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Raspberry Pi expansion boards support up to 40-Pi clusters

Jan 26, 2017 — by Eric Brown 7,637 views

BitScope’s Blade carrier boards extend the Raspberry Pi in single to up to 40-unit clusters with 9-48V power for HATs and BitScope mixed signal gizmos.

Australia-based BitScope Designs, which offers a line of BitScope mixed signal test, measurement and data acquisition systems, has developed a BitScope Blade platform that combines them with Raspberry Pi SBCs. Sold by Element14, the BitScope Blades also support third-party accessories such as HATs or the Raspberry Pi Touchscreen. The Blade was originally revealed by Element14 at last year’s Raspberry Pi 3 launch.

BitScope Blade Quattro, Duo, and Uno boards populated with Raspberry Pis, surrounded by Blade Pack and rack mounting configurations
(click image to enlarge)

BitScope has launched three BitScope Blade models, along with optional mounting packs and racks. The Uno model is designed for one Raspberry Pi and one HAT, and the Duo model can house a pair of Raspberry Pis, and is supported with a desktop, rack, or wall mounting. The four-RPi Quattro model offers the same mounting options, and is designed for compute clusters, private clouds, build farms, and industrial IoT edge and fog gateways.

BitScope Mixed Signal Systems are programmable devices that provide oscilloscopes, logic analyzers, spectrum analyzers, waveform generators, and data acquisition systems. They are controlled by Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux computers, including the Raspberry Pi Zero, A+, B+, 2, and 3 SBCs.

BitScope Blade models unpopulated, with the Quattro on top
(click image to enlarge)

The BitScope Blade concept was developed to provide BitScope Designs’s Raspberry Pi customers with a platform for server blade like expansion. You can still plug the Blades into a PC, but they’re primarily designed to run standalone as embedded cluster systems.


Each BitScope Blade provides power and mounts for the Raspberry Pi(s), BitScope, and accessories. The devices offer access to Raspberry Pi I/O for displays, cameras, keyboards, and expansion boards.

BitScope Blade Quattro detail view
(the board shown is an earlier revision)

(click image to enlarge)

The BitScope Blades are equipped with a 9-48V switch mode power supply capable of powering external USB HDDs and SSDs. You can power the device with “simple plug packs, a wide range of batteries, solar and other variable power sources, low cost uninterruptible power supplies, and Power over Ethernet solutions,” says BitScope Designs. The devices are compatible with 12V and 24V UPS equipment.

Blade Pack (left) and Blade Rack clustering options
(click images to enlarge)

In addition to mounting and powering a single Raspberry Pi and HAT, the BitScope Blade Uno can also simultaneously support a Raspberry Pi Touchscreen and up to four BitScopes. For the Duo and Quattro models, a variety of blade packs and blade racks are available for clustering up to 40 Raspberry Pi SBCs in a single 19-inch rack. You only need to add network switches to deploy a fully configured compute cluster at a low price, says Bitscope Design. Open source installers and software are available to help manage Blade-based embedded and cluster computing solutions.

BitScope Micro (left) and BS10 models
(click images to enlarge)

There are 23 different BitScope test and measurement models that can plug into BitScope Blades. These range from the tiny, USB powered BitScope Micro to full sized industrial grade and networkable mixed signal oscilloscope solutions. Big or small, they all capture digital and analog signals simultaneously to provide a combined view of waveforms. Most models have 100MHz bandwidth and up to 40 MS/s digital capture, and some include waveform and clock generators, protocol decoders, and digital I/O.

Detail view of a BitScope circuit board
(click image to enlarge)

All BitScopes are all available with a user-programmable software stack designed built around a BitScope Virtual Machine. They all include BitScope DSO software for analog and mixed signal work, as well as a BitScope Logic application for digital. Other available applications on some models include the BitScope Meter for automated waveform measurement and BitScope Chart for multi-channel data acquisition and chart recording.

Further information

The BitScope Blade Uno, Duo, and Quattro boards are available at Element14 for 32.50 ($41), 36.50 ($46), and 41.00 ($52) UK Pounds, respectively. More information may be found at the BitScope Designs BitScope Blade product page, and the Element14 BitScope Blade Uno, Duo, and Quattro shopping pages.

(advertise here)

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5 responses to “Raspberry Pi expansion boards support up to 40-Pi clusters”

  1. Matthew says:

    Are you mixing photos of different revisions of the Blade? The lower photo (BitScope Blade Quattro detail view) has a larger cutout area than the upper photo (BitScope Blade models unpopulated, with the Quattro on top).

    • LinuxGizmos says:

      The BitScope Blade Quattro detail view with the larger cutout area is from an earlier version of the board (Rev A). The other photos show the current board versions (Rev B).

  2. Ray Knight says:

    Is it possible this could be used with the HardKernel Odroid C1 and/or C2 since it has the same form factor and 40pin connector as the Raspberry Pi?

  3. Pablo Ledesma says:

    Sorry if this is obvious but do these turn multiple Pi boards into a single more powerful unit? So you could plug two or more into it and combine their processor power?

  4. Martin says:

    The Blade boards will work with other SBCs that have the same form factor, although I think that BitScope have not tried them all yet.

    The Blades are a convenient, simple way to power and mount multiple Raspberry Pis and peripherals. It does NOT combine the processing power into a single system unless you have some software to do that – ala Google et al.

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