The release of the new Raspberry Pi Zero or RBPi-Zero has taken the technical world by a storm. This tiny SBC has a 1GHz ARM11 System on Chip, 40 GPIO pins, micro-USB ports, a mini-HDMI port, a micro SD card slot and works with 512MB RAM. The 65×30 mm card has gone on sale with a price tag of a mere $5.00.
The Broadcom BCM2836, clocked to 1GHz, runs Raspbian Linux. Not only is the RBPi-Zero 40 percent faster than the original RBPi Model B, it is also 40 smaller than the B+ model of the RBPi. Although almost identical in size to the RBPi Compute Module, the RBPi-Zero has the real-world ports that the former lacks. However, like the A+ Model, the Zero lacks the Ethernet port.
People looking for the Broadcom chip on the RBPi-Zero will be disappointed at not finding it on either the top or the bottom side of the board. The Raspberry Pi Foundation has adopted the Package-on-Package or PoP manufacturing technology for RBPi-Zero. Therefore, although the Broadcom chip is present on board, the Elpida 512MB RAM chip sits piggyback on top of the Broadcom chip, hiding it from view.
The RBPi-Zero lacks the USB ports, DSI and CSI ports and the audio jack. That is because it is intended for IoT- and embedded-focused hackers. The manufacturers have kept the same 40-pin expansion header other modern RBPi boards possess. Therefore, users can attach available HATs or other expansion boards and adapters. Moreover, the Zero can run any application meant to run on the Model B+.
To use the RBPi-Zero, users will need additional cables. Although most users will have these lying around, others may need to buy them and some more. The best way to start is to go with the Adafruit kit, which is selling two versions in the US market – the Budget Pack and the more expensive Starter Kit. Other vendors offer different combos for accessories.
The Budget Pack of Adafruit comes with a RBPi-Zero board along with a 5V, 1A power supply, USB-A to USB-micro B cable, an 8GB Class 10 SD Card for the OS, a Micro-USB to USB OTG cable, 2×20 Male header strips and a Mini-HDMI to HDMI adapter.
The Starter Kit from Adafruit includes the above and adds more 2×20 male and female headers, USB Console cable and a Wi-Fi dongle. With the USB Console cable, you can put up an alternative display in place of the HDMI.
The Essential Kit from PiHut offers all the items of the Budget Pack of Adafruit (except the SD Card) and includes four rubber feet, one single row of 20-pin GPIO header, one dual row of 40-pin GPIO header, one dual row 40-pin female GPIO header and one dual row 40-pin right-angled GPIO header.
Pimroni offers similar kits to the two above, but offers useful zero-sized PiHATs. These include the Explorer pHAT, the Scroll pHAT and the pHAT DAC. The Explorer HAT is suitable for building a tiny robot as it can drive a motor over an H-bridge, has buffered digital IOs and four analog inputs for low-cost sensors. With the Scroll HAT, you can drive 11×5 LED matrix and the pHAT DAC adds a digital to analog converter to your RBPi-Zero.