halhertani
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Female Headers for the IO Board

Wed Apr 23, 2014 10:24 am

I have one issue with the Compute module's IO board. I'm not a big fan of the 0.1" male headers. I'd rather see 0.1″ female headers in their stead. This will make the IO board easier to use in hardware interfacing projects.

The original RPi board had 0.1″ male connectors but could easily be interfaced to a breadboard with an IDC connector/header cable due to its reasonably sized 2×13 header. The I/O board however brings out way more I/O. With this much I/O, in my humble opinion; female headers are better.

Female 0.1″ headers will mean that we could simply use a bunch of cheap male-to-male jumper wires to interface the RPI to a protoboard/breadboard. It also makes building mini-expansion boards that can be attached to the IO Board easier.

I guess the IO boards could also be sold without headers at all...and the user can then install the header type of their choice.

I realize that we can always build our own custom IO boards and in the coming years, many will build more customizable IO boards for the compute module...but it would still be nice to have female headers on the official IO board
Last edited by halhertani on Wed Apr 23, 2014 11:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Female Headers for the IO Board

Wed Apr 23, 2014 10:52 am

http://rasp.io solves that problem.
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Re: Female Headers for the IO Board

Wed Apr 23, 2014 9:10 pm

One big problem with a Female Header is that IDC males connectors are silly money i.e. about ten times the price of IDC females!
Female header only works well if you are plugging your board directly in (pins soldered to your board) or you are using individual breadboard jumper wires.

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Re: Female Headers for the IO Board

Thu Apr 24, 2014 9:55 am

arm2,
That maybe the case, but the IO Board would need 2*30 IDC header/cables..... two of them to access all the I/O. Attaching IDC connectors (and quite possibly 2 of them) that large to a breadboard / custom PCB would take up a heck of a lot of space/board real-estate.

Perhaps using IDC cables to interface to this board with its current setup is not practical...not for hobbyists anyway.

If the goal here is to use IDC cables for interfacing....How about breaking the two 2*30 male headers to 4 2*15 male headers. Or better yet 4 2*13 male headers (this is feasible with the loss of some GND/VDD pins on the right-most rows of the headers). Thus smaller IDC connectors can be used in this case.

Having 4 banks of 2*13 0.1" male headers is particularly nice since it would allow us to re-use the IDC connectors purchased for the original RPi .

Regards,
Hussam
Last edited by halhertani on Thu Apr 24, 2014 12:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Female Headers for the IO Board

Thu Apr 24, 2014 10:24 am

Remember that the IO board is just a development platform - it's not intended to be put in to stuff (It will be way too expensive for that) - you should be making you own board - and then you can put on whatever headers you want.

And for a development platform, male headers are easier to deal with and attach stuff to.
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Re: Female Headers for the IO Board

Thu Apr 24, 2014 12:24 pm

Jamesh,
I understand that the IO board is just a development platform.....and I'm grateful that the RPi Foundation is making such an IO board available along with the compute module from day one.

But I would've liked this board be a bit more hobbyist/maker friendly.

I'm sure that other IO boards will be developed by third parties for the compute module. Perhaps I'll take your advice and develop one myself!

Hussam

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Re: Female Headers for the IO Board

Thu Apr 24, 2014 12:35 pm

halhertani wrote:Jamesh,
I understand that the IO board is just a development platform.....and I'm grateful that the RPi Foundation is making such an IO board available along with the compute module from day one.

But I would've liked this board be a bit more hobbyist/maker friendly.

I'm sure that other IO boards will be developed by third parties for the compute module. Perhaps I'll take your advice and develop one myself!

Hussam
I don't understand how having a female connector makes it hobbyist friendly. As an example, my IO board (Oh Yes) has jumpers on the male connectors- not possible with female. Female IDC's are cheaper etc.

And tbh, this board is much more expensive than hobbyists are going to find friendly, simply because it's aimed at a completely different market. Like you, I see third party IO boards being the way to go for hobbyists.
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Re: Female Headers for the IO Board

Thu Apr 24, 2014 1:25 pm

I think your solution is - you could always desolder the headers and insert Arduino-style ones (if they'll fit... you need to check that because they might not!)

