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PiJuice is the ultimate module for all portable Raspberry Pi projects (complete with our revolutionary PiAnywhere technology – the best way to take your Pi off the grid!). Includes many fun maker projects and a solar power version too!
PiJuice is the ultimate module for all portable Raspberry Pi projects (complete with our revolutionary PiAnywhere technology – the best way to take your Pi off the grid!). Includes many fun maker projects and a solar power version too!
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2,417 backers pledged £124,372 to help bring this project to life.

PiJuice Zero is live on Crowd Supply!

Posted by Nebra Ltd (Collaborator)
8 likes

Maker Kits, software and firmware update, PiJuice Zero, video / photo content

Posted by PiJuice (Creator)
4 likes

Hi there,

Just a quick update for you today...let's get started...

Maker Kits

We are making progress (albeit slow progress) on the Media Center HATs which are the last thing holding up the Maker Kits currently. Everything is underway but lots of delays on a bunch of parts. As soon as we have an update on when we should start to have boards come off the production line we will let you know. 

Software and firmware update

We have just published a software update to the PiJuice Base and PiJuice GUI software packages - kicking the version number to v1.5. The reason for this update is mainly to update the firmware version to v1.3 which we have been testing successfully for some time now and incorporating changes to the software to account for additional features that the new firmware enables. Huge thanks go to Ton van Overbeek for all of these updates and to Milan Neskovic for the firmware updates!

Here are the changelog entries for pijuice base and pijuice_cli:

  pijuice-base (1.5) unstable; urgency=low


   * Support for new features in firmware 1.3

     - Alternative method for measuring the charge of the battery by the MCU directly

       in case the fuel gauge IC is not available or is faulty.

     - Extended battery profile with parameters for the alternative method

     - Added option to force use of the alternative method.

     - More predefined battery profiles: BP6X_1400, BP7X_1820, SNN5843_2300,

       PJLIPO_12000, PJLIPO_5000, PJBP7X_1600, PJSNN5843_1300, PJZERO_1200,

       PJZERO_1000, PJLIPO_600, PJLIPO_500.

     - Use IO2 digital input as source for wakeup enabling peripheral attached to

       the P3 header to wake-up Raspberry Pi.

     - Added alternative wakeup via RPi GPIO3 (used as I2C SCL after boot) if run pin

       is not connected (no pogo pin) and PiJuice powered via RPi.


   * pijuice.py

     - Added support for commands for the firmware 1.3 features 


   * pijuice_cli.py

     - Works with both 1.2 qnd 1.3 firmware. 1.3 firmware features only shown when

       1.3 firmware is present.

     - Better feedback during firmware update.

    pijuice-gui (1.5) unstable; urgency=low


   * pijuice_gui.py

     - Support for new features in firmware 1.3 (See pijuice-base changelog).

     - Works with both firmware 1.2 and 1.3. New features are only shown after

       firmware 1.3 is loaded.

     - Improved firmeware update (added progressbar display).

The software packages have now been submitted to the Raspbian repos and should be live there in a day or so we hope, which means you should soon be able to update them by just running sudo apt-get update and sudo apt-get upgrade commands at the terminal. We highly recommend updating the software to v1.5 and then subsequently updating the firmware on the PiJuice to v1.3 as it brings with it some very useful upgrades especially in regard to how it measures the battery percentage more accurately.

We should have more updates to the software and documentation coming soon as well - to support the PiJuice Zero which as you will see below we are launching quite soon...

PiJuice Zero launch - coming soon to Crowd Supply!

You may remember from an update around this time last year that we mentioned we were working on a product called PiJuice Zero which is a dinky Pi Zero sized version of our beloved PiJuice HAT to enable you to make your portable projects even smaller!

It is essentially a reduced feature set version of its older sibling the PiJuice HAT - the key differences being the smaller footprint, lack of onboard battery, and less buttons and LEDs.

Here are some pictures of the production prototypes:

PiJuice Zero on top of Pi Zero
PiJuice Zero on top of Pi Zero
PiJuice Zero Front
PiJuice Zero Front
PiJuice Zero Back
PiJuice Zero Back

The good news is that we are very nearly ready to launch PiJuice Zero! We are planning for it to go live on Crowd Supply (if you don't know Crowd Supply you should definitely check it out!) on Thursday 27th June currently. Which is about 1 week from today.

