Questions for shop support: Which Pibows do I order?


I will be placing an international order so figured better make sure I order the right stuff! I’m a bit confused to which Pibows I need for my two Pis.

  1. For the Unicorn HAT - do I need to get a Coupé or a regular Pibow? Also, what is the difference between the two diffusers, and do they simply attach on top of the Pibow?

  2. Had I known about Pimoroni at the time I’d have ordered my screen from you but earlier this year I bought a cheapo LCD from eBay, here’s a link to the one I got:
    Would it fit either the Pibow or Coupé, and will I be needing any modification layers such as the PiTFT plus layer or the height extension layer?


PS Apologies if this isn’t the place to post non-technical shop questions but I couldn’t find your email and I’m not on twitter!

This is a perfectly reasonable place to ask!

First off- which version of the Raspberry Pi do you have? The LCD display you link is clearly for an old Model B looking at the photos.

  1. It’s all a matter of preference. If you want to completely enclose the Unicorn HAT and use the Diffuse layer then you’ll need a regular PiBow.

The Coupé on the other hand is a much more minimal case for the Pi. It allows your GPIO pins to stick through the top so you can easily connect add-ons or build projects around it.

If you’re going to be tinkering a lot, swapping add-on boards or have an add-on you need to get to the top of then the Coupé is the way to go. If you want something tidy and self contained, and you’re just sticking a PiGlow or a Unicorn HAT permanently inside for cool lighting effects then you’ll want a regular PiBow.

Either way, make sure you get the right case for your version of the Pi- we have both a Model B and a Model B+/Pi 2 version. The Pi TFT Pibow is for Pi 2/Model B+ only.

  1. We don’t make a case specifically for the LCD you link, but there’s a small chance it will fit into a PiBow, and it will probably fit over a Coupé.

Thanks for the quick reply!

I have a RPi 2 (that lcd screen I linked seems to fit for this as well). I know you don’t support this particular screen but I might take the risk and order a PiBow hoping it’ll fit. The screen seems to be roughly 8.4x5.4 cm if that helps give any indication?

I suppose I would need to buy the regular Pibow, as well as the PiBow TFT Plus layer but I cannot seem to find any pics of it–is it basically a Pibow top layer with the see-through part removed?

Regarding the Diffuse layers for the Unicorn HAT, could you please give me a quick explanation what’s the difference between the Frosted vs Ninja types? I want to experiment with displaying 8x8 video game characters on the Unicorn so while I do need it to display the pixels as clear as possible, I hope to avoid making it a pain to look at (or eventually blinding myself!)

I’ve actually tried displaying 8x8 videogame characters. It works pretty well!

Sorry, I’ve just realized that you can’t see all the pictures on the shop that illustrate these things. We’ve got some changes pending which let you actually see the images of Pibow modification layers again, for now I’ll link you direct.

Both diffuse layers will blend your pixels together slightly and give it what you’d call a “blurry” look that’s probably not suited to displaying videogame characters.

The Ninja is simply darker and, I think, much nicer to look at when lit up:

While the Frosted is lighter, doesn’t give as good a “contrast” to the pixels but looks better on top of our lighter coloured Pibows:

This is what the Pi TFT Plus layer looks like:

As you can see, it’s trimmed pretty tightly around the LCD and has holes for the buttons, too. It would not fit around anything that’s even slightly different inside, or in a slightly different position.

Also, this is what the Coupé top looks like:

The pics cleared it up a lot for me! I’ll be getting the Ninja diffuser but it looks like the TFT Pibow won’t be suitable for my eBay screen.

When you were experimenting with videogame characters on the Unicorn, did it look better with or without a diffuser in your opinion? Perhaps you have other HATs that may be even more suitable for displaying pixel art? Any HATs with more pixels available, like 16x16 perhaps?

PS: I found a blog with pixel characters that looks like a good place to start trying to recreate some of them, check it out if you’re interested :)

I haven’t actually tried them with our new diffusers yet, I’ll have to give it a go. I could be being pedantic, but with pixel art it should remain crisp, so I think it would look good with a special kind of diffuser that diffuses each pixel separately but stops them bleeding into each other- I’m experimenting with some designs at the moment.

I used these characters:

I think I accidentally checked them into the GitHub repo without credit- I suspect they might have come from here:

For more pixels, 32x32, you’d need to get a matrix driver HAT:

We don’t currently sell the matrix panels, though :(

Nice characters, I’m getting lots of inspiration seeing that! And I agree with pixel art looking better when crisp and clear, that’s why I’ve been a bit unsure whether to use a diffuser or not. As long as one doesn’t go blind by staring at it, I’d rather go without to be honest!

Anyway, thank you for all your help. I’ll probably go with the Unicorn for now but does Pimoroni have any plans on stocking those matrix panels anytime soon? There could be so much fun to be had with those. I’m thinking hanging it on a wall with a picture frame around it, showing animated pixel art characters inside!

I think we’re going to stock them eventually, but I’ve no idea when.

This is what I created today with a laser-cut acrylic grid and a couple of adhesive white labels:

It’s really nice to look at. Softens the colours right up and diffuses them beautifully into little squares. They are slightly brighter towards the center and have a paper texture to them, but I like how it looks!

Shame it can’t be black, the white spoils it a little but black paper isn’t so transparent. Might try with thin black paper if I can find some!

And here it is in action:

And how it looks displaying one of those 8x8 characters:

Very cool! I can see the difference when diffusing the pixels individually and it definitely seems more suitable for pixel art. It gives a different effect and I think it looks really good! That last pic with the 8x8 character reminds me of one of those old church windows :)

And for referee, this is what it’s like with no diffuser at all:

Your eyes wont see it this way, of course, since you’ll be blind.

The laser-cut acrylic grid for the Unicorn, would you create a new diffuser product out of it?

…please? :)

Perhaps pimoroni can create a gridded diffuser, I’d gladly purchase one! Else I’d be interested in buying just the grid if you want to sell me one of those, I suppose I could just cover it with paper like you did!