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Tiny Blender Setup on a Raspberry Pi Zero

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Today Daan from BluePixelAnimations shared this mindblowingly small Blender setup on a Raspberry Pi Zero. It has everything you need to run Blender - and even render in Cycles. Speed, however, is another matter ;-)

My name is Daan, or on Twitter you will find me as BluePixelAnimations. I recently bought myself a Raspberry Pi Zero. I was hoping I would be able to run Blender on it. I had no intention of actually using it, as I already thought it wouldn’t run smoothly at all. Though, I am a weird guy, so I still wanted to try it out!

I knew that the Pi Zero had no WiFi and/or BlueTooth built in, so I already had a problem there. I could boot it up in a so called “headless mode” and then install Blender without using an internet connection, but I had no idea how to do that.

So I bought myself ANOTHER Raspberry Pi Zero W (This time, the one with WiFi and BlueTooth built-in, which made the installation a hundred times easier). I installed Raspbian using some really great software called NOOBS. It went seamlessly. I didn’t expect the OS to run this smoothly! Booting up takes about 1 minute. I hated the fact that I always needed a monitor in order to use it, so I found a cheap 1.54inch LCD on AliExpress (I will put a link to it below). I installed the drivers and I had a portable screen. It is built for the pi zero w, so it fits really well. It was advertised as an LCD with touchscreen, but I haven’t really found a way yet to make the touch functionality work. :/

Then, I installed Blender. I think it took 25 minutes to install. Once installed, I rebooted the Pi and tried to start Blender. The first time it took around 10 minutes to start Blender, but when I start it now, it’s much faster. I got into the User Preferences and changed the display size because the buttons were all over the place due to the small display. Navigating around is an absolute nightmare, and I wouldn’t recommend using it in serious cases at all. You need to hover above a button for about 5 seconds in order to be able to click on it. This is why it took me about 15 minutes to change the display size :P.

Finally, Rendering. First I tried rendering the basic cube using the Blender Internal rendering engine. To my surprise, it only took ~10s to render a single frame! 😃 However, cycles was a lot more demanding to use. It took 12 minutes and 29 seconds to render a 1080p frame rendered at 50% resolution, only at 32 samples. I wouldn’t use this thing as a render device, since it’s so incredibly slow, but it’s still fun to try out.

So that’s basically what I did! I hope this is the information you wanted! Feel free to ask questions if you have :)

With kind regards,
Daan, aka BluePixelAnimations
The Netherlands

About Author

Bart Veldhuizen

I have a LONG history with Blender - I wrote some of the earliest Blender tutorials, worked for Not a Number and helped run the crowdfunding campaign that open sourced Blender (the first one on the internet!). I founded BlenderNation in 2006 and have been editing it every single day since then ;-) I also run the Blender Artists forum and I'm Head of Community at Sketchfab.

9 Comments

  1. This could open up a whole new class of users in Blender - very small insects and perhaps colonies of bacteria.

    It made my day - thanks!

  2. As you are running 2.79: Could you try to run the BGE with a simple rotating cube and see what FPS this little thing is able to achieve?

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