BC Robotics

Getting Started With Power HATs

  PRODUCT TUTORIAL

Our Raspberry Pi Power HATs are a series of Raspberry Pi Add-on boards dedicated to providing the Raspberry Pi with reliable 5V power at 3A from input sources ranging from 7-16VDC. This enables the Pi to run in Automotive, Marine, and other systems in the 7-16VDC range without the need for a complicated AC inverter or external DC/DC converter. Just connect your power source into the HAT and that’s it!

About The Boards:
We make three versions of the Raspberry Pi Power HAT and offer each version in an assembled or bare bones configuration. The PowerHAT is available as a plain power input HAT, a Power input HAT with DS3231 Real Time Clock, or a Power Input HAT with a 40mm integrated cooling fan. All of these boards share the same robust 5V 3A power regulator and are comfortable powering the Pi under high load all day long. Our boards are compatible with all versions of the Pi from the original A+ and B+ onwards.

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Step 1 - A Quick Overview

Since all of these boards share the same power regulator circuit, we are going to look at connecting power first and then split off and go over the three versions separately to look at specifics of each board.

For any unassembled versions (RAS-111RAS-140, or RAS-165) a Raspberry Pi GPIO header will need to be soldered to the board. We will go into this in depth.

For all assembled versions (RAS-188RAS-195, or RAS-196) – skip to Step 4.

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Step 2 – Soldering The Header​

First we need to solder the header that allows this board to plug into the Raspberry Pi. We recommend using this header, but any compatible Raspberry PI GPIO header will work. If you haven’t soldered before, or want a quick refresher course, have a look at this awesome comic: Soldering Is Easy!  Start by Tacking two opposite corners of the connector in place and checking the connector alignment. We do this to ensure the connector is sitting correctly before soldering all 40 pins; once these have all been soldered, it is very difficult to adjust the alignment.

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Step 3 – Soldering The Header (continued)

Once the connector is aligned to the board, and you are happy with the alignment, solder the remaining pins. It should look something like the header in the attached photo when you are finished!

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Step 4 – HAT Hardware

When using HATs with the Raspberry Pi, we recommend some form of standoff hardware to keep everything firmly connected. In this tutorial, depending on whether you are using an assembled board or a custom header, the height between boards will vary, meaning different hardware will be needed for each.

For all assembled boards we recommend Raspberry Pi HAT Hardware – 1/2″. It is a touch taller than needed, but the nylon standoffs included in the kit can be filed down.

If you are using a custom header, you will need to look up the between board height of the header you are using and find an appropriate set of standoffs. 

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Step 5 - A Quick Overview

Before we power anything up, it is always a good idea to go through and make sure there are no issues with the work that has been done. Make sure all the solder joints are clean, with no un-intended bridging.

Note: If using the Raspberry Pi 3B+ or newer be sure to check the POE header (located near the USB ports) is not contacting anything on the bottom of your Power HAT. 

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Step 6 – Sourcing Power

Unlike using a regular Pi Power Supply drawing power from a regular AC power outlet, additional care needs to be taken when sourcing power from a DC / unconventional source. The power source needs to have sufficient current available to power everything being connected to it. 

Power Requirements:
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Step 7 – Connecting Power

All Power HATs have a fused input on the board to prevent issues if a short circuit occurred on the board itself. This does not protect the wire running power to the board. Fuse your power wire at the source end of the wire. Inline fuses are an easy way to do this!

Connecting Your Power:
  Power Down / disconnect / isolate your power source
  Remove the fuse from your fuse holder
  Connect your fused wire from the power source to the “VCC” screw terminal on the Power HAT
  Connect your ground wire from the power source’s common ground to the “GND” screw terminal on the Power HAT
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Step 8 – Double Check Your Work – Again!