I think female headers on boards are a new thing - they're on all the arduinos and copies, but before that time I don't think I ever saw one. (For decades now headers on boards have been male and various receptacles or header sockets have been available for the cable end. This has always been the standard as far as I know. Arduino-style board sockets are convenient for those who don't want to waste time soldering.)

Also - the board is made for professional (i.e. paid) developers, not hobbyists. These people will solder up what they need.

No matter what the raspi's designers do, someone will always ask for a special version. The Model CM itself could be seen as an answer to commercial developers who complained the Model A & Model B were too bulky. And people complain daily that it doesn't do what they want in some respect.

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Re: Female Headers for the IO Board

Thu Apr 24, 2014 1:55 pm

Female to Male jumper cables are readily available, and about the same price as M-M and F-F ones.

I don't see the problem.

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Re: Female Headers for the IO Board

Thu Apr 24, 2014 2:51 pm

jamesh wrote: And tbh, this board is much more expensive than hobbyists are going to find friendly, simply because it's aimed at a completely different market. Like you, I see third party IO boards being the way to go for hobbyists.
Sorry for hijacking a bit.

Can't wait to see the business model behind this IO board.
I am really puzzled. And no, I do not imply that I know better than the foundation or broadcom how to make money.

In my work, I am used to deal with overpriced proprietary hardware(end user perspective), but it is typically the combination of closed hardware &software that ties our hands.

Here, from what I understand, anybody can create an IO board. I am clearly missing something obvious.

I will wait and see...

Ben
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Re: Female Headers for the IO Board

Thu Apr 24, 2014 2:57 pm

I think the answer is that it's a special board for evaluation of the CM.

I'm a hobbyist and not a professional, but get many of my kicks from reading electronics catalogues :lol:

I frequently see evaluation boards which are made for a particular chip, and they are far more expensive than the chip itself. Probably because of the very small production run, the fact that it needs to cater for a lot of possible applications and so has many extra connectors and components, etc.

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Re: Female Headers for the IO Board

Thu Apr 24, 2014 3:54 pm

blachanc wrote: Sorry for hijacking a bit.

Can't wait to see the business model behind this IO board.
I am really puzzled. And no, I do not imply that I know better than the foundation or broadcom how to make money.

In my work, I am used to deal with overpriced proprietary hardware(end user perspective), but it is typically the combination of closed hardware &software that ties our hands.

Here, from what I understand, anybody can create an IO board. I am clearly missing something obvious.

I will wait and see...
I think the idea is that corporate users would buy a couple of evaluation boards and compute modules to do some preliminary tests, if those tests prove the idea is feasible they'de then invest time and money in making their own IO board and buy lots of compute modules (potentially in the thousands).

I've been doing some work using the Model B Pi's and if we can iron out all the bugs then moving to the compute module is likely to make sense (and would solve some of the other issues we've seen). For this project buying the compute modules by the 100 wouldn't be an issue (and probably still gives the foundation a decent profit).

The IO evaluation board will potentially also be of interest to some of the experimenters out there who's found the current access to gpio to be limiting (although may have other limits - like lack of ethernet)

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Re: Female Headers for the IO Board

Thu Apr 24, 2014 4:35 pm

What the previous two posts say. The Foundation is not interested in making money on the IO board, but on the CM's themselves. The sales ratio is hoped to be hundreds/thousands to one. Selling lots of IO boards would actually be a bit of a pain, as it would dilute the A/B sales and introduce a unnecessary extra educational model.
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Re: Female Headers for the IO Board

Thu Apr 24, 2014 7:30 pm

Then why did the Foundation announce the upcoming release of the CM on their educational channel, the blog? Surely, if the Foundation had chosen to communicate this release to commercial parties only this whole debate wouldn't have been taken place, or at least not (so) publicly? Besides, the Foundation made clear in their statement that the CM would also be available to non-commercial customers, i.e. enthusiasts (be it at a slightly higher price then the USD 30 quoted) ;)

