Expand Your Pi With A Gertboard

[Gert van Loo], the person who designed the alpha hardware for the Raspberry pi model B, has put out an expansion board for the Raspberry pi that we think many of you might be interested in seeing. Dubbed the Gertboard, this expands the Raspi  with some GPIO goodness.

We have seen TONS of tutorials for the Raspberry pi, and a few projects as well. We’re hoping that we’ll start seeing more projects where the Raspberry pi is the brain, but only part of the project, start becoming more frequent. The board is pretty cool, now lets see what you guys can build with all that power!

[thanks Zimm3rmann]

18 thoughts on “Expand Your Pi With A Gertboard

    1. Well, you didn’t have to wait too long. It looks like the Gertboard kit is now discontinued and replaced with a fully assembled Gertboard, price not yet announced. Funny thing is I received an email toady from Newark saying the kit was now in stock, but when I click on the link in the email I was sent to page annoucing the “Gertboard Assembled” and the new “PiFace” board. Oh, and anouther “sign up and wait” form too. :-(

  1. Seems pricey, but figure this:

    All through-hole components. Sockets. Larger, more expensive PCB as a result. Packaging a kit is surprisingly time-consuming, and costs more than preassembling an SMD board. Detailed assembly and usage manuals. Resources must also usually be allocated to tech support, for those who have problems assembling the kit.

    Remember all this stuff is made for educational purposes. The Pi just happens to appeal to a much larger demographic. The Gertboard may not. Too bad for for some of us. I know I won’t be buying one.

    But I think it’s just right, and fairly priced, for its *intended* purpose. Kit assembly is good education, and it’s easily repaired.

    1. Educational and inexpensive doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive, although it’s often marketed that way. When you see something sold as “educational”, be wary. It often just means “high margin ripoff” (Cite Apple Computer Corporation here).

      For $11 (free shipping), you can get an Atmega8 development board. It has through-hole pins, usb header, 23 GPIO’s (including 6 ADC’s, SPI, and so on). For another $2.75, you can get an RS232 to USB adapter and connect them together (or do the V-USB thing to get the MCU to directly talk USB). Learning all this is pretty educational in itself and doesn’t break the bank (and it’s portable, not bound to a raspberry PI).

      1. Ok, let’s take your $11 example board as a starting point. But it’s just an MCU on a breakout board. While certainly capable of a lot on its own, the Gertboard is designed to allow a wider variety of experiments right out of the box, without adding anything else. So for a fair comparison, we have to add a few things to your board.

        Start with the L6203 full bridge driver found on the Gertboard, so that students can try driving a motor. Note this IC is $10 all by itself.

        Integrate a MCP4802 DAC and MCP3002 ADC, so that students can also try using some common SPI peripherals.

        A couple of 74xx244’s for buffered digital IO, so that an erroneous connection doesn’t blow pins on the more expensive MCU (which also applies to the SPI DAC/ADC).

        A ULN2803A high current driver. Sockets and headers for these extra ICs. A handful of LEDs, switches, resistors, etc.

        Now we’re comparing apples to apples. And with all those additions, your $11 board is now at least $30. That’s still not counting extra expenses for kit packaging. And some original documentation, not just a pin diagram and a go look up the datasheets yourself, thank you very much.

        While I agree that things intended as educational are frequently way too expensive, I’m not seeing any price gouging here.

      2. Actually the most of the price is for pcb production. I did check how much would it cost if I did it myself and I could get materials for 60-75%. Then comes packaging, preparing for sending, maybe something for RPi foundation and Gert so that they are not offended and I would end with about the same price.

      3. Nobody’s arguing the capabilities of your board, we’re arguing the *value*. For the given functionality, is it worth the price? The $11 board lacks a lot of things, but it sells well.

        Everyone knows how to use google and look things up. Providing publicly available datasheets describing the board, chips, and their pinouts is not a value add in any way. Adding “original documentation” (examples) isn’t a value add either. If we can find hackaday, we can find documentation. *most* college professors can even do this ;-)

        Kit packaging is a deterrent. For that it should be cheaper. We live in the world of BGA, not hand-soldered PCB’s. (Cite Heathkit’s demise here). You can save a lot of costs by going with QFP or BGA components and bringing those pins to DIL headers.

        $46.50 is a tough sell for what you get. Now if this board got rid of all those extra chips around the MCU and included just one Spartan or Virtex (or even a decent CPLD) brought to headers, you’d have yourself a very captive audience.

      4. It’s not overpriced, based the real cost of what you physically get. Now if you’re trying to discuss perceived and use value…

        Then it comes down to this. The Gertboard isn’t for you. Isn’t for me, either. Has no value to us, and getting one would be almost as senseless as us getting a Radio Shack 200-in-1 Experimenter’s Kit.

        Yet in other hands, it has plenty of value, good for weeks or maybe even months of good fun and learning.

  2. It’s stupid trying to knock this over price, it is what it is, in the scheme of things, if you can build this kind of stuff for yourself, then you probably won’t be buying a kit, you’ll probably use different smt components and design the board and build it for less.

    However, if you’re just starting out with soldering, electronics etc. then this is a reasonable little kit, you could breadboard most of it before you commit to soldering too, learning a bit more along the way. It’s no worse than the starter kits sold by sparkfun, adafruit, .

    1. If “it is what it is” is too costly, then it *isn’t*.. ;-)

      If you’re just starting out with soldering, electronics etc, a 3-transitor amplifier, 555 buzzer, or color organ is a reasonable little kit. Not a near $50 expansion board with hundreds of points.

      For that kind of effort, you’re better of making a replica of a MITS Altair 8800.

  3. These boards and indeed, the concept of the Raspberry Pi itself is intended to bring the interest of actual programming back to the kids so that we bring up a generation of programmers.

    This sort of board gets this younger generation interested beyond the realms of the Pi itself and for this….it’s worth its weight in gold.

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