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Raspberry Pi Zero W – a $10 Computer

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Posted April 14, 2017

On the fifth birthday of raspberrypi.org, Eben Upton and his teammates have launched the latest Raspberry Pi member, the Raspberry Pi Zero W. It is an upgraded version of the Raspberry Pi Zero which comes with an inbuilt WiFi and Bluetooth capability.

ZeroW. Image credit: raspberrypi.org

Moreover, it is available for just $10. Let’s check some more about this amazing $10 computer to get you going.

Specifications

  • It comes with a 32-bit single core ARM Broadcom BCM2835 processor with a 1GHz frequency
  • RAM of 512MB is enough to handle applications
  • Built-in Bluetooth 4.0 and WiFi which supports the latest 802.11n WiFi standards with a wireless chip of Cypress CYW43438
  • Same as the Raspberry Pi 2, it comes with a 40-pin GPIO header which is HAT compatible
  • A mini HDMI port and a CSI camera connector
  • A micro USB port for power and another micro USB on-the-go port
  • Composite Video and Reset headers

Till the date, the Raspberry Pi company has sold over 15 million units of different Raspberry Pi versions. This shows how popular these single board computers are. In November 2015, the Raspberry Pi Zero – a $5 computer was launched by the company, and on Feb 28, 2017, the company has launched its upgraded version, Raspberry Pi Zero W – a $10 computer.

In the Raspberry Pi Zero W, the W means wireless connectivity. With an inbuilt WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 functionality, it gives an extra facility to the user by not attaching the cables to get the same. This feature allows the user to connect other devices or services as per the need to get the best out of the design.

Design of Raspberry Pi Zero W

The Raspberry Pi Zero W is made with some creative layouts. The circuitry is placed on only one side of a board to cut the cost. After all, making the tiny computer board available for such a small price is asking a good designing idea and implementation.

The Pi Zero W is having a measurement of 65x30x5mm. It is built with 1GHz Broadcom processor, 512MB RAM, and a wireless chip to support Bluetooth and wireless connectivity.

Talking about the component’s placement: there are two capacitors on the lower side of the board. The capacitors do the job of capturing radio signals. On that part of the board, there is a ground plane which is a free space allowing the radio signals to interact. The capacitors are set at the lower part of this ground plane.

“The placing of wireless features and other components on a just one side of a small board asks a lot of ‘pushing and shoving,’” said Roger Thornton – Person in charge of the Raspberry Pi Zero W project. “Because adding the features of Raspberry Pi 3 which have a two-sided design with an antenna onto a comparatively small board of the Pi Zero W and by using only the single side of it was tough to implement”, added by him.

There is a micro USB port for giving power to the Zero W and an on-the-go OTG micro USB port to add peripheral. It has a micro HDMI port too. Adapters you need to buy to plug the devices you want with the Pi Zero W.

On the rear side of the board, there is a slot for the micro USB card. An integrated Camera Interface (CSI) is the extra thing added which was not present in the original Pi Zero.

The Raspberry Pi Zero W has a PCB antenna in a trapezoidal shape. It is placed between the micro USB sockets and mini HDMI ports at the bottom side of the board. Instead of the surface-mounted board like in the Raspberry Pi 3, copper is etched away on every layer of the PCB structure to form the Pi Zero W antenna in a resonant cavity.

It does not have a DSI connector, so you cannot connect a Pi display with it. Also, there is the lack of the analog audio output. However, you can learn to add it by following the instructions.

What comes as extra?

Adding the $5 price in the cost of the Pi Zero, the Raspberry Pi Zero W comes with an official case from the Raspberry Pi. It is a 3D-printed injection-molded case which comes as optional designed same as the case for the Raspberry Pi 3. It holds the Pi Zero W and prevents it from sliding off the desk.

The case comes with the clearly marked ports, which will help you to identify the data and power ports easily. You also have a choice of lids if you want to connect wires with the Zero W board.

The case makes the Pi Zero W look a complete product.

Raspberry Pi Zero W – A Quick Look

Board Type Single Board Computer (SBC)
Processor 1GHz ARMv6 32-bit Broadcom BCM2835
RAM 512MB
Software Linux
WiFi Yes, 802.11n
Bluetooth Yes, 4.0
Operating Voltage 5V
Digital I/O Pins 40 GPIO Pins (HAT compatible)
Analog I/O Pins No
Ethernet No
Memory microSD
Video Yes, HDMI Mini
Camera Interface Yes, CSI
Dimension 65x30x5mm
Price $10


Conclusion

Some people will ask that why not to go for a full Raspberry Pi 3 computer by just spending some extra dollars rather than giving $10 to a small board which even not has a display attachment option. I would like to tell them that, a Raspberry Pi Zero W is just not only the trimmed down version of its larger siblings, it is indeed an embedded powerhouse. The small size makes it easy to attach the Pi Zero W on any device, and the inbuilt Bluetooth and WiFi functionality gives you relief from attaching bulky OTG cables or a WiFi adapter to get a wireless connection on your board.

One more advantage of the Pi Zero W is that you can use it as a USB gadget too, which is not possible with the bigger circuit boards. It can show the USB device like a keyboard, mouse, mass storage device, MIDI, and much more.

The company has decided to distribute 25,000 units of Raspberry Pi Zero W out of its initial project of making a lot of 80,000 total units. So why wait? Contact your local Pi distributor or get the Raspberry Pi Zero W – a $10 computer online.

Written by Mandip Pandya, Raspberry Pi Starter Kits

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