Upgrade Your Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W to a Pi 3 or 4 With One Adapter

The Raspberry Pi is, arguably, the most popular SBC (single-board computer) available to electronic enthusiasts, but it’s not easy to get hold of one right now. Although you may have developed a perfect system of websites and email notifications to be ready for new product alerts, someone else always seems to be a bit faster at obtaining that perfect Raspberry Pi.

Some manufacturers have come up with creative ideas to expand the current possibilities of your Raspberry Pi. Spotpear has created the feel and connectivity of a full-size Pi 3B/4B through an adapter connected to your Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W. Let’s check it out.

Adapter Board Models

The adapter design comes in a few forms to offer flexibility for different project needs. You’ll notice that along the top edge of the adapter board, there are connection points for your Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W’s ports:

  • Mini HDMI
  • Micro USB OTG
  • Micro USB Power

In this particular model, based on the Raspberry Pi 3B, you’ll notice that there are four full-size USB-A ports (right side) and no Ethernet port. This is due to the limitations of the Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W.

Raspberry Pi zero-to-3b-adapter-1-no rj45
Image Credit: Product Page/Spotpear

Choosing a different version of the Raspberry Pi 3B adapter board will add Ethernet connectivity; however, you’ll then sacrifice the use of one USB port.

Raspberry Pi zero-to-3b-adapter- rj45
Image Credit: Product Page/Spotpear

You’ll need to refer to Spotpear’s product overview page to determine which USB port isn’t usable.

Should you prefer a micro-HDMI port and USB-C power connection, try Spotpear’s adapter that offers connectivity similar to a Raspberry Pi 4B.

Raspberry Pi zero-to-4b-usb-c-ethernet
Image Credit: Product Page/SpotPear

You’ll notice that there is an Ethernet port; as before, this will mean that one USB port will not be usable. In addition, you’ll see that one of the micro-HDMI ports is labeled “NC.” This means it’s not connected (so not usable). So you’ll need to double-check the on-board labels prior to plugging in your HDMI cable.

A positive to note is that since the world is moving toward a computer cable standard, you’ll be able to use a USB-C cable from your growing cord collection to power this Raspberry Pi adapter board, as on Raspberry Pi 4B.

Whichever version you choose, the Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W board fits neatly into the adapter ports. You’ll see that the GPIO pins remain unaffected as well, and are now positioned as they would be on a full-size Raspberry Pi 3B or 4B.

Rasbperry Pi zero-to-3b-adapter-attached to pi-zero
Image Source: Product Page/SpotPear

The Spotpear adapter will also connect neatly to a Banana Pi M2 Zero, due to its form factor being identical to that of the Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W.

Banana Pi M2 Zero adapter to 3B
Image Credit: BPI M2 Adapter Guide/Spotpear

An Adapter Worth Buying?

Depending on the adapter model, prices range from $11 to $15 (at the time of writing). To receive additional functionality for your Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W (or Banana Pi M2 Zero), it seems reasonable. This is one way to provide a compromise while we wait for the Rasbperry Pi hardware shortage to be over.

Will your Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W be any faster? Nope. Don’t expect any speed increases here. On the other hand, if you need to plug in a standard USB keyboard and mouse, or wish to connect an LTE HAT in order to connect to a nearby cell tower, then the additional full-size USB ports will come in handy.

Although Spotpear has online stores set up with Amazon and eBay, you’ll only find this adapter by visiting the Spotpear store at AliExpress. If you live in the US or UK, expect to wait at least a few weeks for the adapter to arrive at your home.

What Will You Use This Adapter For?

If you are in need of the multiple full-size USB ports and/or Ethernet port that a Raspberry Pi 3B or 4B offers, this adapter may be a great option for your project. Perhaps some IoT projects will benefit from having additional USB ports or your chat server may require connecting a USB headset?

Since the Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W is based on the same quad-core ARM Cortex-53 CPU as the Pi 3B and 3B+, adding the full-size form factor and ports with an adapter makes it a near equivalent, albeit with less RAM. If you need more processing power and/or RAM, however, you may want to sit tight until you get your hands on a Raspberry Pi 3B+ or 4B. Or you might consider an alternative SBC.

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