We have written quite a few articles about the capabilities of the Raspberry Pi 3 variants and their uses in entertainment, IoT applications, and home security.
While the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B and B+ are powerful and compact, they can be priced at around R600 in South Africa – which may make them too expensive for more modest and experimental projects.
This is where the Pi 3’s cheaper and smaller counterpart comes in – the Raspberry Pi Zero W.
The chipset is the size of a RAM module and was first launched two years ago for only $10. In South Africa, this has translated to a retail price of around R200.
Despite its comparably low price, the Pi Zero W is an impressive piece of hardware which is a must-have for aspiring hackers and DIY enthusiasts.
Tiny but powerful
This useful piece of hardware is similar to a Raspberry Pi 3 in many ways, including its full 40-pin GPIO layout which makes it compatible with the same breakout boards as the more expensive chipset.
It sports a single-core 1GHz processor with 512MB of RAM and does not include any built-in storage, relying instead on a microSD card for operating system installation.
When it comes to running software, the Pi Zero W supports a wide variety of operating systems, including Raspbian, Kodi, and various Linux-based interfaces.
This, paired with the chipset’s ARMv6 processor, makes the Pi Zero W an extremely useful gadget for any project.
The device is powered over a microUSB connection and includes a Mini HDMI port along with a composite video header for display output.
Output connections can be wired up from the unpopulated 40-pin GPIO header or connected via the second microUSB OTG port on the device.
Most importantly, however, the Raspberry Pi Zero W boasts both 802.11n Wi-Fi capabilities and Bluetooth 4.1 support. This turns the device into a mobile chipset which can be used in a variety of applications.
Below are the full specifications of the Raspberry Pi Zero W.
|Raspberry Pi Zero W|
|CPU||1GHz single-core BCM2835|
|Ports||1x Mini HDMI, 1x microUSB (Power), 1x microUSB (OTG)|
|GPIO||HAT-compatible 40-pin header|
|Connectors||Composite video header, CSI camera connector|
|Wireless||802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1|
|Dimensions||65 x 30 x 5 mm|
The beauty of a Raspberry Pi chipset is that you can use it to build anything you want, provided you have the coding and hardware knowledge required.
The Raspberry Pi Zero W can be used for a number of conventional projects, many of which do not require much technical knowledge.
Possible projects for a Raspberry Pi Zero W include everything from smart speakers and media players, to DIY cellphones and drones.
With the device packing so much hardware capability in such a small form factor, the possibilities are almost endless.
The low price of the Pi Zero W also makes it ideal for smart home installations, as multiple devices could communicate wirelessly to each other over the same Wi-Fi network and be configured remotely.
Whether you end up using it to build a portable console with emulators installed or create a penetration testing tool for bypassing a system security, the Raspberry Pi Zero W is a great chip to have on hand.