Raspberry Pi Changes HATs

Following on the heels of their Raspberry Pi 5 launch and some specifications for their RP1 all-in-one peripheral chip, the Raspberry Pi folks have now released an update to the HAT peripheral hardware specification reflecting the new model. Called the HAT+, it represents a major step forward with some significant changes.

Most visible will be changes to the mechanical specification, for while the original HAT specification was very rigid this new version is much looser. A HAT+ must only mate with the 40-pin connector, including the ID pins, and line up with only a single mounting hole compared to the four on the original. Electrically, a HAT+ must recognise the standby power state in which the 3.3-volt line is powered down while the 5-volt line remains active, while software-wise, there are changes to the content of the ID EEPROM including the ability to inform about stackable smaller HATs.

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Sailor Hat Adds Graceful Shutdown To Pis

Even though Windows and other operating systems constantly remind us to properly eject storage devices before removing them, plenty of people won’t heed those warnings until they finally corrupt a drive and cause all kinds of data loss and other catastrophes. It’s not just USB jump drives that can get corrupted, though. Any storage medium can become unusable if certain actions are being taken when the power is suddenly removed. That includes the SD cards on Raspberry Pis, too, and if your power isn’t reliable you might consider this hat to ensure they shut down properly during power losses.

The Raspberry Pi hat is centered around a series of supercapacitors which provide power for the Pi temporarily. The hat also communicates with the Pi to let it know there is a loss of power, so that the Pi can automatically shut itself down in that situation to prevent corrupting the memory card. The hat is more than just a set of backup capacitors, though. The device is capable of taking input power from a wide range of sources and filtering it for the power requirements of the Pi, especially in applications like boats and passenger vehicles where the input power might be somewhat noisy. There’s an optocoupled CAN bus interface as well for those looking to use this for automotive applications.

The entire project is also available on the project’s GitHub page for those wishing to build their own. Some sort of power backup is a good idea for any computer, though, not just Raspberry Pis. We’ve seen uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) with enough power to run an entire house including its computers, to smaller ones that’ll just keep your Internet online during a power outage.

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PiSquare Lets You Run Multiple HATs On A Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi’s venerable 40-pin header and associated HAT ecosystem for upgrades has been a boon for the platform. It’s easy to stack extra hardware on to a Pi, even multiple times in some cases. However, if you want to run multiple HATs, and wirelessly at that, the PiSquare might just be the thing for you.

The PiSquare consists of a board featuring both RP2040 and ESP-12E microcontrollers. It interfaces with Raspberry Pi HATs and even lets you run multiple of the same HAT on a single Raspberry Pi, as it’s not actually directly using the UART, SPI, or I2C interfaces on the host Pi itself. Instead, the PiSquare communicates wirelessly with the Pi, handling the IO with the HAT itself.

It’s unclear how this works on a software level. Simply using existing software tools and libraries for a given Raspberry Pi HAT probably won’t work with the wireless PiSquare setup. However, for advanced users, it could serve a useful purpose, allowing one Raspberry Pi to command multiple HATs without the fuss of having to run more single-board computers where just one will do. Boards will be available on Kickstarter for those interested in the device.

We’ve seen other creative things done with the Raspberry Pi and the HAT system, too. If you’ve been cooking up your own neat hacks for the platform, drop us a line!

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Hackaday Links: January 23, 2022

When Tonga’s Hunga-Tonga Hunga-Ha’apai volcano erupted on January 15, one hacker in the UK knew just what to do. Sandy Macdonald from York quickly cobbled together a Raspberry Pi and a pressure/humidity sensor board and added a little code to create a recording barometer. The idea was to see if the shock wave from the eruption would be detectable over 16,000 km away — and surprise, surprise, it was! It took more than 14 hours to reach Sandy’s impromptu recording station, but the data clearly show a rapid pulse of increasing pressure as the shockwave approached, and a decreased pressure as it passed. What’s more, the shock wave that traveled the “other way” around the planet was detectable too, about seven hours after the first event. In fact, data gathered through the 19th clearly show three full passes of the shockwaves. We just find this fascinating, and applaud Sandy for the presence of mind to throw this together when news of the eruption came out.

Good news for professional astronomers and others with eyes turned skyward — it seems like the ever-expanding Starlink satellite constellation isn’t going to kill ground-based observation. At least that’s the conclusion of a team using the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) at the Palomar Observatory outside San Diego. ZTF is designed to catalog anything that blinks, flashes, or explodes in the night sky, making it perfect to detect the streaks from the 1,800-odd Starlink satellites currently in orbit. They analyzed the number of satellite transients captured in ZTF images, and found that fully 20 percent of images show streaks now, as opposed to 0.5 percent back in 2019 when the constellation was much smaller. They conclude that at the 10,000 satellite full build-out, essentially every ZTF image will have a streak in it, but since the artifacts are tiny and well-characterized, they really won’t hinder the science to any appreciable degree.

