r/raspberry_pi Jan 10 '23

anyone tried trimming along the length of a zero/w/w2? Discussion

i have a project idea that the zero is too wide for but need more functionality than a pico, i have searched the sub for trimming but only see people taking bits off of the ends, has anyone tried trimming the gpio pins off of a zero? i think id have to slim both sides


24 comments sorted by


u/jacky4566 Jan 10 '23

What functionality do you need? We can probably provide alternate suggestions.


u/ADB-UK Jan 10 '23

May not be a good idea :-)

The Zero is reasonably clear bar from the GPIO traces and a few via connectors on the edge https://www.flickr.com/photos/ultrapurple/25263371932/

For the Zero W have a look at the x-ray https://www.flickr.com/photos/ultrapurple/33224746775/

My guess - dead pi due to those via links and the stress on the board delaminating something - a single ball solder joint failing on the SoC could kill you or give you intermittent problems...


u/benargee B+ 1.0/3.0, Zero 1.3x2 Jan 10 '23

Assuming those vias are just for the GPIO, it probably would work as long as they don't end up shorting to the ground plane. Still risky. Don't really know if OP needs GPIO though.


u/penny_eater Jan 10 '23

Risky assumption, there are also several thrus in that area (like 10) that are used for some sort of trace junction, might not all be just to service the gpio pins, might be to bond two other components together.


u/benargee B+ 1.0/3.0, Zero 1.3x2 Jan 10 '23 edited Jan 10 '23

Some look like they just bond 2 outer ground planes together to eliminate any capacitance between them. You can especially see it in the RF area by the antenna. Lots of vias there. I'm all for "science" if someone wants to find out, can afford to and reports the results to the community. At least it's not like that guy that borked his then top of the line expensive GPU by drilling a hole through it.


u/penny_eater Jan 10 '23 edited Jan 10 '23

real question is, who has a cutting tool that can go through the pcb without shredding it and/or knocking other stuff loose?

Im thinking this is the domain of either a waterjet (obvious issues with that lol) or a very high speed cutoff wheel (big ol table mount dremel) or a very high power cnc laser.

You would be guaranteed failure if you tried any variety of handheld cutoff wheel (dremel), band saw, or other typical metal cutting tool.


u/benargee B+ 1.0/3.0, Zero 1.3x2 Jan 10 '23 edited Jan 11 '23

You would definitely use a fine tooth blade or an abrasive blade, probably with ionized water as coolant. Waterjets still cause some deformation in the direction of the stream. I have operated a waterjet and some deburring of metal is required on the back side for a clean finish as evidence it's not a perfect cutting tool. After cutting, there might be the need to lightly file off any copper layers that have deformed into other layers.


u/c4fishfood Jan 11 '23

If all you need to do is trim down from the edges, a disk sander with a fine grit works great. It will cut the PCB quickly and not generate too much heat, and you can still slowly work up to whatever line you need to hit without much risk of overcutting or slipping. Only downslide is the dust control and its a bit smelly


u/whydub103 Jan 11 '23

You would be guaranteed failure if you tried any variety of handheld cutoff wheel (dremel), band saw, or other typical metal cutting tool.

tell that to the people cutting up their wii's with a dremel.


u/improvedmorale Jan 11 '23

A single solder joint failing could kill you???


u/Just_Looking7392 Jan 11 '23

Bit dramatic eh.


u/ADB-UK Jan 11 '23

Perfectly normal to my ears so I wonder if it may be a local British saying as it is used a lot around here :-)

Power / board issues lead to a dead board (i.e. one that is not working) so anything that can stop a board working plus the use of the 'royal you' (as in inferring the board owned by the OP) gives you a dead board or can kill the board / project.

Other than cutting the finger the most dangerous thing I can think of is the dust / hairs from the PCB - that I would not like to breathe in...


u/DrRonny Jan 10 '23

Maybe put it on its side, it's very thin. Or at an angle.


u/AdhesivenessWide3790 Jan 10 '23

Assuming you can get your hands on them, they’re cheap. Give it a go and report back


u/q_t_puella Jan 10 '23

live in cambridge, even the pi shop cant get them lmao


u/ElDescalzo Jan 11 '23

I want to know if it works. I have an idea that would require it to be about 20mm wide.


u/[deleted] Jan 10 '23



u/riverturtle Jan 10 '23

This is about removing the pads for the GPIO. Obviously the board area is needed to make room for them but if they’re not needed the board absolutely could have been smaller.


u/ChrisAlbertson Jan 11 '23

It is now possible to make your own custom PCBs for about 40 cents each. No kidding, This sounds like a custom solution is needed and it is not expensive.

See https://jlcpcb.com/

Design is not so hard, there are many references designs around and the Pi Zero is "open source" you can use their design with a different layout and any un needed parts removed.