Flavio Ansovini's Ochin Raspberry Pi CM4 Carrier Takes Aim at Drones, Robots, the IoT and More

Deal sees Seeed Studio licensed to sell commercial versions of the open source ultra-compact Compute Module 4 carrier board.

Flavio Ansovini has launched a carrier board for the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 with a difference: the compact Ochin CM4 is built specifically for size-constrained projects like robotics and drone automation, and has been made available under an open license.

"The Ochin CM4 it’s a tiny carrier board for the Raspberry Pi Compute Module [4]," Ansovini explains of his creation. "It is designed for applications where a powerful machine with low consumption and small dimensions is required. The small form factor makes it interesting for all those applications where the space available is not much and containing the weight is important, such as in robotics, home automation and IoT [Internet of Things]."

The core Ochin design, brought to our attention by CNX Software and also known as the "öchìn CM4." was first published more than a year ago under an open license — but those who sought to use it were largely left building their own. Now, Ansovini has signed an agreement with Seeed Studio, which sees the company licensed to manufacture and sell fully-finished carrier boards — while Ansovini will handle technical support.

A key feature of the Ochin CM4 is its small dimensions, taking up the same footprint as the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 it's designed to host. It's compatible with all full-fat Compute Module 4 models, but lacks a microSD slot for storage — meaning it won't work with the Compute Module 4 Lite range, which lack on-board eMMC storage.

The carrier breaks out a single USB 2.0 Type-C port for eMMC flashing, four USB 2.0 GHS connectors, one two-lane and one four-lane MIPI CSI camera ports, three UARTs, one USART, one I2C bus, and an analog video output, with networking provided by the Raspberry Pi CM4's on-board Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios. For power, the board supports an input from 7.5V to 28V with support for 2S to 6S lithium-polymer batteries.

The board is available to purchase now from Seeed Studio for $59.90 without Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4; additional details and all design files, plus a 3D-printable tool designed to make it easier to remove a CM4 module from the carrier without damaging the high-density mezzanine connectors, are available on the project's GitHub repository under the reciprocal GNU General Public License 3.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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