In brief

  • The Rasberry Pi 400 is a small computer built inside a keyboard.
  • It offers a novel experience compared to the traditional Raspberry Pi.
  • A developer suggests that it should be able to run a full Bitcoin node.

Raspberry Pi launched its latest mini-computer, the Raspberry Pi 400, today. Modelled after the BBC Micros and ZX Spectrums of old, it crams the whole computer into a keyboard, providing a $70, plug-and-play solution for fans of the credit-card-sized computer. All you need to do is plug in a mouse and a monitor, and you’re up and running.

The Raspberry Pi 400 is effectively a Raspberry Pi 4 built into Raspberry Pi’s branded keyboard (itself a very nice piece of kit). For your $70, you get a quad-core 1.8GHz 64-bit processor, 4GB of RAM, wireless networking, Bluetooth 5.0, two micro-HDMI ports supporting 4K video playback, and a 40-pin GPIO header.

Using Raspberry Pi as a full Bitcoin node

Raspberry Pis can be used for just about anything, ranging from tracking aircraft to carrying out face recognition. One common use is to run a full Bitcoin node, using the small computer to download a copy of the blockchain, check that transactions are being made correctly and help make the network more decentralized.

Last year, Decrypt turned a Raspberry Pi 3 into a Bitcoin Lightning Node. It was fairly challenging, and having to control the device remotely via another computer was an unfamiliar experience. However, the Raspberry Pi 400’s in-built keyboard might make it an easier process. So we asked the experts whether it’s possible to run a full Bitcoin node on the Raspberry Pi 400.

“To be sure I would need to test with the hardware… but basically to run RaspiBlitz on the 400 should work—with an external SSD needed of course,” Christian Rotzoll, developer of RaspiBlitz, told Decrypt.

RaspiBlitz is a piece of software designed to help anyone run a Bitcoin node (or even a Lightning one too) on a Raspberry Pi. It requires a few extra pieces of hardware, including a 1 terabyte hard drive or solid state drive (SSD) that’s used to store the blockchain.

Rotzoll pointed out that the type of screen that attaches to the Raspberry Pi 3 can’t be attached to this newer model. This means the user must run the RaspiBlitz software in HDMI mode.

He suggested, however, that there are few advantages to using the Raspberry Pi 400 to run a full Bitcoin node. He said that the user might gain some operational security, or “opsec,” by using the keyboard instead of running the Pi remotely via a second laptop. But even if a user was that “paranoid” then they probably wouldn’t want to use a Raspberry Pi at all because it’s not 100% open hardware. This means that the designs of some of the parts are not made available to the public for analysis.

From Decrypt’s perspective, having struggled with the remote connection while getting RaspiBlitz to work on the Raspberry Pi 3, simply being able to use a keyboard would be a godsend.