Sunday, April 7, 2013

Assembled Gertboard Now Available From Sparkfun

The Gertboard was the first add-on board announced for the Raspberry Pi.  It was delayed a number of times but finally was released as a kit for a limited time from Europe.  Now the second wave has arrived in the US via a complete board from Sparkfun Electronics.
Gertboard October 2012 ("Version 2")
The design is rather bold - rather than having a few functions, the board has many features including a AVR (Arduino type) helper controller.  It has GPIO buffers and motors.  Finally it has an 8 bit dual channel digital to analog converter and a dual channel analog to digital converter.

The October 2012 branded version design differs from the March 2012 DIY board.  The ribbon cable to connect to the Raspberry Pi is now a direct connect stackable header.  The fuse for the motor driver is enclosed and a different motor driver chip used,  More surface mount parts are used including the voltage regulator and LEDs.
Gertboard March 2012 ("Version 1")
This board is a fantastic way to experiment with the Raspberry Pi - out of the box, the Pi is rather limited on connection capabilities.  The Gertboard opens up the capabilities to perform nearly any function one might want to do: control, robotics, sensing.

It still does not allow connection of Arduino compatible shields as it uses a proprietary dual row header.  This can be adapted though not directly.  The Breadboard Shield Adapter brings an Arduino shield pins to one side where one would have to manually connect the various pins.  Not perfect but doable.  Maybe the next revision of the Gertboard will allow for a better connection.
Breadboard Shield Adapter
These boards should see adoption in schools and other learning situations and hobbyists who want to tinker around.  Hopefully mopre projects will be published using the board.  The link to get one from Sparkfun is https://www.sparkfun.com/products/11773