It’s around this time of year that I take a look at lots of Raspberry Pi stores and pick out a few things for the Pi-lover in your life. This year, of course, Raspberry Pi Pod has broadened out and added the micro:bit, so there will be some of that as well!
Last year, I split it up into sections. I’ll do the same this year, but this time looking at retailers. Let’s start off with…
The Sheffield-based company that everybody loves.
This year, they’ve concentrated a lot on their Breakout Garden family of products. Their great base boards (both HATs and smaller varieties) allow you to connect up various different sensor boards, inputs and screens, just by inserting them into the slots.
Recently, they added the GPS board you can see above but I also love the little colour screen next to it. Just make sure when you’re buying that you get the right combination of I2C and SPI devices – they are different, as you can see! The base boards and the sensors are not the cheapest you’ll find (actually, the GPS one is pretty darned close!) but they are of very high quality, all come with software libraries and are hours of fun to plug in, in different combinations.
Also on my RADAR is their newest, just-released product, the Inky Impression. This is a 7-colour, 5.7″ e-ink display.
At £66, it’s not a frivilous purchase, and with a refresh rate of 15 seconds for the full screen at full-colour, it’s not the speediest thing in the world, so you’ll have to have a product in mind for it. I quite like the idea of doing a weather clock with it, but I’ll leave that to my good friend, Tim Richardson, who does that kind of thing in his sleep!
The pirates of Sheffield also carry a nice range of micro:bit gadgets…
My favourite is the enviro:bit (above) which adds more sensors to the microcontroller board.
Probably the largest Pi retailer, The Pi Hut has been around since the beginning and has a large range across Raspberry Pi, micro:bit and general maker-y-type umm stuff.
With the recent release of the Raspberry Pi 400, The Pi Hut, being one of the official resellers (along with Pimoroni) of course has the basic unit and also the full kit, containing everything you need apart from a screen. They also do this nifty sleeve to keep the Pi 400 in, you just have to be lucky to find it in stock (although I do believe they’re expecting more in imminently, so sign up to be notified!).
They also have a very nice collection of lenses for the new-ish Raspberry Pi HQ camera.
If you want something a bit different for the enthusiast in your life, you might find a lot of value in the hackable Bangle watch, also available from The Pi Hut.
On the micro:bit front, The Pi Hut has a lot of stock from various suppliers, including Kitronik, 4tronix and ElecFreaks. I’m particularly impressed with Jamie & co taking on the MonkMakes range including this cute little servo controller board:
Basically, if you want to get a lot of smaller bits from multiple different manufacturers, The Pi Hut is a great place to shop.
Robotics specialist Gareth, over at 4tronix, always has something different to offer. At the moment, the jewel in the crown, in my opinion, is the M.A.R.S. Rover Robot.
It started out just as a micro:bit product, but Gareth has now converted it to be used with the Raspberry Pi Zero. It costs £120 (inc VAT), so it’s not cheap, but you get a lot for your money, including a chassis made out of the PCBs. Take a look here.
My good friend Alex Eames has got some lovely products in his web shop including…
… the brilliant Pro HAT which brings out all the GPIO pins, in order, to female headers with a convenient breadboard in the middle. He also brings out the GPIO pins again to an unpopulated header, giving you lots of options when connecting things up into a temporary or permanent project. Also on his site is…
… an Arduino-compatible Night Light that comes as a kit, giving you an hour or so’s fun with your soldering iron and then letting you program it yourself, if you so wish. I have two in use at home, and they’re great fun and very useful!
Neil Lambeth might only have one product so far (this not being his full-time job!) but it is incredibly impressive, not to mention useful…
The RedBoard+ is the retail iteration of his RedBoard robotics board. It is ideal for pretty much any robotics project where you want to use a HAT on a Raspberry Pi. It takes a wide range of power inputs and allows you to control 2 sets of DC motors and up to 12 hobby servos! It’s full of little features, too, like the broken-out I2C pins. Take a look here.
Their current big offering is their LoRa range, which is all about transmitting small packets of data over a long distance.
There are node boards for the Raspberry Pi and for the micro:bit and, of course, there are Gateways too to receive your messages. LoRa is fairly specialist, but it’s ideal for Internet of Things applications.
Based in Nottingham, Kitronik is a great site for makers. They have all kinds of things on their site, from e-textiles to maker materials such as 3D printer filament or Perspex sheets. They also have an extensive in-house micro:bit range including
the Zip Halo which gives you a circle of super-bright LEDs to play with.
Here are a couple of campaigns that you might want to back for an “alternative gift”.
The first is from Andrew Gale (who has run several Kickstarters before and has always delivered). It is a four-month Soldering Subscription package with four soldering project kits delivered to you on a month-by-month basis. There are a couple of options – you can choose for your first month’s kit to be a Christmas tree that will plug into the new Raspberry Pi 400 so it stands up, and there is also a surface-mount option for those who like a bit more of a challenge. Checkout the campaign here and view the campaign video below:
Another one that’s come to my attention is the new campaign from the CodeBug team:
The CodeBug Connect is an updated version of their previous board and now offers:
- 5×5 RGB LEDs.
- Two 5-way joystick buttons.
- Onboard accelerometer.
- Expansion header at the top to allow you to add other capability boards (as shown in the picture).
- Lots of other enhancements and new features.
They will be manufactured in the UK (which is nice) and there is an option to get a hand-soldered board early (before Christmas). Take a look at the campaign here and view the video below:
I’d also like to recommend the following stores that have a variety of bits and pieces that will make great Christmas presents:
- AB Electronics – a UK retailer offering lots of HAT and pHAT-sized add-on boards.
- OKdo – CPC/Farnell’s new maker/hobbyist arm has a lot of what you would expect, from kits to add-on boards.
- Rapid Electronics – they have a “Christmas Shop” which is worth a look, but have a browse and see what you can find!