If you would like to be notified when it goes live, you can click through to the following link and sign up for email updates when it launched:

https://www.crowdsupply.com/pi-supply/pijuice-zero

Tutorial, video and photo content?

Have you done a project, or tutorial with PiJuice? Have you taken photos or videos of them?

If so, we would be delighted if you could share them with us either as a comment to this update or via our Twitter page by tweeting to @PiSupply - https://twitter.com/PiSupply

We would be more than happy to promote, share and link to anything you are working on!

Thanks,

The PiJuice team

Maker kits update

Posted by PiJuice (Creator)
1 like

Hi Maker Kit backers,

We just wanted to let you know that after Farnell / Embest letting us down on the manufacture of the Media Center HAT it has been very slow going getting the Maker Kits finished for a variety of reasons.

We had to move manufacture to a different factory, and because they refused to sell us the components that were all already in stock for the boards for a reasonable price (they wanted to mark up considerably from cost price despite not having any reason to) we unfortunately were forced to start from scratch in terms of purchasing as well.

However - the good news is that we are now at the point where we are about to receive the first golden samples of the boards from the new factory (who is out long-term and trusted partner Sunsoar) and as soon as they are tested and approved we will immediately sign off on a batch of 1000 Media Center HAT boards. We expect this to be within the next few weeks.

This is the last piece of the puzzle as far as the Maker Kits are concerned - everything else is ready to go on them. At present, we expect that we will be able to commence shipping by end of June / early July...however this is an estimate. As soon as we give the go ahead on the 1k batch of Media Center HATs we will have a much clearer picture of when we can deliver these to you.

Thanks for your patience....and we look forward to finally bringing this to a close,

The Pi Supply team

More about batteries...

Posted by PiJuice (Creator)
7 likes

Hi all,

Further to the previous update yesterday, we have just unlocked the address entries on Backerkit for people who backed for an extra battery and sent out an email notifiaction letting you know to update your address.

If you backed at this level, lease could you go to https://pijuice.backerkit.com/ and check your address is correct.

Thanks,
Aaron and the Pi Supply team

Batteries, PiJuice Maker Kits and cases, new software, experimental firmware, lora boards and more

Posted by PiJuice (Creator)
10 likes

Hi all,

Apologies for the gap with no update. Hopefully this long and detailed update will make up for that and bring some good news about some of the final items that still need shipping to a select number of backers.

Batteries

We know there are around 50 of you who have been waiting patiently for the 5000mAh and 10,000mAh batteries. We have had a number of issues with obtaining a reliable source for these in reasonable quantities (some were asking for 5000 unit MOQs and such). 

We have also been trying to test them thoroughly to ensure the protection circuitry and the NTC temperature sensors are working as expected. At the same time, we have needed to make sure we can safely ship these to end-customers without breaking any rules - shipping a battery inside a device like we do with the PiJuice is fine in most countries, however shipping LiPo batteries by themselves is usually more difficult. In any case, we have now found a reliable way to do this and we are now also working on developing a way to enforce this shipping method through our website, to enable others to purchase the new batteries as well.

Larger PiJuice and PiJuice Zero Batteries
Larger PiJuice and PiJuice Zero Batteries

The good news is, that we have recently found a source for these batteries that we are happy with, and we have been working with them to ensure that the safety circuitry is correct, they are pre-packaged with the connector on the upcoming PiJuice Zero (if you have a PiJuice HAT instead, you can just cut this off as it uses screw terminals) and they are packaged to our specifications. We have also got some 500, 600, 1000 and 1200 mAh batteries as well, which will be compatible with PiJuice Zero for super small projects.

These batteries actually arrived with us today (Christmas eve) so we will be shipping them out to you immediately - likely before the end of the year. We will aim to email everyone who has pledged for a battery to check their address before we ship out, to make sure there are not any problems. So keep on the look out for an email!

