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!
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.
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.
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.
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:
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 jdotbotdid some experimentation and logging with the old firmware (top picture) and new firmware (bottom picture) and you can see some huge improvements in behaviour:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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 email@example.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 firstname.lastname@example.org and we will do our best to assist and/or provide a replacement to make sure you receive your pledge items.
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 :-)
One of the things we promised as a stretch goal was that we would design and release a PiJuice compatible waterproof maker case. We have just got the first draft design back from our friends at CamdenBoss so we thought we would share these with you.
The top picture shows the fully IP rated waterproof case. As you can see it has glands and mounting options as well as windows for camera and motion sensor mounts.
The smaller plastic part in the second picture is a "sensor attachment"...basically the point in this is to provide a somewhat weatherproof area outside the fully waterproof case for mounting sensors and other items that need to be in an open environment but can still do with being protected from abuse etc.
We hope to have the first prototypes from CamdenBoss soon and will post pictures of them as soon as we do.
As promised in the last update, we have an update on the Maker Kits now that we have got the Maker Kit Case sample in from CamdenBoss.
We thought it might be easier to do this as a video. We then received a few missing parts that we did not yet have in and also realised we had forgotten to mention a few points about the kits....so we did TWO videos!
Even still, we have forgotten to mention one very cool feature of the case...scroll past the videos for a picture and news about that :-)
Maker Kit Case Demo
This first video goes through the Maker Kit case, how to assemble it, how to install the camera and some of its basic functionality:
As you can see, it is quite a versatile case. It fits the Pi, PiJuice, Media Center HAT and the camera module all in a neat package. It has "knockout" parts for accessing the joystick / buttons from the Media Center HAT, should you prefer that to a touch screen. It also has a kickstand in order to use it as a "portable pocket pi"!
Games Console Demo
This second video goes into a demo of the games console functionality and also some bits that we forgot to mention in the previous video:
As mentioned we have space for lanyards / straps. We also should have a tripod mount in the final case to allow you to use the kit with "GoPro style" accessories! As you can also see, we have a Bluetooth PS3 control with a phone clamp which doubles up as a really good PiJuice Maker Kit clamp!
So there you have it - a very functional product, all in a single case.
Lenses and suction cups
One thing we forgot to mention in either video (doh!) was about the threaded mount inside the kickstand to allow you to use external camera lenses (excuse the tape holding the camera in place - we are using that to hold the camera here because we are waiting for the mounting hardware):
As you can see, the hole cut out in the maker kit case to allow the camera in, is threaded to accept "smartphone camera lens" style lenses with them just screwing into place to make the camera more versatile.
You can also see on the back of the case that there are "keyhole" mounts - obviously these can be used to wall-mount the case, however they have also been designed to allow you to use them with suction cups so you can attach this whole assembly to a window or other surface.
We hope all of this adds a lot of useful functionality and makes your Pi a lot Juicier!
Due to the issues with the first case sample (missing tripod mount etc) we have to do another sample. This should only take a couple weeks. We have already placed an order for the full production quantity but this can obviously go ahead once we have confirmed a sample. With CamdenBoss, production normally takes 3 to 4 weeks. So we are within 6 weeks there we think.
The final piece in the puzzle is obviously the Media Center HAT. We have got production samples for these and have approved them (a long time ago actually)...but unfortunately we are STILL waiting for a production timeline from Embest / Farnell on these. They are messing us around a bit and we were due to launch that product in June so they are already very late. We are doing the best we can to get updates and may have to manufacture them elsewhere at this point but we are doing our best to manage the delays and as soon as we have a solid timeline I will let you know.
A fair bit of news for you this week and lots of pictures, so lets get started!
Maker Kit Cases
We have spoken a lot about the Maker Kits recently, and the production that is being done to finish that part of the Kickstarter. There are around 150 of you who are waiting for Maker Kits so we want to share some updates with you on that.
As you know, we are pairing the PiJuice with our soon to be released Media Center HAT for the Maker Kits (in fact, you will be the first recipients of those HATs before they are even released!). This provides IR input and output, a joystick or buttons and a 2.83 inch touchscreen to the Maker Kits. This will be paired with a PS3 style controller, a mount and a case that we have had designed by the lovely folks at CamdenBoss to accomodate it all into one single case!
