7 months ago

LED SHIM review

This slimline LED strip could give your Pi the (illuminated) edge

After upping the pixel count on its Unicorn HAT and Scroll pHAT, Pimoroni has done a similar trick for its Blinkt! LED strip, but this time it comes in super-slim SHIM form. Packing 28 tiny RGB pixels – about half the size of the Pi’s own status LEDs – the LED SHIM simply slips onto the GPIO pins with no soldering required.

The ‘friction fit’ keeps it in place, even when turned upside down. While it worked fine on most Pi boards we tried, we did have an issue with a poor pin connection on one Pi that resulted in an I/O error. A bit of jiggling usually fixes the issue but if not, there’s always the option of soldering the SHIM to the GPIO or adding a female header.

This article first appeared in The MagPi 73 and was written by Phil King

At a mere 0.8 mm thick, the SHIM leaves plenty of room on top to add a HAT or pHAT. And since it only uses two I2C pins, there should be no pin conflict issues. The LED strip protrudes from the edge so it’s still perfectly visible with another board on top; the only downside is that you might have trouble fitting the Pi in a case.

Bright and beautiful

Arranged in a single row, and driven by the same LED matrix chip used on the Scroll pHAT HD, the 28 LED pixels are tiny but bright. A one-line installer command adds the software library and a host of examples. The latter demonstrate numerous possible use-cases – such as a VU meter, Twitter status, and data display – as well as some impressive animated effects.

There are also some examples of using the SHIM with other boards such as the Enviro pHAT – for which there’s a colour-coded direction meter and a spirit level.

Coding it is similar to on the Blinkt!, using a ‘set’ function to select a pixel’s RGB shade, then a ‘show’ function to light it. So it’s simple to start creating your own lighting effects.

Last word


Ideal for a status display, or some cool lighting effects on the edge of your Pi, this super-slim SHIM has numerous possible uses and can work with add-on boards on top.