Custom Raspberry Pi 3 SBC with eMMC flash powers gateway for washing machines

Buy second-hand Raspberry Pi on motorbike

As I was browsing some group on Facebook, I noticed somebody had bought a custom Broadcom BCM2837 SBC that looks very much like a Raspberry Pi 3 board, and that thing was apparently bought from a Saleng, a three-wheeled motorbike with a side cart where people can buy and sell old/second-hand items.

All good fun… So without further ado, here’s what the board looks like… Click for higher resolution photos.

Custom Raspberry Pi 3 SBC eMMC flash

Both MIPI CSI and DSI connectors are gone, and so is the AV jack. Two of the USB 2.0 ports have made place for a micro USB port and some headers. Looking at the bottom of the board, the MicroSD card slot is gone, because there’s a 16GB Kingston eMMC flash for storage in that location.

At first, I was quite confused, first because the Raspberry Pi logo is nowhere to found, then it’s the first “Raspberry Pi” SBC I see with an eMMC flash soldered on the board, the Raspberry Pi Foundation does not allow third-parties to use Raspberry Pi images on custom boards, and it’s close to impossible to source Broadcom BCM283x SoC made for the Raspberry Pi.

In any case, we started to discuss about the board, and a person mentioned it was for a washing machine gateway. Yes, right… That’s surely a joke! But then the original poster uploaded another photo of a ZIGBEE WIFI Hat…

Alliance Laundry Raspberry Pi Zigbee WiFi HAT

The silkscreen reads “Alliance Laundry”. Oh my god! There’s even a patent for that thing which describes “method, system, device, and program for remotely communicating with and controlling laundry units” using ” Raspberry Pi device with added pieces of hardware and software”.  So basically, that’s a gateway for laundry shops that connect to the washing machines in order to configure the units, receive reports from the units, and submit payments to the units.

One of the persons from the Facebook thread reminded me of an article I wrote in 2015 entitled “Element14 and Raspberry Pi Trading Launch a Raspberry Pi Customization Service“. I completely forgot about that option, and that explains it. The page to Element14’s customization service now redirects to the main Raspberry Pi page, so I’d assume it is not offered anymore.

The OP connected the board to an HDMI display but it only shows a logo, which makes sense for a gateway. Since it comes with an eMMC flash, the board should probably be treated like a Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3 whose flashing instructions read:

  • Make sure that J4 (USB SLAVE BOOT ENABLE) is set to the ‘EN’ position.
  • Use a micro USB cable to connect the micro USB slave port J15 on IO board to the host device.

So we need a Micro USB port and a jumper? That looks exactly what we have on the top left of the board where two USB ports used to be.

Micro USB Header Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3That means it’s probably possible to run Raspberry Pi OS in a washing machines gateway 🙂

Via Raspberry Pi Thailand group (Note that’s a private Facebook group and it would also help if you can read Thai language)

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Marcin Dąbrowski
2 months ago

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