Full credit for the initial documentation for this goes to DaveB off the Raspberry Pi Forums, see his post here.
An acknowledgement also to Lady Ada of Adafruit who was working on documenting in parallel to myself on Christmas eve. She has taken a different approach which requires a UART serial cable. Her guide can be found here.
What is this?
The Raspberry Pi Zero is a very cool little computer. At £4, is pretty amazing for the price. But one thing many Pi users have wanted to be able to do for a long time is program their Raspberry Pi from another computer, using only a single USB cable!
The Raspberry Pi Zero is able to do this, hardware wise anyway, although a lack of software support was holding up it ever happening. Until now!
So what can it do?
Using the Linux USB Gadget modules, we can get the Pi Zero to emulate a whole host of USB devices including
Virtual Serial – So can get a serial connection into the Pi, similar to using the UART pins. You can use Putty (on Windows) or Screen (on Mac and Linux).
Virtual Ethernet – You can get your Pi Zero to appear as a USB Ethernet modem. With a little configuration, you can then get full SSH, VNC, FTP etc.
Mass storage device – You can get the Pi Zero to appear as a flash drive, allowing you to for example, copy files over and have the Pi run these files (useful for robotics for example)
Virtual MIDI – The Pi Zero could appear as a virtual MIDI instrument.
Virtual Audio – The Pi Zero could appear as a virtual headphone output or microphone input.
Virtual Human Interface Device (HID) – The Pi Zero could appear as a virtual HID, for example a keyboard or mouse. So when you plug it into your computer, it could start typing!
You can also combine a few of the above (up to 3 at a time) using the g_multi module, although Windows and Mac have difficulty handling it then.
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Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.