Friday 10 October 2014

The New RaspberryPi B+

I feel like the last kid on the block to get one of these new Pi models.

But here are a few comments and observations on the latest product from the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

This is my 7th Pi which now includes models A, B rev 1, B rev 2 & B+.

The RaspberryPi is slowly evolving. First came the model B with 256MB RAM, which was soon replaced by revision 2, having 512MB RAM.

The appearance of the A and B models has always looked a little awkward to me, especially the way the USB sockets hang out from the board, while the network socket sits neatly along the edge of the board.

The new B+ has a much more pleasing appearance, with USB and network sockets properly aligned along the edge of the board. The old composite video socket has been removed, with a new AV socket providing both audio and video outputs.

The B+ also has 4 sensibly positioned fixing holes, and loads of extra inputs & outputs to play with.

RaspberryPi model B+ alongside the model B

The appearance and layout of the earlier board is not an issue when you consider the original market for the RaspberryPi: Education

However, if you want to use the Pi for battery powered projects, there are a few points to consider.

The Foot-print

Although the B+ has the same sized board as before, the selection and positioning of the connectors has helped to reduce the overall foot-print.

  • Aligning the USB connectors with the edge of the board has saved approximately 5mm.

  • The removal of the video phono socket has saved 8mm, but this is reduced to 6mm due to the sighting of the new AV socket.

  • But the biggest change is the move from SD to uSD card, which has taken approximately 15mm from the foot-print.

When fitting the RaspberryPi into a box suitable for your battery powered project, you will also have to consider any peripherals. The space occupied by USB dongles and connectors may result in a much larger box than expected.

But if you are running a headless Pi with a dumpy wifi dongle and powering the board via GPIO pins, the foot-print is pretty minimal.

Power Consumption

The RaspberryPi consumes just a few watts, which is great if you want to leave it running all day, every day from a mains power supply. But the power consumption is still a bit of an issue for battery powered projects.

Every milli-amp of precious battery current counts. So with that in mind I carried out some simple tests.

These measurements are not absolute values. They are just to give a simple comparison between models. But it is clear that the new power circuit in the B+ offers clear power savings over the original model B.

However, the model A is still the lowest power option (and the lightest, if your project involves "taking to the sky").

And now for the model A+

I understand that there are no plans for a model A+ (or B-). However, it would be nice to have a cut-down Pi based upon the B+ but without the connectors fitted.

This would allow hobbyists to fit whatever connectors they require, keeping the foot-print, weight and power consumption as low as possible.

All things considered, the B+ is a positive step forward.

No comments:

Post a Comment