RedBear (who previously ran a Kickstarter for a wifi-enabled Arduino-type board) have just launched their latest crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. This time, it is for an IoT add-on board for the Raspberry Pi that adds 802.11n wifi and Bluetooth 4.1 (Dual Mode). As you can see from the pictures above, it is roughly the same size as a Raspberry Pi Zero and is compatible with all versions of the Pi (although would be a little superfluous on the Pi 3!). Take a look at the video below or go to the campaign now. My opinion of the board is after the video.
They sent me a beta of their board to try out and, I have to say, it works marvellously. The instructions for use are very straight-forward. (I won’t detail them here as it may work differently when the finished product is finally ready and available). After a reboot, wifi networks were findable via the Pi desktop in the same way as a dongle.
I compared the wifi speed to that of the official Raspberry Pi Foundation dongle and found them to have almost identical performance. Browsing, likewise, was very similar (obviously) and I didn’t experience any drop-outs. Bluetooth was also easy to set-up and install (though had slightly more steps, but I’m sure they’ll fix this) and I was able to pair devices very easily. As I said before, this is a beta board (v0.3) but it works very well. I’ve been assured that the final device will be very similar to what I received, so I’m confident in saying that the product is of a high quality.
If you need these wireless capabilities for your Raspberry Pi and you don’t want to (or can’t) use a wifi/Bluetooth dongle, this is a great solution, especially for the low-footprint Raspberry Pi Zero.
You can see from their campaign page that it is very light power-wise running at just 230mA on a Zero.
From a technical standpoint, it uses the same Broadcom wifi/Bluetooth chip that is on the Raspberry Pi 3 so it shouldn’t be a surprise that it works well.
The board sells for $9 plus shipping (a very reasonable $5) and there are various add-ons to choose from such as an external antenna that you can plug in to the board to extend the range and a Bluetooth gaming controller. Overall, a very well thought-out campaign and firmly in the ‘affordable’ category. Good luck with the campaign, guys!
P.S. I know… it’s not a ‘HAT’.