The best Raspberry Pi accessories and alternatives for 2021

On the lookout for the proper present for the maker or tinkerer in your life? These concepts go nice with robotics, sensing, IoT computing and extra.


Picture: Raspberry Pi

I doubt everybody will agree with me, however I believe the Raspberry Pi is without doubt one of the most vital computing gadgets lately. These pocket-sized, open-source and dirt-cheap computer systems have made tinkering and prototyping new merchandise simpler than ever earlier than, opening the world of computing to individuals in every single place.

Adults and youngsters alike can profit from tinkering with a Raspberry Pi — there are numerous issues to study, tons of {hardware} with thrilling options so as to add to your Pi and an inventory of tasks solely restricted by one’s creativeness. 

SEE: Energy guidelines: Troubleshooting onerous drive failures (TechRepublic Premium)

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Creativeness and actuality are very separate beasts, and generally getting began with a brand new Raspberry Pi might be daunting, as can arising with new Pi tasks for extra superior customers. This record is designed to assist treatment that. In it you will discover new doable merchandise and Pi add-ons that may make it easier to get began in addition to transfer on to extra superior stuff.

Your Pi wants a display screen


The 7″ Raspberry Pi touchscreen from Adafruit, solely certainly one of many choices.

Picture: Adafruit

I ordered my first Raspberry Pi and not using a display screen, considering that I would be content material to simply distant in to view my desktop or ship instructions. As soon as I began constructing dashboards and programming sensors to gather knowledge I noticed I needed to see what my Pi was doing while not having a separate pc, so I wanted a show. 

You might have choices in terms of screens for Raspberry Pi, and I would suggest two important components for a superb Raspberry Pi show: Contact functionality and {hardware} buttons. The buttons might be programmed to do something you need, like launch a sure app, show an on-screen keyboard or the rest chances are you’ll want it to do this you are capable of write code for. 

Your Pi additionally wants a case


The official Raspberry Pi 4 case.

Picture: Adafruit

The Raspberry Pi is offered with none housing, so should you plan on your unit to be anyplace however in a secure, static-free surroundings it is vital to guard it. There are numerous circumstances to select from, and a few could not suit your undertaking, significantly should you plan to connect exterior parts. 

Choices embody a case particularly for the 7″ touchscreen featured above, ones for older Pi fashions and an official one for the Pi 4. Different circumstances, like ones that permit entry to the GPIO and POE pins, might be discovered as effectively. 

Robotics tasks would require a servo hat


A Raspberry Pi servo hat with hooked up gadgets.

Picture: Adafruit

Hats, or {Hardware} Connected on High, are add-on boards that connect to a Raspberry Pi through its 40-pin normal function input-output (GPIO) port. They arrive in quite a lot of flavors to go well with particular functions, and on this case the hat in query is for controlling servos, one thing {that a} common Raspberry Pi struggles with.

If you happen to’re planning on doing a robotics undertaking, or the rest associated to movement management, you will want certainly one of these 16-channel PWM/Servo hats, in addition to a 5V energy provide, which is not included. 

Specifically-designed tasks require good prototyping


The Perma-Proto Raspberry Pi hat.

Picture: Adafruit

Adafruit sells one other hat that’s an absolute necessity for anybody planning to experiment with constructing their very own circuits, bits or boards: A everlasting prototyping board that attaches on to the Raspberry Pi’s GPIO port. 

The perma-proto hat needs to be soldered on to your Pi’s GPIO, so be certain you are ready for that added bit of labor. As soon as hooked up, you’ll be able to proceed to solder to your coronary heart’s content material and construct implausible issues. This is a tip: If you would like one, it can save you a couple of bucks by maintaining a tally of Adafruit’s freebie provides, the place they’re going to usually throw in certainly one of these (that is how I bought mine) as soon as you purchase a certain quantity of stuff, which may be very simple to do.

Get some STEMMA stuff


Two gadgets related to one another with a STEMMA QT cable, and to an off-screen Raspberry Pi through USB.

Picture: Adafruit

I bought into tinkering with Raspberry Pis as a result of I like bodily computing, particularly environmental sensors. I’ve bought a bunch: A GPS sensor, gasoline sensor, magnetometer, UV sensor and extra, and I made positive all of them got here with a sure kind of connector that makes constructing easy tasks and conducting experiments a snap: STEMMA QT ports.

