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All You Need to Know about Raspberry Pi Zero W

THE ORIGINAL RASPBERRY Pi Zero was quite the creation: essentially a smaller Raspberry Pi, it only cost a mere £4, and was even the first computer to be given away for free with a magazine.

Getting the Zero down to its diminutive size (5x65x30mm) meant that a fair few things had to be cut out. Still, progress is an unstoppable beast, and now we have the Raspberry Pi Zero W, an improved model with integrated wireless capability: both Bluetooth and 2.4GHz 802.11n Wi-Fi.

This may not be the latest flavor of Wi-Fi, but for the types of jobs that you’re likely to
use the computer for, it’s more than enough. In fact, having integrated network access can’t be applauded enough. With the old Pi Zero, adding network access meant buying a Wi-Fi dongle, which added bulk and made everything a little clumsier.

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That’s not to say that there aren’t limitations, and the small size of the Pi Zero W means
that there’s no room for full-sized ports, like the ones you get on the Pi 3. Instead, you
get one Micro USB power input, one Micro USB On-The-Go (OTG) port for connecting devices, and a Mini HDMI output. Realistically, these small ports mean that you’ll need to buy adaptors to hook the Pi Zero W up to a monitor.

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With only a single USB port, you’ll also need to buy a USB hub to hook up a keyboard and mouse at the same time.

We recommend that you buy a powered hub, as our review sample’s Micro USB port
couldn’t deliver enough power for a regular hub, keyboard and mouse at the same time.

You can hook up external devices through the Hat-compatible 40-pin general input/
output (GPIO) connector. As with the original Pi, this connector is unpopulated, which means you’ll need a soldering iron to connect the pins that you want to use. On the one hand, this approach is a little fiddly; on the other, it can make for a neater and smaller final build.

Although the original Pi Zero didn’t have the camera connector (CSI), this was added for the next production run. We’re pleased to say that the CSI remains for the Pi Zero, making it easy to hook up the official camera and make yourself a wireless camera. You’ll need to buy the ribbon cable adaptor to fit the camera, as the Pi Zero W has a smaller CSI
connector than the regular Pi 3.

There’s still no DSI connector for hooking up the Pi display, however, and no way of
adding one. There’s also no analog audio connector, although you can add one using a
soldering iron and some online instructions. Likewise, there’s no composite video
connector, but you can solder the connection on if this is something you want.

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In general, then, the Raspberry Pi Zero W’s shortcomings can be largely overcome if
you’re happy to whip out a soldering iron. The true benefit of this approach is that it’s much easier to build smaller projects, as there’s nothing extraneous on the Pi
Zero W, just the essentials.

As with other Pi computers, you need to install the operating system (most likely the
Linux-based Raspbian) on a microSD card (8GB minimum), which then plugs into the
card reader at the end of the board. It’s easy to configure using the instructions on the
Raspberry Pi website. Raspbian is a lightweight and simple-to-use graphical
OS that gives you all the essential tools you need to start building your projects.

The Raspberry Pi Zero W is powered by a 1GHz single-core Broadcom BCM2835
processor and 512MB of RAM. It’s the same CPU that powered the original Pi, only in this Wi-Fi once again proving to be a real benefit.

Ultimately, the Raspberry Pi Zero W is an ideal choice for less demanding projects and those where space is at a premium. Whether or not the Raspberry Pi Zero W is the computer for you depends on what you want to achieve. For general hobbyists that want to play with a lot of different projects, the faster Raspberry Pi 3, with its full-sized ports and populated GPIO connector, is going to make the most sense, giving you the most flexibility.

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If you want a cheap computer for a specific job, particularly a low-power server, the Pi
Zero W comes into its own. It’s a great choice for custom projects, for people with a steady hand and a soldering iron.

Ultimately, it’s hard to be anything other than impressed by a computer that costs just £10. It may cost more than twice as much as the original, but the integrated Wi-Fi more than justifies this cost. Once again, the Raspberry Pi Foundation has managed to astound us; the Pi Zero W is a beautifully designed and well-thought-out computer.

Hope my article “All You Need to Know about Raspberry Pi Zero W” helps you to know all about Raspberry Pi Zero W. if you have any query, feel free to comment.