We let the social media team design their own FrankenPi 5, and it is beyond horrendous

While ever-so-slightly stressed at the lack of a Raspberry Pi 5 announcement over the last few years, some of our nice social media followers constructively suggested our social media staff cease posting sick memes and instead focus on getting Pi 5 manufactured. We don’t like to clip wings around here, so didn’t think twice before insisting our crack team, who know their way around ellipses better than electronics, design their own Raspberry Pi 5. What’s the worst that could happen, right? Right? Meet FrankenPi 5:

FrankenPi 5

Designing FrankenPi

Dealing with feedback about what the engineers should have put on each new board we release is another absolute favourite part of our job. We collated everything we could remember our followers asked for on the [as yet unreleased] Pi 5 over the years, and tried our best to accommodate all requests. There were a lot of them, so it ended up being massive. Like, three times the size of the real Raspberry Pi 5.

Ashley social media's Pi 5 design in black biro on the back of a white envelope. A big rectangle with PCB features inside it. Arrows pointing from the PCB features out to written explanations as to what they are are littered around the edges of the envelope

What’s on the board?

As you can see, you’ve us to thank for the highly-favoured new on/off switch. I’m pretty sure James Adams, who designed the real Raspberry Pi 5, didn’t ever see our back-of-an-envelope design, but maybe he also picks up on Twitter X vibes and amended his architecture accordingly.

closer look at frankenpi focussing on the bottle opener and bat signal

We also thought that if we put Eben’s direct line on FrankenPi, more of you would go directly to him with technical questions we often don’t know the answer to, thus freeing us up to learn how to use Threads and Mastodon and whatever other new platforms spring up in the wake of the other place transitioning beyond recognition. Spoiler: this feature did not make it onto the final board because Eben said no.

“USB” grumbles kept floating around too so we thought we’d add several to FrankenPi, including a few which don’t actually exist. Same goes for all the Python libraries – just shoved them all on there.

a close up of all the usb usb c lightning connectors poking out the top end of the green PCB board

You’re going to have to solder your own GPIO because we only soldered one time each (everyone has to have a go on their first day at Pi Towers as a rite of passage) and we were all terrible.

We just threw the bat signal in there for fun and because it reminds us of the best sticker our illustrator and animator Sam has ever designed:

Our bat signal sticker featuring famous Cambridge buildings on the river against a sunset sky with a giant beam of light featuring the raspberry pi logo striking across the sky

Bespoke manufacturing

Our friend Ben from HackSpace magazine believes in us and decided to transform our dreams from hastily drawn biro lines on the back of an envelope into a real life PCB. Just like that time Cinderella’s outfit was jazzed right up by that old lady with sprinkles coming out of her wand. (Pretty sure that’s how JLC PCB works?)

closer look at frankenpi focussing on the bottle opener and bat signal

Ben foresaw the need to add his own design element — a bottle opener so that we can celebrate our first-ever board architecture project. He warns, however, that it’s probably only good for popping one or two bottle caps due to its flimsy nature. This seems like a good time to remind you not to try and use your Raspberry Pi boards as bottle openers. It will work, but it won’t end well for either of you.

Be kind, we tried

And for our final trick, we decided to drop this blog on the final day before we all leave for Christmas break. We won’t be back until the New Year and by that time, all the comments you post telling us how awful our PCB design is will be so old they won’t sting anymore. Love you, bye.

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BenCos18 avatar

I both love and hate it

Reply to BenCos18

tzj avatar

You should get a dead pi out and test the bottle opener theory, even cut a hole out.

Reply to tzj

Meltwater avatar

Needs wheels and well something else….
A Sandwich perhaps. :)

Reply to Meltwater

Liz avatar

My shrivelled little heart just grew three sizes.

Reply to Liz

Robert Alderton avatar

Nice job. Well on your way to design some awesome badge for some upcoming PI convention.

Reply to Robert Alderton

Colin Deady avatar

I notice plenty of board space next to each Lasers were a good design choice. Because lasers!

Reply to Colin Deady

Colin Deady avatar

Well, that was odd. My previous message had the words Python chip stripped from it.

Reply to Colin Deady

Anders avatar

Such sweet memories of DIL packaged TTL devices and the 74 series in the TI TTL Data Book.

Reply to Anders

rclark avatar

Well at least the connectors are on one side. Maybe the start the RPI 500 board we are looking at :) .

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Robert avatar

It’s like a SBC made from the wreckage of a Farleigh Fruitbat…

Reply to Robert

stan423321 avatar

Meh. I guess I’m stuck hoping for ACME HybridMuffin 66 to have laser IO as well. While abslutely superior to CombinerBison, this design doesn’t even have the hardware accelerated mind control unit. How are you releasing a 2024 board without HAMC? /h

Reply to stan423321

Laura Smith avatar

I’m completely baffled why James has never managed to come up with such an elegant solution to the USB issue. All those years he must have spent studying engineering and you all just made him look like an amateur.

I feel rude trying to suggest an improvement on design perfection, but… What about putting the library chips in sockets, and selling squares of antistatic foam as an accessory? Then people who want to load everything at once can. But you can give people who want dynamically loaded libraries what they want too.

The power button is a terrible idea though. I’ve never in my life heard anyone complain about Pi not having a power button…

Reply to Laura Smith

Ashley Whittaker avatar

*writes down chips in sockets*

Reply to Ashley Whittaker

stan423321 avatar

Oh no… so that’s how they ended up with on/off switch… they’ve read “power button” and assumed it was for cutting off power instead of enabling UNLIMITED POWER…

Reply to stan423321

aiden avatar

*Cracks open a beer with the pi 5*

Reply to aiden

Ashley Whittaker avatar

Just the one beer though – this PCB is flimsy AF.

Reply to Ashley Whittaker

Phil avatar
Ashley Whittaker avatar

‘cept cooler, right?

Reply to Ashley Whittaker

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