With the release of androidthings, Pimoroni really upped the HAT game, designing a board with a range of displays sensors and sound to utilise all the features of the androidthings package. This review will be specifically focusing on use with Raspbian.
So what is it?
The Rainbow Hat is a collection of components, forming a very busy HAT for the Raspberry Pi, released for the use of androidthings. It features 7 Multi-colour LED’s, four 14-segment alphanumeric displays, three capacitive touch buttons, a temperature and pressure sensor, piezo buzzer and handy breakout pins, making it very accessible for the use of jumper wires, extending the use of the hat.
At a Glance
Initially, it is very clear to see, the sheer number of components packed into such a tiny board. Both the front and rear of the board are full, really emphasising the range of abilities and features the HAT really has. The level of detail which has gone into the silkscreen of the board is amazing, with handy pinout’s and I2C addresses, as well as some nice graphics surrounding the 7 LED’s enabling the HAT to easily be used as a barometer. The seven LED’s are nicely placed in a rainbow shape, continuing with the weather style theme, which can easily be adapted to suit your needs on the board. One nicely thought feature is the centre point to the LED’s, making it easier to display graphs. This is something not a lot of other lighting boards incorporate, usually using an even number of LED’s, and making it hard to add a centre point to projects. The alphanumeric display is a little on the chunky side, making it a little bit harder to access the capacitive touch buttons for people with larger fingers, however this is something to be expected from such a compact board.
Software & Support
Alike all Pimoroni products, the software and support is fantastic, with a simple one line installer or using there Pimoroni dashboard, a simple graphical interface to allow you to install both the libraries and examples making it much easier for beginners to get their hat up and running. The python Library is very simple, with relevant functions to enable you to easily control individual elements of the hat. This is all installed during the software install, so it really is a very quick process to install. Another amazing feature of this product is the Pimoroni support, with the Pimoroni forums offering assistance through members of the staff and community, as well as a dedicated email address for additional product support.
To conclude, I feel the rainbow hat is a great all round HAT, for all experience levels, offering a reasonably priced add on (just £24) with a range of functionality. I think this piece of hardware could be used for countless projects and I am looking forward to investigating the what androidthings has to offer!