Raspberry Pi the most popular single board computer platform in the education, maker space, even industrial applications and millions of makers build their own project around the Raspberry pi boards. The credit card size model B/B+ is the standard form factor in the Raspberry pi board family, and upgraded from old 1B to now 3B+ while keeping the connectors and pinout is the same. And the compute module CM/CM3 also opens the door to commercial user to build the Raspberry pi into their own products.
However the model B is too big and heavy for some space or weight constrained application like drones, and compute module’s DDR2 style connector is also bulky and tended to loose in the vibration environment. Recently we are working on OpenHD project for drone, and thinking how to reduce the weight and size for Raspberry pi and put together with other flight controllers. We are searching for the alternate form of factors Raspberry pi solution but no luck, because the Raspberry pi announced there is no such clone boards, they monopolize all the Broadcom chips. Finally we come up an idea to hack the current 3B/3B+ board to build our own SOM3.
After carefully de-soldering the main processor and LPDDR2 chip, we reverse engineered the all the layout of the board and shrink it into 40x25mm size SOM3 board. Two weeks after we got the PCB made, and put all the components back on, surprisingly it starts working. And we can design whatever mother boards for the SOM3 as we want, the stamp style solder pins is sound and steady.
Not just a single case, I guess lots of hackers are not fully satisfying the Raspberry Pi boards in terms of the form factors as we do. We are willing to help them modify their own Raspberry Pi boards. Note that we are not selling clone version of Raspberry Pi board, you have to buy the board from Raspberry Pi foundation. Customization services is something we can help.
ArduCam does not intend to sell/manufacture “cloned” versions of Raspberry Pi boards because at the present time it is not permitted by the Raspberry Pi Foundation, they have elected to keep the Broadcom chip and most of the “magical” parts of the SOC BCM2835/2837 CPU/GPU closed source.
We find this to be somewhat ironic considering that the a vast majority of hackers, developers, and hobbyists use Raspberry Pi hardware specifically for using, studying, or testing open source based projects.
We truly hope that in the near future it will be easier to create customized, modified versions of the Raspberry Pi boards.
In the meantime, all of us here at ArduCam will continue to challenge convention by pushing the limits of what is possible in the pursuit of cutting edge innovation.