It’s been a couple of weeks since I returned to the Pi, and I’m already seeing people using the same old default add-on boards all over the internet. Don’t get me wrong – they’re popular because they’re good quality, useful and affordable – but they don’t excite me.
What does excite me is when I find small batches of weird little wonders lurking in the dark, dingy alleyways of the internet. Odd little boards from different places, in different colours with different features.
They’re not mass-market, they’re not easy to find, and they’re usually not as cheap as mainstream options – but they are different – and that makes them interesting.
So, here we go average readers, a short list of some of the lesser-known oddities of the Pi add-on market that I’ve found. Enjoy!
These add-on boards can help you fly, kinda
Can we stop calling things ‘Berry’ please?! Lazy name aside, this board from ‘OzzMaker’ (even more cliché naming conventions being used here) rocks an accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, temperature sensor, GPS and a barometric sensor.
In a way it risks becoming one of those ‘do a million things’ add-on boards that I love to hate – on the other hand – it’s going to be very useful for someone creating a outdoorsy project, considering how these sensors and functions can be combined. Altitude, GPS, weather, velocity – feels like a project that would be used in the air, but I’m not sure what for yet.
I like how the cut-out allows free use of the remaining GPIO pins – it avoids any doubt over what’s used by the board. I’m also fascinated at how they got all this stuff on a tiny Zero sized PCB.
Available from OzzMaker.com for $62 AUD.
Anyone for a game of Track & Field? Click click click click faster FASTER FASTER!
This company came up on my Twitter feed a couple of days ago. Without that, I wouldn’t have heard of them – and that makes it all the more attractive.
I know what you’re thinking, we’ve seen this kind of thing before from some of the big names in the game. We have, but we haven’t seen it done in this simple way yet, and certainly not at this price. £4.80 is a steal, I almost felt guilty ordering it.
These guys currently sell just 2 products, which adds to that ‘small-batch rare stuff’ feel.
I’ve ordered one and it should be with me shortly, so expect a blog on it soon.
Available from WonkyResistor.com for £4.80.
If you can buy a boat, I guess you can afford this HAT?
Shut the front door! Have you seen the price of these add-on boards?! Imagine the damage you could do in Amsterdam with $138 in your pocket.
If you don’t fancy getting swervy in the Netherlands, this might be a better way to spend your money…if you also have a boat.
You see these bright blue add-on boards are designed for nautical folk. Using the OpenCPN navigation software and on-board modules, it turns your Pi into a full-blown chartplotter to navigate the seven seas. It’s sporting a GPS module as well as a compass, gyro, air pressure and humidity sensor, and even has a little amplifier on board to hook up to the boat’s loud-speaker, which is of course used to play Drum & Bass to fishermen when morale is low.
For power it accepts a boat’s 12V power supply whilst also acting as a UPS with a lithium battery, and if things go a bit ‘perfect storm‘, you can even charge your phone with the USB port to call Popeye for help.
It’s technically a steal as the manufacturer suggests that professional equivalents cost much more. Always trust the salesman right?
Available from Tindie for (gasp) $138.50
GeekWorm Smart Temperature Control Board
The Pi needs cooling? Cool story bro…
Does the Pi really need a cooling fan? We’ve had this debate before, but what most agree on is that fans look cool. They just do.
If you want to pimp up your python powered Pi, this cheeky Chinese number may just provide the ‘go faster stripes’ you desire.
Looks aside, it actually seems quite fun to play with. They’ve chucked a temperature sensor on the board so you can programme the fan’s speed depending on how hot it’s running. If you mess up the code and cook your Pi, you still learnt something right?
Another cool feature is its ability to take on power from 6-14V, which then feeds your Pi AND another external ‘thing’ like motors or servos.
Available at DX.com for £8.48
Pi Zero IoT Geiger Counter
Geiger counters – because you know it’s going to happen sooner or later
That cheeky North Korean leader with the itchy trigger finger isn’t going away any time soon, and neither is floppy-haired Trump, so we best prepare for all out nuclear war. Now, if you somehow manage to survive this, once the dust settles you’ll want to find somewhere to live with low radiation – and that’s where this board comes in.
OK it’s a bit of a weird one, but how interesting is this – a Raspberry Pi Geiger counter!
Preppers rejoice – the solution is here!
Available from Tindie for $89.95
Anavi InfraRed pHAT
You’re not cool if you’re not controlling your TV from a tiny computer…
Lost your TV remote? You could buy a replacement, sure, but what fun is that?
Instead, here’s an infrared add-on board that you can tune to almost any IR device – TVs, DVD players (if you still have one), air conditioning and more. Combine that with the ability to code around those controls and connect it to the internet, and you’ll have yourself the beginnings of a smart home.
Option 2 is to sit outside Currys with it and turn off all the display TVs. Your call.
Available at CrowdSupply from $16.
I can’t decide if it’s a thing of beauty or just ‘The Thing’
That’s a good looking case if I ever saw one
That’s a kick ass name isn’t it – the X5000. Feels like it should have been a Nerf gun or something.
SupTronics don’t hold back on their add-on boards, not one bit. This jumbo offering of black and gold is actually a DAC, a class-D amplifier and a subtle case to wrap it all in. Look a bit closer and you’ll also see that it’s sitting on a hard drive – they provide the interface board for that too. It’s just about mad enough to be desirable rather than ugly.
Available from SupTronics/DX for around £67.
That’s Enough Add-On Boards For One Day
That’s all folks. I promise I’ll share some code/projects soon, I’m just settling back in gently. Subscribe to be alerted of all new posts by email.
Want more? Read part 2 here!