As a matter of fact, when the likes of Adafruit et all release their CMIO boards when the CM launches this summer, I think there will be a myriad of Raspbian spin-offs to cater for the various boards and the additional hardware they support over the box-standard image for the Models A and B. It'll be only a matter of time before purchasers of that hardware will ask questions about Raspbian for their board on this forum. Many won't know the difference, Raspbian is Raspbian, right? :roll: (yes, I know they aren't thank you very much :P )

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Re: Female Headers for the IO Board

Thu Apr 24, 2014 7:41 pm

Dutch_Master wrote:Then why did the Foundation announce the upcoming release of the CM on their educational channel, the blog? Surely, if the Foundation had chosen to communicate this release to commercial parties only this whole debate wouldn't have been taken place, or at least not (so) publicly? Besides, the Foundation made clear in their statement that the CM would also be available to non-commercial customers, i.e. enthusiasts (be it at a slightly higher price then the USD 30 quoted) ;)

As a matter of fact, when the likes of Adafruit et all release their CMIO boards when the CM launches this summer, I think there will be a myriad of Raspbian spin-offs to cater for the various boards and the additional hardware they support over the box-standard image for the Models A and B. It'll be only a matter of time before purchasers of that hardware will ask questions about Raspbian for their board on this forum. Many won't know the difference, Raspbian is Raspbian, right? :roll: (yes, I know they aren't thank you very much :P )
Well, the Foundation has no other information distribution mechanism other than the blog, so that was the only option there, and of course, the CM will be available to non-commercial customers, but that is simply not the target market. And I can certainly see 3rd party IO boards being made by the like of Adafruit. I think that's the whole point - others take on the burden of the non-educational non-commercial hobbyist side, while the Foundation can concentrate on the A and B.

The market for CM's for hobbyist is pretty small as I see it. They are considerably more expensive than A/B once you add on the IO board, for relatively few benefits (for hobbyists). It really is aimed squarely at commercial buyers, but as we all know, there will always be a few hobbyists who want this sort of thing.
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Re: Female Headers for the IO Board

Fri Apr 25, 2014 1:46 pm

Sorry James, but I find it difficult to believe that the Foundation does not have, or cannot compile, a list of commercial partners/businesses that may or may not have previously expressed interest in a CM-like product and/or contacted the Foundation about incorporating a modified RPi in their design. Anyway, it's all hypothetical now, isn't it? ;)

As for the combined price of the CM and CMIO board: yes, it's way over a Model B. But the flexibility of the CM offers not only solutions for commercial parties, it's still cheaper then any commercial evaluation board from the likes of Intel, Microchip, Amtel, et all. The Beagleboard and Arduino platforms come closest, but are still not exactly cheap. I guesstimate the CM to be in the USD 35-40 range (for hobbyists!) while a CMIO board will probably take another 50-60 bucks. A Beagleboard is about double, an Arduino based system may come in between the CM and Beagleboard, cost-wise, when the various shields are taken in account. Besides, the CM has more computing power then the Arduino Due (the new, 32 bit release) ;)

Back to the OP: female headers would allow the IO board to be used as the Arduino range currently is, so empowering more programmers to re-use their Arduino style tinkering skills. However, I do also see the other side, in that Arduino shields are vulnerable during transit, or basically any time they're not attached in the Arduino sockets. Caught between a stone and a hard place then, as the same can be said for the opposite situation. Having said that, you'd need both male and female connectors anyway, so it would make sense to limit the required use of the most expensive one: if that is the female connector, it should be on the CMIO board. That way the various extension boards can have the cheaper male headers, making them cheaper so punters can buy more boards, etc. Oh well, you'll get the drift here ;)

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Re: Female Headers for the IO Board

Fri Apr 25, 2014 2:06 pm

Dutch_Master wrote:Sorry James, but I find it difficult to believe that the Foundation does not have, or cannot compile, a list of commercial partners/businesses that may or may not have previously expressed interest in a CM-like product and/or contacted the Foundation about incorporating a modified RPi in their design.
Let's get this straight; are you expecting him to apologise for the foundation (of which he's not a founder, as he's said before) using its own web site to announce its next product?