PiJuice Maker Kits and Cases

The only other part of the pledges that remains unfulfilled is the Maker Kits. As we said in an update way back in June this was simply waiting for production of the Media Center HAT boards by Embest / Farnell. Unfortunately, our relationship with Embest / Farnell has fallen through. It seems as if the fact that they were acquired by Avnet recently has put a variety of their business units in jeopardy and they have recently made the decision to kill off / significantly change the "strategic partnerships" team and projects that they worked on, of which we are a part.

This came completely out of the blue, and whilst we do have contingency plans for events like this, they unfortunately take some time to ramp up.

We had already moved production of our PiJuice HATs from Embest to our other manufacturer in Shenzhen called Sunsoar as Embest were being exceedingly slow. However we are now also moving Media Center HAT production over there as well. Unfortunately though, this takes us a step backward. 

This is an unfortunate turn of events, but at least now we are moving forward. We are hoping to have production samples from Sunsoar in the next month and we will then move into full manufacture as soon as we possibly can. We are determined to get this final part finished as soon as we possibly can.

On a brighter note, we have the final maker kit case units now. You can see some pictures of them below:

Front of Maker Kit Case
Front of Maker Kit Case
Bottom of Maker Kit Case with blanking plate
Bottom of Maker Kit Case with blanking plate
Bottom of Maker Kit Case with tripod mount
Bottom of Maker Kit Case with tripod mount
Blanking plate and tripod mount plate
Blanking plate and tripod mount plate
Camera mount plate with new metal inserts
Camera mount plate with new metal inserts

As you can see from the pictures, the new and improved version of the case has a textured, slide-out removable panel on the bottom of the case, so that it is flat when you just want to use it as a case, but you can slide the blanking plate out and slide in a tripod mount adapter into the same space to allow you to use the maker kit case (with a camera, pi and PiJuice) attached to a tripod. This also makes it compatible with a variety of different mounts such as GoPro accessory kits and others, widening the potential use cases considerably.

Additionally, in the final picture you will see the camera mount part (which as you may remember from before also doubles as the kickstand). This now has metal threaded inserts to make the mounting of the camera even simpler. All the mounting hardware, rubber feet, suction cups and everything else you need for the case will come with it. 

New experimental / beta firmware

As you may remember, when we first released the PiJuice HAT, we mentioned that due to the onboard protection inside the battery circuitry itself, as well as the protection we put on the HAT, it would cause some slightly peculiar behaviour of the percentage battery charge readout. The reason for this was due to using a Texas Instruments fuel gauge chip to read the battery percentage and perform some other functions. This chip expected a bare lipo battery, with no inbuilt protection in the battery (as it would be in the device only). As we have removable batteries and a more modular system, and because the BP7X battery we use has built in protection in most cases, we wanted to provide double-protection and have it both onboard and in the battery.

Whilst this helped with the safety aspects, it did prove a bit annoying to have a slightly unreliable percentage readout! We did say from the very beginning that safety was our number one priority but that we would investigate ways to improve this - either by experimentation / look up tables or with some revised method of determining the charge percentage. This has also been one of our most requested fixes/improvements to the PiJuice platform from our customers.

We have been working hard behind the scenes to find ways to fix this, and one of our engineers Milan happened to find a research paper earlier this year which provided just the method we were looking for.

This has enabled us to drastically improve the determination of the battery percentage both during charging and discharging, and on that note we have created a v1.3 firmware which has been released on GitHub as an experimental / beta firmware (we will release the "final" version with our v1.4.1 software - see below).

GitHub user jdotbot did some experimentation and logging with the old firmware (top picture) and new firmware (bottom picture) and you can see some huge improvements in behaviour:

Discharge using v1.2 firmware
Discharge using v1.2 firmware
Discharge using v1.3 firmware
Discharge using v1.3 firmware

As you can see from the above images, the graph for the new v1.3 firmware is clearly much more linear. It does not show an immediate drop when the USB power is removed, nor the intermittent downward spikes. The Raspberry Pi in this case stayed on for about half an hour longer with v1.3. The graph when charging is similarly linear with the new v1.3 too.

You can view more info about the experimental firmware in the GitHub issues chat here and you can find the beta firmware here if you would like to try it out. Please note that it is currently in beta, so there may be some other bizarre behaviour that we have not found yet. If you are happy to test it and report back on the GitHub issue linked above we would be very grateful - the more testing we can get of the new firmware the better.

