The Raspberry Pi project continues to develop at a rapid pace. You can now pre-order the Gertboard kit, which is an add-on that extends the use of the tiny computer by enabling it to interact with a variety of real world devices.
Like the Raspberry Pi itself, the Gertboard is low-cost at just £30. It’s even more DIY-orientated than the computer, as it comes as a bare printed circuit board and a set of components that you assemble onto the board. This allows a high level of customisation.
Components that come in the kit include buttons, LEDs, ADCs, DACs, a motor controller and Atmel AVR microcontroller.
Using a Raspberry Pi with a Gertboard linked to its GPIO pins you’ll be able to control lamps, motors and robots, or sense voltages, currents and temperatures. Its host micro can also be programmed with code written and compiled on the Raspberry Pi and then independently controlled.
Created by Gert van Loo, the Gertboard is not an official Raspberry Pi product but it comes with the full endorsement of the Raspberry Pi Foundation.
The board kit is now available for pre-order exclusively through Farnell/element14, whose site also hosts various handy technical resources such as an assembly manual, user guide, demo videos and 20 test programs and design examples to get you started. The kit should start shipping in mid-September according to Farnell.
On the Raspberry Pi blog, Liz Upton encourages people to try making and using a Gertboard, even if they’ve not dabbled in electronics before.
“Gertboard is packaged as a kit,” she writes. “It doesn’t come preassembled; you will have to solder it together yourself. Soldering is easy, as we’ve said before (seriously – if I can solder, so can you), and we encourage you to have a go. If you make mistakes they’re easy to correct, and once you’ve finished building your Gertboard you’ll have a very useful piece of hardware, a new skill, and a lovely warm sense of achievement. We hope to see lots of kids using it as a learning platform along with the Raspberry Pi.”