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Online dev tool adds DIY baseboard for RPi Compute Module

Feb 16, 2016 — by Rick Lehrbaum 2,653 views

Gumstix has added a Raspberry Pi Compute Module baseboard design to its online DIY board dev tool, and is selling working units based on the design for $49.

Back in November, Gumstix opened up its Geppetto online DIY design tool and quick-turn prototype manufacturing service to the development of carrier boards for third-party SBCs and COMs based on TI Sitara AM335x SoCs. Supported non-Gumstix processor boards initially included’s BeagleBone Black single-board computer, as well as Critical Link’s MitySOM-335x, and DAVE’s Diva AM335x computer-on-modules.

Gumstix has now added the design of a carrier board for the Raspberry Pi Compute Module to Geppetto, and is ready to begin supplying sample units built from Geppetto’s default “Gumstix Pi Compute Dev Board” design for $49 apiece.

Gumstix Pi Compute Dev Board, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

In the spirit of “eating its own dogfood,” Gumstix uses the Geppetto design tool to develop its expansion board products, and the Pi Compute Dev Board was no exception. Now, you can eat Gumstix’s dogfood too, by using Geppetto to spin a unique Pi Compute Module baseboard from the design model that’s available in Geppetto. There are basically two ways to do that:


  • The easiest way is to begin by cloning Geppetto’s standard “Pi Compute Dev Board” design cell into a custom Geppetto project. Then adjust the board’s dimensions as required, add or subtract components according to your application, and stir.
  • Alternatively, you can start with Geppetto’s more basic “Raspberry Pi Compute Module Connector” design cell, and build up your custom carrier board design from there. Within Geppetto, you will define your carrier board’s shape and dimensions, and select and place active and passive components from Geppetto’s component library, using intuitive, drag-and-drop techniques.

In either case you’re limited to using active and passive components that are defined in Geppetto’s library. This restriction is aimed at ensuring that Gumstix can manufacture the design you conjure up in Geppetto, and that it will most likely work as expected.

Designing a custom Pi Compute Module baseboard with Geppetto
(click images to enlarge)

As Gumstix CEO Gordon Kruberg explained in an email to LinuxGizmos, “Geppetto manages all the parts within and between modules. Geppetto users never have to think about them.”

Pi Compute Dev Board features

Geppetto’s default Pi Compute Dev Board design provides DSI display and CSI2 camera connectors that are compatible with the corresponding interfaces on the standard Raspberry Pi SBC, so various off-the-shelf Pi-compatible touch displays and cameras should be usable with Geppetto-designed Pi Compute Module baseboards, says Gumstix. Other interfaces supported by Geppetto’s default Pi Compute Dev Board design include an HDMI port, a USB Type A host port, and 20-pin and other headers containing Raspberry Pi-compatible SPI, UART, I2C, and PWM signals.

Another view of the default Pi Compute Dev Board
(click image to enlarge)

Additional functions are available from Geppeto’s 100+ library of component design cells, says Gumstix. Asked if developers could add components needed by their designs that aren’t present within Geppetto’s component library, Kruberg explained that the tool does not currently allow that. “That said, we are adding modules these days largely at users’ requests. We’d love to allow external addition but also we have to manage the quality for production,” added Kruberg.

Once you complete your design in Geppetto, you can order a working and tested prototype from Gumstix for a set price of $1,999 plus BOM costs, and with quantity discounts for additional boards, according to Kruberg. The process does not require a commitment to production volumes, and features a manufacturing turnaround of 15 business days to the initial working prototype. Plus, developers can try out Geppetto for free, before committing to a prototype build.

Gumstix Geppetto is not the only game in town when it comes to customized Raspberry Pi implementations. Last Fall, distributor Element14 and Raspberry Pi Trading Ltd. (the commercial subsidiary of the Raspberry Pi Foundation) jointly announced a CustomPi partnership for creating customized versions of the Raspberry Pi. However, the service reportedly is restricted to quantity commitments of at least 3,000 to 5,000 units.

Further information

Geppeto support for DIY development and design-to-order (“D2O”) manufacturing of customized carrier boards for the Raspberry Pi Compute Module is available immediately. Additionally, the ready-to-use Gumstix Pi Compute Dev Board is shipping now, priced at $49, as is the $19 accessory for convenient programming of the Pi Compute Module’s onboard flash, known as the Gumstix Pi Compute FastFlash (also available as a Geppetto design cell). Additional details are at the Gumstix Raspberry Pi Family page and Geppetto design site.

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