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pISO Raspberry Pi Zero Flash Drive Hat

Editor's Rating
4.8?
Discovered on 2018-03-29

Turn your Raspberry Pi Zero into a flash drive with the pISO Raspberry Pi Zero Flash Drive Hat. Instead of formatting your existing flash drive or looking for another one, pISO creates a new USB drive. Just pick a size and a platform, such as Mac, Windows or Linux, and pISO automatically formats the drive for you. Additionally, it doesn’t require any special software to be compatible with your device. Similarly, these drives appear as a normal to your computer. You can also use pISO to create virtual CD drives, making it easy to set up flash drives for OS installation. Furthermore, pISO can also capture snapshots to keep your data safe. Simply take the pISO hat, put it onto the Raspberry Pi Zero, screw it on and you’re good to go.

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Overview
Overview & Specs
Compatibility :
Raspberry Pi Zero
Includes :
Screws, Nuts
Connector :
USB
Discovered on:
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Kickstarter Comments (50)

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Adam Schwalm
Review from Kickstarter
@Scooter We have received shipping notification on the new prototype boards, but we don't have tracking information, so while we are hoping they will arrive this week, we aren't sure. As far as spacers, we have not decided on any specifically. Many of the obvious choices of 2mm spacers available through Digikey, for example, are prohibitively expensive (it would cost thousands of dollars to get the number we need), so we are exploring other options. We will also be posting an update on any decisions we have made or new info we have this Friday, as well as providing an update on the development software side.
Scooter
Review from Kickstarter
Any news on how the spacer issue is progressing?
Adam Schwalm
Review from Kickstarter
@Nathan That should be possible. I don't know if we will be able to implement it before we ship the pISO (though it is easy to update the pISO later if we add that feature). My concern would be that the increased latency for any ISO-over-wifi could cause some problems, but that is just a hunch.
Nathan
Review from Kickstarter
Would it be possible to extend the wifi capabilities to include presenting an ISO from an NFS share, without first copying it to the local storage?
Adam Schwalm
Review from Kickstarter
@Kageve Gonswic Attaching a heat sink to the Pi Zero shouldn't cause any problems, but it is not necessary for use with the pISO.
Kageve Gonswic
Review from Kickstarter
Would it be advisable for us to attach a heatsink to the pi zero?
George W.
Review from Kickstarter
Yeah I've been wondering about the startup cycle myself. But not in the form of a question, more like in the form of "I expect a race condition there, so what will I do to resolve it?" I'm thinking along the lines of adding a small supercapacitor to keep the pi powered up for a few seconds, so it can span a reboot and power-blink on the host. The supercaps come in really small sizes these days, so it is conceivable one can fit somewhere. perhaps on the Piso daughterboard.
Adam Schwalm
Review from Kickstarter
@Michael Swat Currently the boot up takes about 7 seconds (that is, the host will see the USB devices 7 seconds after power is applied to the pISO). We are working to improve this, but much of this time is in the raspberry pi bootloader which we we don't have control over. With that said, for devices that are polling for USB before pISO is booted, it is often possible to power cycle the device, which will reset the host and often keeps power supplied to the USB port. Then, when the device boots again, the pISO is already started and will be polled by the host.
Michael Swat
Review from Kickstarter
Hi, is this system fast enough after power on, to flash a Console (PS3 or PS4 as example, or Sat Receiver with a new firmware). This systems are try to read on USB Sticks after power on. If loading the Linux System for pISO requires some seconds, the most devices of this category no longer waiting and loading their system OS ?!
Adam Schwalm
Review from Kickstarter
@Guillaume Villena I hadn't considered allowing some kind of wifi update, that's an interesting idea. In general the update mechanism we have been planning would just require putting the SD card into a computer and copying over a update file to the partition. pISO would detect the update during the next boot and do the upgrade. None of this is finalized yet, however. So things may change around a bit in the future.
Guillaume Villena
Review from Kickstarter
Hey, I have a small question that concern the software aspect. How would we update the software of the piso ? Is there any mecanism planned to do it from the piso it-self ( Using the wifi connection for example ). That could be interesting to keep the device up to date.
James Tate
Review from Kickstarter
Hi Kageve Gonswic . The pISO screen is directly connected to the pi's SPI port and the buttons are using GPIO pins. You can use KiCad to view the design from here https://github.com/ALSchwalm/pISO/tree/master/pcb.
Kageve Gonswic
Review from Kickstarter
Is it possible to reprogram/use the pISO's hardware for tinkering and not it's intended use. Eg, turn it into a tetris thumbstick. Playing using it's screen and buttons?
Adam Schwalm
Review from Kickstarter
@Giancarlo Cassandri We don't have any plans to encrypt drives within the pISO. However, you can still encrypt a virtual drive the same way you would encrypt any standard USB drive (via BitLocker for example). Note that we will not be able to read ISOs from encrypted drives, however.
