ALTHOUGH YOU CAN use the Raspberry Pi’s general-purpose input-output (GPIO) header directly, as you learned in Chapter 14, “Learning to Hack Hardware”, a much better idea is to use a specialist prototyping board. Prototyping boards are add-on boards designed to sit between your project and the Raspberry Pi. They range from the relatively simple—such as Ciseco’s Slice of Pi—to the complex and powerful Gertboard.
At their most basic, add-on boards simply provide easier access to the Raspberry Pi’s GPIO pins. This may mean they can be connected to a breadboard easier or are spaced further apart and labelled to make connecting other devices simpler. Some boards include circuitry to connect specific add-on devices, such as a small XBee wireless transceiver, and still others provide a small surface onto which you can solder your own components to make a custom board.
The hardware market is constantly and rapidly changing, and the Raspberry Pi Foundation continues to encourage developers to create more add-on devices. It would be impossible to create an exhaustive list of all the add-on boards available or planned for release in the near future, but in this chapter, you learn about three of the most common boards and how to use them.
Ciseco Slice of Pi
The most basic of boards, Ciseco’s Slice of Pi (see Figure 17-1), is nevertheless useful. Supplied in kit form, Slice of Pi features a small prototyping area, a space for an XBee wireless module and full access ...