You can see some pictures of the case below:
The really neat thing about this case, is that it has a kickstand, and a camera mount all built in to the one box. So you can use it as a point and shoot camera, a portable pocket Pi or a games console with the controller. Pretty awesome all round! And with the Pi 3 it will have WiFi and Bluetooth built in as well.
We should have the first sample of the case in the next week or so, and will post pictures of it once it arrives.
PiJuice and Pi Zero
For those of you who follow us on Twitter, you might have already seen this!
We have had many requests to use the PiJuice HAT with the super low cost Pi Zero v1.3 and Pi Zero W...for obvious reasons as they use much less power than the Pi 3 Model B and 3B+.
So we have also had CamdenBoss design a new PiJuice case that accommodates a PiJuice HAT and Pi Zero all in one neat design. (in this picture, it still has protective plastic on it, which you can remove - just FYI)
We have already started production on these cases and should have them available from our website in around 2 to 4 weeks hopefully. As soon as we have them we will post an update with a link here and on our Twitter page. Hopefully these should generate even more cool projects than we have seen already!
Another thing we shared on Twitter last week was some pretty exciting news of a new product we are working on....PiJuice Zero!
As you are probably already aware, the Pi Zero is a hugely popular version of the Raspberry Pi! As we mentioned above, we have had a huge amount of requests and questions about using the PiJuice HAT with Raspberry Pi Zero boards, most likely because it brings with it a huge amount of benefits such as smaller form factor and weight as well as a much cheaper price tag and lower power consumption. All of these things are great for remote and low cost projects as well as many other projects too.
The PiJuice HAT / Pi Zero case we have made serves some purposes really well, and allows you to use the PiJuice HAT (complete with super-simple on board battery) but it does not make as good use of the small form factor of the Pi Zero, which is important for some projects.
So we decided to make a super-tiny PiJuice called the PiJuice Zero. Here are some pictures and renders of the boards:
As you can see from the photos and renders above, we have removed the on-board battery and removed some other features (less headers, less buttons, less LEDs) and only put components on a single side. However, in terms of core functionality the PiJuice Zero can do everything that the PiJuice HAT can do but in a tiny package...as you can see, it is pretty well packed with components...it was a bit of a struggle to fit everything on!
The white 3 pin connector on the top of the board is for the battery and we will be providing with each board a connector with 3 wires coming from it that you can use to connect to the battery of your choice (so you don't have to source the connector and crimp it onto wires yourself!). We will also sell these cables separately.
The incorrect colour (deep purple) samples you can see were the first prototype boards that we got made (the pink colour of the HATs is a custom colour, so not possible to do quickly for proto runs so we went with the nearest colour we could see). We have tested those and they work brilliantly so we have moved on to the next stage of manufacture - getting "golden samples" made. The pink PCBs you see as the first two pictures are some of the boards from this run. These will be production quality boards and will be used to perform the CE and FCC testing as well as for verifying the production process before we move into bulk manufacture.
We are not in a major rush to release the PiJuice Zero and finishing this Kickstarter is an absolute priority however we thought there would be a lot of you out there who may be interested in this product. We are probably going to be launching this directly on our website once we have units available and we intend to give early access and a discount code to backers to enable them to get in early, should they want a PiJuice Zero!
We will provide more info on the PiJuice Zero as we have it!
We found out the other day that WalMart have on their website a 3500mAh battery that is compatible with the PiJuice. This might be a quick and easy way for USA based backers to get their hands on a larger capacity battery.
We have ordered a couple and are testing them with a view to adding them as a pre-configured battery option in our software (will let you know when that is done).
You can order one of the batteries from this link:
We have also sent him some JustBoom gear so he can integrate that into his car as well and compare it to the HiFiBerry. Looking forward to seeing the results!
Again, if you follow our social media profiles, you may have seen that this week we launched colour coded male headers for the Raspberry Pi Zero board as well as Pi Zeros (both W and v1.3) with coloured headers pre-soldered to the board.