Roadtest: Bitscope Blades - Review

Table of contents

RoadTest: Roadtest: Bitscope Blades

Author: DAB

Creation date:

Evaluation Type: Evaluation Boards

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?: NA

What were the biggest problems encountered?: Plug size was different from most of my wallwarts. Lack of access for external power sources. Use of power and ground strips as mounting access.

Detailed Review:

First I want to thank Element 14 and BitScope for the opportunity to test this new product.


I tested the BB01B BitScope Blade Uno.


The Blade Uno is a new product aimed at providing a way to increase the use of your Raspberry Pi with HAT's and USB devices.

One of the problems with the RPI is the limited power available with normal 5v wall warts to power both the RPI and any USB devices attached to it, that require power through the USB connection.


Needless to say, this limitation reduces use of the RPi in embedded applications.


The people at BitScope have created a series of boards that are intended to remedy this issue.


The Blade Uno supports one RPI board and one HAT.  The Blade provides two additional USB ports and enables a wide range of power sources to power your RPI and associated hardware.

The Blade Uno includes a nice power regulator that can take input power from 9 to 48V DC and provides 5v and 3.3V to the RPI and Hat plus 5v to the USB connectors with plenty of power.


When  I first set up the board without and RPI or Hat, I discovered that the 2.1 mm DC connector did not fit most of my wallwarts.  Now understand, I have close to fifty of these little devices from various sources, so I was quite surprised.

After finally locating two wallwarts that fit, I found that they were limited in current to 1 amp at 12 v DC.  After some quick calculation I decided that they would provided enough power for the RPI and HAT I wanted to try.


So I attached the wallwart, without anything else attached and started measuring voltages.  I quickly verified that the 12 v input was correctly generating the needed RPI voltages.

Next I installed the RPI and its basic components and fired it up.  Bingo, everything worked an I had full internet access.

Then I added the Sensor HAT and fired it up again after first downloading the Sensor Hat software.  Success again.


Picture 1, Blade Uno with RPi and HAT connected to wall wart.


Now it was time to look at a different power connection.  So I grabbed an old XT power supply and attached the 12v DC and ground connections to the Blade Uno.

I again took everything off the board and did some voltage tests and found that the 12 v input translated to the correct voltages for the RPI.

Once again, I added the RPI and its components, and it came up fine.

Then I added the HAT and it too came up fine.



Picture 2, Blade Uno with RPI and HAT connected to a small XT power supply.


These quick tests verified that the Blade Uno can easily power an RPI and HAT from multiple power sources.


I had always been concerned about the limited power capability of the RPI, so the Blade Uno provides a really nice extension and power support for RPI applications.


Issues include the 2.1 mm power input socket.  Given the intended power needs, I would have preferred to see a screw terminal for attaching external power sources or a battery pack.

The power input tabs are probably great for the BitScope enclosures in progress, but the Blade Uno could use a simpler stand alone design.

I am also a little concerned with heat build up on the RPI board.  The upside down mounting configuration allows heat to flow up into the board.  It is probably not a problem where you have good air flow, but in an enclosure, I could be concerned about over heating, especially if you are over clocking the RPI.

I also did not like using the power and ground terminals to mount the board standoff hardware.


The second part of testing a new product is to validate if the product meets its intended market need.


In this case BitScope did a great job, especially given the intended use of the Blade series to connect multiple RPI boards with multiple USB devices, including their BitScope series of analog and digital data acquisition boards.


So if you want to do more with your RPI, take a good look at the Blade Series from BitScope.


I think they represent a good value for the product provided.