Raspberry Pi's New Build HAT Adds LEGO Technic, SPIKE Compatibility via an RP2040 Microcontroller

Driving up to four motors and/or sensors, this partnership between Raspberry Pi and LEGO Education is a smart move.

Raspberry Pi has announced the launch of its second RP2040-powered microcontroller board, and this one aims to bridge the worlds of Raspberry Pi and LEGO Technic: the Raspberry Pi Build HAT.

Designed in partnership with LEGO Education, the Raspberry Pi Build HAT is a Hardware Attached on Top (HAT) add-on for any Raspberry Pi single-board computer. Connecting via the 40-pin general-purpose input/output (GPIO) socket, it offers four connectors designed for use with LEGO Technic motors and LEGO SPIKE sensors — as well as optional pass-through access to unused GPIO pins.

The heart of the board, located on the underside to leave the top free for a solderless breadboard, is an RP2040 microcontroller — the in-house dual Arm Cortex-M0+ part that originally launched on board the Raspberry Pi Pico development board. It communicates with the host via UART, and comes with a Python library for programming.

"We are excited to work with Raspberry Pi," claims LEGO Education's head of product experience Andrew Sliwinski of the partnership, "to provide tools for students, teachers and makers all over the world to expand their creative digital skills and discover hands-on learning experiences."

The HAT, which comes with a bundled standard header or an optional extra-long header for pass-through GPIO purposes, has launched at $25 — though anyone looking to drive more powerful motors will want to pick up the optional 48W 7.5V power supply, at an extra $15. You'll also need LEGO Technic motors and SPIKE sensors — and the latter range now includes the option of a Maker Plate accessory designed to mount a Raspberry Pi with or without Build HAT onto LEGO bricks.

More details on the Raspberry Pi Build HAT are available on the official blog, while pre-orders are open at resellers via Raspberry Pi's product page.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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