Raspberry Pi gets a Blade!

BitScope Blade for Raspberry Pi

What is BitScope Blade ?

BitScope Blade is a Blade Server solution built using Raspberry Pi designed for Physical Computing.

Raspberry Pi is a very reliable physical computing platform when powered correctly.

BitScope Blade 04, Quattro Pi, Power & Mounting for four Raspberry Pi (Raspberry Pi not included).

The key to using it in embedded, industrial and server applications is to have a rugged reliable power & convenient mounting solution for one or more Raspberry Pi in racks and other industrial configurations.

BitScope Blade is tailor made to offer this in a range of cost effective blade boards.

Whether it's a rack full of Raspberry Pi to build low cost cloud platforms, build farms or test, measurement and data acquisition systems, or even just a single Raspberry Pi and optional HAT, BitScope Blade offers a range of unique solutions.

BitScope Blade is capable of delivering up to 4A current and is compatible with DC power sources ranging from 9V to 48V.

Almost any deployment scenario will work because BitScope Blade supports most common DC power sources.

While BitScope Blade started life as Blade Server for Raspberry Pi it has since evolved into a full range of power, mounting and deployment solutions for Raspberry Pi, HATs, the Raspberry Pi Display and of course, BitScope !

Why did you develop BitScope Blade ?

Our customers asked us for scalable low cost industrial solutions for test, measurement and data acquisition.

We love the Raspberry Pi and have long supported it as a low cost compute platform for BitScope.

It made sense to put the two together to come up with a very effective solution!

BitScope Pi Data Acquisition System

BitScope Pi Data Acquisition System

The design brief was to enable anyone to build an industrial strength platform for low cost & power efficient physical computing which scales from a single Raspberry Pi and BitScope all the way up to multi-node clusters for cloud computing, build farms, multi-channel test, measurement, system control and monitoring or data acquisition.

Karl-Ludwig built this small solution to demonstrate key concepts at the Hannover Maker Faire. He built it with one Quattro Pi, 5 x Raspberry Pi and 16 x BitScope Micro.

This system was capable of capturing 32 analog channels, 96 digital channels and optionally generating 16 analog and up to 32 clock waveforms all in a 5RU rack.

Since then we have added two more BitScope Blade editions: Uno Pi and Duo Pi. We've also developed a range of cluster packs, 19" rack and DIN rail mounting solutions and we're developing a custom edition of the Raspbian O/S for multi-node use.

It all starts with Uno Pi...

BitScope Blade Uno Pi is a rack and wall mountable solution for a Raspberry Pi and an associated HAT.

It can also be used to mount the Raspberry Pi Display and power up to four BitScopes.

It's the smallest blade but its fully compatible with the others.

BitScope Blade Uno Pi and Raspberry Pi Sense HAT

Uno Pi solves the power problem when using Raspberry Pi in industrial and related mission critical applications.

It has a built-in 5V switch mode power supply capable of powering the Raspberry Pi, the HAT and up to four high current devices connected via the Raspberry Pi.

Such devices can include almost any type of USB hard disk (HDD) or solid-state drive (SSD). Of course any USB powered BitScope (such as BitScope Micro) other peripherals such as keyboards, mice, WiFi and Bluetooth dongles can all be used.

Uno Pi accepts supply voltages ranging from 9V to 48V so it's compatible with 9V, 12V, 24V and 48V power sources. It can be used with simple plug packs, 12V batteries, low cost uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) and even passive power over ethernet (PoE) solutions.

Uno Pi can accommodate a standard mini-breadboard in the HAT slot for circuit prototyping or it can be deployed with Raspberry Pi A+ and the Sense HAT to create a powerful remote sensing data logger which can be powered from almost any power source. Plug in a WiFi, Bluetooth or Ethernet adapter and you can connect it to a network.

Build small server workstations with Duo Pi...

BitScope Blade Duo Pi is a rack and wall mountable solution for two Raspberry Pi and USB connected peripherals.

It offers the same power and mounting options as Uno Pi but for two Raspberry Pi.

It makes the ideal micro-server and can power hard disks directly.

BitScope Blade Duo Pi dual Raspberry Pi redundant file and network server.

No more power supply problems!

Throw in a low cost 5-port network switch and a WiFi dongle and you'll have a dual redundant micro-server which can be set up to provide DHCP, DNS, WiFi AP, FTP, HTTP, SSH and almost any other network service you might require.

The HDMI and audio ports are accessible from the Raspberry Pi in the first slot so it can also be used as a workstation with the addition of a monitor, keyboard and mouse.

As with all blades, the Raspberry Pi USB ports are readily accessible and external power can be connected via the industry standard 2.5mm socket on the board. Alternatively power may be applied via the mounting tabs at the blade edges which makes it possible to mount BitScope Blades in Cluster Packs or Server Racks without the need to power wiring.

Build scalable physical computing with Quattro Pi...

Physical computing usually requires lots of I/O, in a typical DAQ use-case, to connect multiple BitScopes.

A rack of Raspberry Pi is ideal for this because each one provides 4 x USB ports and one CAT5 Ethernet port.

BitScope Blade mounts each Raspberry Pi and provides plenty of power for all the I/O.

BitScope Blade Quattro Pi physical computing USB/Ethernet I/O.

Reliable power suppy has been an ongoing issue for Raspberry Pi and many other USB powered embedded computers.

It's a deficiency in the USB specification more than anything else.

It gets even worse when you try to power many downstream USB devices from one Raspberry Pi, let alone when you try to do the same thing with multiple Raspberry Pi.

BitScope Blade solves these problems by powering Raspberry Pi via the J8 socket (instead of the micro USB socket). High surge currents are also supported with the use of low ESR electrolytic capacitors.

When using multiple Raspberry Pi, the BitScope Blade solution scales exceptionally well because each pair or quad group of Raspberry Pi has its own fully regulated power supply. To the extent that heat is generated at all, it's distributed evenly throughout the cluster.

Build servers for distributed and cloud computing...

Combine blade compute clusters in network connected racks to build powerful cloud platforms.

It can be done at lower cost the any comparable distributed processing solution.

It's also surprisingly powerful, especially if you also need some I/O.

BitScope Blade Quattro Pi physical computing USB/Ethernet I/O.

There are many applications for this. For example, it's the lowest cost way to build network computing platforms in education, e.g. compare it to the GCHQ Bramble.

Blade racks are more convenient to use than physical clusters like this one but the same principles apply as far as software is concerned; for one example see PocketCluster for OSX which should work on a blade cluster just as well.

There are numerous other examples and use cases such as running a scaleable ownCloud instance or building a render farm for Blender or classroom computing platforms using PiNet.

Distributed and cloud computing technologies are evolving very quickly but because Raspberry Pi supports stock Linux (via the Raspbian edition of Debian among others), these software solutions will run on low cost BitScope Blade Racks. We'll publish more on these topics, including a custom edition of Raspbian for physical computing with BitScope and Docker based solutions for cloud computing with Raspberry Pi.

In the meantime check out the BitScope Blade pages for detailed information about all these new products.

Limited stock is available now for online purchase and soon via our resellers.

Email us at blade@bitscope.com with questions and feedback !

FM01B 04

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