At first glance, the Pi Zero isn't much. It just looks like a slimmed down version of the Raspberry Pi we know and love. But when we started to think of the possibilities - and what a well-chosen set of accessories could add - we realized the appeal. And then we saw the price...could it be true? Yes!
This is the slimmest, most pared down Raspberry Pi to date. It's kind of like the little cousin to the Pi 2 - with just a micro SD card slot, a mini HDMI port, two micro USB ports (one for power, one for USB), and 512MB of RAM. It has a single-core 1 GHz processor chip, similar to the Pi A+ and B+. Check out our writeup on the Pi Zero over at the Adafruit Learning System
We think the Zero is a great sidekick for existing Raspberry Pi users. It requires a little more effort to get up and running than a Pi 2 but it also has a lot of potential for IoT, wearable, embedded and battery powered projects!
Please note - the Pi Zero is quite minimal and requires a few accessories to turn it into a computer! At a minimum we recommend:
- A good quality 5V power supply - Either a 5V 2A with cable or combine a 5V 1A power supply and a Micro B USB cable - this will allow you to power the Zero from a wall adaper. It is not suggested to power the Zero from a computer USB port as the voltage often sags and can cause SD card corruption!
- 4GB+ SD Card with Operating System - You can grab a ready-to-go Raspbian card that has the correct firmware for the Zero here. Or you can pick up an 8G card with Jessie. Or use a blank 4G SD card and burn in Raspbian Wheezy and update the firmware.
- Mini HDMI to HDMI Adapter - Will let you convert the little port on the Zero to a standard sized HDMI jack. You can get 1080P HDMI video + audio out of this little computer!
- USB OTG Cable - Lets you plug in a normal USB device such as WiFi dongle, USB hub, keyboard, mouse, etc into the Zero.
- USB Console cable - if you're not going to stick an HDMI monitor on there, then this is essential, you connect the wires to the GPIO pins and log in over a serial console. Its the easiest & fastest way to get on your Pi
- 2x20 Male header strip - Solder this in to plug in Pi HATs, GPIO cables, etc as you would into a normal Pi. (We also have a 2x20 Female and 2x20 Female right-angle style for more exotic connecting)
To keep the price and size as small as possible, there is a spot on the Zero for a 2x20 pin header. This header is not included or soldered on. Creative individuals can easily solder in a set of 2x20 male header strip so you can plug in any sort of Pi HAT or other plug-in topper. Or, go with a 2x20 female header and plug the Pi Zero directly into an Adafruit Cobbler or T-Cobbler.
We also strongly recommend some other parts and pieces to make your Pi Zero computing experience easier:
- Pi Zero Protector - Keep your Pi Zero safe while handling with this simple sandwich-style acrylic case.
- USB Powered Hub - So you can plug in any kind of USB devices without overloading the Zero's power supply. (You can also, ironically, power the Zero from the hub itself by plugging in a micro USB cable into the hub)
- WiFi dongle - this chipset is the most common one used for the Raspberry Pi, works great!
- Mini Wireless Keyboard w/Trackpad - Requires only one USB port, which makes it a great match for the Pi Zero
- Wireless Keyboard + Mouse set - Also requires only one USB port, but for everyday use.
- Pi Cobbler or T-Cobbler - When paired with the male or female 2x20 pin header, you can use your Zero with a breadboard to connect sensors, LEDs, motors and more!
- Ethernet Hub and USB Hub w/ Micro USB OTG Connector - One can never have enough socks, or USB ports. Add some more USB and Ethernet capability to your Raspberry Pi Zero!