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Adapter interfaces 40-pin Raspberry Pi add-ons over USB

May 6, 2016 — by Eric Brown — 1,545 views
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[Updated: May 9] — Ryanteck’s “RTK.GPIO” is a Raspberry Pi 40-pin GPIO header simulator that lets SBCs or other systems interface with Raspberry Pi expansion boards over USB.

There have been numerous attempts to turn a Raspberry Pi into the equivalent of a desktop PC. Now UK-based Ryanteck LTD aims to turn your PC (or non-RPi SBC) into a Raspberry Pi. You can plug the RTK.GPIO into the USB port of any Linux, Mac, or Windows system and be able to interface with the majority of 40-pin Raspberry Pi add-on boards, says the UK-based company.

Ryanteck is about 75 percent of its way to Kickstarter glory for the RTK.GPIO, with packages starting at 10 Pounds ($14.43) available through May 31. Shipments are expected in October.

(click image to enlarge)

The RTK.GPIO is primarily intended for experimenting and prototyping on a desktop computer before moving your project to an actual Raspberry Pi. You can also plug the board into another SBC to give it Raspberry Pi connectivity or plug it into a Raspberry Pi to run two add-on boards simultaneously. You can add a long micro-USB cable to locate your GPIO pins away from your Pi, something that is harder to do with the regular connector.

One application would be for schools that are having trouble acquiring enough Raspberry Pi’s for their students. The RTK.GPIO could be used to teach GPIO basics on PCs in the classroom, saving the actual Raspberry Pi boards for after-school clubs.

The board currently runs on a 48Mhz, Cortex-M0-based STMicroelectronics STM32F030C6T6 MCU, along with 8KB of RAM, and will be migrating to the STM32F030R8. The STM32F030x is about three times faster than an Arduino Uno, says Ryanteck. A UART-to-USB IC is the other major hardware component. The board supports 5V input on some pins. A recent addition is support for analog on some pins, “allowing you to read analog sensors with ease,” says Ryanteck.

The board is controlled via a Python library. The MCU code is open source and available on Github. RTK.GPIO is compatible with the majority of Raspberry Pi add-on boards, says Ryanteck. If your add-on board is not listed on Ryanteck’s compatibility spreadsheet, you can ask them to test it for you.

Further information

The RTK.GPIO is available on Kickstarter, starting at 10 Pounds ($14.43), through May 31. Volume discounts are available, and there’s an optional GPIO Goody pack with a breadboard, jumper wires, LEDs, button and cap, and a 16×2 LCD display. Shipments are expected in October. More information may be found at the RTK.GPIO Kickstarter page, as well as at Ryanteck’s website.

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5 responses to “Adapter interfaces 40-pin Raspberry Pi add-ons over USB”

  1. Charles says:

    What a hilariously lame PCB layout. I’ve never seen so many 90 degree turns in traces. Terrible.

    • Ryan Walmsley says:

      I’ll likely refine the final PCB design a bit more but it works good enough for a prototype :)

  2. Grumpy Old Coot says:

    Interesting idea. 90 degree traces on a low speed board are great for prototypes, but there is some noise issues involved with them.

    From 30 second look at the board, here’s a couple of easy fixes:
    1. Ratnest it.
    2. Try relocating your crystal and the 3403 to the upper left quadrant.
    3. Enable the “all directions routing” and then look at Manchester Routing.
    4. Rotate the support components for the USB counter-clockwise.
    5. Manual route the signal bus from the Pi connector to the MCU, not the other way around.
    6. Never do in hardware what is easier to do in software, never use cpu cycles to do what can be done autonomously in hardware – the M10 has a hideously flexible IO port arrangement, so you may find it easier to map your I/O pins through Python than through MCU Port assignment.
    7. Surface mount “zero ohm” parallel resistor networks are great ways to avoid vias.

  3. iridiumsat says:

    Cortex-M10 ?
    I hope this core will have more power than latest STM32F7, the Cortex-M7.

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