GoPiGo with a Pi-4? Maybe. . . But, it's a bit more work!


Now that the Latest and Greatest Raspberry Pi - the P-4 - is officially a Happening Thing, the burning question is “Can I build a GoPiGo using a Pi-4?”

As cleoqc mentioned in a later posting (below), newer versions of the GoPiGo controller/driver board CAN be assembled using a Pi-4 without having to jump through the hoops I had to jump through. So, this appears to apply to earlier version GoPiGo-3 boards.

Short Answer:
If you’re looking for “plug-and-play”, (as in “assemble the kit according to the published documentation” kind of plug-and-play), and expect it to work right outta’ the box - not going to happen.

Longer Answer:
It can be done, but there are significant differences between a “Pi-4 build” and a “stock” GoPiGo build.

  1. The Pi-4 absolutely, positively, requires some kind of active cooling unless you plan to have your 'bot swimming in refrigerant all the time. This translates into a heat-sink and fan. Oh, and did I forget to mention it eats batteries? Yep! It does.

  2. On the bottom side of the GoPiGo circuit board is a (relatively) large component - CP-14, a 470μf electrolytic filter capacitor - which projects downward toward the Raspberry Pi circuit board almost directly over the CPU and memory chips.


This is the GoPiGo controller/driver board, showing how far “down” C-14 projects.


And this shows (approximately), how far down C-14 projects relative to the processor and heat-sink - the red line shows about where the top of C-14 would be if the normal amount of spacing were maintained.

As you can see, there needs to be significantly more space between the GoPiGo controller/driver board and the Raspberry Pi-4’s PCB to accommodate the extra height required by the Pi-4’s heat-sink and fan.

All this additional height requires a 40-conductor ribbon-cable to connect the Pi-4 to the GoPiGo’s controller/driver board.

In addition to that, the amount of space between the mounting spacers is too narrow to fit the ribbon cable’s connector - so I had to adapt it by using a 90° female PCB header as shown below.

Does this mean you should give up the idea of a Pi-4 powered GoPiGo? Absolutely not!

I did a full-up revamp of Charlie, including both the Pi-4, an Adafruit RTC (hardware clock) module, an IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit) upgrade - the pointy thing behind the batteries, an upgraded camera and camera cable, an updated rear swivel, and a new battery holder to replace the one I (accidentally) damaged earlier in Charlie’s career.

And here’s the proof!

Here’s the New and Improved “Charlie” with batteries installed, Pi-4 (and heat-sink) powered up and ready to go!


Just in case you didn’t believe me. . . . He talks! Courtesy of noVNC

It is doable. All it takes is some imagination, patience, and higher-capacity batteries!

What say ye?

Jim “JR”

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Awesome work!

But to be honest, that capacitor has been moved on later version of the GoPiGo. I was able to assemble one with a Pi4 and cooling without having to change anything at all.
But that’s only on newer boards.

Also with the latest Pi4 firmware, the Pi gets barely hotter than a Pi3, so active cooling isn’t a necessity anymore - for most cases. Heavy computer vision might still require it, but my gut feeling is that a heat sink would suffice.


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OK, I’ll bite.

  1. How do I know if I have the latest firmware? The rpi-updater (sp?) is supposed to automagically update to the latest-and-greatest firmware at boot time. My Pi-4’s still get quite warm.

  2. And what’s the “new” new board supposed to be like? Silly me, I thought I had the newest “new” board - the red kind.

Any chance of comparative pictures?


The Pi4 still gets warm to the touch indeed, but not to the point of needed active cooling. I guess it depends on how tolerant we are :slight_smile:

New board, it’s still the red board. The only change is the capacitor got moved. Everything else is the same. I believe the board number is now 3.3.0

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Pictures or it didn’t happen!

Can I get one? (laughing!)

. . . . and I still want to know what firmware version YOU are using, and how I can check it.


Great job! Looks like Charlie is ready to “Follow The Yellow Brick Road” to get a soul.

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Who sez Charlie has no soul?!

You DO realize that them’s fightin’ words!

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Apologies profusely offered.

(Perhaps excuses to follow in a separate post, when my universe shows more alignment.)

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Don’t worry, us geezers gotta stick together.

I would love to meet Carl when we come to Florida this spring. I’d bring Charlie, but the TSA sometimes has sticky fingers. I’ve already had things go missing - like a Pi-4 with a 7" touchscreen in an Element-14 enclosure and a Hubsan quadcopter on my last trip back to Russia. It’s depressing.

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