Raspberry Pi Sense Hat

I recently acquired a Sense Hat, and despite not having much use for it, i decided to have some fun and learning a little along the way.

The hardware

The Sense-hat is a little Hat for Raspberry Pi’s that contains a bunch of sensors, along with a small 8x8 RGB LED Matrix. It contains the following sensors:

  • Gyroscope
  • Accelerometer
  • Magnetometer
  • Temperature
  • Barometric pressure
  • Humidity

Along with the hardware, there’s an official Sense-Hat Python library available.

Getting Started

Setting up is a matter of installing the sense-hat library, which in Raspbian can be accomplished by

sudo apt-get install sense-hat

After installing, you can test out the module by firing up python and import the sense-hat library, and i.e. get a temperature reading

Python 3.4.2 (default, Oct 19 2014, 13:31:11)
[GCC 4.9.1] on linux
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.
>>> from sense_hat import SenseHat
>>> sense = SenseHat()
>>> sense.get_temperature()

After confirming that the module works, it’s only a question of studying the library.


After playing around with the Sense-Hat hardware it’s clear that it is in fact a quite powerful piece of hardware, but one that mostly feels like a gimmick. With the Sense-Hat’s main purpose being educational this is fine. It doesn’t really have a use outside education though. For real-world usage, there are cheaper and better solutions readily available.

The Sense-Hat isn’t without problems either. When mounted on a RPi 3, the temperature sensors are off by 3-6 C, simply by being too close to the CPU.

Overall the Sense-Hat fills it’s purpose as a learning tool. It’s super easy to get started with, and has the potential to teach the use of sensors in projects.

See also