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The Raspberry Pi Foundation has launched a variant of the $10 Raspberry Pi Zero W for cases where users need a GPIO header but either can't, or don't want to, solder it on themselves.
The header variant is called the Raspberry Pi Zero WH, which offers a pre-soldered 40-pin GPIO header.
While the Pi Zero W is useful for projects that don't need a header, the purpose of the Pi Zero WH is to make it easier to use the recently released GPIO expander tool for controlling GPIO pins from a USB-connected PC.
Though that may sound like a lot for a bit of soldering, the Raspberry Pi Foundation argues it actually decreases the setup costs of experimenting with physical computing in schools or at home.
The decreased cost is in part a benefit of the recently released GPIO expander software tool, which helps make the Pi Zero a little more like a full single-board computer.
Normally you can't control the GPIO pins on the Pi Zero, but the GPIO expander makes it possible from a PC connected via USB. It also means the user doesn't need to buy and configure SD cards, and the project can use a PC's processing power rather than being limited to the Pi's CPU.
Download now: Internet of Things policy (free PDF)
Using the expander tool via USB currently only works on Linux, but support should be coming to Windows and Mac at some point in future, according to Raspberry Pi community manager Ben Nuttall.
Nuttall says the GPIO expander application is a "game changer" for those building physical computing projects.
"You can live-boot the Raspberry Pi Desktop OS from a USB stick, use Linux PCs, or even install Raspberry Pi Desktop on old computers. Then you have really simple access to physical computing without full Raspberry Pi setups, and no SD cards to configure."
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