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Cluster of Raspberry Pi Zeroes

Posted by Mike Redrobe | Posted in Technology | Posted on 06-01-2016


No ethernet required – each pi zero is both powered and networked by a single usb lead !


The magic happens in the “gadget mode” firmware of the PI Zero. Since it doesn’t have the USB HUB chip in the way like other models (B / B+/pi2) it can be configured in device mode.

This makes it appear to any PC (or pi B+ / pi-2) as a virtual usb network adaptor – so you can immediately access it as though it were ethernet connected.
It also possible to set it up to appear as mass storage device, keyboard, mouse or any other usb peripheral!
(More discussion on the pi forums by DaveB and others)

Power isn’t a problem as each Pi Zero only uses around 150mA

    Convert a Pi Zero to gadget mode:

1. Start with an fresh image of Raspbian Jessie https://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads/raspbian/

2. copy this file to the boot partition: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/1122948/temp/PiOTG-Test/PiZeroEthernet.tar.gz (thanks to gbaman1 / Andrew Mulholland)

or download it on the pi itself:

wget https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/1122948/temp/PiOTG-Test/PiZeroEthernet.tar.gz

2. sudo tar xvzfC /boot/PiZeroEthernet.tar.gz /tmp/

3. sudo cp -R /tmp/PiZeroEthernet/fat32/* /boot/

4. sudo cp -R /tmp/PiZeroEthernet/ext4/lib/* /lib/

5. Now give it a static ip address by editing /boot/cmdline.txt and adding this on the end: ip=

(for the lazy all the above has been done on this downloadable image:
http://sourceforge.net/projects/pizero-usbhost/ [768MB])

Now the pi Zero can be plugged into a pi2 / B+ (or a PC !) and you can SSH directly to it on the ip you set above (

[more to follow]

Comments (4)

That looks really interesting, but I was wondering…
In gadget mode, can you still plug a wifi dongle in and SSH on to the Pi as normal?

great article …got it working.. one thing how do I configure the pi0 and the pi2 so that the pi0 can use the pi2’s internet connection to get to the outside world.. thanks.

hey Mike
I am editing an article by IT-instructor (and friend) David Askirk on Raspberry Pi Java.
I would like to show some pictures of Raspberry Pi Zero and stumbled on your photo on raspberrypi-org

I like that the picture show version A and Zero together.

May I use that picture as an illustration for the article?

Then, of course, I became fascinated by the Raspberry cluster here in this posting! Wow. I must have … 🙂

Is the throughput comparable to a 100 base-t connection between the zero and the pi2?

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