Pi Zero W - an amazing machine for just 12$


over the last weeks i did much testing with the pi zero w - and my summary: ‘this is a really amazing machine’!

connected directly to my roof antenna the zero was able to handle more than 300 aircrafts in parallel while mlat was activated (~80%cpu load). since a couple of days i run it to collect and consolidate the data of my other pi2 via socat. with about 200 aircrafts in sight, dump1090 in net-mode, mysql-database active and my php-script the cpu-load is about 11%!!! moreover this little thing can run hours and hours from a small battery-pack and always runs with very low cpu-temperature.

so - everybody who runs a pi2 and is wondering what advantage a pi3 for dump1090 would be. forget about it - more than 90% of all fa-sites worldwide would easily run from a pi zero :slight_smile:


Amazing machines for the price. I see them on sale for $5 USD in the USA but can easily be found for $10 USD.
They run a single core CPU that is more than powerful enough for PiAware software.
We have one running at FlightAware for months with no downtime. Very stable.

The only bad part is that there is very limited production and some countries have been left out of distribution. I have seen some places sell the zero W for $25/each. Definitely watch out for over priced units.

If you do get a RPi Zero W you do need one extra part that is not on the standard PiAware part list.
This is a MALE micro USB to FEMALE USB cable.


yes! and it would be great if flightaware would talk to guenther from jetvision to make a new inexpensive feeder - a raspberry zero w together with cyclone fpga and ublox gps :slight_smile: then most computing were on fpga while zero just had to run dump1090/net-mode and piaware - on top perfect mlat because of better hardware timing.


They are selling a full computer for less than a meal, a t-shirt, or practically anything. If someone said computers will be this cheap I would be skeptical. Even basic micro controllers can be more expensive. I don’t know if people realize how crazy amazing something like this is.

I was thinking the same as you a few months ago about making a kit or full product around this board. This would make a killer product if package right but the Zero W is not produced in large quantities.

The RPi zero W is made directly by the RPi foundation. They aren’t contracting it out to the big manufacturers like the RPi 3 boards. They literally bought their own Pick and place and production line to make the RPi zero W. Since they are doing the production in house they are only able to send out 20k/week.

RPi foundation made no indication of how many or how long they will produce these boards. Meaning that producing a final product can be very risky and they aren’t willing to sell enough units to us to mitigate that part.

Basically, if you need just a few units they are amazing. If you need a lot of them you can be waiting for months or even years.


bummer :slight_smile: funny that we both had the same idea. did not know that the zero is so hard to get in higher quantities.

thanx for reply david