If you were lucky enough to buy a magazine with a magazine stuck to it, or you waited patiently after purchasing the complete kit online, chances are you are now the proud owner of a $5 computer — Raspberry Pi Zero

This guide is available for download in PDF format. Download Getting Started with Raspberry Pi Zero now . Feel free to copy and share this with your friends and family.

This wonderful narrow iteration of the Raspberry Pi shares hardware attributes with the Raspberry Pi A+ offering affordable computing and design to anyone with about $5 in their pocket.

If the Raspberry Pi was revolutionary, it brings that revolution to absolutely anyone who wants it, anywhere in the world.

What is a Raspberry Pi Zero?

It’s unlikely that you’ll ever have an issue with the size of an already compact Raspberry Pi, but just in case, you need an ultra-compact minicomputer with a very light weight, the amazing guys at the Raspberry Pi Foundation and its Manufacturing Partners (PremierFarnell, RS Components and Egoman) did it again with a tiny Pi Zero.


The latest iteration of the Raspberry Pi is essentially an A+ model, but with the ports removed, compressed into a single Micro USB OTG port (the familiar Micro USB power connector remains, the port on the right in the above diagram provides power lower than — pre-~160mA) and Mini-HDMI port (RCA composite video is also available via GPIO, ready to solder an additional header). Audio is also sent via Mini-HDMI, but there is a PWM connection on the GPIO for DIY analog audio output.

At the heart of the Pi Zero is a Broadcom BCM2835 SoC with a 1GHz single-core ARM1176JZF-S processor, a Broadcom VideoCore IV @ 250MHz GPU (with HD support), and 512MB SDRAM.


Finally, there’s a MicroSDHC slot for larger memory drives with reliable bug connections, while the GPIO — primarily on the Raspberry Pi — is unpopulated, meaning you’ll need to solder your pins onto the Pi Zero. Among the «missing» components, you will find that there is no video input for the Raspberry Pi camera and NoIR cameras.

Oh, and it’s only $5. Did we mention it?

Resembling a piece of laptop RAM, the only option the Pi Zero could be a little smaller is if it’s packaged without a USB or HDMI connector. But this will lead to problems with the development of projects.

What do you get in the box?

Various kits are available, depending on where you get the Pi Zero. After the launch of the computer, shipments became very low, thanks to the great success of the launch of the device. However, various sites currently offer pre-order kits.

Pimoroni.com list a couple of kits. First, you’ll get the Pi Zero, a mini HDMI adapter, and a micro USB OTG cable that can be connected to a USB hub (preferably powered) providing connectivity for wireless dongles, keyboard, mouse, external hard drive, and any other USB components you need to connect. There are also a number of GPIO (General Purpose I/O) pins that can be manually soldered onto the board.


You’ll also find a more modest set, such as the one shipped on the cover of MagPi magazine, with a Mini HDMI adapter, USB OTG cable, GPIO pin headers, and more.


Variant sets are also available, depending on which provider you are using. Along with a USB OTG cable and an HDMI adapter, you can find options including microSD cards and adapters, a tin box or case, rubber feet, and even power adapters.

Please note that these bundles will increase the base price, depending on which package you choose. So while the Pi Zero itself only costs $5 (or £4 in the UK), it can go as high as $20 or even more with cables, microSD card and GPIO.

Size comparison

At 65mm x 30mm x 5mm (2.56″ x 1.18″ x 0.20″), the Raspberry Pi Zero is a damn small computer.


Less than half the size of a traditional Raspberry Pi, its even more compact dimensions make it ideal for projects that require a board that can slip into small gaps as well as a board that takes weight into account. For example Raspberry Pi 2 weighs 45 g (1.6 oz); In contrast, the Pi Zero is only 9g (0.32oz).

Get started with Raspberry Pi Zero

Now you’ve met the Raspberry Pi Zero, it’s time to set it up, turn it on and start the project. First you need to install the operating system on a microSD card. This can be done by inserting the card into a computer, usually using an adapter (although some tablets and laptops have built-in microSD card slots) and flashing your chosen Raspberry Pi distribution onto the card.


Currently the best OS for Pi Zero is Raspbian Jessie This free operating system is available on the Raspberry Pi Downloads page and can be installed on any Raspberry Pi model today. Please note that there are two versions available: full desktop image and minimal image. The latter comes without some of the expected tools, but it loads faster and takes up less space on your SD card.

Writing an operating system is easy, no matter what operating system you use.

Installing Raspbian from Windows

While downloading Raspbian (or after slower connections), head to Sourceforge to download your copy of Win32 Disk Imager. Install it when you’re done.


