How to start with Dev Kit?

Hi. Need more information.

  1. First - I read about Dev Kit to purchse…
    Does it include Els board and what more? Does we need additionaly to it buy Raspberry Pi 3B? Ot may be its included in box? Cant find this info
  2. What Elk kit do and can developers start without it - only with Raspberry?
    Its basically start info. Thank You. Start read manuals.


The Development Kit hardware is the Elk Board, and is shipped with the spacers and screws for attaching it to a Raspberry Pi. The kit does not come with a Raspberry Pi or other accessory.

The software component of the development kit comprises of many tools that you will find explained in our documentation:

Do note that the Elk Audio OS is meant to use with the Elk Board, and is of little use on an RPi which does not have an Elk Board attached.

Thank you for your interest!

Ilias Bergström

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What exactly is the Elk Board? Is it the pi-hat (Sika?), for which the doc is presented here: ? Or is the Elk Board capable of running standalone?
In the development boards overview you also list a few other platforms you worked with. Are they based on the same concept of extending the controller and the audio CODEC or did you include an SoC in one of those as well?

Thanks in advance!

Hi, yes indeed, it’s the Pi hat, also called Sika earlier!

It doesn’t run standalone, you need a Raspberry Pi 3B/3B+ at the time of writing, with support for the Pi 4 coming as soon as possible, but most likely early next year rather than now in December.

The open-source release of Elk is for the RPi only, while we do have solutions for other platforms, these are closed-source only.

Ilias B.

For completeness, could you say which platforms are supported, even if closed source? Just curious to know what the “upgrade” path is, say perchance a DIY maker hits the CPU limit posed by the RPi.

Are there ARM Cortex boards for example?

Is there an ELK build that works as a generic Linux distro for pretty much any SBC?


I am not one of the team and simply commenting from my own research and experience in this. Theoretically you can probably compile for any cortex board, there will probably be modifications needed though from board to board.

The main limitation when switching boards will be audio i/o, the Elk Hat is a very cool bit of kit and from my research which I have been doing for over a year getting multiple audio ins and outs working on the PI and most other boards requires a fair bit of engineering due to the general lack of I2S pins on common SBC’s. I think the only board that can handle multiple ins and outs without some sort of TDM multiplexing at this time is the Beagle, however it is quite under powered compared to the Pi.

The ELK Hat looks like it has an FPGA onboard to efficiently handle TDM (Basically squeezing multiple channels of audio down one I2S bus)

I am sure more hardware will start appearing pretty quickly now that the seal is broken so to speak.

Just my 2 cents.

I seem to recall that the open source license is limited to Raspberry PI.

Can someone confirm this?


the CPUs supported are for other versions of Elk are:

  • Intel Atom Cherry Trail X5-Z8350
  • NXP i.MX7d
  • NXP i.MX8M Mini
  • Raspberry Pi 3B / 3B+

Yes, the NXP i.MX* and the Broadcom on the RPi are all SOCs with Cortex-A cores.

No, and it will probably never be. We try as hard to support various SOCs and CODEC combination but it is basically impossible to have a distro that will work on “pretty much any SBC” given the amount of customization required for something like Elk.

At the moment, yes, I can confirm.

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Thanks for the info.

Guess we’ll see if people hit limits with the RPi3. Circuit modelled VSTs will find it hardest to be performant on a RPi3 or 4, especially if they have been used to >3GHz Intel i7s as a backdrop. I guess sticking 2x RPis side by side is the obvious solution - cluster boards are out there for precisely this purpose.

Hi! I’ve received my Pi Hat (thanks!), and noticed a few differences from the getting started instructions.

  1. There is no heat sink in the package
  2. There are no female-female spacers
  3. There are medium sized spacers and large sized spacers and screws
  4. There is a printed “plate”
  5. There are 4 plastic “feet”

A. Should I get other heat sinks and apply those to the RPi board?

B. I am assuming that the “plate” should be used as a base, and that the RPi will be “sandwiched” between the plate and the Pi Hat. The larger spacers would be placed between the plate and the Pi Hat. Is that correct?

C. The feet would be mounted to the bottom of the plate. Correct?

Are there any other corrections to the assembly instructions?

Hi @rcohen,
thanks for posting.

I think that guide was prepared for the previous batch of boards and not fully updated, we’ll look into it ASAP. Here at Elk I am notoriously the worst regarding stuff like screws or anything that exists “in the real world” :slight_smile: but from what I know:

The heatsink goes on the Raspberry Pi, not on the Elk Pi hat and that’s why is not included in the kit. It’s not strictly necessary but highly recommended especially if you want to run non-trivial loads.

You can check this video for an overview of the process.

Hi Stefano,

Thanks for the reply! I checked out the Facebook video. It runs at hyper speed! Anyway, it appears that I guessed correctly for my question “B”. The only inconvenience is changing out the SD card, which is difficult without removing the bottom plate.

I also applied 2 heat sinks to the RPi, one to the CPU and a 2nd to the Ethernet/USB controller. These were supplied together so I figured that I should attach both.

Take care,

  • Rick

Hi @rcohen!

Thanks for the feedback. We did quite few tests in order to choose the right size for the spacers in order to have a good compromise for accessing the SD card and having a compact size for carrying it around. In our experience when you get used to access the sd card with the plate mounted then it became easier, otherwise the easy fix is either to not mounting the back plate at all and using the spacers are “feet”, or just getting taller spacers. Keep us posted if you find a cool solution!:slight_smile:

Hello @Michele,

One nice thing about the size: The assembled system fits inside the cardboard Elk RPi box!

If there is a vendor that already makes an RPi case which can fit the assembled system, please let us know about it.


  • Rick