Raspberry Pi HATs (Hardware Attached on Top) are the quickest and simplest way to add functionality to a Raspberry Pi. Designed to sit directly on the GPIO pins without any wiring, they allow for quick additions and improvements to almost any project.
Below you can find my top recommended Raspberry Pi HATs.
The SenseHat is probably the most famous of the Raspberry Pi HATs. This is one of the first hats produced and was actually used on the International Space Station. The SenseHat, like its name suggests, has several sensors in it. It is able to detect the following:
- Movement (accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer)
The SenseHat also has an 8X8 LED matrix allowing you to display the data you are collecting in different ways. You can change the color of the LEDs or have certain ones light up when specific readings are measured.
For under $40, this HAT is able to do quite a bit. Here is an Amazon link if you would like to purchase it.
Motor HATs are great boards that allow you to control motors with your Raspberry Pi. The motor HAT that I recommend is the SB New Motorshield. This HAT can power either 4 DC motors, 2 stepper motors, or 2 DC motors and 1 stepper motor. It can also connect to 2 IR sensors and an ultrasonic sensor. This makes it a perfect board for building simple robots.
When using a motor HAT, you need to remember that your Raspberry Pi is rarely able to power the motors that you are using. You will need to either splice your power cord, use a secondary power source, or use a battery that has multiple outputs like the one I recommend here.
The POE (Power Over Ethernet) HAT is able to supply power to your Raspberry Pi through a powered Ethernet connection. This will allow you to ignore having a separate power source for your Pi altogether. I personally am a fan of the NavoLabs POE HAT as it has a very low profile and sleek design.
The biggest hurdle that some people have with a POE HAT is knowing whether or not their Ethernet connection is powered. Your switch should say something about being a POE switch or POE injector if it can provide power this way.