N-O-D-E’s always-on networked Pi Plug

N-O-D-E’s Pi Plug is a simple approach to using a Raspberry Pi Zero W as an always-on networked device without a tangle of wires.

The Pi Zero Power Case

In a video early last year, YouTuber N-O-D-E revealed his Pi Zero Power Case, an all-in-one always-on networked computer that fits snugly against a wall power socket.

NODE Plug Raspberry Pi Plug

The project uses an official Raspberry Pi power supply, a Zero4U USB hub, and a Raspberry Pi Zero W, and it allows completely wireless connection to a network. N-O-D-E cut the power cord and soldered its wires directly to the power input of the USB hub. The hub powers the Zero via pogo pins that connect directly to the test pads beneath.

The Power Case is a neat project, but it may be a little daunting for anyone not keen on cutting and soldering the power supply wires.

Pi Plug 2

In his overhaul of the design, N-O-D-E has created a modular reimagining of the previous always-on networked computer that fits more streamlined to the wall socket and requires absolutely no soldering or hacking of physical hardware.

Pi Plug

The Pi Plug 2 uses a USB power supply alongside two custom PCBs and a Zero W. While one PCB houses a USB connector that slots directly into the power supply, two blobs of solder on the second PCB press against the test pads beneath the Zero W. When connected, the PCBs run power directly from the wall socket to the Raspberry Pi Zero W. Neat!

While N-O-D-E isn’t currently selling these PCBs in his online store, all files are available on GitHub, so have a look if you want to recreate the Pi Plug.

Uses

In another video — and seriously, if you haven’t checked out N-O-D-E’s YouTube channel yet, you really should — he demonstrates a few changes that can turn your Zero into a USB dongle computer. This is a great hack if you don’t want to carry a power supply around in your pocket. As N-O-D-E explains:

Besides simply SSH’ing into the Pi, you could also easily install a remote desktop client and use the GUI. You can share your computer’s internet connection with the Pi and use it just like you would normally, but now without the need for a monitor, chargers, adapters, cables, or peripherals.

We’re keen to see how our community is hacking their Zeros and Zero Ws in order to take full advantage of the small footprint of the computer, so be sure to share your projects and ideas with us, either in the comments below or via social media.

8 comments

AndrewS avatar

Or “How to give parents everywhere an instant heart-attack” when they see a bare PCB plugged ‘directly’ into the wall ;-D

Joseph Alway avatar

That’s more or less what I was thinking.

The “turn your Zero into a USB dongle computer” link near the bottom of the story is a much more practical solution in my opinion. He even has a version 2 link on his YouTube page that protects the USB connector when not in use.

Same basic concept, but it can be put anywhere you have a free USB port.

BruceR avatar

It would be simple enough to combine the two ideas. Just some spacers and a bit of acrylic and the bare board is covered. Personally I’d add a button for shutdown.

Bob avatar

I wouldn’t plan on packing one in my hand luggage.

Jongoleur avatar

USB dongle computer? Reminds me of that first prototype that went viral in 2011!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQ7N4rycsy4

P Stevens avatar

Reminds me of a crude version of this, which has a lunux core and a a ChroMe OS UI: https://www.asus.com/us/Chrome-Devices/Chromebit-CS10/

P Stevens avatar

Seems unnecessarily arcane dongle comouter compared to buying a pre-packaged Intel Windows or an Asus ChromeOS computer. All it saves is the space of a separate USB power supply.

Jagdeep avatar

Agreed :)

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