The Pi Zero USB Stem is a PCB kit that turns a Raspberry Pi Zero into a USB dongle. Once the Stem is installed, your Raspberry Pi can be plugged directly into a computer or USB hub without any additional cables or power supplies. The Raspberry Pi then acts as a USB device using its own Linux kernel gadget drivers to get started.
The Zero Stem is designed to be soldered directly to the USB SMD test pads on the bottom of the Raspberry Pi Zero, needing no wires or pogo pins at all, just solder and a soldering iron! Attaching the stem to your Pi also allows you to create a portable VNC server, or even cluster several Raspberry Pi Zeros with just a USB hub.
The Zero Stem is compatible with the Raspberry Pi Zero v1.3 and the Raspberry Pi Zero W v1.1, but unfortunately it is not compatible with the Raspberry Pi Zero v1.2 or any full-size Raspberry Pi due to their shapes and sizes.
This skill defines how difficult the soldering is on a particular product. It might be a couple simple solder joints, or require special reflow tools.
Skill Level: Competent - You will encounter surface mount components and basic SMD soldering techniques are required.
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If it requires power, you need to know how much, what all the pins do, and how to hook it up. You may need to reference datasheets, schematics, and know the ins and outs of electronics.
Skill Level: Rookie - You may be required to know a bit more about the component, such as orientation, or how to hook it up, in addition to power requirements. You will need to understand polarized components.
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Based on 2 ratings:
Soldering wasn’t too hard, and I really like just being able to plug the Pi Zero into the USB connector on my laptop and then have two computers running! Had a bit of trouble setting up the serial gadget at least on OS X, so I switched and configured the ethernet gadget. Be sure to enable wireless connectivity on your Pi Zero W first, however since you will need a way to get into the Pi to configure the USB connectivity gadgets if things don’t work initially.
I do wish I had a Pi Zero case that would accommodate the Pi Zero with the STEM in place, though. I hacked a plastic case up with an Xacto knife and stuffed things in, but that was more work than soldering the Stem on in the first place.
I had four spare Pi Zeros not doing anything… and now, I’m looking at small Pi cluster and I now need to power them down or reboot them safely! I may throw some more headers on the non-headered Pi Zeros and tie in some more spare hardware I have. Joy!