Giancarlo Cassandri
Review from Kickstarter
@Adam: is it possible to add cryptography on file system? On Linux using nativa feature on Linux using bot locker apis
Darren Ingram
Review from Kickstarter
Thank you Adam. The 200Gb one is even cheaper at Amazon.de (about 50 pounds) so I'll order that!
Adam Schwalm
Review from Kickstarter
@Darren Ingram The largest we have tested is this 200GB card: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073JY5T7T/ref=twister_B07B3MFBHY… In general, all 32GB cards should work. Larger than that some will work and some may not. A large number of cards have been tested here: https://elinux.org/RPi_SD_cards#Working_.2F_Non-working_SD_cards
Darren Ingram
Review from Kickstarter
Have I missed this? What is the max card size supported? Recommended? Thanks, pi newbie!
(:lemens
Review from Kickstarter
@Adam: thanks for the very quick answer and clarification. I'll have to find a pure software emulated writer then.
Adam Schwalm
Review from Kickstarter
@(:lemens Unfortunately, pISO will not be able to act as a cd/dvd-writer. The mechanism we are using to create the virtual cd/dvd drive is read-only.
(:lemens
Review from Kickstarter
I wonder if it'll be feasible to use PISO also as a CD/DVD-writer. I just would need this now and only remembered that PISO can be used to mount ISOs but not if it will emulate a DVD-writer.
Jonathan
Review from Kickstarter
Nvm the kickstarted app was a bit glitchy. Carry on
Jonathan
Review from Kickstarter
Why are the backers of the single piso charged more than the preorders for just one... seems a little backwards
James Tate
Review from Kickstarter
@RichTea, Yes the PI is powered though the 5V USB port connected to the +5V rail. See the J1 connector here https://github.com/raspberrypi/documentation/blob/master/hardware/raspberrypi/schematics/rpi_SCH_ZeroW_1p1_reduced.pdf. We have discussed adding a small coin cell battery. It adds a bit of complexity since a charging circuit will be needed to ensure safety, and will make the pISO more bulky due to the extra room needed for the battery.
RichTea
Review from Kickstarter
Sorry if i have missed the information else but...
How is power to the Pi Managed?
I guess power comes from the +5v on the hosts USB Port,
Is there a way to add a mini battery that would have enough power to safely shutdown the Pi?
James Tate
Review from Kickstarter
Hi @Ellip, the USB plug will be similar to the one showed. It's a 4 lead through-hole plug type that is the most common used in USB flash drives.
ellip
Review from Kickstarter
Hello Adam, is there a plan to create greater mechanical stability of the USB plug? The one you use has only two (2) soldering points (at the end of its metal housing. It‘s the weakest point when inserting into the USB port and often, after several insertion, that soldering points lost contact (as when dry soldered) and have to be resoldered. Is there a way to find USB plugs with four (4) mechanical soldering point of the housing? And can you look to refine the plastic cover to go over the USB plug to strengthen the plug for the mechanical forces when inserting into the USB port? Besten regards
ellip
Adam Schwalm
Review from Kickstarter
@(:lemens While we are working to make the pISO compatible with Pi Zeros with and without the the GPIO header, we recommend getting a Pi without the GPIO header attached (this will be smaller and more portable).
(:lemens
Review from Kickstarter
@Adam: do we a a zero with or without GPIO header pins soldered into the PCB?
Adam Schwalm
Review from Kickstarter
@Ardjan Besse Thanks! We do plan on doing regular updates to keep everyone in-the-loop on what's happening with the project. And to answer your question, yes you will only need a Raspberry Pi Zero (W or non-W) and a micro-sd card. We do recommend a fast SD card (for example Sandisk Ultra's work well), as the speed of the SD card is directly related to how fast you'll be able to read/write to the pISO's virtual drives/cds.
Adam Schwalm
Review from Kickstarter
@Maxence Fulconis Thanks, it's been a great campaign!
Ardjan Besse
Review from Kickstarter
Congrats for the successful crowdfunding!
Please keep us updated. I've seen several campaigns where it got silent after a while. Every friday a two-liner would be great! Just another question: I will only need to buy a Raspberry Pi Zero (W is ok?) and a µSD card in a suitable size, right?
Maxence Fulconis
Review from Kickstarter
Congratulations on being officially funded :D
Adam Schwalm
Review from Kickstarter
@Mark Stinson I think that this will continue to be the main way we interact with the community (nice projects by the way!). Regarding you point about the number of inputs, we have considered adding features like this to make the hat more useful for other projects, but we ending up opting against it. That said, we will still be prototyping pISO boards for a little while before we do the main production run, so we may put together one with more inputs, just to see what its like (and the cost/placement of things). Thanks for the input.
Adam Schwalm
Review from Kickstarter
@Adam McLeod It will definitely be possible to format the partitions in smaller increments. The behaviour shown in the video is temporary. The final approach will be more flexible.
Mark Stinson
Review from Kickstarter
I'm sure it's pretty "late in the game" for this request ... I understand that 3 buttons reduces cost (esp. with a lot being made) but the OLED phat would likely have more re-purposing/extended potential if they had "4 way" button navigation. I could build a pISO of sorts using a bulky https://www.adafruit.com/product/3531 but your phat is super slim & clean. I just wish it had one more button allow 4 way navigation.
