PiAngle Zero - USB Power and 4 Port Hub
Plug-n-Play 4 Port USB hub that directly connects to the USB micros of the Pi Zero - No Soldering Required!
Introducing the PiAngle! A Raspberry Pi Zero Plug-N-Play 4-port USB Hub.
So you just got your brand new Raspberry Pi Zero and now you want to have a keyboard, mouse, and maybe some Wifi, wouldn't that be nice? The PiAngle safely powers the Pi zero and at the same time adds 4 USB Type A ports. All without any soldering to the Pi Zero board.
This unique design takes advantage of the Pi Zeros multiple USB B Micro connections. The USB OTG becomes a 4 Port USB Type A, while the power USB receives a solid 5V.
Not just any Pi Zero Hub. THE Pi Zero Hub.
It seems like every week there is a new version of a "Pi Zero USB Hub". I commend anyone that takes on the challenge. However, they all still require a level of "Hacking" that a lot of the world does not want to do to their new Pi. Especially since they are so hard to come by. Some require soldering to test pads on the bottom of the Pi or taking apart a commercial Hub and Frankenstein them together. None seem to be simply plug and play. I decided to tackle the problem head on, and the PiAngle was my solution.
Similar to the regular Raspberry Pi the Pi Zero requires you to power it via a USB B Micro port. The PiAngle supplies the Pi Zero with a 5V source. This source is only input through the Power USB on the Zero. The USB OTG is isolated from the PiAngle's 5V source. The reason for this is simple. The makers of the Raspberry Pi have a very specific way they like to see the Pi Powered. All of their specifications happen after the USB Power port. If you were to power the USB OTG port you would be essentially bypassing their standards of power(fuse, regulation, diodes). By isolating the USB OTG you are safely keeping the power source running through the correct path that was meant for the Pi. This limits the possibility of damaging your pi. Most USB Hubs will not do this and therefore you will be powering the Pi directly from the Hub itself even if you disconnect the Power USB. This is essentially bypassing any safety standards that have been built into the Pi. Another benefit to the single power line is you don't have to plug each device in separately. Often when plugging in a Powered USB Hub you have to first power it up, then plug it in, risking a restart. This will power everything at the exact same time.
Note: The PiAngle is fused for 2A, anything more than that from the power input will burn out the fuse. The power supplies supplied will be rated at 2A. This would be an extreme case, please be realistic when powering devices from this Hub!
Hot Plugging/Swapping USB
You may have noticed a small problem when using the USB OTG Port on the Raspberry Pi Zero. If you try to Hot Swap it, i.e. plug something in while the pi is running, there is a high probability it will restart your Pi. This problem is at the least very annoying, and at the most will corrupt your Bootable SD Card and no longer allow your SD card to boot, which requires a new install of your OS. This can happen when a Raspberry pi is not shut down properly. The problem stems from the fact that there is a sudden current surge from the USB device that was plugged in. The Pi Zero has no protection on this and when there is a surge it drops the voltage of the system and the Pi restarts. The PiAngle has protection from this. It will allow you to Hot Swap keyboards, wifi devices, bluetooth, you name it. This is very handy. It gets quite old when you keep accidentally restarting your Pi. This will happen no longer.
This is a good feature that I found myself using more than I had initially though. On the PiAngle there are 5 LEDs; one red, and four green. The red LED signifies that the PiAngle has been connected to a device and has been powered on. Simple. The four green LEDs are what come in handy. Say you are experimenting with some new USB device and you're not sure if its being detected. Each time you plug in a new device, one of the LEDs will illuminate signifying a device has been plugged in.
Design and Manufacturing
As we stand right now, the product works as planned. We have built a prototype which is likely to be 99% of what the finished product will be like. There is no question whether this product will work or not, it does. The hurdle we are at right now is manufacturing in large volumes. Depending on the quantities sold during this Kickstarter will determine that method of manufacturing. With small volume we will more than likely take on the manufacturing ourselves, in a high volume situation we will reach out to one of our many board assembly contacts. The Kickstarter money will give the capital needed for a large purchase to diminish the high costs of low volume production.
Our current design has a few features which will not be needed in the final version. Mainly the power supply and regulation. Aside from those modifications, the board should remain relatively the same.
We at Idle Hands Development are advocates of open knowledge(everything). We love that a community can build and grow a project way beyond what that of a single mind can do. The project files are available on GitHub Here: https://github.com/IdleHandsProject/PiZeroHub
These files will include but not limited to:
- KiCad design files and schematic
- 3D Printable Housing(to be designed.)
Why is it called the PiAngle? Well if you notice, the PiAngle sits 90 degress to the Pi Zero. This is due to the solid board to board connection. A short time in the furture I will be making a 3D printable case that will provide secure mounting the Pi Zero and the PiAngle.
Who is Idle Hands Development?
Well, mainly, me, Sean Hodgins. I'm the creator of Idle Hands Dev. as I like to call it. It started as a website where I would show my creations. I would make small projects and put them online for others to see. Currently I'm a student at McMaster University fighting for my Masters in Mechanical Engineering. I am a self taught electrical engineer and that includes circuit design. I've always been interested in electronics and robotics, and it just so happens that my creative side plays well with those subjects. My partner in all of this and my best friend is Abdul Shehata. He is the person I bounce all of my ideas off of and the first person to tell me when they're stupid. That is how I know I can trust him. We brainstorm different problems together and sometimes come up with solutions. We're both business oriented people but hes the one actually going to school for it.
Aside from the personal projects, I've been designing and building circuits for about 2 years for a small upcoming robotics company.
Also, to keep up to date with our latest projects, please consider signing up to our Newsletter. In the chance this does not get funded, we may be able to do a small run of boards, we will use this as a method of communication:
Risks and challenges
We understand the risks of manufacturing an electronics project. So far, as we mentioned, the stage of this project is currently "ready for production" - that means we have a working product and now have to get the funding to being said productions. Since we have already surpassed the prototype and testing stage we feel confident that it will not cause any issues.
Often Kickstarters have problems with manufacturing and then delivering their items on time. Depending on the volume of products sold we have alternate paths to choose from. If a very high volume is presented to us, we have multiple manufacturers ready to take on the work load. With a medium run of products we would feel more comfortable using a local operation. And finally for low volume, we have the comfort in knowing we are able to and have the equipment to fulfill the assembly ourselves should it come to that.
Thank you for backing our project! We have several more on the way!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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