PiFace Control & Display Tear Down

PIFace4

[John's] currently working on a rather fun PiNoir & Santa Catcher Challenge, and one of the main components is a PiFace Control and Display, which allows you to use a Raspberry Pi without a keyboard or mouse. Curious to see how this module worked, [John] decided to do a tear down and find out!

Using a de-soldering tool he removed the 16×2 LCD which obstructs most of the components on the panel, which revealed a 16 bit SPI port expander from Microchip MCP23S17. He continued to examine components and checked values using a multimeter to come up with the following circuit diagram:

PiFace+Control+and+Display

Click to Zoom

It’s a nice exercise in reverse engineering, and it looks like [John] did a pretty good job. We’ve seen the PiFace used to automatically decant wine bottles, control Minecraft using a physical Redstone, and even take 3D imaging with an array of 48 PiFaces, Pi’s and Cameras!

Comments

  1. Scuffles says:

    Well in fairness the GPIO pins on the Pi alone will let you use the Pi without a keyboard or mouse. Still I can see how having a portable interface with a display would be convenient. Things like the PiFace and PiTFT do a good job throwing convenient buttons and visual feedback into the mix :)

    I also commend him for both his curiosity and ability to reassemble things. I usually never make it to that second thing :(

  2. boot says:

    i wonder why the circuits aren’t just released by the manufacurers. nice reverse engineering btw.

  3. Mac says:

    Here is a PDF of the actual schematic of the PiFace:
    https://github.com/Elektordi/pi-accesscontrol/blob/master/doc/rpBreakOutV0_4_sch.pdf
    Cheers

  4. Turnips says:

    Where can I get a version of Johny CAD? :-) Nice reverse engineering!

    • There’s apparently an early version of the PiFace Schematic but that’s actually quite wrong. The PiFace was very easy to strip down with a good desolder tool, other folk should have a go at doing a teardown and documenting it. The result is usually very useful for the comunity at large ..Good luck

      BTW Johnny Cad is available at all good Stationers :)

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