Once you’ve downloaded and unzipped Raspbian, insert a formatted (using the SD Association’s formatting tool) microSD card into your PC’s card reader (or a suitable USB card reader). Launch Win32 Disk Imager and make sure the drive letter that matches your microSD card is selected in device .

Click in the Image File field to find the Raspbian unpacked .IMG file, select it, then » Write» . Wait for the progress bar to complete and Win32 Disk Imager will tell you that the recording is complete, then safely remove the card from your PC. Now you can plug it into your turned off Pi Zero, plug in the power cable, and boot up. Our complete guide to using Win32 Disk Imager to install Raspbian has even more information.

Installing Raspian from a Mac

Apple Pi Baker provides a feature set similar to Win32 Disk Imager. Once your card is inserted and recognized, select it from the list on the left; then select the downloaded .IMG file on the right and click » Restore backup» .


Be sure to remove the card when you’re done to prevent data corruption.

Hey NOOBS, flash it!

Instead of installing Raspbian this way, why not take a look at NOOBS? This software, which can be copied directly to a formatted SD card, contains several different operating systems (including Raspbian) for you to experiment with.


In view of the Pi Zero’s modest connectivity options, we’d recommend a complete NOOB standalone install, which means that each of the operating systems offered with NOOBS is available for your Pi Zero without additional downloads. If you have a full size Raspberry Pi, you can also use the NOOBS online installer to complete the installation and then insert the card into the Pi Zero.

For best results, Raspbian Jessie should be your OS of choice, at least at first glance. How you install it is up to you!

You may also be interested in creating a full disk image backup. to save time with installation and configuration in the future.

Pre-installed SD cards

Don’t have an SD card for your Raspberry Pi Zero? Are you missing a card reader or don’t have the bandwidth to download your copy of Raspbian? Don’t worry — you can purchase microSD cards from Amazon with NOOBS pre-installed!

Connecting cables

Now that the Pi Zero’s operating system is writing to the SD card, it’s time to connect the cables. If you want to see the output from the Pi Zero on a monitor, connecting an HDMI adapter cable should be your first step (unless you already have a suitable Mini-HDMI cable).


Are you planning to add a USB device? You can add a wireless dongle as the Pi Zero doesn’t come with built-in Wi-Fi or an Ethernet port. With the Wi-Fi dongle added, you will be able to, for example, remotely connect to the Pi Zero via SSH, although please note that this will require system resources and if you choose to power the Pi Zero with batteries any network activity will shorten battery life.

Getting Pi Zero Online

If you are installing with NOOBS, you need to take care to download the complete offline installer and not the easier option. This will provide you with an operating system installation, as opposed to a menu where you can select an OS to boot from.

If you opt for the easier online installation with NOOBS, you’ll first need to make sure your Pi Zero is connected to the internet. In the absence of an operating system, to set up a wireless network, you will need to find a compatible USB Ethernet adapter, which may be compatible with micro USB, or a standard USB port connected to the adapter.

However, there are other options. One popular alternative is to connect a mini Ethernet board to the Pi Zero’s GPIO, but this is not an easy task for beginners. Keep in mind that connecting an Ethernet cable to the Pi Zero almost guarantees an instant connection; The wireless dongle connection may fail.

One shortcut you can use is to set up Raspbian and your wireless USB dongle on a full size Raspberry Pi. With the wireless card set up — SSID detected, username and password entered, and connection established — you must then turn off your Raspberry Pi, remove the microSD card, and insert it into the Pi Zero. Similarly, remove the USB Wi-Fi dongle, plug it into the Pi Zero, and boot up. If everything went smoothly, you’ll save time downloading, installing, and configuring Raspbian for Pi Zero and get your device online right away.

With Raspberry Pi Zero online, you can install new tools, surf the web, access the Pi Store and connect to other devices on your network.

Mouse and Keyboard Options

How will you control the Pi Zero? The obvious option might seem to be with a mouse and keyboard, but the limited USB connection options (if you don’t have a powered USB hub connected) can lead to this.

While Bluetooth is also an option (and various keyboards with built-in touchpads are available), the initial setup will still require a USB mouse as well as a Bluetooth dongle. Kano Raspberry Pi kit comes with such a keyboard and touchpad.

However, other options are available for entering text and controlling your Raspberry Pi Zero using SSH or VNC.

Should you connect a monitor or not?

The initial response to anyone reading this can, of course, be “ok, how else can I control the Pi Zero?”. But you don’t need a monitor connected to the device to control it.

