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Crowdfunder Offers DIY Raspberry Pi Cluster Using Your Old PC Case

The ITX-sized board
(Image credit: Jonathan Groeneveld)

Raspberry Pi clusters are a popular way to explore parallel computing, and they’re a cheap and surprisingly powerful way of running a web server, Pi-hole, backup system and other server-like apps at the same time. Usually, however, multiple boards are placed in the same custom case and connected by ethernet. This crowdfunding campaign is different, in that it aims to connect the Pi boards on a carrier board that will fit a standard PC case. The campaign also differs from a traditional crowdfunding campaign, in that supporters will not receive the final product, instead they receive the instructions to build it themselves.

The back edge of the custom carrier

(Image credit: Jonathan Groeneveld)

The fruit of the imagination of Dutch PCB engineer Jonathan Groeneveld, this carrier board takes multiple Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 boards. It comes in ITX, ATX and E-ATX sizes, with the ITX able to take four CM4s (maddeningly, he doesn’t seem to mention how many CMs the larger boards will house), with one sporting an M.2 port for adding storage. The finished board will sport gigabit ethernet, and a block of five USB ports (two for the controller board, one each for the ‘workers’) on its back edge, plus USB-C for power, and a single HDMI port. Groeneveld is also writing his own software to manage the cluster.

An oddity of this Kickstarter campaign is that you won’t get the board through the post if you back it and it succeeds. If you are prepared to pay $125 then you’ll get digital schematics and design files, all you need to commission the construction of the board yourself and this lack of a tangible product may highlight the performance of this campaign. At the time of writing, the campaign has 28 days left to run, and has raised just $7 of its $14,500 target. An extremely low amount of money which may see this project fail to meet its goals.

Remember that crowdfunding a project is not a guarantee of receiving a finished product. Backing a crowdfunded project is akin to an investment, you believe in the project and want it to succeed. You are not purchasing a retail product.