Monthly Archives: July 2014

Raspberry Pi Model B+, so far!

Received A new Raspberry Pi Model B+ a week or so ago!

This is the new version from the Raspberry PI foundation.

What’s changed;

  • 40 pin GPIO header instead of 26 pins.
  • 4 USB ports instead of 2.
  • Improved power system.
  • Micro SD instead of a SD card.
  • Connectors on two sides instead on all four sides.
  • four mounting holes.
  • Less connectors.

There are some other changes also but these are the most significant changes.

The USB ports are now close to the edge of the card rather than jutting out like the single port used to. This makes for a smaller over all card size. The corners are now rounded. That was an often made request but the RasPi B+ still will not fit into a tin. More significant is the four mounting holes that will allow a much more robust mounting system. The Micro SD (uSD) card is also close into the board edge and is a push/push style socket. This is going to be a lot tougher than the slip in plastic holder on the older model B. The Improved power system uses switching regulators rather than the linear regs of the B. This has lowered power consumption of the B+ to 600ma rather than 750ma specified for the earlier B. This has also allowed for the 4 USB sockets to be able to handle 600MA shared between ports. That can be raised to 1200ma shared by adding a change into config.txt. For that to work you will need to upgrade to a 2A PSU (Wall wart). The 40 pin GPIO leaves the first 26 pins compatible with the original B Models GPIO.

These were all good changes in my opinion. But not all is happy in the Raspberry Pi changes world. There has been some complaints as the older GPIO cables do not work unmodified. There was a loss in I2s by one. Also there seems to be some problems with USB HDD’s that used to work with the old board having trouble with the new board. But overall I think most Raspberry Pi users are going to like the new board better than the old one.

I installed my B+ on the Motorola Lapdock I use. I do not have any free monitors at the moment. I followed the advice to update my Raspbian on a working card with sudo apt-get update && upgrade. I then used Win32DiskImager to copy that to a Micro SD card. I had no problems on the first boot. The new Micro USB power connector location did caused me to wiggle things around some to get it to fit onto the Lapdock. I was still using the separated power and USB version so I did not have to rewire anything. If you were back-powering your Rev 2.0 board by USB then you will have to rewire. The new B+ does not really support back-powering. So what did it run like? well it ran just like the older B Model. Nothing really different. It found my WiFi dongle and connected and the keyboard and touchpad worked just fine. I have not tried any sound on it as yet, so I need to get that tried out soon.

I did encounter some problems when I connected the Seagate “GO” drive to the Lapdock. First I lost the touchpad. The next boot I had the touchpad but lost WiFi. Then I booted and everything worked. It is acting like the old problem of a USB hub on hub fight we had on the Lapdocks in the earlier days. The last couple of times I have fired it up all seems to be working ok.

There is an A+ version to come out in a couple of months. There is a lot of speculation going on about it getting a second USB port. The fact is the price point on the A Model was reached by omitting the LAN9512 (now LAN9514) USB hub chip and some of the associated parts from the board. I saw from the discussion that it is probably going to stay a single USB port board. One of the best points of the A models has been their reduced power usage from the B models. This is due to the lack of the hub chip. I think we will see the A+ Model’s come in at about 250ma to 300ma usage.

I am hoping that it will get the 512MB upgrade as the memory package has dropped in price since the Raspberry Pi was introduced. I think it will save them some cost in inventory by just purchasing only 512MB units rather than 256MB and 512MB packages. I think this will be a likely upgrade for the A+. Other than that it will get all of the features that are in the B+.

Final thoughts;

If you want to buy a B+ for better performance then you will probably be disappointed. It performs just like a Rev 2.0 board mostly. If you need more GPIO or lower power usage then it might be worth it. If you want to get away from using a hub with your RasPi then it might be worth it. You just have to have one, well why else buy one!

It really is a Raspberry Pi in an improved package. The best part is it is still just $35 for the B+. And the A+ will most likely remain at $25!