PiJack: Add Ethernet to Raspberry Pi Zero! project video thumbnail
Replay with sound
Play with
sound
£2,732 pledged of £4,597 goal
backers
By Marcel Hecko
£2,732 pledged of £4,597 goal
backers

About this project

Raspberry Pi Zero is a new board from Raspberry Pi Foundation which retails for $5. This is a fully functional Linux system - similar to Raspberry Pi 2 and although it lacks many ports we can live without, we can't live without without Internet access.

From PCB to fully assembled PiJack
From PCB to fully assembled PiJack

PiJack is an add-on board you plug on top of your Raspberry Pi Zero which adds Ethernet functionality to your $5 system, therefore you can use the traditional Ethernet / Internet cable to connect your RPI Zero to the network (Internet).

We aimed for low-cost solution and ease of installation and therefore went for trusty ENC28J60 ethernet chip, which is only 10Mbps, but super simple to install and to use with Raspbian. The only thing that needs to be done is add one config line into one file on SD card your Pi boots from. And thats it. With Raspbian Lite version you get internet using DHPC on the next boot. Automagically.

Connecting PiJack with RPI Zero to the internet
Connecting PiJack with RPI Zero to the internet

We have completely designed the board ourselves - some of the main design decisions were:

  • well-know ethernet chip used in many Arduino and IoT projects
  • is super easy to install and supported by Raspbian
  • same board footprint and thickness as Raspberry Pi Zero board
  • has board cutouts for two RPI Zero mounting holes for ease of installation in boxes and enclosures
  • has minimum parts -> simpler assembly -> cheaper
  • has a proper regulated power supply from RPI's 5V output (which 99% of ENC28J60 boards don't have!) protecting RPI's 3.3V circuit from overloading
  • is completely designed in open-source KiCad EDA (which is amazing!)
  • has ethernet jack with two status LEDs (more expensive, but more user friendly)

Electronics

PiJack is based on 10Mbps ENC28J60 ethernet chip powered from Raspberry Pi's 5V DC output available via GPIO pins, then 3v3 transformer is used to power the ethernet circuit. Ethernet jack - RJ45 - has two LEDs - one to indicate link UP and the other to indicate activity on the line. Jack has a built-in magnetic transformers integrated in its housing.

Heat dissipation analysis

While going though datasheet of the Ethernet chip used in PiJack and digging into internals of the chip we could see many metions in discussions on the internet of the chip getting quite hot - so we made some measurements. The max temperature we could measure is 66 degrees celsius (around 150F), which is still okay, but feels quite warm. This is normal for this chip, but please bare this in mind when using the module in environments sensitive to heat.

Thermal analysis of Zero + PiJack from both sides (top and bottom)
Thermal analysis of Zero + PiJack from both sides (top and bottom)

 Production

We are in talks with production house based in Slovakia - part of an EU - mostly because we have a detached office based in Bratislava, but also because this is a big, local company producing electronics for automotive industry (Slovakia is the world's number one auto maker per capita). We aim to produce, assembly and quality-test the boards on one place. Most of the parts are sourced locally - meaning European Union.

Installation and documentation

Installation and documentation on how to use PiJack will be available on our homepage pijack.net before we ship the first units out. Its really simple - you may want to rewatch our KS video to see how straightforward this really is.

Authors and thanks

PiJack was designed by Marcel Hecko and Al Bennet of Hot Glue Technologies, Edinburgh. Thanks for inspiration to RaspiTV and Raspberry Pi Foundation. Thanks for helping with the video goes to Monca. Music track in the video: "Telluric Undercurrent" by Revolution Void (http://www.revolutionvoid.com)

Risks and challenges

Its It might not seem so, but designing electronics out of Asia is actually pretty difficult - mostly because of the lead times and prices of electronic parts everywhere else out of Asia. Electronic parts are expensive and therefore the PiJack seems rather more expensive than expected. This is mostly because of the import taxes and duties that we have to include on top of the price of the products imported from outside of EU in addition to high price of other components sourced in Europe - and higher cost of assembly.
We are aware of this and very careful not to run out of money before delivering the product. We are being absolutely realistic about the pricing.
Another challenge is the classification of the product - please mind, that PiJack is (at this stage) offered as a development platform, which is categorised differently to traditional electronics you can buy for home or industrial use.
One more risk that deserves mentioning is the support of ENC28J60 chip with Raspbian OS - we will work with Raspbian community to keep the chip supported in the future - this really is a chicken-and-egg problem - if we get the PiJack funded, we will definitely have more means to keep the chip supported in the future.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge £3 or more About $4

    Thank you for your support! You can keep up with the news on the development of the PiJack!

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    4 backers
    £
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  2. Select this reward

    Pledge £7 or more About $10

    PiJack hardcore developers pledge - TWO PiJack boards ONLY! This is board-only reward - you need to source all the parts yourself - a totally cool project to do in stages (as some of the parts are trickier to get).

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    5 backers
    £
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  3. Select this reward

    Pledge £13 or more About $19

    PiJack - all the parts, but not assembled! You need to know how to solder 0603 SMD parts :)

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    6 backers
    £
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  4. Select this reward

    Pledge £17 or more About $24

    One PiJack, fully assembled including all connectors - ready to use - only solder provided matching connector piece to RPI Zero you already own.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    32 backers
    £
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  5. Select this reward

    Pledge £29 or more About $41

    Special access to development board - sent to you as soon as they are made before mass produced boards hit the market. These are fully functional, but color, some parts and parts placements may vary.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 12 backers
    £
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  6. Select this reward

    Pledge £30 or more About $43

    SPECIAL ULTRA SALE :) TWO (yes, TWO!) fully assembled boards plus matching connectors for RPI Zero. That is £15 per board!

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    31 backers
    £
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  7. Select this reward

    Pledge £130 or more About $185

    Bulk order of 10 fully aseembled PiJack modules. 10 pieces -> that is £13 per piece!

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    2 backers
    £
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.

Funding period

- (30 days)