Now that everything is connected (aside from the fuse completing the circuit) we can, once again, go over our work. Check the screw terminals are tight, use a multimeter to ensure there are no shorts between VCC and GND. Ensure all connections / wire splices are adequately protected. Once everything has been thoroughly checked, power up / reconnect your power source. Check for any issues. The fuse can now be installed to send power to the PowerHAT. Two LEDs will immediately light up indicating power to the board and power to the Pi are being provided. If one or both of these LEDs are not lit or seem very dim, pull the fuse immediately, check everything thoroughly, and seek additional assistance.

Please Note: There is no On/Off switch on these boards – the Pi will boot as soon as power is provided.

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Board Specific Details

RAS-140 - Raspberry Pi Power HAT

The Raspberry Pi Power HAT is a basic version of the Power HAT series of boards. It features the standard Power HAT circuit along with a small prototyping area. The through plated holes in the prototyping area do not have any interconnection and can be used just like any normal perfboard.
  GPIO Header Installed:   None
  GPIO Pins Used:   None
Compatible With:

RAS-196 - Raspberry Pi Power HAT – Assembled

The Raspberry Pi Power HAT – Assembled is a basic version of our Power HAT board in a fully assembled configuration – no soldering required. It features the standard Power HAT circuit and two SparkFun Qwiic / Adafruit STEMMA QT connections.

For further expandability the board also breaks out the UART, I2C, and SPI busses to 0.1” / 2.54mm pitch headers. Additionally, we have included a 3.3V Regulator to ensure sufficient power for all your external sensor needs.

  GPIO Header Installed:   Standard SMD Header
  GPIO Pins Used:   None
Compatible With:

RAS-111 - Raspberry Pi Power RTC HAT

The Raspberry Pi Power RTC HAT is a combination power / real time clock board. It features the standard Power HAT circuit, a DS3231 temperature compensated real time clock (RTC), coin cell slot for RTC battery backup, and small prototyping area.

The RTC is available at i2c address 0x68 and can be set up with ease on most current Raspberry Pi distributions. Adafruit has a great tutorial on how to set this up!

  GPIO Header Installed:   None
  GPIO Pins Used:   i2c Address 0x68
Compatible With:

RAS-165 – Raspberry Pi Power / Fan HAT

The Raspberry Pi Power / Fan HAT is a combination of two of our most popular Raspberry Pi add-ons. This board is based on the same beefy 3A 5V DC/DC converter found on our Power and Power RTC HAT and features the same 40mm fan used on our Fan HAT. Combined, this will comfortably power your Pi from 7-16V while keeping it cool under heavy load.

  GPIO Header Installed:   None
  GPIO Pins Used:   None
Compatible With:

RAS-188 – Raspberry Pi Power / Fan HAT – Assembled

The Raspberry Pi Power / Fan HAT is a combination of two of our most popular Raspberry Pi add-ons in a fully assembled with no soldering required. This board is based on the same beefy 3A 5V DC/DC converter found on our Power and Power RTC HAT and features the same 40mm fan used on our Fan HAT. Combined, this will comfortably power your Pi from 7-16V while keeping it cool under heavy load.

  GPIO Header Installed:   ACC-055
  GPIO Pins Used:   None
Compatible With:

RAS-195 - Raspberry Pi Power RTC HAT – Assembled

The Raspberry Pi Power HAT – Assembled is a combination power / real time clock board. It features the standard Power HAT circuit, a DS3231 temperature compensated real time clock (RTC), coin cell slot for RTC battery backup, and two SparkFun Qwiic / Adafruit STEMMA QT connections.

The RTC is available at i2c address 0x68 and can be set up with ease on most current Raspberry Pi distributions. Adafruit has a great tutorial on how to set this up!

For further expandability, the board also breaks out the UART, I2C, and SPI busses to 0.1” / 2.54mm pitch headers. Additionally, we have included a 3.3V Regulator to ensure sufficient power for all your external sensor needs.

  GPIO Header Installed:   Standard SMD Header
  GPIO Pins Used:   i2c Address 0x68
Compatible With:

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