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Raspberry Pi SSD shield tosses in WiFi, USB ports, and power

Dec 8, 2015 — by Eric Brown — 5,008 views

Pi2Design has won Kickstarter funding for a $49 multifunction SSD shield for the Raspberry Pi 2 with an mSATA socket, WiFi, dual USBs, and an 8-25V supply.

Pi2Design, a Rhode Island based startup focused on Raspberry Pi shields and other Pi-based projects, has surpassed its modest, $15,000 Kickstarter goal for a “CSB502SSD” multifunction storage shield for the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B. The device is designed and manufactured by Cogent Computer Systems, makers of embedded modules and boards such as the Marvell Armada XP-based CSB1726 module. Pi2Design handles marketing, sales, and distribution.

CSB502SSD loaded with bring-your-own SSD mounted on Raspberry Pi 2
(click image to enlarge)

Aimed at variety of embedded, data storage, medical and industrial applications, the CSB502SSD follows Bud Griffin’s successful Kickstarter launch this summer of the PiDrive SSD expansion card. Like the PiDrive, which was offered to backers for $29, or $79 with a 128GB mSATA solid state drive, the CSB502SSD plugs directly into one of the Raspberry Pi’s USB ports. The PiDrive, which also works with older Pi models, is claimed to sip power so it doesn’t completely deplete the Pi’s power for other peripherals.

Both products avoid the necessity of buying a powered USB hub to plug in a standalone SSD, making them more portable. While the simple storage-only PiDrive can be powered via its USB connection to the Raspberry Pi, the more fully featured CSB502SSD has a built-in 8 to 25 Volt-input DC/DC converter and comes with a 12VDC @ 2A wall-plugin power brick, with an extra-cost 12VDC @ 5A brick available as an upgrade.

CSB502SSD, plugged into Pi 2’s USB port (left) and PiDrive mounted on Pi
(click images to enlarge)

The CSB502SSD’s supply powers both the Raspberry Pi 2 and the shield, including additional features like a WiFi radio, a real time clock (RTC), a temperature sensor, and more. There’s also an embedded four port USB hub, which includes two free ports, as well as ports that connect to SATA and WiFi. The CSB502SSD also communicates with the Pi 2 via GPIO and I2C interfaces.

The CSB502SSD is available through Dec. 30 for $49, with delivery in February. The price doesn’t include an SSD — up to 1TB models are supported — but you do get a micro-USB-B to USB-A patch cable, as well as the power supply, a WiFi antenna, and mounting posts.

Specifications for the CSB502SSD include:

  • Full size Raspberry Pi 2 I/O Shield (stacking or non-stacking) with 40-pin mating connector
  • 4x port USB hub with 2x USB 2.0 ports free, providing up to 1.5A power per port
  • mSATA socket for up to 1TB SSD storage
  • Prolific PL2571 USB-to-SATA II bridge controller, which offers “great Linux support”
  • Ogemray GWF-3M08 802.11b/g/n module with Soft-AP Mode support, based on Ralink RT5370, for up to 150Mbps WiFi, plus on-Module IPEX connector for antenna placement
  • Dallas/Maxim DS1339 RTC with 16mm coin cell battery backup and programmable alarm, ensuring “proper time-keeping even with spotty or no network access”
  • 1-Wire Dallas/Maxim DS18B20 temperature sensor for monitoring SSD, with I2C interface and a unique 64-bit ID for asset management

    RPi 7-inch
  • Onboard wide-input (8-25V) 5V @ 10A power supply via 2.5mm barrel jack and external brick, connected via micro-USB, for powering all peripherals plus Pi 2 (up to 2.5A)
  • 5-pin header with 5V @ 1A, I2C, and GPIO interrupt, supporting the official Raspberry Pi 7-inch touchscreen

Other Pi2Design products on the way, including custom models

In the next few months, Pi2Design plans to release additional Raspberry Pi-related products, says the company. These include a CSB502POE Power-over-Ethernet Shield, an HMI Shield for converting the Pi 2’s HDMI port to drive HD displays on LCD touchscreens, as well as an CSB502IOT Internet of Things shield with Seeed Grove and PMOD I/O connectors (see the Pi2Design website link below for more info).

Sample Pi2Custom design
(click image to enlarge)

Pi2Design is also launching a Pi2Custom board customization service. The service is similar to the CustomPi service recently launched by Raspberry Pi Trading and Element14, but without the requirement for volumes of at least 3,000 units, says Pi2Design. Another Raspberry Pi expansion board customization service will soon be offered by Gumstix, which recently began adding third-party COM and SBC support to “Geppetto,” its online, DIY design and manufacturing service. Pi2Design says its Pi2Custom program lets you create your own application specific shield or carrier board for the Raspberry Pi 2, although no further details were provided.

Further information

The CSB502SSD in kit form is available on Kickstarter through Dec. 30 for $49, with delivery in February. A fully assembled $59 version ships in April. More information may be found at the CSB502SSD Kickstarter page, as well as the Pi2Design website.

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