Also are you expecting them to keep a list and contact details for all of the small companies who have posted on this forum in the past wanting a compact board to integrate into a product?

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Re: Female Headers for the IO Board

Fri Apr 25, 2014 2:20 pm

Dutch_Master wrote:Sorry James, but I find it difficult to believe that the Foundation does not have, or cannot compile, a list of commercial partners/businesses that may or may not have previously expressed interest in a CM-like product and/or contacted the Foundation about incorporating a modified RPi in their design. Anyway, it's all hypothetical now, isn't it? ;)
I can quite easily believe that the Foundation doesn't know about a list of potentially interested companies that could be interested in the CM. The stuff I've been working recently being one of those examples. I'm sure there are many other small companies that are potentially interested in the CM for projects they're working on who would be in the same matter. In my case I was aware that there was something being thought about via other contacts so had no real need to talk to the Foundation myself.
Dutch_Master wrote:Back to the OP: female headers would allow the IO board to be used as the Arduino range currently is, so empowering more programmers to re-use their Arduino style tinkering skills. However, I do also see the other side, in that Arduino shields are vulnerable during transit, or basically any time they're not attached in the Arduino sockets. Caught between a stone and a hard place then, as the same can be said for the opposite situation. Having said that, you'd need both male and female connectors anyway, so it would make sense to limit the required use of the most expensive one: if that is the female connector, it should be on the CMIO board. That way the various extension boards can have the cheaper male headers, making them cheaper so punters can buy more boards, etc. Oh well, you'll get the drift here ;)
With the huge amount of IO available on the IO board I doubt many people would be using shields/capes in quite the same way as is done with the arduino/beaglebone (I don't like the thought of trying to separate two pcbs connected with 2x 60 pin headers!). If you're making a board to sit on top of the IO board it would probably be much easier to make a board with a connector for the CM and do away with the IO board completly. It's much more likely that they'll want to just use sets of wires to an external dev board (breadboard / stripboard etc.) in which case getting wires with female connectors seems to be much easier than getting them with male connectors. Personally if I was doing something like that I'd probably be just as happy having the headers unpopulated and I'd add suitable headers for my purpose (or for some things solder directly to the board)

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Re: Female Headers for the IO Board

Fri Apr 25, 2014 2:45 pm

The market for CM's for hobbyist is pretty small as I see it. They are considerably more expensive than A/B once you add on the IO board, for relatively few benefits (for hobbyists). It really is aimed squarely at commercial buyers, but as we all know, there will always be a few hobbyists who want this sort of thing.
I believe James is correct with this, although the Foundation did underestimate the size of the hobbyist market for A/B somewhat :)

I can't see that many hobbyists designing and building their own host board. However, that doesn't preclude someone doing what other vendors have already done with SMT parts, and providing breakout boards - since a lot of hobbyists can't (or don't want) to work at that scale. I hope that LadyAda is gearing up to do this, myself. Adafruit has a good track record! Exposing those other GPIOs will be useful for some folks, but not all. You can't please all the people.

I'm just surprised no one has complained that the RPi doesn't suit their needs because of that horrible double row of pins....

To me, the A/B are the development boards, but they just happen to be competitively priced! The analogy (at least for me) breaks down, because the CM will not be significantly less expensive than an A/B in the same way that an ATMega328P is, in comparison to an assembled Arduino or clone board. As has been pointed out elsewhere, the high value components are not the connectors on the board, omitting those would save (maybe) a couple of dollars.

Enough people have obviously asked about the availability of a 'cut-down' A/B to warrant the introduction of the CM, and the Foundation clearly believes it is commercially viable to produce it (or they wouldn't be doing so). As a hobbyist, who isn't in education (unless you count my interest as a parent of a 14 year old), I don't see the problem with what they've done.

To my mind, something like the Banana-Pi is much more damaging (assuming it actually exists), since it threatens to muddy the waters as to what the Foundation is behind, and what it isn't. I would be wanting to chase this down and try to persuade them to change the name of the product to avoid confusion, but this isn't the place to start another thread on that...

