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My Raspberry Pi Zero arrived today! Well, I actually ordered a few and this one (from Adafruit) arrived first. I'm eager to find out how embeddable this Zero is. It's small, it's unpopulated, and very stripped down. If you want to watch the video on YouTube, click here.

I'm going to solder on some GPIO headers, install Raspbian, and see how much power it's going to draw. Let's unbox this Pi!

 

 

 

 

Unboxing the Pi Zero Budget PackUNBOXING

Back when I made this order (in November) the only Pi Zeros in stock were at Adafruit in their "Raspberry Pi Zero Budget Pack." The budget pack cost $29.95 which may seem like a lot, but with a good class 10 microSD and all of the adapters, that's not bad. For a Raspberry Pi B+ v2 I would spend closer to $60 to get everything I need (and a Pi). The Adafruit Pi Zero Budget Pack includes the following items:

  • 1 x Break-away 0.1" 2x20-pin Strip Dual Male Header
  • 1 x 8GB Class 10 SD/MicroSD Memory Card (with Full-Size SD Adapter)
  • 1 x Mini HDMI Plug to Standard HDMI Jack Adapter
  • 1 x USB Cable (A / MicroB)
  • 1 x USB OTG (On The Go) Host Cable - MicroB OTG male to A female
  • 1 x 5V 1A (1000mA) USB port power supply
  • 1 x Raspberry Pi Zero (of course!)

Maybe Adafruit could have thrown in a right angle 2x20-pin header as well, since it seems that's going to be popular with the Pi Zero. I already have a bunch of these in male and female on hand. Speaking of which, that's probably what I'm going to solder on today, the female 2x20-pin header.

The Pi Zero itself is extremely small. 2.6" x 1.2" x 0.2" or 65.0mm x 31.0mm x 5.0mm for those of you that have something against inches.

Win32 Disk ImagerINSTALLING THE OS

For the OS I'm going to install Raspbian Jessie, the latest version of Raspbian as of December 2015. Getting it setup on the SD card is not any different from what you're familiar with if you're not new to this. If you're new to Raspberry Pi, just get Win32 Disk Imager and a microSD card reader and write the image from inside the zip you downloaded from Raspbian's download page.

This could take a while, probably a good time to refill your Romulan Ale.

So far I'm not impressed. It's extremely slow! Maybe it's the new Jesse or maybe the Pi Zero is slower than I expected it to be? I'll take that back, a little overclocking and expanding the root partition to the rest of the SD card was necessary.

Adafruit Pi Zero ProtectorEXTRAS

I also took time to install a right-angle GPIO header rather than the straight pin one that comes with the budget pack. The right angle header allows me to plug the Pi Zero in my cobbler without a GPIO cable. Make sure the header is actually soldered to the back of the Pi Zero so that pin 1 (3v3) is where it should be if you were to plug the Pi into the cobbler facing you.

Heck, while we're at it, let's also put on an Adafruit Pi Zero Protector.

 

PiZero Power UsagePOWER USAGE

Now that we're up and going, that I know it all works, let's put on a GPIO header and see how much power this Zero draws. The results aren't promising. I was expecting the current draw to be at least half that of the B+, something close to the A+ (~100mA). The Pi Zero ended up drawing just above 300mA when it settled down. I did not have USB connected to any peripherals or the HDMI connected. The OS installed is Raspbian Jesse, but not the lite version.

Perhaps my Zero is defective? I have more Pi Zero's on order and one will arrive next week and then we can determine if this is the case.

 

CONCLUSION

The Pi Zero is cheap and small, but might not be acceptable for battery powered projects. Cheap, it might not be, if you need to buy all the adapters and an SD card to go with it.

 

FOR AN UPDATE TO THIS CLICK HERE