A Custom Raspberry Pi Spotted In The Wild

Since the first Raspberry Pi came to market back in 2012 there have been a variety of models released. Some of them are rarer than others, and unusual boards can even be rather sought-after. This one spotted at a Thai junk vendor won’t be in the hands of many collectors though, and investigating it sheds a bit of light on some of the most unusual boards from the company.

The board is recognisably very similar to a Pi 3 with a BCM2837 SoC, but despite all that it has no Pi logo. On the underside there is an eMMC in place of the SD socket, and one pair of USB sockets has been replaced by a micro USB socket and a header. The source is reported to have been a washing machine, but given that this SoC is exclusive to the the Pi Foundation there’s no way it could easily have been manufactured by anyone else. The answer comes in the 2015 launch of a customisation service for industrial customers, which allowed manufacturers to have their own versions made of the fruity SBC.

From the point of view of an experimenter this board offers nothing that a standard device can’t do. But it’s an interesting glimpse of an unseen side to the Pi story, and it holds the prospect of other special versions being unearthed. If you find one on your travels, let us know!

Old LED Marquee Turned Embedded Video Player

driving-led-marquee-with-rpi

[Sprite_TM] is was sent an old LED Marquee by an anonymous fan of his hacking projects. The display isn’t full color, but it’s large — 224 by 48 pixels — and he figured he could render some okay images with the bi-color diodes. In the end, he replaced the controller and turned it into a video player.

The original system work well enough, but the 100 MHz 486 industrial style PC that drove the display seems a little comical these days. After giving it a spin and testing out how it drives the display [Sprite] hooked up an FTDI chip and managed to get it playing video from his computer. Above you can see part of the opening sequence of The Simpsons.

Now that he had learned its secrets he set out to give it an embedded controller. His first attempt was with a Carambola board which he’s worked with before. That proved to be a little slow for all the pixel data he was pushing so he upgraded to a Raspberry Pi and never looked back. You can see the demo video after the jump.

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