Raspberry Pi Accessory: Sense HAT - Review

Table of contents

RoadTest: Raspberry Pi Accessory: Sense HAT

Author: jkutzsch

Creation date:

Evaluation Type: Independent Products

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?: This product comes with a Gyroscope, Accelerometer, Magnetometer, Barometer, Temperature sensor, Relative Humidity sensor, 8x8 LED matrix display and a Small 5 button joystick. I don't know of any other comparable products for the Raspberry Pi that provides all of these.

What were the biggest problems encountered?: The amount of information provided from the product once powered up and running. I actually had to slow down the reporting features to save card space. It does it's job well!

Detailed Review:

First off I would like to thank Element 14 in allowing me the opportunity to RoadTest the Sensehat.  It is an incredibly fun and interesting device and I can see where it would be an asset to anyone wanting to explore the capabilities of the the Raspberry Pi.


This Review is about the Sensehat and as such I think the product performed wonderfully.  My further project involved additional equipment outside the Sensehat and as a caveat to anyone wanting to experiment with the Sensehat you will need additional items since it is not a standalone item.  Element 14 supplied a Raspberry PI 3 which I greatly appreciated and believe works very well with the product.  If you are brand new to Raspberry Pi's and do not have the basic items already I highly suggest you look at something like Element 14s: Raspberry Pi 3 IBM IoT Learner Kit, BCM2837 did a RoadTest review of the kit and you will see that it provides additional parts needed as a kit such as power supply, memory card, enclosure, etc..


What first attracted my interest in the Sensehat was the Astro Pi project from back in 2015.  If you want to see more on the project they do have their own website https://astro-pi.org

The Raspberry Pi Magazine MagPi has several articles on the Astro Pi and even focused their issue 47 on it!  BLAST OFF WITH THE MAGPI 47 ASTRO PI SPECIAL!

Lots of fascinating documentation and ideas to apply to the Sensehat and that in turn made me wonder how I could Astro Pi here on the Farm...


Then it came to me, this year we have added Bees to our location and we currently have 3 hives.  I want to take the SenseHat and RPI3 and use them for datalogging in a Bee hive.  Kind of a Journey to the Planet of Bees trip.




While a SpaceSuit is not required, proper Beesuit protection does show some similarities!



Our first hive is a standard Langstroth 10 frame hive setup.



Another is a 8 frame setup with a FlowHive for observation.


The FlowHive is the top box sitting on 2 standard 8 frame Deeps.




This is the observation window on the other side of the hive letting you see the bees.  As you can imagine this is cool, but not the best for data logging.  It really is more for honey collection and simple observation and not full data logging.


So looking at some fine European designs from Slovenia I adapted my own hive format using standard Langstroth frames inside but custom hive box outside that will let me observe and data log.




As you can see there is a screened internal compartment that will allow temperature, humidity and barometer readings.  Previously I have seen where someone tried this with an arduino but they placed the sensor directly into the frames area.  The bees quickly destroyed the sensors.  My box design eliminates that.


Why monitor these things?




Here is one of the hives getting too hot and the bees having to stay outside the box in an attempt to keep things cool.


I plan on following https://www.raspberrypi.org/learning/sense-hat-data-logger/  and seeing how this works with the Planet of The Bees.


While I can't travel to space, I like the idea of using this to data log another environment that would be considered alien to most normal humans.



So now I had a plan and Element 14 was kind of enough to send me 1 Raspberry PI 3 and a Sensehat to start datalogging!


Using the above Sense Hat DataLogger link for a guide, I was able to pretty easily set up my project.  I did run into a few snags due to not wanting quite as much information flow as is default and the fact I was using a small 4400mAH from Walmart.  But that was not any issue with the Sensehat and I was able to overcome with some tweaking.




Every good exploration needs a transport craft, here I introduce the garden wagon repurposed into a PIRover!  On the top right near the front of the PiRover is the plastic box shielding the BeeDatalogger from the harsh elements of the High Desert during transport.




Destination ahead, severe terrain successfully conquered!





Transport arrives safely.  Ready to place BeeDatalogger into hostile environment.




BeeDatalogger deployed, protective casing redistributed to support devices and minimize movement.




Hostile Environment returned to normal status.  Lower door has venting opening and due to structural weakness, a bend in the lower hive walls has also created a gap.  Hive 2 and 3 were built with further modifications to avoid this defect but also allow more venting if needed.  Data from the BeeDatalogger will make me reconsider having the venting open this late into the summer with the evenings dropping so quickly in heat.