Often, my better half and I arrive at the conclusion that "we are where we are", during discussions. The implication of this is simple.
There is little to be gained by debating that X, Y, or Z should have been chosen instead of W. W is what we have right now. Let's move on.

The simple fact is, the A/B has a male header, not female. That won't change.
If you're designing your own daughterboard, why should that be an issue? You can simply use a socket.
If you aren't, as rpdom says, Female/Male connectors are available.

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Re: Female Headers for the IO Board

Fri Apr 25, 2014 3:30 pm

Ravenous wrote:Let's get this straight; are you expecting him to apologise for the foundation (of which he's not a founder, as he's said before) using its own web site to announce its next product?
No and I never implied it anywhere, anytime either. But there's a lot of discussions going on (including this one) with hobbyists over things that are mainly of concern to commercial parties, which the Foundation could have prevented by limiting the announcement of the CM to those manufacturers.
Ravenous wrote:Also are you expecting them to keep a list and contact details for all of the small companies who have posted on this forum in the past wanting a compact board to integrate into a product?
No, not the forum. But they've surely been in contact with interested commercial parties via other, more direct means (like email), who's contact details would be available to the Foundation to communicate about the CM.

Mind, I'm all for Open Source and open discussions and all that, but some things are better handled away from the spotlights, especially as the Foundation already made the decision not to (provide) support the CM for the hobbyist market and concentrate on the educational side with the Models A and B. When the CM is released and commercial parties launch their IO boards, then is a good time to communicate with the hobbyist side of the community about the CM and its potential.

Don't get me wrong here, I'm not at all attacking the Foundation, either for devising the CM, aiming it at the commercial market or leaving hobbyist support of the CM to 3rd party vendors, I'm only questioning the wisdom of timing and chosen communication channel, given the choices the Foundation has made and the amount of discussion it invoked. The Foundation is lead by people who are very much more clever then I am (and I appreciate the time, money and effort that has gone in to get the RPi where it is today!) so surely they could have foreseen these distracting discussions coming?

Anyway, I've (hopefully) made my position clear and as this discussion seems to take a direction I do not want to go, I shall not respond any further. I genuinely hope the CM will be highly successful and provide the Foundation with a nice, decent source of income they can spend on their educational targets. And although some may (want to) interpret my contributions otherwise, I do fully support the Foundation's goals and will continue to do so. :!:

/me stepping off soapbox :oops:

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Re: Female Headers for the IO Board

Fri Apr 25, 2014 3:36 pm

Dutch_Master wrote:Sorry James, but I find it difficult to believe that the Foundation does not have, or cannot compile, a list of commercial partners/businesses that may or may not have previously expressed interest in a CM-like product and/or contacted the Foundation about incorporating a modified RPi in their design. Anyway, it's all hypothetical now, isn't it? ;)

As for the combined price of the CM and CMIO board: yes, it's way over a Model B. But the flexibility of the CM offers not only solutions for commercial parties, it's still cheaper then any commercial evaluation board from the likes of Intel, Microchip, Amtel, et all. The Beagleboard and Arduino platforms come closest, but are still not exactly cheap. I guesstimate the CM to be in the USD 35-40 range (for hobbyists!) while a CMIO board will probably take another 50-60 bucks. A Beagleboard is about double, an Arduino based system may come in between the CM and Beagleboard, cost-wise, when the various shields are taken in account. Besides, the CM has more computing power then the Arduino Due (the new, 32 bit release) ;)

Back to the OP: female headers would allow the IO board to be used as the Arduino range currently is, so empowering more programmers to re-use their Arduino style tinkering skills. However, I do also see the other side, in that Arduino shields are vulnerable during transit, or basically any time they're not attached in the Arduino sockets. Caught between a stone and a hard place then, as the same can be said for the opposite situation. Having said that, you'd need both male and female connectors anyway, so it would make sense to limit the required use of the most expensive one: if that is the female connector, it should be on the CMIO board. That way the various extension boards can have the cheaper male headers, making them cheaper so punters can buy more boards, etc. Oh well, you'll get the drift here ;)
The Foundation is very aware and has constant contact, often via the manufacturers RS/Farnell (because big companies sometimes go to them first), with customers who want large volumes of Raspi (or at least 2835), and for whom the CM is a better idea that the A/B. As I understand it, they were informed of the CM in advance (I knew about it 4 months ago and already have a board that uses it on my desk!). There are a lot of companies building Raspi's in to stuff though, and not all of them will have been in contact, but will keep an eye on the blog (well, their engineers almost certainly will be). That's the people who are informed by this sort of posting. As well, of course, of people who are just interested in Raspi stuff, whether it applies to them or not.