New software

As you probably know by now, one of the core things that makes the PiJuice platform so useful is our software application. We are extremely proud of the software as it is what allows the hardware to truly shine. There are other UPS style solutions for the Pi but none of them come even close to PiJuice and that is in large part due to the awesome software.

The good news is, we have been listening to your feedback (via support tickets and GitHub Issues) and have been making a number of useful improvements, bug fixes and other updates to the software, and now have a v1.4 of the pijuice-base and pijuice-gui softwares.

PiJuice Base

PiJuice GUI

The packages are already live in the Raspbian apt-get repo, so if you have already got PiJuice software installed on your Raspberry Pi, you can also just update it using sudo apt-get update and then sudo apt-get upgrade at the terminal. If you need any help, let us know. The main changes are bug fixes and minor improvements. The major upgrades will come in 1.4.1 with the GUI and API updates to support the new v1.3 firmware.

Please note: before upgrading to v1.4, it is important to not that we have changed to python 3 only. Therefore any user scripts you are using with PiJuice will now need to be updated to use python3 when they import the pijuice module. Additionally, this v1.4 software still contains the v1.2 firmware. Development of the new features for the v1.3 firmware mentioned above are now happening on the develop branch on GitHub . Once they are complete, we will release a v1.4.1 version of the software with a lot of new features. Some of the features of v1.4 and v1.4.1 still need documenting, and we will be catching up with that over the holidays and in January.

If, for any reason, you need or want to use the older deb packages we have those available on the GitHub page linked above as well.

LoRa Boards

You may have already noticed, but we actually recently released a new set of boards for the Raspberry Pi, micro:bit and Arduino to enable you to use LoRa radio technology on these platforms. The boards include a LoRa Gateway HAT, LoRa Node pHAT, micro:bit LoRa Node and a LoRa Node Shield.

Pi Supply IoT LoRa Range
Pi Supply IoT LoRa Range

These were recently successfully funded on Kickstarter - https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/pisupply/iot-lora-boards-your-gateway-to-the-internet-of-th/description

If you are interested in purchasing the boards, you can still pre-order them at our website here - https://uk.pi-supply.com/search?type=product&q=IoT+LoRa

New PiJuice boards coming soon

As mentioned above, and in previous updates, we have a PiJuice Zero board that we will be releasing shortly, hopefully in Q1 of 2019.

We are also working on our first PiJuice add on board (that connects to the 6 pin header on the front of the PiJuice) - the PiJuice mPCIe:

PiJuice mPCIe Top
PiJuice mPCIe Top
PiJuice mPCIe Bottom
PiJuice mPCIe Bottom

This allows you to retrofit data capabilities (via LoRa, GSM, GPS, GPRS, 3G/4G and others) to any existing PiJuice. It also can, theoretically, connect the Pi to any mPCIe card assuming you have the correct software to run it. There is an on-board sim card slot to allow you to connect into a network. The mobile data mPCIe cards we will be offering from Quectel (and possibly SimCom too as a second option) will be pre-approved for a vast array of carriers worldwide, so that they will work out of the box.

The bigger sibling of the PiJuice mPCIe is the PiJuice Data, which includes all the functionality in a single board:

PiJuice Data Top
PiJuice Data Top
PiJuice Data Bottom
PiJuice Data Bottom

Let us know your thoughts on these new boards. We are looking forward to hearing your thoughts about them. And we are even more looking forward to getting them onto the market.

The blue colour is just for the samples, the final versions will have the same PCB colour as the current PiJuice HAT.

Missing PiJuices

We have a very small number of people still unsure of the whereabouts of their PiJuices. As a first point of contact, we would recommend you to contact support@floship.com in order to investigate the shipment (if you have your tracking number that would help too!). If you have contacted them and still not heard back, please forward the correspondence to sales@pi-supply.com and we will do our best to assist and/or provide a replacement to make sure you receive your pledge items.

Happy Holidays

And with that - we are finished with this update. So all that remains is to wish you all Happy Holidays (or Merry Christmas if you celebrate Christmas). And of course, a great New Year!

We have some exciting stuff planned for 2019 and we can't wait to share it with you :-)

Thanks,
Aaron and the PiJuice team