Below is some snips of data captures.  The first set shows when the BeeDatalogger was being transferred from inside to outside and over to the hives.  You can see a more settled number in the further sets shown.


temp_h,             humidity,            pressure,             timestamp

24.0101928711,37.5987358093,852.6088867188,2017-08-20 12:36:14.397687

24.5053958893,36.5509338379,852.6105957031,2017-08-20 12:37:14.533148

25.1244010925,36.2580986023,852.5920410156,2017-08-20 12:38:14.643299

25.4427452087,35.8966293335,852.5837402344,2017-08-20 12:39:14.778433

25.8672065735,34.0709838867,852.5954589844,2017-08-20 12:40:14.913597


38.3003616333,17.4342575073,851.5563964844,2017-08-20 14:00:25.366658

38.2472991943,17.214630127,851.5571289063,2017-08-20 14:01:25.505479

38.1588745117,17.7453956604,851.5744628906,2017-08-20 14:02:25.640536

38.4772186279,18.0245037079,851.5656738281,2017-08-20 14:03:25.779167

38.2649879456,17.4296798706,851.5534667969,2017-08-20 14:04:25.878807


39.5914268494,13.0279941559,850.1062011719,2017-08-20 16:00:39.480468

39.3968811035,12.9319076538,850.15234375,    2017-08-20 16:01:39.615704

39.5383682251,13.1698379517,850.1123046875,2017-08-20 16:02:39.697676

39.3084526062,13.641119957,850.0529785156,  2017-08-20 16:03:39.832781

39.3438262939,14.505900383,850.0964355469,  2017-08-20 16:04:39.967899

39.1139068604,13.5633354187,850.0773925781, 2017-08-20 16:05:40.102924

39.0785369873,13.1652622223,850.12109375,    2017-08-20 16:06:40.224927


37.645980835,30.0399169922,849.9685058594,  2017-08-20 20:00:08.384985

37.6282958984,29.2117404938,849.9709472656,2017-08-20 20:01:08.473600

37.6813545227,26.6677303314,849.9909667969,2017-08-20 20:02:08.563823

37.4160690308,27.5965690613,849.9921875,      2017-08-20 20:03:08.650954

37.5752410889,27.5508136749,849.9929199219,2017-08-20 20:04:08.785965


32.1279983521,21.012342453,851.0461425781,  2017-08-20 21:40:20.787216

32.0218811035,20.3992176056,851.0297851563,2017-08-20 21:41:20.926029

32.1103134155,20.6188430786,851.0581054688,2017-08-20 21:42:21.042892

31.9865112305,20.2985553741,851.044921875,  2017-08-20 21:43:21.177877


Below is the original data capture snippet before I pruned it down to key elements I was interested:


24.01019287109375,37.59873580932617,852.60888671875,3.0769893354767546,356.7397581831957,196.53121112225224,-16.07864761352539,4.582283973693848,2.674551248550415,-0.05479751527309418,-0.05837666615843773,0.999400794506073,['x'],['y'],['z'],2017-08-20 12:36:14.397687

24.505395889282227,36.550933837890625,852.610595703125,19.94621850866116,283.99067012343085,228.92401163844136,-33.4681396484375,9.014966011047363,5.626317501068115,-0.05282283201813698,-0.053793374449014664,0.9998881816864014,['x'],['y'],['z'],2017-08-20 12:37:14.533148

25.124401092529297,36.25809860229492,852.592041015625,46.10936399232714,235.9758677677777,233.196281303906,-41.31600570678711,11.634872436523438,6.675432205200195,-0.0681266337633133,-0.055481959134340286,0.9991570711135864,['x'],['y'],['z'],2017-08-20 12:38:14.643299

25.442745208740234,35.896629333496094,852.583740234375,57.688638333763116,152.0986959098326,198.13398331288744,-44.46833038330078,12.860700607299805,6.810937881469727,-0.0466519370675087,-0.041973307728767395,1.0001319646835327,['x'],['y'],['z'],2017-08-20 12:39:14.778433

25.867206573486328,34.07098388671875,852.595458984375,28.449141496977546,61.378053806404715,175.02486789676237,-44.81523132324219,14.691437721252441,6.785888671875,-0.04739244282245636,-0.03956104815006256,0.9996444582939148,['x'],['y'],['z'],2017-08-20 12:40:14.913597



As you can see there is some spacing there between where the sensors will be and the actual bees themselves.  I may look at placing some type of temperature sensor directly in the frame area in the future just to compare data captures but it is pretty much guaranteed the Busy Bees will not appreciate the foreign object and will do their best to destroy it.


I am currently researching a way to adapt a solar system to allow power out there and a prolonged amount of data to be captured.  I was not impressed by the how quickly the battery died and even on how it had problems powering the system when I was running wifi and all the bells and whistles.  Definitely a learning experience on that part!


The SenseHat is an item that I will be reusing over and over again.  There are so many different ideas I have for it that I may get another to have so I can run dual projects. 


Remember the Astro Pi project?


They have decided to upgrade it!  Check out the latest information on that at the Raspberry Pi.org website.  https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/astro-pi-upgrades/


In closing I once again would like to thank Element 14 for allowing me to RoadTest this fun and exciting piece of equipment.  I think this would be a great addon to any educational and/or hobby kit!


If you have an specific questions on how I adapted the code to limit the dataflow or other items please let me know.  I didn't want to make this into to lengthy of a RoadTest.  :-)

  • Fascinating idea and project, I love it! But where are the images of the stuff you built ?



  • Nice road test report John.


    Could you attach the code you used?


    I am curious if the SenseHat accelerometers could detect the migration of the Bees in and out of the hives during the day.


    My thought is that there would be an exodus during the early morning to collect honey and then an ingress as they return carrying the pollen.


    Could be an insight into daily activity in the hive.


    Just a thought,