Tag Archives: Raspberry Pi HAT

Sense HAT is an add-on board for the Raspberry Pi

This Raspberry Pi HAT features an 8×8 RGB LED matrix, a five-button joystick and a number of sensors. 

The Sense HAT is a sensor-laden, add-on board for the Raspberry Pi that will soon be headed into space as part of the Astro Pi mission.


For those familiar with the initiative, Astro Pi is a collaboration between Raspberry Pi, British astronaut Tim Peake, UK Space and the European Space Agency that was formed to offer students a chance to devise their own experiments and run them in space. In December, a pair of RPi computers will be connected to a new Astro Pi board and sent to the International Space Station. During the mission, the astronaut will deploy the units in a variety of locations onboard the ISS, load up the winning codes while in orbit, set them running, collect the data generated and then download this to Earth where it will be distributed.

As for the Sense HAT, the board is packed with a gyroscope, an accelerometer, a magnetometer, a temperature sensor, a barometric pressure sensor and a humidity sensor, as well as a five-button joystick and an 8×8 RGB LED matrix — all powered by an LED driver chip and an ATTiny88 MCU running custom firmware. By attaching the board to your Pi’s GPIO pins, Makers can use the integrated circuit-based sensors for any number of experiments, apps and games. Raspberry Pi has also devised a Python library for easy access to everything on the HAT.

“The Sense HAT was originally developed around James Adams’ idea to make a cool toy-style board that showed off just how much you could do with your average modern MEMS gyroscope, 64 RGB LEDs and some Atmel microcontroller hackery,” the team writes. “Somewhere between prototype and production, it seems to have attracted extra features like a pressure sensor, a humidity/temperature sensor and a teeny joystick.”


The LED matrix will provide a feedback mechanism and enhanced interactivity for astronaut Tim Peake when he’s tasked with deploying the Astro Pi board on the ISS. One of the winning entries – Reaction Games – has even programmed a whole suite of joypad-operated games played via the LED matrix. According to the Raspberry Pi crew, Snake is hilarious on an 8×8 screen!

“The Atmel [MCU] is responsible for sampling the joystick. We didn’t have enough pins left on the Atmel to dedicate the five that we needed to sample the joystick axes independently, so they’ve been spliced into the LED matrix row selects. The joystick gets updated at approximately 80Hz, which is the scan rate of the LED matrix,” its creators explain. “All of the sensors (and the base firmware for the Atmel) are accessible from the Pi over I2C. As a fun bonus mode, the SPI peripheral on the Atmel has been hooked up to the Pi’s SPI interface – you can reprogram your HAT in the field!”

Intrigued? Head over to the Raspberry Pi blog, where you will find an elaborate log of the Astro Pi mission.

This HAT is bringing Power over Ethernet to your Raspberry Pi

You can now power your Raspberry Pi and provide an Ethernet connection in any location with just a single cable.

Power over Ethernet (PoE) is nothing new. In fact, this method of transmitting data and electricity has been used for quite some time by devices like computers, IP telephones, web severs and throughout the music industry. Now, one startup is looking to bring the standard to the Rasbperry Pi. The idea was first conceived as a DIY kit for the Model B, but eventually transcended into a fully-assembled, plug-and-play system that gives Makers an innovative way to reduce wire clutter and manage power.


The brainchild of Pi Supply, who has launched other successful crowdfunding campaigns like the PaPiRus and the Pi Supply Switch, the Pi PoE Switch HAT is an snap-on accessory that provides Makers with an Ethernet connection and the ability to easily power their Pi from any location with just a single cable, making it ideal for use in remote areas.

“The Pi Supply Switch was our very first Kickstarter project which we launched way back in February 2013 and has been extremely popular with our customers,” the London-based startup writes. “Since then we have had a number of requests to make all sorts of power management add ons for the Raspberry Pi, but the most intriguing of these was a Power over Ethernet switch.”


Based on an ATtiny13A MCU, Pi PoE includes a configurable on/off switch for intelligent power management, open GPIO pins for other expansion boards, a fully-isolated switched-mode power supply (1500V isolation input to output), as well as overload, short circuit and temperature protection. In addition, the 802.3af-compliant HAT contains physical layer power negotiation circuitry, presenting itself as a Class 0 device.

The Switch HAT offers power to the Pi via its GPIO pins and sends an Ethernet connection using a patch cable. This opens the door to endless possibilities for projects, ranging from garden monitoring and surveillance systems to web servers and media centers. Aside from being solder-free, another nice Maker-friendly feature of the Pi PoE is that it doesn’t require any software. Meaning, it’s ready for action right out of the box. Moving ahead, the Pi Supply team even has plans to introduce some scripts and guides to help implement the configurable on-board button and harness the unused power of the versatile tinyAVR MCU.


Looking for a great alternative to USB for your next Raspberry Pi gadget? Head over to its Kickstarter campaign page, where Pi Supply is currently seeking $15,476. Delivery is expected to begin in August 2015.

