low Energy built in……. Yah!
    Not only, but also, it now gets a 64 bit quad core CPU ticking over at around 1.2GHz. Still only 1Gb of RAM, but eh, the connectivity, same footprint and much the same price almost make up for it.
    In case you are wondering (I know you were), it is still crippled with piping the Ethernet through the USB bus, so it is still pretty slow, but again, what you are going to be using this thing for, I really don’t think that matters in real life.

    Am I buying one? Sure. Haven’t as yet, it would be overkill for an airplane tracker setup, so I don’t have a use for one just yet, but rest assured, there are more than one of these guys in my future.

    The reviews are sounding really good, people are saying you can, for the first Pi time, actually use this one as a computer. I would love to build a tablet with one of these at the heart. Could be really useful.

    There are a ton of links for more info, but here is a less techy one;

    Raspberry Pi 3 Launches — 50% Faster, With Wi-Fi, Bluetooth And An Eye On IoT

  • Pi Zero is expensive

    I really want to finish slamming this thing, I really do… It is just pointless going on and on and on and on about it, but to try and draw it to a close….


    When I found out that there was a $5 Raspberry Pi Zero being sold, I rushed to buy one. I did no research as to what it was, but for such a paltry amount of money, I couldn’t resist. For whatever reason, I even bought a case for it, which is arguably silly — why protect such an inexpensive piece of tech?

    When it finally arrived, I was impressed with the small size, but very disappointed overall. This may sound incredible, but the $5 Raspberry Pi Zero is just too damn expensive. Quite frankly, it is ridiculous that such a useless computer is being sold. Do you agree?

    In order to add the same ports as the $35 Raspberry Pi 2, you will need to buy the following. I have added approximate pricing and links.

    USB OTG Cable — $4
    4 port Powered USB Hub — $11
    USB Ethernet Adapter — $10
    mini-HDMI to HDMI adapter — $2

    Total plus the $5 Pi Zero is $33. Yes, you are reading that correctly. The $5 computer, after buying essential accessories, is almost the same price as the Raspberry Pi 2. Plus, it is now a Frankenstein-like mess of wires and adapters. The $35 Raspberry Pi 2, with all of these things integrated, is clearly the smarter buy. Heck, you even get double the RAM and a more powerful processor!

    That about wraps it up.
    To make the zero anything less than zero takes a good chunk of change, and as pointed out in previous blogs, you have a real rats nest of wires to make it talk with anything.

    One thing I had missed when I first blogged about it is that the USB port on the Zero are not USB hosts, but slaves, so to get them to talk to an interface of any kind you need an OTG cable to convert it. Blah.

    I am going to try and leave it there.
    It’s dead. If we ever find a use for a Zero, I will be sure and let you know, but honestly, I would not be holding your breath.

  • Told you so

    Zero equals -1.

    Seems I am not alone in thinking that the Raspberry Pi Zero is just wrong.


    My favorite site has pushed a blog on the Pi Zero.
    (Note, unlike me, they were a lot more measured and factual. To be fair (or self justifying) I was REALLY ticked off at the foundation for releasing a … errr… compromised computer… My tone in that first blog was overly caustic and condescending (and sarcastic)….. Give me 6 or so months to calm down and I might try again).

    Here are a few snips.

    They start out saying that the foundation is defending the Zero by saying it was supposed to be cheap…. cheap enough to be bought by those that usually can not afford a computer.
    Hackaday calls them out on that…. As do I. If it supposed to be cheap, then why is it anything but cheap?

    Adafruit is selling a Budget and a Starter Pack that cost $29.95 and $59.95, respectively. The Budget Pack contains a Zero, SD card, USB On the Go (OTG) cable, power supply and USB cable, a mini-HDMI to HDMI adapter, and 2×20 header strip. The USB OTG is a necessity if you want to connect a USB device, yes singular, since the Zero doesn’t have a standard host USB port or a hub. But even that isn’t sufficient, as we’ll see. On top of all this, since there is only a single USB data port, you’re liable to need a hub. The other USB connector is for power, as with all the other Pis. And, just to be complete, you also need to purchase a GPIO header unless you’re soldering directly to the board.

    You keeping track of all the cables we need here?
    All the power supplies?
    All the adaptors?
    Oh, and with all that, we are still not connected to any network.

    How long did it take you to figure out all the cable connections in the second paragraph above? Do you think a student without a hacker friend will understand that? Remember, the goal is to reach students who don’t know computers.

    The foundation has shot themselves in the foot.
    They claim they are for the student, then make the product too complicated for most students.

    Zero’s niche might be as an embedded controller, as I implied in the last section. If you’re going to build a small stand-alone device the Zero’s size is a boon. But nearly all devices are going to need some form of communications. The Zero needs the USB OTG adapter to support WiFi, Bluetooth, or other wireless adapters. This defeats most of the size advantage. I’ll grant that vendors will quickly produce daughter boards in the Zero’s form factor to support communications that might offset that criticism.

    The smaller Zero uses less power which is a plus but once additional peripherals are added, that advantage lessens.

    This is the part I zero’ed in on. It is a great size for an IoT device, but without network connectivity, its DOA.

    Next is the bit I really went wrong with in my exasperated rant….

    The biggest problem of the Raspberry Pi is something that has existed for years now: corrupted SD cards. This problem pops up time and time again on forums, and after Christmas will undoubtedly pop up even more.

    A big reason for this is actually hardware based: no shutdown or power control.

    I had totally forgotten about the SD card issues I have had.
    My airplane trackers are ground zero for this.
    The foundation could have added memory for this, but no, they stuck with the borked SD card.

    Summing up Hackaday’s summary.

    The Zero is a nice little board providing a lot of possibilities for hackers. But if the Raspberry Pi Foundation is meaning the Zero for students I think they missed the mark big time. The add-ons needed to use the Zero for development offset the low-cost of the board and are decidedly awkward to use for development and test. The hassle is not going to encourage students to work with this board.

    It is clearly not the next best thing for student Pi developers. For them it’s more like a Raspberry Pi Minus One. My advice for encouraging students is to stick with the Pi B+ or Pi 2, and ideally the latter given its better performance.

    So. There you have it.
    Cold comfort that I am not totally losing it.

    The solution?
    I have a strong eye on these guys;