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Nano-ITX carrier extends RPi CM4 with eight USB ports, M.2, and mini-PCIe

Jan 25, 2022 — by Eric Brown 1,735 views

UUGear’s $201-and-up “PiGear Nano” carrier for the Raspberry Pi CM4 provides 8x USB 3.0, 4x COM, HDMI, MIPI-DSI/CSI, GbE, CAN, ADC, DIO, M.2 for NVMe, and mini-PCIe with SIM.

UUGear has launched a full-featured, 120 x 120mm Nano-ITX carrier board for the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4. The PiGear Nano starts at $201 without the CM4 module or case. The board ships with UWI (UUGear Web Interface) software for mobile access.

UUGear started in Prague, Czech, but last year moved to the Netherlands, incorporating the company as Dun Cat B.V, but continuing with the UUGear branding. The company has produced a bevy of Raspberry Pi add-ons, such as the Witty Pi RTC/PMIC board, the Mega4 4-ort USB 3./1 hub, and Zero2Go OMINI power supply.



PiGear Nano, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

The PiGear Nano is currently available only with the 2GB RAM version of the CM4 without built-in WiFi. Here is the lineup (note that the US prices are higher than they would be if converting from the Euro):

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  • €169 ($201) — empty
  • €209 ($249) — 2GB RAM/8GB eMMC
  • €215.50 ($257) — 2GB/16GB
  • €184 ($219) — empty with case
  • €224 ($267) — 2GB/8GB with case
  • €230.50 ($275) — 2GB/16GB with case

The Tom’s Hardware story that alerted us to the PiGear Nano suggests that the full-featured board with optional case could be a good choice for someone wanting a Raspberry Pi 4 based desktop computer but is who unimpressed with the Raspberry Pi 400 All-in-One keyboard computer. Yet, the PiGear Nano could also serve a variety of embedded applications that need a lot of USB ports. As UUGear says, the board is “competent for industrial applications and all kinds of home projects.”

The PiGear Nano has a -30 to 80°C operating range, a 7-30V terminal plug input with reverse polarity protection, and a real-time clock. There are also industrial interfaces such as CAN, serial, and DAQ expressed via terminal plugs.



PiGear Nano board (left) and with case and RPi CM4
(click images to enlarge)

The 8x USB 3.0 ports each have their own LED. This is far more USB ports than any other RPi CM4 carrier we have seen. Perhaps the most feature-rich carrier to date is the recent Axzez Interceptor Carrier Board for NAS and NVR applications, which is loaded with 5x SATA slots, 4x switched GbE, 2x HDMI, and 2x USB ports.


PiGear Nano PCIe architecture
(click image to enlarge)

As explained in the detailed PiGear Nano manual, the board “extends 4 channels of USB3.0 interfaces from the PCIE on Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4, and then extends a PCIEx2 for NVME SSD, a Mini PCIE for 4G LTE module, and also 8 USB 3.0 ports.” As noted by a Jeff Geerling post, the board is equipped with 3x VLI USB 3.0 hubs, one of which is the VLI VL805 model used on the Raspberry Pi 4. The other two are VLI VL817 chips (USB 3.1 Gen1).

The board’s M.2 NVMe slot is bridged through a RTL9210 M.2 NVMe-to-USB adapter, and there is also a mini-PCIe slot for 4G LTE modules, with a SIM tray on the rear of the board. It is unclear how performance is affected with so much piggybacked on the CM4’s single PCIe Gen2 interface. Geerling, who has also set the board up with a USB RAID array, will be posting a video tomorrow.



PiGear Nano detail view (left) and Jeff Geerling’s RAID array setup
(click images to enlarge)

The PiGear Nano provides a USB Type-C port for flashing the CM4 or powering the board at 5V, but you would need to use the 7-30V input to use an NVMe drive. For media, there is an HDMI port and single MIPI-DSI and MIPI-CSI interfaces. Other features include a GbE port and a microSD slot.

Terminal plugs supply interfaces including 2x RS232, 2x RS485, CAN, and 1-wire. Also available via this block are 4x ADC inputs supplied via a “four-channel, low-noise, high accuracy” MCP3424 A/D converter with up to 18-bit resolution. There are also 4x digital inputs, 4x digital outputs, and 4x configurable DIO pins.

The PiGear Nano is further equipped with a buzzer, a 5V fan header, power and reset buttons, and power and programmable LEDs in addition to the 8x LEDs for the USB ports. You also get reset and power buttons, on/off and bypass power switch jumpers, boot and reset jumpers, and a jumper that can disable WiFi/Bluetooth. There is also a tiny heatsink for the VL805 chip.



PiGear Nano case
(click images to enlarge)

The optional case, which offers a cutout for fan airflow, will ship with open STL files. The board should also fit in most third-party Nano-ITX cases, says UUGear.

 
Further information

The PiGear Nano starts at €169 ($201) without case or RPi CM4. More information may be found in UUGear’s announcement and product/shopping page. There is also a separate shopping page for the 15-Euro case.
 

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