Ardhat is a Raspberry Pi-compatible HAT for Makers

Ardhat is the missing link that connects the Raspberry Pi with the real world.

After migrating from an Arduino to a Raspberry Pi, Maker Jonathan Peace discovered that there were still some things that he just couldn’t do with a barebones Unix platform. In search of a way to help alleviate this problem, Ardhat was born.


Billed as the “missing link that connects the Raspberry Pi with the real world,” Ardhat embeds an Arduino-compatible MCU (ATmega328P) in a Raspberry Pi-compatible HAT, which responds quickly to real-time events while letting the Pi do all of the heavy lifting.

For those unfamiliar with HATs, or Hardware Attached on Top, the Raspberry Pi B+ had been designed specifically with add-on boards in mind that conform to a specific set of rules that make life easier for users. A significant feature of HATs is the inclusion of a system that allows the B+ to identify a connected HAT and automatically configure the GPIOs and drivers for the board.

“Ardhat adds the environmental protection and awareness, real-time performance, and low-power operation that a real world system needs. In a super-compact Raspberry Pi compatible HAT, Ardhat protects and enhances the Raspberry Pi for real applications, and is accessible to everyone that has used an Arduino,” Peace writes.


The Ardhat comes in four different models — two equipped with long-range radio modules, the other two without. Each unit is packed with analog sensors, a real-time clock, user interface controls, supply monitoring, 5V Arduino shield capability, a wide operating voltage range (including automotive), high-current outputs for driving peripherals and full power/sleep management — all of which are accessible from either the Raspberry Pi or the Ardhat’s on-board AVR chip. Makers looking for a little more oomph can also choose between the Ardhat-I and Ardhat-W. The first adds a 10-DOF inertial measurement unit, while the latter boasts a long-range ISM wireless node (with up to 15km range) to make it IoT ready right out of the box.

Not only does it accept most Arduino shields, the Ardhat sports a ‘FlatTop’ design which leaves plenty of space for any battery or a prototyping board. It even comes with an optional tailored high-capacity 1800mAh battery that plugs directly into the standard JST connector and fits snugly between the shield headers of the flattop board design.


Ardhat’s smart power management features a power switch and charge control, and enables a Raspberry Pi to run on real world power supplies, ranging from automotive to LiPo batteries, for months. This allows the HAT to connect to and drive 5V systems like servos, quadcopters and smart LEDs.

The Ardhat doesn’t just protect the Raspberry Pi from external voltage spikes and power outages, an optional laser-cut perspex ‘TopHat’ enclosure can physically safeguard it as well. However, Makers can still gain access to the Arduino shield pins for experimenting and teaching purposes, without the danger of damaging the delicate circuitry of the Raspberry Pi circuit board.


In true Maker fashion, Ardhat’s scheduler and applications are entirely open-source. Though its real-time software is supplied as a preloaded sketch, Makers can modify and update it as they wish using the Arduino IDE.

So whatever you’re building, whether it’s a self-balancing robot, an IoT gateway or a mind-blowing light show, Ardhat has you covered. Those wishing to learn more can head over to its official Kickstarter page, where the ubIQio team is currently seeking £25,000. Shipment is expected to begin in August 2015.

CoPiino is a credit card-sized adapter board that combines both Arduino and Pi

A new shield is bringing together the dynamic duo of Arduino and Raspberry Pi.

Maker Steven Spence has recently unveiled the CoPiino, an ATmega1284 based adapter board for the Raspberry Pi that enables remote editing and uploading of Arduino sketches using a web browser. The symbiotic, credit card-sized shield combines the connectivity of the Pi with the real-time performance of the on-board AVR MCU.


CoPiino is not only designed to cooperate with Raspberry Pi and interface to Arduino shields, but is compatible with official shield libraries as well, such as the the Motor Shield, Proto Shield, Voice Shield, LCD Shield, among a number of others.


Users can access the CoPiino app running on the Pi with a web browser to edit and upload new sketches, before transferring sensor data from the CoPiino to the Pi for display by the Apache Web Server. This is then stored by the MySQL server running on the Pi.


The adapter board can be programmed through any Internet-enabled device, including a PC, tablet or smartphone. Direct ISP flashing makes the use of a bootloader obsolete, which saves memory space, eases the upgrade process, and doesn’t block serial communication channels. The “HAT-like” shield is also equipped with an external battery pack and a USB Wi-Fi dongle, thereby becoming an ideal companion for mobile platforms that can be updated instantaneously. This enables Makers to create a number of projects, like self-balancing or roving Wi-Fi robots.


Using the CoPiino, users can join local Wi-Fi networks, create Wi-Fi access points, or affix a USB or Pi camera onto the platform to stream a first-person-view to any connected device. Intrigued? You can learn all about the CoPiino on its official page here.