I like the Raspberry Pi Zero quite a bit. Now that the V1.3 has a dedicated camera port, it’s even better. Compared to rivals, the $5 dollar Pi Zero has a lot more to offer… and that comes from the community and the support add-ons, or HATs in this case. Pi HATs have been around for a while, but there has been a wave of them designed with the Pi Zero footprint in mind. Here is a short list that take this able little board to even higher levels.
Add on boards give your Raspberry Pi multiple capabilities. The ZeroSeg gives it the ability to display whatever you want. It’s a display add-on board that works with either Raspberry Pi Zero or other Raspberry Pi models with 40 pins. Featuring two red seven segment display modules (4 digits each) and tactile buttons that control displays and brightness of the board, the ZeroSeg is meant to be easy to use.
The board is wired the same way as any generic seven segment modules. This lets you use existing libraries and code to easily work on Pi Zero projects with eight character displays. Or if you’re looking for new code, Github has a full code library and example scripts available to download. Why would you want to use these? Maybe a clock, temperature display, life expectancy countdown timer… whatever blows your hair back.
The ZeroSeg kit includes the following:
- 1x ZeroSeg PCB
- 1x 40-pin GPIO header
- 1x MAX7219CNG IC
- 1x 24-pin IC socket
- 2x 4-character 7-segment displays
- 2x Tactile switches
- 1x 100nF capacitor (labelled 104)
- 1x 10uF capacitor (labelled 106)
- 2x 10k resistors (color bands: brown/black/black/red/brown)
- 2x 1k resistors (color bands: brown/black/black/brown/brown)
- 1x 27k resistor (color bands: red/violet/black/red/brown)
If you’ve ever wanted to create motorized bots or cars using Raspberry Pi, this board’s got you covered. The MotoZero is a motor controller add-on that lets you control up to four motors independently. Not only does it look aesthetically pleasing, it’s also efficient and powerful. It’s meant to be easy to use; just plug in the Pi via USB and add the motor.
Similar to the other add-ons, the MotoZero works with Pi Zero along with other Raspberry Pi Models with 40 pins. It also protects itself from motor flyback voltage spikes with built-in flyback diodes in the controller chips. Few people consider this issue with motor control… motors are essentially little generators. It works with the GPIO Zero library for coding purposes and has larger terminal blocks to ensure stronger connections. And if you need any help with the MotoZero, a user guide filled with instructions, code examples, and motor selection advice is available for free online.
The MotoZero kit includes the following:
- MotoZero PCB
- 40-pin GPIO header
- 2x Motor driver chips
- 2x Motor driver sockets
- 5x Terminal blocks
- 1x capacitor
Enviro pHat is an add-on for Raspberry Pi that has four different sensors. These sensors provide different capabilities, such as measure temperature, pressure, light level, compass heading, and analog inputs to name a few. There are ten different variables in total giving the Envio pHAT a wide range of possibilities. If you’re looking to keep an eye on the house while you’re away or make sure raccoons aren’t rummaging through your garbage, this board is ideal for monitoring conditions. You can even use Flask to set up a web server to monitor from anywhere.
The Enviro pHAT has a BMP208 temperature/pressure sensor, TCS3472 light and RGB color sensor, LSM303D accelerometer/mangtometer sensor, and an ADS1015 4-channel 3.3v, analog to digital sensor (ADC). Similar to the aforementioned boards, this one works with any 40pin Raspberry Pi variants. See more about the Enviro pHAT after this link.
Ambient room condition monitor, is the first idea that comes to me.
The Envrio pHAT kit comes with:
Assembled Enviro pHAT PCB
- 2×20 0.1″ female GPIO header
- Male header for ADC pins
Micro Dot pHAT
The Micro Dot pHAT is another option if you’re looking for a display board for your Raspberry Pi. Unlike the ZeroSeg, the Micro Dot offers a retro LED matrix display. It features six LED matrices 5×7 pixels. The matrices come in a choice of green and red. With up to 30×7 pixels and the ability to drive up to 6x LTP-305 LED matrices, the Micro Dot pHAT can be used for a wide range of projects, like an old school clock or a display for your scrolling messages.
To make the board even more powerful, the Micro Dot pHAT works with other pHATS and HATS, such as the pHAT DAC and the previously mentioned Enviro pHAT. The Micro Dot pHAT kit includes a Micro Dot pHAT PCB and a 2×20 0.1” female GPIO header.
RasPiO Analog Zero
The RasPiO Analog Zero is an efficient board that allows you to add eight analog channels to your Raspberry Pi. So, what exactly can you do with the RasPiO Analog Zero? The various analog inputs give you a wide range of options, including digital thermometer, voltmeter, a huge amount of sensors and a weather station. It even allows you to read analog sensors and voltages. It’s also easy to code and no software installation needed. Since GPIO Zero is part of the standard Raspbian distribution, you don’t need to boot up software to get the RasPiO working. You can get straight to working on your projects rather than getting frustrated over the instructions.