Getting Started with Raspberry Pi Zero W

Last Updated on 2 May 2017

Credit to Raspberry Pi Foundation Team (www.raspberrypi.org) for the marvelous Raspberry Pi Zero W!


As of the time this tutorial is written, Raspberry Pi Zero W is the latest board from Raspberry Pi Foundation team. It is a new variant of Raspberry Pi Zero (a craze when it was launch in November 2015 for only $5) with wireless LAN and Bluetooth, priced at only $10. Launched at the end of February 2017, the Pi Zero W has all the functionality of the original Pi Zero but with added connectivity, consisting of:
– 802.11 b/g/n wireless LAN
– Bluetooth 4.1
– Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)

Like the Pi Zero, it also has:
– 1GHz, single-core CPU
– 512MB RAM
– Mini HDMI and USB On-The-Go ports
– Micro USB power
– HAT-compatible 40-pin header
– Composite video and reset headers
– CSI camera connector

This is the Raspberry Pi Zero W official video from Raspberry Pi:

Now that you know how powerful Raspberry Pi Zero W is and with super attractive price tag, let’s dip into how to use it. This tutorial will guide you on how to get started with Raspberry Pi Zero W (also compatible with Raspberry Pi Zero). We cover 2 methods:
1. Using Raspberry Pi Bundle for Beginner – Easy way, recommended for beginner.
2. Using SSH remote on USB OTG port – Cheaper way, not recommended for beginner.


Method 1: Using Raspberry Pi Bundle for Beginner

This method is the easy way and it is recommended for beginner.


1. Flash Raspbian Jessie full or Raspbian Jessie Lite onto the SD card. If this is your first time, you can refer to this tutorial.

2. Insert SD Card into Raspberry Pi Zero W (or Pi Zero).

3. Connect wireless keyboard USB dongle at USB OTG port. Note: Please use USB OTG cable converter.

4. Connect HDMI monitor to Raspberry Pi Zero W. Note: Please use Mini HDMI to HDMI converter.

5. Connect 5V 2.5A micro usb adapter at USB PWR port. Power up the board. Wait a few seconds for Raspberry Pi Zero W to complete the boot process.


6. So that’s it! As I said, it is easy, what you need is just plug and play! Now, you are ready to begin building cool things with your Raspberry PI Zero W (or Pi Zero).


Method 2: Using SSH remote on USB OTG port

This method is the cheaper way and it is not recommended for beginner.

Reference: Setting up Pi Zero OTG – The quick way

For this method, alongside your Raspberry Pi Zero W (or Pi Zero), Micro USB cable and Micro SD card, only an additional computer is required, which can be running Windows (with Bonjour, iTunes or Quicktime installed), Mac OS or Linux (with Avahi Daemon installed, for example Ubuntu has it built in).

1. Flash Raspbian Jessie full or Raspbian Jessie Lite onto the SD card. If this is your first time, you can refer to this tutorial.

2. Once Raspbian is flashed, open up the boot partition (in Windows Explorer, Finder etc) and add to the bottom of the config.txt file dtoverlay=dwc2 on a new line, then save the file.


3. If using a recent release of Jessie (Dec 2016 onwards), then create a new file simply called ssh in the SD card as well. By default SSH is now disabled so this is required to enable it. Remember – Make sure your file doesn’t have an extension (like .txt etc)!


4. Finally, open up the cmdline.txt. Be careful with this file, it is very picky with its formatting! Each parameter is seperated by a single space (it does not use newlines). Insert modules-load=dwc2,g_ether after rootwait.



5. That’s it, eject the SD card from your computer. Put it in your Raspberry Pi Zero W (or Pi Zero), make sure you have installed Bonjour, iTunes or Quicktime) and connect it via USB OTG to your computer. It will take up to 90s to boot up (shorter on subsequent boots). It should then appear as a USB Ethernet device.


6. You can using PuTTy software and SSH into it with raspberrypi.local as the address. If you don’t have PuTTy software, you can download it here – PuTTy.org.


7. Now, you can login with pi and password raspberry.




8. Now the steps is complete for this method. However for me, I would like to see a full Raspbian desktop interface on my laptop screen. What you need to do is, first, connect your Raspberry Pi Zero W to WiFi network.


*Note: Start from this steps and onward only compatible with Rasperry Pi Zero W!


9. Restart you Raspberry Pi Zero W, you need to repeat from step 5. If everything ready as step 7, run ifconfig command to check your IP address.


10. Then, install tightvncserver by running sudo apt-get install tightvncserver command and install xrdp by running sudo apt-get install xrdp command.

11. Open Remote Desktop Connection, write your Raspberry Pi Zero W IP address and click Connect. You will receive a warning, just hit Yes.



12. Now enter pi as username and raspberry as password. Click Ok. If everything works fine, you will see connection complete, connected ok under Connection Log. Please wait a few seconds/minutes for Raspberry Pi Zero W load a full desktop interface.



13. Now you have a full Raspbian remote desktop interface with nice wallpaper. 🙂

One thought on “Getting Started with Raspberry Pi Zero W

  1. Everything is great till the rdp ssh works great

    I installed xrdp
    After credential are entered
    I get this error halfway through the scrolling of info when you run rdp before a desktop appears “connecting to “ip”
    error -problem connecting

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