As myself and others have said - expect a raft of cheap IO boards (perhaps even with female connectors) to hit the market very soon after the CM launches.
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Re: Female Headers for the IO Board

Fri Apr 25, 2014 5:09 pm

Dutch_Master wrote: No and I never implied it anywhere, anytime either. But there's a lot of discussions going on (including this one) with hobbyists over things that are mainly of concern to commercial parties, which the Foundation could have prevented by limiting the announcement of the CM to those manufacturers.
The blog gets a ridiculous number of unique pageviews per day. It is the ideal platform on which to announce commercial products, as announced products get picked up by tech news sites everywhere. Professional engineers read those tech news sites.

The CM is intended to be an enabling platform for commercial development around BCM2835. Hobbyists are definitely not the target market for this device, but ultimately ones equipped with CAD tools and enough money to stump up for a small custom IO board production run will buy 100-off CM and sell them to their mates.

The IO board is a development board. It allows access to all the interfaces available from the SoC such that commercial ventures can prototype motherboard designs. We want the IO board in the hands of companies that are going to embed a CM into their products.

Pin headers are the de-facto standard for access to low-bandwidth signals in a dev environment. Unless you have a requirement for a 1-off order of 5,000 compute module IO boards with sockets, this isn't going to change.
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Re: Female Headers for the IO Board

Sat Apr 26, 2014 2:11 pm

@ halhertani,

deepest apologies for hijacking the thread.
I was not expecting my post to shift the thread so much.

back to the original topic:
maybe a cie will see value building female-female headers that can be inserted side by side.

let say you only want to use a partial section of the header, most ribbon cable wont fit, because the external clip is wider
than the space between pins.

IE: you cannot fit a 26 pin ribbon cable on a 40 pin header.


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Re: Female Headers for the IO Board

Mon Apr 28, 2014 11:07 am

To my mind, something like the Banana-Pi is much more damaging (assuming it actually exists), since it threatens to muddy the waters as to what the Foundation is behind, and what it isn't.
Oh I dont know. I think it could be a good thing in the long run. I know the foundation has a very anti-competition approach, so much so that a thread discussing the Banana-Pi was closed.

The way I see it, competition is a good thing. Sure, the name could be an issue but other than that, it's a solid plan. There SHOULD be people competing with the Raspberry Pi. There SHOULD be the option of buying and discussing alternative boards. This whole "it doesn't make us money so you're not allowed to discuss it here" attitude seems a little counterproductive to me. Things like the Banana-Pi are great for those who need more resources than the current pi can provide, yet still want to be involved in the pi community, and pi based projects.

The Arduino community is a great example. There's tons of clones, remakes, alternatives, etc and they welcome it with open arms. The foundation being a bit snooty about it all isn't the way to go IMO, especially when so much of the Pi is touted as being opensource.

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Raspberry Pi Engineer & Forum Moderator
Raspberry Pi Engineer & Forum Moderator
Posts: 121
Joined: Wed Mar 19, 2014 2:58 pm
Location: Cambridge

Re: Female Headers for the IO Board

Mon Apr 28, 2014 11:36 am

We aren't anti competition at all. What we are trying to avoid is brand confusion and the problems that causes. Banana-Pi is not Raspberry Pi and for the most part not Raspberry Pi compatible despite the fact they ripped off the form factor and named it something similar. We don't want a proliferation of posts about it because again it would confuse the first timer / uninitiated, and this forum is for Raspberry Pi users!
James Adams
Raspberry Pi - COO & Hardware Lead

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