PiGlass V2 Embraces The New Raspberry Pi Zero 2

Well, that certainly didn’t take long. It’s been just about a month since the Raspberry Pi Zero 2 hit the market, and we’re already seeing folks revisit old projects to reap the benefits of the drop-in upgrade that provides five times the computational power in the same form factor.

Take for example the PiGlass v2 that [Matt] has been working on. He originally put the Pi Zero wearable together back in 2018, and while it featured plenty of bells and whistles like a VuFine+ display, 5 MP camera, and bone conduction audio, the rather anemic hardware of the original Zero kept it from reaching its true potential.

But thanks to the newly released Pi Zero 2, slapping quad-core power onto the existing rig was as easy as unplugging a couple cables and swapping out the board. With the increased performance of the new Pi, he’s able to play multimedia content through Kodi, emulate classic games with RetroPie, and even stream live video to YouTube. Using the custom menu seen in the video below, a small off-the-shelf Bluetooth controller from 8BitDo is all he needs to control the wearable’s various functions without getting bogged down with a full keyboard and mouse.

Although it might not have the punch of its larger siblings, the new Pi Zero 2 is definitely a very exciting platform. The highly efficient board delivers performance on par with the old Pi 3, while still being well positioned for battery powered projects like this one. We’re eager to see what develops as the new SBC finds its way into the hands of more hackers and makers in the coming months.

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The Pi Zero 2 W Is The Most Efficient Pi

Last week we saw the announcement of the new Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W, which is basically an improved quad-core version of the Pi Zero — more comparable in speed to the Pi 3B+, but in the smaller Zero form factor. One remarkable aspect of the board is the Raspberry-designed RP3A0 system-in-package, which includes the four CPUs and 512 MB of RAM all on the same chip. While 512 MB of memory is not extravagant by today’s standards, it’s workable. But this custom chip has a secret: it lets the board run on reasonably low power.

When you’re using a Pi Zero, odds are that you’re making a small project, and maybe even one that’s going to run on batteries. The old Pi Zero was great for these self-contained, probably headless, embedded projects: sipping the milliamps slowly. But the cost was significantly slower computation than its bigger brothers. That’s the gap that the Pi Zero 2 W is trying to fill. Can it pull this trick off? Can it run faster, without burning up the batteries? Raspberry Pi sent Hackaday a review unit that I’ve been running through the paces all weekend. We’ll see some benchmarks, measure the power consumption, and find out how the new board does.

The answer turns out to be a qualified “yes”. If you look at mixed CPU-and-memory tasks, the extra efficiency of the RP3A0 lets the Pi Zero 2 W run faster per watt than any of the other Raspberry boards we tested. Most of the time, it runs almost like a Raspberry Pi 3B+, but uses significantly less power.

Along the way, we found some interesting patterns in Raspberry Pi power usage. Indeed, the clickbait title for this article could be “We Soldered a Resistor Inline with Raspberry Pis, and You Won’t Believe What Happened Next”, only that wouldn’t really be clickbait. How many milliamps do you think a Raspberry Pi 4B draws, when it’s shut down? You’re not going to believe it.

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