SEE: Keyboard troubleshooting information (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

STEMMA, and it is tinier STEMMA QT counterpart, is a complete class of plug-and-play gadgets that makes use of grove-compatible connectors, and has built-in voltage regulators to stop accidents or injury to your {hardware}. I extremely suggest STEMMA sensors and parts for Raspberry Pi tinkerers, particularly those that are new to programming and circuitry. They remove the necessity to solder, thus saving time for the extra thrilling means of writing code and getting your sensors to work.

Go wi-fi with Bluetooth


The Bluefruit BLE module from Adafruit.

Picture: Adafruit

One of many drawbacks of getting a Raspberry Pi unit is controlling it: You both must discover a option to connect exterior {hardware}, embody a small contact show or distant in. Any of these choices might be inconvenient at the very best of occasions, which is why including Bluetooth capabilities to your Pi undertaking might be so useful.

Adafruit’s Bluefruit low power module is what you want if you’d like Bluetooth in your Pi, and it comes with some neat options, like an iOS and Android app from Adafruit that makes interfacing with the BLE module a snap. Different performance is feasible as effectively, like utilizing the BLE to show a Pi right into a coronary heart fee monitor.

The Seeed Wio terminal: An ideal not-Pi


The Seeed Wio terminal, a microcontroller with a display screen, buttons and ports constructed proper in. 

Picture: Adafruit

The miniscule Seeed Wio terminal is a tiny little display screen with a built-in Arduino, in addition to a joystick, three programmable buttons, two multi-function Grove ports and a 40-pin GPIO port for attaching it to a Raspberry Pi, or Wio modules just like the 650 mAh battery.

Whereas not a Raspberry Pi, I’ve learn critiques that describe it as “the final microcontroller you will ever personal,” and with good cause: It helps Circuit Python, so you do not even must know easy methods to code for an Arduino to make use of it. I am going to comfortably say the very same factor: It is the one microcontroller I am going to each purchase.

I personal one, and the battery pack, and it now acts as my main system for my STEMMA sensors and different experiments I run that require a small, standalone system that may simply take my code and run it with out subject. One factor to notice, although: The Wio would not help an working system like a Raspberry Pi. It is going to merely run the Arduino or Circuit Python code you drop on it, which means it isn’t a full-fledged pc. If you happen to’re on the lookout for a bit of {hardware} that can merely run a Python script or log knowledge from sensors, this lite man is ideal.  

Get your self some spare wires


A 120-count pack of single pin wires that you will want for Pi tasks.

Picture: Amazon

If you are going to be enjoying round with a Raspberry Pi or certainly one of its relations just like the Seeed Wio, and any peripherals, you are going to want some further wires. The extra you purchase the less you will want if you’re in the course of a undertaking, so do not hesitate to purchase in bulk.

A pack like this 120-count of one-pin breadboard wires will do the trick; you’ll be able to even separate particular person wires and splice them onto Grove connectors or different attachment factors if wanted (I’ve achieved it). This pack additionally is available in three varieties for all of your wants: Male-male, male-female, and female-female.

You want batteries if that Pi goes to maneuver


A 6,600 mAh battery pack for the Raspberry Pi.

Picture: Adafruit

Some Pi tasks are easy: You assemble the {hardware}, deploy the code, take a look at, arrange and neglect. In different circumstances that is not doable: Chances are you’ll want a Pi that may be remotely deployed or that’s moveable. For that you will want a battery.

Numerous completely different battery energy provides can be found for the Raspberry Pi, and one thing good about them: They’re low cost. With worth not an enormous subject, why not go for a 6,600 mAh battery that’ll final for a superb lengthy whereas? Your undertaking, nevertheless distant it could be, will thanks.

You want a recipe ebook


Picture: O’Reilly

Baking a superb Pi(e) is not actually doable and not using a strong cookbook, which is the place O’Reilly’s Raspberry Pi Cookbook by Simon Monk is available in. It is greater than 400 pages of ideas, tutorials, tasks and fundamentals which might be nice for a Pi newbie all the way in which as much as an knowledgeable in want of a helpful reference ebook. 

The Pi Cookbook additionally comes with a large part on coding with Python that begins with the fundamentals, making it an actual one-stop reference store for Raspberry Pi fanatics. 

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