8 months ago

Stick PC: Pi Zero USB Dongle

Novaspirit has started a project, called Pi Zero USB Dongle, to create a stick PC from a Raspberry Pi.

Stick PC: Pi Zero USB Dongle 

Stick PC computers are popular at the moment. These computers are the size of a USB dongle that you pop into a monitor. Novaspirit has started a project, called Pi Zero USB Dongle, to create a stick PC from a Raspberry Pi.

I’ve been trying to find ways to make better use of my Raspberry Pi Zero,” says Nova Spirit, “and I think I have found one! Turning your Raspberry Pi Zero into a USB dongle and shared the internet with your PC!”

To build the project you take a Pi Zero, and put it in a custom 3D printed case. Then you take apart a male USB connector and solder it onto the Pi Zero board. The USB connection provides power.

There is a good video demonstration of the build. This video explains the build process in more detail. The hardware itself is relatively straightforward, but there are software customisations. Customising the software makes it run more smoothly.

Stick PC built from Raspberry Pi Zero

The list of required hardware is minuscule:

  • Male USB connector
  • 4 wires
  • Pi Zero
  • 3D Printed case

It runs the latest build of Raspbian Jessie with PIXEL. Which for our money makes it more viable than many PC Sticks (many run a stripped version of Windows 8). You can plug the device straight into a power source and use the USB-on-the-go port to connect a keyboard and mouse (and the Micro HDMI attached to a monitor).

Or you can plug it into a laptop and use SSH to access the Raspberry Pi itself. The Pi Zero USB Dongle gives a separate computer space to develop hardware and software projects.

“With the Pi Zero USB  install services like Webmin, cloud, and VNC,” says Novaspirit. “[It] makes for a very compelling PC in your pocket!”

  • cgioconda

    I’d like to go another route and make a case with a 90 degree hdmi adapter and make it like a chromestick or Amazon fire stick.

  • Brandon Saunders

    “Of you can plug it into a laptop and use SSH to access the Raspberry Pi itself.”

    Should be:

    “Or you can plug it into a laptop and use SSH to access the Raspberry Pi itself.”

  • Russell Barnes

    Thanks for the spot. I’ve fixed it – Lucy

  • Per Lindholm

    Great! With wifi on the pi zero could you use tethering from the pi then? This would turn it into a smart usb dongle and only be required to be passworded once when moved from computer to computer. Internet shared from the pi.

    The Pi Dongle with built in wifi should be the next pi I think.

  • SteveB

    Sorry guys, but USB is the ‘wrong socket’ … if you are plugging a compute device direct into a TV, the socket you need is known as the ‘HDMI input’ = see, for example, the Amazon TV Fire stick == an OTG USB cable (to link the Pi Zero power to one of the TV USB sockets for power) is generally a lot cheaper than a mini-HDMI to HDMI cable …

    You also need Bluetooth for attaching a Keyboard+Mouse (for any serious Internet browsing) and WiFi (to access the Internet), so IF you are plugging into a modern display, then maybe USB is correct == but you need to plug into the SQUARE USB socket (the one that allows access to the displays on-board USB hub) and NOT into a ‘normal’ USB socket (which is an OUTPUT)

    Finally, not to be too pedantic, but ‘PC’ has come to mean ‘hardware running Microsoft Windows’ .. thus ‘PC stick’ implies an ability to run Microsoft applications. Of course you wouldn’t get half as much interest if you used terms like ‘Linux dongle’ 🙂

  • Thomas Tallaksen

    Did you do it? And if so, how?