Shrink Your Raspberry Pi Into A 40x25mm SoM(System on Module)

Published by Lee Jackson on

compare arducam som3 (not a Raspberry Pi 3 Clone)with raspberry pi 3

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.

Disclosure: This is not a Raspberry Pi 3 Clone

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.

Coming Up: Pi 4, Shrunk!

One of our senior engineers, Bin, is working on his Pi 4 shrinking project every day after work, and he seems to have made some progress these days. We believe that it will not take long before the Pi 4 takes a new form, so stay tuned and we will try to get back with good news from Bin as soon as possible.


Luke Shanks · June 24, 2019 at 1:09 pm

Wow! That is awesome! I want one… maybe two!

luenardi De Polo · July 11, 2019 at 11:24 am

Would love to have a few of these.

Xeon · July 11, 2019 at 11:25 am

Very awesome.
would love a few.

    arducam19 · July 20, 2019 at 2:44 am


James Lewis · July 12, 2019 at 3:22 am

Do you plan to make the PCB you designed available?

    arducam19 · July 20, 2019 at 2:37 am


Claude Sammut · July 13, 2019 at 8:47 am

Will you be sharing the schematics of the som?

    arducam19 · July 20, 2019 at 2:44 am

    Sorry, we are not gonna do that.

Michael · August 1, 2019 at 3:39 pm

Can we buy the boards without the “magical parts”

Zetaspace · August 5, 2019 at 4:13 pm

Can you shrink a raspberry pi 4B?

    arducam19 · August 8, 2019 at 8:36 am

    We sure can do that, give us funds and a certain amount of time, SOM4 will be right away : )

Terry · October 27, 2020 at 8:11 pm

Hey! That’s really cool! Can you tell a bit about your reverse engineering technique? Did you sliced raspi board mil by mil?

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