Raspberry Pi Hardware Versions


It's been a while since my last post, I've been very busy with lots other things (getting married, having a baby, changing jobs) so haven't had much chance to play with my Raspberry Pi or post on here.

A lot has happened in the Raspberry Pi world in that time too, there have been a number of different versions of the Raspberry Pi hardware as well as a a lot more providers of add on boards and kits built specifically for the Raspberry Pi. Here I'll take a look at the different hardware available and some other things that have sparked my interest.


The table below looks at the different Raspberry Pi boards that have been released and compares them

NameRaspberry Pi Model BRaspberry Pi Model A+Raspberry Pi 2Raspberry Pi ZeroRaspberry Pi 3Raspberry Pi Zero W
Release DateFeb 2012Nov 2014Feb 2015Nov 2015Feb 2016Feb 2017
CPU700 MHz700 MHz900 MHz1 GHz1.2 GHz1 GHz
CPU Cores114141
RAM512 MB512 MB1 GB512 MB1 GB512 MB
USB214Micro + Micro OTG4Micro + Micro OTG

Official Hardware Additions

In addition to the main boards there have been a couple of other pieces of hardware released by the Raspberry Pi Foundation.


The Raspberry Pi Camera Module is a 8 MP camera that connects directly to the CSI port on the Raspberry Pi. It comes as either a standard camera or a infrared camera known as NoIR. It can take static photos or video.

Compute Module

The compute module is basically the guts of the Raspberry Pi (Processor, RAM and Flash Memory) shrunk down onto an even smaller circuit board. It's designed for people who want to integrate the Raspberry Pi into other circuits and therefore don't need all the other hardware such as USB and networking.


The official Raspberry Pi display is a 7 inch touchscreen display that connects to the display port on the Raspberry Pi. It supports up to 10 finger Multitouch and a resolution of 800x480 pixels at 60 frames per second.

Add on Boards

A large number of add on boards are now available for the Raspberry Pi, these have become known as HATs and pHATs. HAT stands for Hardware Attached on Top and are the same size as the Raspberry Pi board, pHAT stands for Partial Hardware Attached on Top and are smaller. These boards usually connect straight onto the GPIO pins of the Raspberry Pi and give some sort of additional functionality or feature.

There are two add on boards that I currently own, these are:


The PiLite is a 14x9 matrix of LED lights mounted on a printed circuit board. It plugs straight into the GPIO port. Each LED is independently controllable using Python coding. It was something I saw on Kickstarted and backed.

I've played with it a bit and worked out how it works, but I've not tried all the ideas I've got for it yet. I'll be posting about this soon.


Similar to the PiLite, the blinkt is a circuitboard with 8 LEDs on, again each LED is controllable with Python, but these also let you control the colours of each individual led. You can specify the RGB values for each. I've not played with this much yet but plan to do a post about it in the future.

Other Boards I'm Interested In

Here's a few other boards that are available that I'm interested in looking at:

  • Sense Hat - This lets you add pressure, humidity, temperature and orientation sensors to the Raspberry Pi as well as a 8x8 LED Matrix. It's the same HAT that is used on the Astro Pi which is a Raspberry Pi computer that Tim Peake took to the International Space Station in 2015. This allowed students to run experiments on the Astro Pi while it was in space.
  • Enviro Hat - Similar to the Sense hat, this add another set of sensors to the Raspberry Pi. It includes temperature, pressure, light level, colour, 3 axis motion, compass heading and analog inputs.
  • Pan-Tilt Hat - This is an arm that holds the Raspberry Pi Camera and gives control of it's movement from the Raspberry Pi, it has 180 degrees of movement through each axis.
  • Explorer Hat - When using the GPIO pins it can be quite easy to damage them or the Raspberry Pi itself if you put a high voltage onto the wrong pin. It's also not always possible to power things like motors with them because they would pull more power than the Raspberry Pi can provide. To get around this, there's the Explorer HAT, this gives buffered inputs and outputs to protect the Raspberry Pi as well as motor drivers,


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