Thinking About Making Your Own Raspberry Pi Compute Module Carrier Board?

At the start of the week we saw the release of a new Raspberry Pi Compute Module. Although it has made inroads in the industrial market, with some exceptions, we haven’t seen much adoption of the Compute Module in the maker community. For the most part this can be laid directly at the feet of the arrival of the Raspberry Pi Zero, free on the cover of a magazine.

But another factor is that there hasn’t been much accessible documentation about getting started with the Compute Module, beyond using it along with Raspberry Pi’s own development kit. Which is where a guide to building your own carrier board by Manolis Agkopian may well prove rather helpful.

Compute Module Base Board. (📷: Manolis Agkopian)

Agkopian walks through configuring and using the Compute Module with the official development kit, and then provides design files for a custom carrier board the can serve as a starting point for your own base boards.

“The back of the board has plenty of space for adding your own components and for relatively small projects you likely don’t even have to increase the dimensions of the board. Also, in case this is a standalone project and you don’t need a physical GPIO header on your board, you can easily get rid of it and save some space on the top side of the PCB. The GPIO header is also the only component that is routed through the second inner layer and removing it frees it up completely.”

PCB layout for the Compute Module Base Board. (📷: Manolis Agkopian)

For most makers, most of the time, using a Raspberry Pi Zero inside your project is probably going to be cheaper — and with the addition of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support if you use the more expensive Raspberry Pi Zero W — a lot more flexible.

Nonetheless, the Compute Module provides some unique abilities, not least of which is the ability to design a custom carrier board around it. That means when a new Compute Module arrives, as it did this week, you can just swap the compute part of your project out for a newer and more capable module, and leave the rest of your build intact.

A full walkthrough of the setting up your Raspberry Pi Compute Module for use with the official development kit, as well some suggestions on how to customise the board’s design files are available on the project’s Instructables page. While the design files for the Compute Module Base Board are available on the project’s GitHub. The design files have been released under the GNU GPL V3.0 license.




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Alasdair Allan

Alasdair Allan

Scientist, Author, Hacker, Maker, and Journalist.

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