RoadTest: PiRack Accessory board for Raspberry Pi
Evaluation Type: Independent Products
Did you receive all parts the manufacturer stated would be included in the package?: True
What other parts do you consider comparable to this product?:
What were the biggest problems encountered?:
The Pirack gave me a great idea at first, join Pi’s together via the rack and make a Beowulf Cluster. This was a complete failure, I could power the Pi’s but that was it and only one at a time due to the power demand. The Cluster itself is run through a network switch as well it has one master and the rest are slaves. So I had to change my whole review on the Pirack that I had planned. I did create a Beowulf Cluster attaching the Pirack to the master computer. After a lot of planning, trial and error I assembled the Cluster. Now, for the programming of Linux to make the master Pi run the slaves. I will do an in-depth report on how to create a Beowulf cluster later on my blog as that is not what the review is about.
My first impression:
All around look and use of the Pirack was good. Easy to attach to the Rpi, power adaptor and the ability to add more racks together. My impression slowly changed as I worked with it more and more.
When attached to the Rpi it is fairly flimsy which could be solved by attaching an “L” shaped support. This support should be tall enough so it could support 2 or more racks attached together. My second issue, when 2 racks are attached together they aren’t at the same plane and wouldn’t be able to be attached solidly without breaking. The next issue I found was when trying to attach the 26 pin wire adaptor to use a heavier expansion board, it wouldn’t attach fully to the rack. The issue is the power and jumper pins on the rack got in the way. This caused a concerning problem as it wouldn’t allow the adaptor to push in all the way. Now for my last negative issue I had was the jumpers for the pins fell of very easily causing me to lose a couple (Lucky my kids found them). This could be solved by using a very small slide switch; it would also solve the issue of them getting in the way.
All is not negative about the PiRack. Once put together it was nice not to have to switch the expansion boards constantly. The rack gave me the freedom to run 2 or more boards at once. Being that I have this attached to my cluster I could run a few different apps at one time. The problem of them not being on the same plane can be solved with the ribbon wires to connect them. As for the jumpers falling off I just slightly bent the pins as to make it tighter for the jumpers.
All in all, the Pirack is a great idea with a few improvements that could be made. I really like the way it works with my cluster, sharing the expansion boards with the power of 3 Rpi’s. As a side note, the cluster is easily expandable to as many slave Rpi’s as I want. I tested the Piracks with different expansion boards and it worked very well, I won’t run my cluster without them. I give the Pirack a high mark and would recommend it to anyone and everyone.
I want to thank Element14 for giving me the opportunity to participate in this review!!
Great review! I think everybody who tested this item ran into the same construction issues...
Isn't it possible to create a beowulf cluster using the ethernet connection and a switch? Which software did you use for the cluster?
Thank you for the comment!!!
Just a quick reply, I did use a small 5 port switch (white box in the top picture) and I used Linux Raspian. I will be doing a blog on how to make you own if interested on my web page www.pivelopment.com as well www.hackers-central.com
Send me a friend request and I can help you if you like!!