A prototype is a preliminary model of something. Projects that offer physical products need to show backers documentation of a working prototype. This gallery features photos, videos, and other visual documentation that will give backers a sense of what’s been accomplished so far and what’s left to do. Though the development process can vary for each project, these are the stages we typically see:
Proof of Concept
Explorations that test ideas and functionality.
Demonstrates the functionality of the final product, but looks different.
Looks like the final product, but is not functional.
Appearance and function match the final product, but is made with different manufacturing methods.
Appearance, function, and manufacturing methods match the final product.
Many people work with multiple operating systems like Windows, Linux, or MacOS. Unfortunately there is no single filesystem that works well across all of these. When moving files around, you often find yourself needing to reformat a flash drive (after ensuring that you've backed everything up) or find a different drive.
pISO is a hat for the Raspberry Pi Zero that solves this problem by transforming your Pi into a 'super' flash drive with the ability to create lots of virtual flash drives at once. These drives will look exactly like a normal flash drive to your computer but can be formatted however you want. So if you need to copy some files from a windows machine and you only have a drive formatted for Linux, just create a new drive, select Windows as the platform, and copy the files over. Your other virtual drives will not be affected.
It's also annoying to need to format a flash drive when you want to create a bootable USB from a disk image like an ISO. pISO solves this problem as well. Just create a folder called 'ISOS' on one of your virtual flash drives and copy over disk images. Then, you can select one of those images and pISO will create virtual USB CD drive. To your computer, it will look like you've just inserted a CD with the image burned to it.
Your storage is only limited by the size of the SD card you put in your Raspberry Pi Zero. If you need more storage in the future, you can easily switch to a larger SD card. NOTE: A small amount of space (currently about 100MB) is taken up by linux to actually run the raspberry pi. The rest of the SD card will be available as storage for your virtual drives.
Sometimes you may accidentally erase files on a flash drive that you later realize you needed. pISO helps prevent this by allowing you to create 'snapshots' of a virtual drive. You can then read files from the snapshot to recover them if you inadvertently delete them from the drive.
The Raspberry Pi Zero W has WiFi capabilities, and pISO can make use of these. When used with a WiFi-enabled raspberry pi, pISO can connect to existing wireless networks or act as its own wireless network. Then, a user can connect to the FTP server and SMB (windows file server) share on the pISO to add and remove files remotely. Note: To avoid the possibility of corruption, the user cannot copy files to a virtual drive that is currently mounted by the computer pISO is plugged in to.
What Do You Need
pISO comes with screws and nuts needed to connect it to a Raspberry Pi Zero. Just screw it on and your ready to go! No soldering is required.
A cover for the pISO will be available as an addon during the survey after the campaign completes for a small additional charge:
Note that we will be releasing the 3d models for this cover on Thingiverse, so if you would like to print them yourselves, you will be able to. We will also be releasing designs for a more fully enclosed case in the future.
How It Works
pISO is built on a minimal linux base (built using buildroot) and uses the linux USB-gadget system to present LVM volumes as USB drives over the USB connection. This allows for a great deal of flexibility in creating and snapshotting volumes. The entire project (software and hardware) will be released open source in the near future, so you'll be able see exactly how everything works!
Risks and challenges
Performance is the greatest issue for the project at the moment. While read/write speeds are obviously limited by the speed of the SD card in the Pi, there are other hardware related issues in the Pi Zero itself that make it unlikely that we will be able to get much more than 10 to 15 MB/s even with a very fast SD card. However, we will continue trying to increase the speed, and these limitations could be removed by future version of the Pi Zero.