The fad for HDMI-pluggable stick PCs was temporarily popular a few years ago, but the wind seems to have vanished from those sails. Plagued by performance and compatibility issues (ranging from display anomalies to Bluetooth peripherals), you’d be hard pushed to find a stick PC that was worth the trouble.
Unless, that is, you already owned a Raspberry Pi Zero W. With its compact dimensions, USB power supply, and HDMI video out, the Pi Zero W is perfect for use as a stick PC. And we already know how well it maintains Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity!
YouTube developer NODE has built a stick PC based on the Raspberry Pi Zero W, and it’s probably the best option for anyone still wanting a stick PC.
To build the model in the video above, you’ll need to have two custom PCBs made, which convert the HDMI signal from the Pi Zero to a full-size HDMI (male) connector. It’s essentially an adaptor. Separated from the Pi Zero W with a 3D printed plastic insert, the adaptor and the Pi Zero can then be screwed together into a single stick PC-like device.
Shorter than an Amazon Fire TV Stick, the device can be plugged straight into your TV’s HDMI port, with the operating system stored on the microSD card as usual. While it is possible to power the device from a powered USB port on your TV, you will probably find it safer for long-term stability to use an external power supply.
Note that this is the second iteration of this project. NODE previously produced a tidier version with fewer custom components, but more Pi-based soldering, housed in a 3D printed case. You can see that approach in the video below.