Redbear IoT HAT / pHAT – WiFi and Bluetooth board for Pi Zero

A few months ago I purchased a cute little Readbear IOT add-on board for my Pi Zero via Kickstarter – but didn’t get around to soldering the header on my Zero until just today, so I couldn’t test it out… until now. Supporting both Wi-Fi 802.11n (2.4GHz) and Bluetooth 4.1 (Dual Mode – Classic and Bluetooth Low Energy) on one convenient little board the exact same dimensions as a Pi Zero sounds pretty handy, especially as it retails for ~$9. So how does it perform?

Getting ready to solder the header board to my Pi Zero
Ready for soldering

The Readbear pHAT comes either with or without a male 40 pin header attached, and for some reason I chose to buy one with the header already on. In retrospect, I wish I’d gone for the naked version as that would leave me more scope for using the GPIO pins on my Pi Zero – I’d much rather have been able to use a pass-through header to allow use of the “spare” GPIO pins.

Once soldering was complete, setup was a breeze – plug the Redbear board into the Pi, and configure as per normal for a Raspbian installation. The board itself uses the same chipset as used in the Raspberry Pi 3 onboard Wifi, so no esoteric drivers to source and install, and future compatibility should be guaranteed.

Redbear IOT pHAT
Redbear IOT pHAT

The board itself is nicely laid out (see diagram below) and the WiFi works fine, with a connector for an external antenna if the range on the on-board antenna doesn’t meet your needs. Haven’t tested BLE yet, but it’s there if you need it.

Redbear IOT HAT overview
Redbear IOT HAT overview

Performance-wise it’s OK – I used the speedtest-cli app running on my Pi Zero to check upload and download speeds, and found the following:

pi@raspberrypi:~ $ speedtest-cli
Retrieving speedtest.net configuration…
Testing from XFINITY (73.169.149.159)…
Retrieving speedtest.net server list…
Selecting best server based on ping…
Hosted by Wave G (Seattle, WA) [16.30 km]: 27.056 ms
Testing download speed……………………………………………………………………..
Download: 11.69 Mbit/s
Testing upload speed……………………………………………………………………………………….
Upload: 1.42 Mbit/s

Want your own? Head over to Redbear.cc and order one 🙂

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