RoadTest: Assembled Gertboard
Evaluation Type: Evaluation Boards
Did you receive all parts the manufacturer stated would be included in the package?: True
What other parts do you consider comparable to this product?: PiFace, Arduino.
What were the biggest problems encountered?: Finding the latest documentation was tricky, and needed to supply my own connectors to use all of the LEDs.
When I first heard about the gertboard I did not think much of it, as it is really easy to connect things to the Raspberry Pi if you're careful with voltage. However, once I had it in my hands I started to really like it. The Gertboard is like having multiple testing boards at once, down the middle is the "buffered I/O" which allows safe communication to/from the Pi. On the right hand side is a motor controller, and analog to digital converters. And on the left hand side was the biggest surprise (to me) an Arduino-compativle Atmel chip.
Finding the right documentation was tricky, as there was some promotion materials enclosed, but no direct link to howtos or manuals. However, once I found the "Gertboard User Manual" I was up and running quickly. There are some on-board LEDs and switches, and it was easy to start to interact with them from the Pi (although there wasn't enough connectors supplied to light all of the LEDs!). It's harder to access the Atmel chip, getting the Arduino environment up is tricky, but the user manual helps.
In general, I think this is a great piece of equipment, really useful for learning to interact with components without worrying about destroying the Pi. I love the idea of using it for workshops, and another way to learn about Arduino-like systems. But, on the down side, it's tricky getting started if you didn't do the research, the enclosed material was a little bit of a head-scratcher, and I don't think they should have skimped on the connectors.