PiCHUB - USB Type C HUB for Raspberry Pi and PiZero

USB Type C HUB for Raspberry Pi
PiCHUB created by Mark Chin from Enutil Energy is a Raspberry Pi USB hub development board with Type C connector and Microcontroller. It is targeted for Raspberry Pi enthusiasts who would like to be able to connect the new USB-C cables and devices to their Raspberry Pi PCs including the smaller Raspberry Pi Zero.

Due to the limitations of Raspberry Pi the super speed data lines of USB Type C were not implemented. Instead the PiCHUB is designed for USB 2.0 specifications with speeds up to 480MB/s depending on the devices attached to the hub.

The PiCHUB plugs into a Raspberry Pi via 26/40 pin header. If you are powering your Pi from a standard USB micro adapter the PiCHUB will power up when the Type A USB jumper cable is plugged in from the Pi USB port to PiCHUB upstream Type A USB port. This will provide power to the development board but is limited by the Pi's USB fuse. Devices can be plugged into all 3 Type A ports and the Type C port using the type C adapter provided.

The 15W USB Type C charger can be plugged directly into the Type C port while the Pi is already powered up and will switch the development board over to Type C power providing up to 3A of power. Port control of the Type C USB port is accomplished via a python script which must be run at the time of Pi bootup. Communication is done through I2C.

The PSOC 4 or ATTiny85V microcontroller was added to provide additional interfaces for the Pi and can be programmed with a PSOC MiniProg3 or Atmel USB programmer which is not included in the perks. Header P7 will allow you to isolate the power to the microcontroller when programming. PSOC chips are versatile programmable SOC's with anlog and digital blocks providing solutions for many applications with integrated components. Backers can also choose the option of an Atmel ATTiny85V microcontroller instead of the PSOC 4 which has a large community development support.

The USB Type C Port Control software is open source and will be available for download on Enutil Energy's GitHub page. You will be able to modify and add additional python script for your applications. The USB port control software should be run upon bootup or prior to using the PiCHUB as detection and negotiation of the USB Type C port is required for use as a Device port or Charging port interchangeably. This can be added into the rc.local file to run at bootup. Python-smbus library must be installed on your Pi in order for the I2C script to work.

Features of the Raspberry Pi PiCHUB hub include :

– Switch on the Fly USB Type C power 15W @ 5V
– Digital and Analog to the Microcontroller
– 1 Upstream, 3 Downstream and 1 Dual Role Type C Port
– I2C Communication from Pi to Microcontroller and Type C Port Controller
– Plugs directly into Rasp Pi A/B/B+/3/Zero with USB jumper cable
– 3.3V and 5V output connectors for external supply to devices
– USB power or device through one Dual Role Port (DRP)
– High Speed USB 480Mbits/s
– PSOC 4 ARM Cortex M0 16K Flash 16MHz
– Or ATTiny85V 8Bit 8K Flash
– 3.3” Wide x 2.2″ High
– Included Stackable Header 26/40 pin
– Plug in USB Type C devices to Communicate

To learn more about the new PiCHUB - USB Type C HUB for Raspberry Pi and PiZero do visit their Kickstarter page and make a pledge if you are interested. CAD $14,000 is required to take the new PiCHUB USB-C hub into production.