The Pimoroni‏ “Breakout Garden” for the Raspberry Pi

Alasdair Allan
3 min readAug 17, 2018

I see a lot of connector systems. Some systems take off, some don’t. But at one point or another every manufacturer seems to decide that they have the right solution to the connector problem, and another standard is born. In fact, I see enough connector systems that I’m automatically skeptical of new ones, and generally dismiss them until they’ve hung around for a few years and proved themselves useful.

Enter the new “Breakout Garden” from Pimoroni, which I actually rather like.

A fully populated “Breakout Garden” HAT for the Raspberry Pi. (📷: Pimoroni)

The Pimoroni breakout standard is sort of reminiscent of the Seeed Studio Grove System, but has been built with the Raspberry Pi firmly in mind.

“…designed it so that you can solder a piece of right-angle header onto it and then pop it straight onto the bottom left 5 pins on your Raspberry Pi’s GPIO header (pins 1, 3, 5, 7, 9).”

While the company is offering only seven breakout boards at the moment, the arrival of their “Breakout Garden” HAT suggests that there may be more boards on the way soon?

Introducing Breakout Garden! (📷: Pimoroni)

“Grow your projects on Breakout Garden. It’s the easiest way to use breakouts with your Raspberry Pi. There’s no soldering required, just pop up to six Pimoroni breakouts into the slots on Breakout Garden and get started coding and creating.”

As well as the six ‘breakout’ edge-connector slots for Pimoroni breakouts, the Breakout Garden has 20-pin useful pins broken out from the Raspberry Pi GPIO header, including power, I2C, UART, SPI and five GPIO pins.

The seven breakout boards available include a six-degrees of freedom motion sensor—a 3D digital linear acceleration sensor and a 3D digital magnetic sensor—built around an ST LSM303D, a Luminance and Colour Sensor—which can detect RGB and light levels—built around a Rohm BH1745, and a 1.12-inch 128×128 pixel mono-OLED board.

The Park-O-Matic 6000 is a distance sensor display with Breakout Garden. (📷: Pimoroni)

Also available is a 32×24 pixel Thermal Camera breakout, with a standard (55°) or wide angle (110°) field of view, built around Melexis MLX90640 far-infrared thermal sensor array, a Time of Flight (ToF) breakout for a ST VL53L1X laser ranging sensor, and a “weather” breakout using a Bosch BME680 environmental sensor—which measures air quality, temperature, pressure, and humidity.

A mini-weather station display with Breakout Garden. (📷: Pimoroni)

The Breakout Garden HAT costs £12 (about $15), with the breakout boards ranging in price from £18 (about $23) for the “weather” breakout, through to £54 (about $69) for the thermal camera breakout.

I can’t quite pin down what I like so much about the Breakout Garden. But perhaps, with Pimoroni’s almost fanatical sense of whimsy built in, it’s just cute enough to be practical?