Although the Pi Zero has an HDMI connector, you may find that it is not compatible with your TV. Don’t worry too much — if your TV or monitor has VGA, you can use an inexpensive HDMI to VGA connector, as we previously demonstrated. .


You can also remotely connect to your Raspberry Pi Zero using a desktop or laptop computer. The most common way to do this — and the easiest to set up — is via SSH which gives you access to the command line.

Not enough? You can enjoy remote desktop on your Raspberry Pi with VNC . This can be improved using the Xming tool for VNC over SSH, and Windows RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) can be used if you install xrdp on your Raspberry Pi Zero. But note that both of these options require an Ethernet or Wi-Fi connection.

With these solutions, you won’t need a monitor for your Raspberry Pi as you can control it through an application window on your host computer. Please note that SSH and VNC options are also available for Android smartphones and tablets, and they are ideal for connecting Android to your Raspberry Pi Android apps that

Zero pi case

With your Raspberry Pi Zero connected, downloaded, and some method of controlling it installed, it’s time to find a place to keep it safe. The PCB has four mounting holes that allow you to screw the Pi Zero into any project you’re working on, but you might also want a more secure and durable home for a small computer.

There is a collection of Raspberry Pi Zero cases available on Amazon, such as this compact and affordable offering:

Alternatively, you can rely on LEGO or even 3D printing to secure your Pi Zero. Although the computer is smaller than the original Raspberry Pi, the case covers still apply to the compact younger brother.

Adding pins to GPIO

Your Raspberry Pi Zero is capable of doing most of the things a full-sized Pi can do… after all. However, right out of the box, you’re a bit limited by the lack of GPIO pins.

The pins either come in a separate container, or if you’re lucky enough to get the Pi Zero on the cover of MagPi magazine, they’re not there at all. As a result, you will need to order a suitable set of pins not only for the GPIO, but also for the four pins next to the Raspberry Pi logo. These start/reset jumper pins, if installed, allow you to safely shut down your Raspberry Pi. with a python script.

If you know how to solder, you will be fine with these new components. Otherwise, take some time to read our soldering tutorial. Be aware, however, that you don’t actually want the pins to connect to the GPIO. For example, you might prefer a female title, as shown in this video.

Meanwhile, if you’re not entirely sure if you even need a GPIO, check out our in-depth look at pin usage and how you can communicate with any Raspberry Pi. more directly than via USB.

What does Pi Zero mean for projects

You are probably not going to buy a Pi Zero to use as a desktop computer. . Rather, this compact, small-sized Raspberry Pi is capable of revolutionizing a project you’ve already created or a project you’re about to launch. To illustrate, here are five popular Raspberry Pi projects with a slight revision for Raspberry Pi Zero owners.

FM radio

With the addition of GPIO pins, the FM radio project can become even more compact. No mains connection is required, and the compact battery pack will make placing this project even easier (useful if you’re on land ruled by an oppressive regime).

Home automation with OpenHAB

While this project requires a network connection, the Pi Zero’s compact size expands the possibilities for creating a compact, tidy home automation project.

Airplay receiver

For this project, the little Pi Zero will need a network connection for streaming. However, the smaller dimensions mean it can be easily ported to other combo amps of almost any size.

Create an iBeacon Raspberry Pi iBeacon

It does not require a network connection, although it does require Bluetooth. Like an FM radio, a half-sized Pi will need a battery, but since the PiBeacon is small enough to hide it from view.

Raspberry Pi Media Center

For many of the holy grails of using the Raspberry Pi, the Pi Zero will require a network connection and typically a USB drive, requiring the addition of a powered USB hub. However, the Pi Zero itself is light enough to be mounted on the back of a TV — or even, if you’re especially adventurous, inside!

So with Pi Zero, all of these projects can be improved by saving space or weight.

Raspberry Pi Zero: A must for DIY

DIY projects in computing and robotics were made in the original version of the Raspberry Pi. Filling a surprisingly large niche that no one has previously satisfactorily found, the Pi has become de facto minicomputer, crammed into a space previously occupied by old PCs and discarded netbooks.

The Raspberry Pi Zero takes this success a step further by cutting it down and giving the user a choice of hardware components. Essentially a Raspberry Pi A+ on a strict diet, the $5 Raspberry Pi Zero is a computer that anyone interested in teaching kids computer skills and DIY projects should own.

The fact that the price is so cheap that it can be bought for the price of a cup of coffee — and (for the first time in the industry) set in front of the magazine — means that more children around the world can access it, and develop skills that can help push their lives from poverty.

How will you use the Pi Zero? Have you already started or completed several projects? Tell us more in the comments.

Image credit: Efa via Wikipedia

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