Mark Stinson
Review from Kickstarter
Will there be a "preferred' forum for pISO community to post ideas, help, etc. to one another. Working on some my USB Gadget scripts for another project, I thought others may be interested in spinning their extra/alternate gadgets like https://github.com/girst/hardpass-passwordmanager/ or https://github.com/ckuethe/usbarmory/ ?
Adam McLeod
Review from Kickstarter
Hi Adam, Brilliant Kickstarter, I purchased 4. One thing I would love, is it possible to format the Partitions in smaller increments than 10%? (shown in the video) Is this at all possible? Kind Regards, Adam
Adam Schwalm
Review from Kickstarter
@Mark Stinson Yes, the whole buildroot toolchain will be published. We really want to make it as easy as possible for people to make modifications to the system, so you should have no difficulty enabling any additional kernel modules, etc.
Mark Stinson
Review from Kickstarter
In the FAQ there is no mention that you will publish the information about your buildroot so we can compile our own image to use with the pISO phat. I find it reassuring when open source that is used follows republication licensing. I am also interested in making a modified image so I can use the full range of USB Gadgets available to the Zeros. Thanks. Cheers, Mark S.
Adam Schwalm
Review from Kickstarter
@Markus Allowing the user to make a drive read-only is an interesting idea, and I don't think it would be too difficult. We will look at things a bit more, but it sounds doable. Thanks for the input
Markus
Review from Kickstarter
Hi Adam, this sounds like a really cool an useful tool for Admins. A feature i would love to see is an option to write protect the drives at boot an user had to make it writeable with the buttons in the menu. So infected computers could not write unwanted stuff on the stick. Best regards
Markus
Adam Schwalm
Review from Kickstarter
@Darren Ingram In the survey after the campaign completes, you will be able to select the cover as an addon during the ending survey, and we will have it printed and sent to you along with your pISO. We are not sure whether we will be partnering with anyone to print a more fully enclosed case at some point, but it will not be available as an addon for this campaign. The lanyard hole is a good idea, we will definitely see about adding that. Thanks!
Charles Saunders
Review from Kickstarter
@Adam. The sync drive idea makes sense if you Know head of time what the second virt drive format would need to be. I am more interested in solving the 'on the spot' realization of "Oh I need to access these files right now but need them on a different kind of virt drive to do that with this computer I have access to.' kind of scenario.
Darren Ingram
Review from Kickstarter
(Hopefully not missed this). It would be great if you could partner with someone to 3D print cases/outers, especially with a lanyard mounting hole for adding to the ID badge tag). Not everyone has a 3D printer and I've had bad luck with a 3D printing service (plus not all are in my country ) :) Getting an official or semi-official/recommended one would be great if possible.
Adam Schwalm
Review from Kickstarter
@Charles Saunders I could certainly see the utility in some kind of 'Clone Drive' feature that allows you to select the format of the clone (effectively doing a 'copy all files' operation). That said, it may be preferable to have some kind of 'synced drives' feature that allows the user to express that the contents of two vdrives should be kept identical (to the best of our ability), so you have incremental changes instead of one big clone. That said, I'm not sure how we could actually do that as we can't read files from a virtual drive on the pISO while that virtual drive is mounted by the host computer. That said, we will be looking in to this idea further as development progresses. Thanks!
Adam Schwalm
Review from Kickstarter
@David Nierhoff Regarding your first question, yes , you are able to boot from a virtual drive or virtual USB CD drive using the pISO. As for allowing a backup to cloud storage, that is an interesting idea. The only issue I see is that the pISO would have to remain plugged in while it was syncing data with the cloud account (and the user could not add files to the drive while it was syncing). We'll look at things a bit further. Thanks for the input.
David Nierhoff
Review from Kickstarter
Will it be possible to use pISO as bootable USB Key, e.g. booting Ubuntu or Windows installer on a PC? Would be a great tool to have multiple images at hand when needed.... Further I'd love to see a function that pISO could upload file I copy over via USB to a defined cloud drive to take a backup of all my files I just copied on the PI....
Charles Saunders
Review from Kickstarter
I understand that having the content of one virt drive available in another one with another filesystem, and copying individual files from one virt drive to another via the built in screen, would both probably be impractical at this point.
But how about just a copy *all* from virt drive to virt drive. Such as, you put a file on a linux virt drive, then need to access it via a windows machine (without setting up to connect to SMB or FTP servers, etc). So you just make a new virtual drive for windows to read and copy all files from one virt drive to the other via the onboard controls. Sure if the drive had a lot of files/data on it it would take a while to copy, but we would know that limitation. However being able to access files on a pISO drive from any OS in such a fashion would take the pISO from being a very nifty device to being indispensable, at least to me.
Mark Stinson
Review from Kickstarter
2 of my 5 original Raspberry Pi Zeros (v1.2) are still in their packaging if you are still looking for some to test with. I'm more than happy to exchange them for a pISO. Thanks. Cheers, Mark S.