Raspberry Pi Zero in a USB Hub (Part 1)

I've had this USB Hub kicking around for a while. I like it because it came with a good power supply and it can handle things like 1-Watt USB Wi-Fi adapters, RTL-SDR receivers and USB-powered hard drives with ease. It's small enough to stash in my backpack.

As powered hubs go, this one isn't anything spectacular.You can probably do something similar if you find the right hub.

This hub's case popped open easily with just a spudger and some fingernails. I took the circuit board out and found a spot to get 5VDC near the power input port. I soldered some wire to a pad, and another wire to ground. I attached these to the +5V and ground rails through the Raspberry Pi Zero's GPIO header (Pins 4 and 6 respectively)

Next, I cut some notches in the plastic case for HDMI and the USB OTG cable. I'd like to eventually wire the USB directly to the hub's board, but that'll be for part 2. For now, I need a hole in the case for USB. Everything lines up nicely.

I used electrical tape to insulate the bottom of the Pi, and the top of the USB ports inside.

Some 3M double-sided mounting tape holds everything in place. Sorry for the blurry shot. I didn't review some of these photos until everything was stuck back together.

With the cover snapped on, it almost looks like a normal USB hub. In fact, as pictured, it would still work like one, with a Raspberry Pi whirring away silently inside, hooked up to nothing other than power (which it can also get from USB without the DC power supply.)

I have a Logitech wireless keyboard/mouse and a USB WiFi adapter plugged in. This is pretty much the bare minimum to get a Pi onto the Internet and usable. 

Since I haven't gotten USB hooked up inside the case (I'll need some fine wire, a really good SMD soldering iron and a steady hand to attempt that), I still have to hook the Pi's USB OTG port on the front to the USB port on the back of the hub.

Not terribly elegant, but it works.

That's pretty much all there is to it.  Plug in the Mini-HDMI cable and the power supply and watch it go. You've got a computer that's better than anything I had in the early 2000s in something roughly the size of a pack of gum, and you'll have a decent number of USB ports to work with, too!

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