Speaking of space, we finally have a bit of insight into the causes of space anemia. The 10% to 12% decrease in red blood cells in astronauts during their first ten days in space has been well known since the dawn of the Space Age, but the causes had never really been clear. It was assumed that the anemia was a result of the shifting of fluids in microgravity, but nobody really knew for sure until doing a six-month study on fourteen ISS astronauts. They used exhaled carbon monoxide as a proxy for the destruction of red blood cells (RBCs) — one molecule of CO is liberated for each hemoglobin molecule that’s destroyed — and found that the destruction of RBCs is a primary effect of being in space. Luckily, there appears to be a limit to how many RBCs are lost in space, so the astronauts didn’t suffer from complications of severe anemia while in space. Once they came back to gravity, the anemia reversed, albeit slowly and with up to a year of measurable changes to their blood.

From the “Better Late Than Never” department, we see that this week that Wired finally featured Hackaday Superfriend Sam Zeloof and his homemade integrated circuits. We’re glad to see Sam get coverage — the story was also picked up by Ars Technica — but it’s clear that nobody at either outfit reads Hackaday, since we’ve been featuring Sam since we first heard about his garage fab in 2017. That was back when Sam was still “just” making transistors; since then, we’ve featured some of his lab upgrades, watched him delve into electron beam lithography, and broke the story on his first legit integrated circuit. Along the way, we managed to coax him out to Supercon in 2019 where he gave both a talk and an interview.

And finally, if you’re in the mood for a contest, why not check out WIZNet’s Ethernet HAT contest? The idea is to explore what a Raspberry Pi Pico with Ethernet attached is good for. WIZNet has two flavors of board: one is an Ethernet HAT for the Pico, while the other is as RP2040 with built-in Ethernet. The good news is, if you submit an idea, they’ll send you a board for free. We love it when someone from the Hackaday community wins a contest, so if you enter, be sure to let us know. And hurry — submissions close January 31.

Forget Smart Watch; Build A Smart Hat

Smart watches are pretty common today, but how many people do you know with a smart hat? [Oliver] built Wilson which he bills as “the IoT hat.” We wonder if the name was inspired by the Home Improvement character of the same name who only appeared as a hat above the fence line. You can see a video of the project, below.

The project is pretty straightforward for hardware. An LED strip, an Arduino, and a Bluetooth module. Oh. And a hat. The software, as you might expect, is a bit more complex. It allows you to display SMS messages to your hat.

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How To Keep Your Head Warm With A Skirt

We’re not sure what we like better about this upcycled trapper hat — that [ellygibson] made it as a tribute to Holden Caulfield, the anti-hero of the classic teen angst novel The Catcher in the Rye, or the fact that she made it out of a skirt that cost a dollar from the thrift store. Oddly enough, one dollar is exactly what Holden paid for his hat in the book.

To make this hat, [elly] started by measuring the circumference of her head, then used math to figure out the radius of the circle for the top part. She made a prototype first to get the fit right, then cut the pieces from the skirt and the lining pieces from black flannel. We love that [elly] used the tiny pocket from the skirt in one of the ear flaps, because it will surely come in handy one day.

[elly] doesn’t provide pattern pieces, but that’s okay — between the explanation of how she arrived at the hat band circumference and the step-by-step instructions, it should be easy to make one of these for yourself from whatever fabric you’ve got.

Before you go cutting up an old coat, consider whether it could be fixed. Remember when [Ted Yapo] fixed the zipper box on his son’s winter coat by printing a replacement? Or how about the time [Gerrit Coetzee] cast his own pea coat buttons?

A Raspberry Pi 400 UPS Add-On, It’s Not All Plain Sailing

Since the recent launch of the all-in-one Raspberry Pi 400, the global hardware community have taken to the new platform and are investigating its potential for hardware enhancements. On the back it has the same 40-pin expansion connector as its single-board siblings, but it’s horizontal rather than vertical, which means that all of the conventional HATs sit in a rather ungainly upright position.

One of the first Pi 400 HATs we’ve seen comes from [Patrick Van Oosterwijck], who has made a very neat 18650-based UPS add-on that is intended to eventually fit in the back of the machine in a similar way to the home computer cartridge peripherals of old. Unfortunately not all has gone according to plan, and in finding out why that is the case we learn something about the design of the 400, and maybe even take a chance to reflect on the Pi Foundation itself.

On the face of it the 400’s interface is the same as that of its single board computer stablemates, but something this project reveals is that its 5 V pins have a current limit of 1 A. This turns out to preclude the type of plug-in Pi UPS that sits on a HAT that we’re used to, in that 1 A through the 5 V pin is no longer enough to run the computer.

This effectively puts a stop to [Patrick]’s project, though he can repurpose it for a Pi 4 and its siblings once he’s dealt with a converter chip overheating problem. He does however make a complaint about the Pi Foundation’s slowness in releasing such data about their products, and given that long-time Pi-watchers will remember a few other blips in the supply of Pi hardware data he has a point. A quick check of the Raspberry Pi GitHub repository reveals nothing related to the Pi 400 at the time of writing, and though it shares much with its Pi 4 sibling it’s obvious that there are enough differences to warrant some extra information.

Hardware hackers may not be part of the core education focus of the Pi range, but a healthy, interested, and active hardware community that feels nurtured by its manufacturer remains key to the supply of interesting Pi-related products feeding into that market. We’d like to urge the Pi Foundation to never forget the hardware side of their ecosystem, and make hardware specification an integral part of every product launch on day one.

If the Pi 400 catches your interest, you can read our review here.