It just keeps going. Our favorite fruity mini computer, the Raspberry Pi, can’t seem to stop; there is always something new, something very useful to play with and new ways to teach kids and newbies about computers.

Forget about TFT displays and barometric sensors These five extensions will change the way you use your Raspberry Pi and teach you something along the way…

What can you do with a capacitive touch helmet?

HAT is a Raspberry Pi extension that sits on top of the GPIO. ; it is an abbreviation for «Hardware mount on top». Capacitive Touch Hat Adafruit adds 12 capacitive touch sensors to the Pi, which will detect when one of the sensor electrodes is touched and react accordingly.


Of course, the possibilities go beyond creating a set of fruit drums in Python. Capacitive touch is widely used in smartphones and tablets, so you can use this hardware to design projects that respond in a variety of ways, from alarms to human interface devices and beyond.

In terms of design, this HAT is really well planned as the 12 sensors have 8 shaped holes perfect for attaching alligator clips. Touch panels must be electrically conductive or filled with water.

This kit is very affordable for just $20 (£14) and can be ordered from Adafruit or Amazon.

CamJam EduKit 3 — Robotics

Perhaps a must-have extension for anyone interested in robotics, CamJam EduKit 3 is ridiculously affordable. Available through Pi Hut, for less than $30 (about £17) you can buy a kit that includes two motors, two wheels, a third «wheel» bearing, a battery, a GPIO expansion box, and a sensor to control your blackline robot. .

Programming the robot — to which you must add your own chassis (perhaps something built from Lego or even a CamJam EduKit 3 box!) — is via Python, and the instructions are provided as worksheets on the CamJam website.

This is a great project for kids to get involved with and depending on their age they might be interested in building a robot or even typing a Python script.

Other robotics kits are available for the Raspberry Pi. We previously looked at PiBorg PicoBorg Reverse improvements for example.

Safe Shutdown with UPS

The PIco HAT UPS provides uninterruptible power technology for the Raspberry Pi! This means your Pi will never be force-shutdown during a power outage thanks to the LiPO battery on 300 mAh which helps with controlled shutdown (this basic version only costs $35 or $19.99 on ModMyPi).

For use during extended power outages, you may prefer a LiPO battery with a capacity of 3000 mAh which can be added for around $30 (£14.99) and provides up to 8 hours.

The Pico UPS operates by detecting a power failure and instantly bringing the battery online to continue use or manage a normal shutdown. Similarly, when voltage is restored, the HAT detects this and switches back to the mains.

For a free/budget solution, you can build your own portable power supply. ; although it won’t be a good UPS, the Pi will run on battery power.

Chip for Raspberry Pi

CHIP is not exactly a moving robot CamJam EduKit 3, however, an interesting option if you are using a Raspberry Pi to get your kids interested in computing. The CHIP belongs to the Pixel Pals series and is easy to assemble. In the box you will receive a cut out chip, two LEDs, two resistors and a board for mounting the chip on a GPIO array.

Here is a review of Pixel Pals:

The Pixel Pals CHIP for Raspberry Pi is only $20 (£12) from Adafruit. An Arduino-compatible version of CHIP is also available.

Control servos with Raspberry Pi

There is only one PWM (pulse width modulation) on the Raspberry Pi, so if you want to build a robotic arm or maybe smart home projects, you will need the Pi’s PWM HAT extension, a device that makes it possible to control up to 16 servos.

If 16 isn’t enough, in the meantime this HAT is stackable, which means you can connect two and control 32 servos…or even add 62 of them together to control a maximum of 992 servos (which should open and close a lot of curtains). ,

Note that you will have to use your own servos to use them with Adafruit’s 16-channel PWM/Servo-HAT, which will set you back around $20 (GBP 16).

Just like the Raspberry Pi itself, what you can do with these extensions is only limited by your imagination. Do you have a favorite extension, add-on or component that you use with your Raspberry Pi? Tell us about it in the comments!

Image Credits: Super Hero Tomacco via Shutterstock

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