Tag Archives: hardware

Run a Raspberry Pi 4 from a USB 3.0 drive

The Raspberry Pi is notoriously tough on micro SD cards, which were never intended to be used as primary computer storage.

The Pi 4’s USB 3.0 bus presents a high-speed alternative to the SD card… almost. Unfortunately, you can’t yet boot the Pi 4 off a USB 3.0-connected drive (as you could with the Pi 3) but you can at least use USB for your primary storage and retain the Pi’s micro SD card solely for boot duties. This minimizes the risk to this fragile medium.

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Review: WD PiDrive, a 314GB hard drive for the Raspberry Pi

I like solid-state storage, but there’s a time when you want the storage capacity that only a hard drive can bring — at least until SSDs become much, much cheaper. Of course, SD cards are pretty cheap to buy and to support in hardware which is why the format was chosen for the Raspberry Pi in the first place. At high capacities, the price:gigabyte ratio isn’t as attractive as that of a hard drive, but you get a single point of access for all your computer storage just as you do with any modern laptop or desktop.

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Review: Circuitbeard PiZero Hub Case

The Raspberry Pi Zero may have been out for a while, but it’s proving perishingly hard to get hold off. Unless, of course, you’re right at the head of the virtual queue when the online retailers put their latest batches on sale. Still, the little micro’s scarcity isn’t stopping hackers from coming up with ingenious solutions to its other limitations — too few USB ports, primarily — and accessory suppliers from issuing add-ons.

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The Sinclair ZX81: a Raspberry Pi retro restyle – Part 1

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I love the design of the Sinclair ZX81. It was never a great computer, even in 1981. It only had 1KB of on-board RAM, it was slow, it was small, it could only do black and white graphics, and it’s membrane keyboard was useless for fast typing. But it looked fantastic: black, sleek and totally futuristic. Almost all other 1980s microcomputers now look very dated. No surprise there, of course, but the ZX81 still looks amazing.

The ZX81 membrane keyboard
The ZX81 keyboard hooked up to the Pi via USB and Arduino
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Review: the Fuze, a Raspberry Pi keyboard case and electronics kit

Back in the day of the board computers of the late 1970s – your Scrumpi, your Nascom 1, your UK-101 et al – it was customary to build a case for it out of wood. If you were a better equipped ‘constructor’ – what we used to call ‘makers’ in those far distant days – you’d build a box out of metal.

Fuze
The Fuze looks like an old-style home micro case.
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Raspberry Pi Thermal Printing: an update

Reader Daniel Boira recently asked me if I’d experimented with printing large characters on the SparkFun thermal printer (see Hacking a Thermal Till Printer…) that I’d rigged up to my Raspberry Pi’s GPIO. I hadn’t done so, so I thought I’d give it a try.

Printing double-size text
Print characters tall, wide, or tall and wide
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Hacking a thermal till printer to work with the Raspberry Pi

I’ve always had a soft spot for Sinclair’s ZX Printer. Yes it was slow and the print was poorly rendered on its special aluminium-coated paper, which picked up greasy fingerprints like they were going out of fashion, but it was cute, compact and cheap.

The Sinclair ZX Printer
A Sinclair ZX81 and the ZX Printer
Source: Carlos Pérez Ruiz
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