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The power of EIDE

I am quite happy with the Raspberry “tower” I bought for keeping my Raspberries organized. Clustering them? No, not by a long shot. I just want to quickly know where they all are, and at a glance, be able to know which one I will work with. Bottom drawer has a RPi1B, second one has a RPi2, next comes a 3B+, and the top two ones are RPi4 (4 and 8GB). That allows me for quick testing of stuff. Yes, I am tempted to get the top one out of the array and use it in “production”… but as it stands, that’s the layout.

My only quip with this? Serial console access.

Connecting and releasing the three tiny cables (no, the red one is not required — it provides +5V power, but it’s not enough to power over USB more than the earliest RPis) with my big, fat and numb fingers… Always takes a minute or three. Until I thought of the obvious: Why not connect the RPi headers to an old EIDE cable? They are of the same dimensions, and much more practical to connect and yank!

with that “interface expansion” in place, I will be able to easily connect my console cables…

Or even more, I can put on a serious electronic look on my face, take out my soldering iro… ehem… my very small breadboard for those with limited abilities, and look more interesting!

In fact, I am almost sure I can get these two little buggers to blink interestingly when bytes come and go to my RPis! I will finally gain a bit of self-respect as an electronic tinkerer!

(yes, yes, I enjoy playing with RPis, but I treat them as… Well… Computers. I don’t do interfacing to the real world, although I’m sure it can be fun)

What stopped me from doing so? Pin 20 of the EIDE specification.

…As a service to clumsy computer repairers such as myself, the standard specifies pin 20 is not to carry any signals, and the drive headers are to ship it cut (Key, pin missing), so that –together with the notch on the outer part of the bracket– inserting the cable upside down is physically impossible.

So no, I’m not able to finish the project with pieces at hand. I even went to two nearby electronic shops yesterday when I took my dog out for a walk, and could not find it there either… So I ended up buying what appears to be a sweet, cheap product covering my needs from our corporate capitalist overlords.