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;