Explorer (pro) Hat VS Propeller Hat


Hi - being very new to all of this, and primarily interested in programming (in Python specifically) as opposed to electronics I was wondering which of those would be the best investment in that context?

… for a start I am not sure what type of projects one would be used over the other, typically, coming from a non-inexistent experience with outboards, so examples would probably help me answer that question.

also, I see that the Propeller Hat description emphasises that it ships with a dedicated IDE, and language - but reading betweeen the lines there seems nothing particularly difficult to control it using Python (libs provided)?

anyway, I guess I’m not looking to make big projects on breadboards, control motors, except for purposes of learning the basic principles of it, so I’m leaning towards an Explorer.

second (related) question, if I settle on an Explorer, would the pro version provide me with that many more options to experiment witn a variety of components? … researching this briefly it seems the analog inputs open up an interesting selection I haven’t thought of (Photoresistors to name but one), and obviously servo motor controlling?

I Guess, I’m looking primarily for a sketchpad to put my Python skills (or lack thereof currently) as I found learning much more fun that way than say computation or graphical interface fiddling…

Thanks in advance for any pointers and guided advises you may be able to provide.


Have you also thought about the Unicorn hat for playing with Python?


yes, that was one I had considered, but I want a middle ground Hat that would sit permanently on the pi while giving me a variety of components to play with, not just LEDs.

I’m mostly settled on the Explorer (probably pro, for the difference in price I would rather not regret the purchase of the regular version), but I ran across the Propeller page and started having doubt about what would be best, even though I might end up getting both, though that would definitely not be with the view of swapping them, so I need to figure out which one would build upon or provide me with the best first step anyhow, if that makes sense.

Truth is that all the pimoroni Hat are tasty in their own right, but time and money is another thing…


btw, I got the Display-O-Tron only last week, mostly to use as status for a DLNA, which is when the Python bug bit me… after about a year of Xcode learning Swift it felt such a fresh air to not spend so much time trying make my apps looks ‘shiny’ and just get on with instant satisfaction controlling outboard components.


Yes, theres a certain ‘want them all’ aspect with their hats! I have both the exolorer pro and the propeller. I think the prop hat has incredible potential but I’ve barely used it as I just dont have the electronics knowledge to know what I’m doing and there are very very few examples yet. Even the supplied software examples don’t mention the physical side much. I have an adafruit 12 neopixel ring that I’d like to talk to it with at some point along with a level converter that can apparently keep up, but a bit reluctant to just ‘suck and see’ with hardware, I’m really a software guy!

Good luck whichever way you go :-)


While I’m really glad you’re considering the Propeller HAT, it’s my baby, I think you’d be better off, at least to start, with Explorer HAT or Explorer HAT Pro. These give you much more out-of-the-box utility and more instant gratification.

As Gisky points out, I’ve got lots more work until Propeller HAT is truly beginner friendly- the Propeller is a really awesome chip, and it’s quite easy to understand if you’re willing to trawl through the datasheet and really, truly want to understand embedded programming ( which can be fun/rewarding! ). But it’s a learning curve and will require some patience. Oh and I clearly haven’t documented much of the electrical side- how to hook up servos, etc.

Also, Display-O-Tron is totally awesome :D


cheers for those words of wisdom, Explorer it is then, though I haven’t finished squeezing all the goodness the dot3k has to offer… but I have the GPIO on the top of my A+ giving me the puppy eyes, so I have no choice but to cap them asap ;-)


DoT really is truly awesome - mostly because of the software side. I expect Propeller HAT to be just as awesome one day. Just not (for my skill level) today :o)


yes, I agree, the dot3k examples are what drew my attention to use my Pi as a learning platform (it wasn’t obvious to me until then, as a buddying software dev with all the hardware I can dream of fully geared up for that already at my disposal). What I expected to be a 30 mins install/setup turned into 4+ hours of joy hacking away some of the possibilities it offers.

Now to research Flotilla, which I have only just heard about through the piromoni newsletter (not that it is likely to put me off buying an Explorer, but perhaps I might go for the standard one instead, with view to go the Flotilla way in June)


Can’t wait for my Flotilla, got in on day one but backed at the wrong level and hoping they’ll let me upgrade to a better set nearer release. Have had a few backer updates and its exciting and seems like a load of effort going into making it great.


yes, indeed… out of interest, what level did you backed and what level did you wish you had?


I got early bird medium, but interested in motion sensor so wish I’d at least gone ‘large’ and probably at this point ‘mega’ as it seems good value and I’m likely to pick up the rest anyway at some point!