Computers, Laptops & Tablets Accessories & Hardware Top 10 GPIO Breakout Boards Navigate your GPIO pins with this selection of breakout boards Share Pin Email Print Corbis / VCG / Getty Images Accessories & Hardware Raspberry Pi Keyboards & Mice Monitors Cards HDD & SSD Printers & Scanners By Richard Saville Writer Richard Saville is a former Lifewire writer and computer enthusiast who has invented several add-on boards for Raspberry Pi and has been published in MagPi and other outlets. our editorial process Facebook Twitter Richard Saville Updated August 20, 2019 In our last article, we gave you a guided tour of the Raspberry Pi's GPIO pins. That showed you what each type of pin did in terms of functionality, but as soon as you start working with the GPIO in your projects, you'll need to get familiar with the pin numbers. Navigating the Raspberry Pi's 40 GPIO pins is a bit of a burden on the eyes. Trying to find the right pin number, or identify which pin supports SPI, UART, I2C or other functions can be difficult. As always, when life has a problem, there's always someone that will design a solution. Breakout and label boards have swamped the Raspberry Pi accessory market as they're somewhat a must-have tool for anyone thinking of using the GPIO. Some offer printed labels of each pin number and function, some come with different connection options, and others combine this with additional features such as breadboards. There's a board for everyone! I've rounded up what I believe to be 10 of the best options on the market today. 01 of 10 Mayhew Labs Pi Screw The Mayhew Labs Pi Screw. Mayhew Labs What We Like No need to solder. Includes terminal block labels. Comes with display and camera connectors. What We Don't Like Header for pins is somewhat short. Some access to terminal screws can be awkward. Jumper wires are great, but they're not the only way to wire your prototype. Sometimes you need to use a regular piece of wire — and that's where a breakout board such as the Pi Screw comes in handy. The Pi screw breaks out each GPIO pin to an angled screw terminal, handy for projects that involve things like motors that don't usually come with jumper wire ends. Each GPIO pin is clearly labeled on the terminal blocks, and the board comes with a bonus prototyping area to add components to. 02 of 10 RasPiO Portsplus The RasPiO Portsplus. Alex Eames / RasP.iO What We Like Ports are clearly labeled. Very thin, lots of room for wires. Very inexpensive. What We Don't Like Doesn't fit in official Raspberry Pi case. Requires jumper wires to connect power bus on both sides of board. One of the most popular options for identifying your GPIO pins is the Portsplus from Alex Eames (RasPiO), who also writes a very popular Raspberry Pi Blog over at RasPi.TV. It's a small PCB that fits over your GPIO pins, showing the pin numbers next to each one. The PCB is thin enough to allow the use of jumper wires with the board fitted and is gold plated (ENIG) which resists corrosion. Bonus feature — it can also be used as a key ring, for all you mobile makers out there! 03 of 10 Adafruit Pi T-Cobbler Plus The Adafruit Pi T-Cobbler. Adafruit What We Like Pin information stenciled on board. Designed to attach via ribbon cable. Header arrangement provides better access. What We Don't Like Connector can be connected backwards. Somewhat pricey. The T-Cobbler Plus from Adafruit fulfills two roles — it breaks out the GPIO pins to a breadboard, and labels them at the same time. Your Pi is connected to the cobbler via a GPIO belt, and then sends each GPIO pin into a breadboard lane. Whilst this is handy for wiring up projects, the use of the belt takes up more space than other options, but you can't ignore the benefit of having port numbers next to your breadboard. 04 of 10 Willow Components Breakout PiH The Willow Components Breakout Pi H. Willow Components What We Like Ribbon cable connection. No jumper required for bus power. What We Don't Like Difficult to find and buy. Requires soldering very thin wires. Relatively small supplier Willow Components offer this interesting H-shaped breakout board for your Raspberry Pi. Similar to the Adafruit T-Cobbler Plus, the board fits onto a breadboard and uses a belt to attach to your Pi. The unique feature of the PiH is the additional section that breaks out power to the breadboard's outer lanes, which will reduce the number of wires on your project, making prototyping just that little bit easier. 05 of 10 Abelectronics Pi Plus Breakout The Abelectronics Pi Plus Breakout. Abelectronics What We Like Inexpensive. Well organized pin pads. 40 pin header. What We Don't Like Requires soldering. Requires mount kit pack to mount to Pi. The Pi Plus Breakout mixes GPIO reference card style with breadboard ability, allowing the user to choose which type of header to solder to the board depending on how they intend to use it. Users can choose to fit it to a breadboard by soldering the specific headers and attaching a GPIO belt cable, or opt to solder a female GPIO header and use it more like a reference card — albeit with more spaced out pins making things a bit clearer. The board also has upper HAT mount holes for a really secure fit to your Raspberry Pi. 06 of 10 Pimoroni Black HAT Hack3r The Pimoroni Black Hat Hack3r. Pimroni What We Like 40 pin ribbon cable. All pins well labeled. Includes rubber, non-stick feet. Very well made. What We Don't Like Must be used in one orientation only. Requires fine soldering skills. The Black HAT Hack3r is a whole new take on the GPIO breakout/labeling 'norm' and offers a really useful 'dual-GPIO' feature. The idea of the board is to allow you to fit a HAT or add-on board on one set of GPIO pins and leaves a second set free for connecting other components or devices. There's also a smaller version available — the Mini Black HAT Hack3r. 07 of 10 RasPiO Pro Hat The RasPiO Pro HAT. RasPiO What We Like Well labeled sockets. Built-in current limiting resistors. Protection circuit on each port. No soldering required. What We Don't Like Not appropriate for advanced projects. No soldering means loose connections. The Pro HAT, from the maker of the PortsPlus, is a handy board that offers yet another helpful way of laying out GPIO pins whilst making prototyping easy at the same time. GPIO pins are laid out around the outer edge of the HAT, surrounding a small breadboard in numerical order — which means no more confusing random pin layouts! Another smart feature of this board is the protection it offers — each GPIO pin is hooked up to clever circuitry that protects against wiring mistakes that could lead to over-current or over/under-voltage. 08 of 10 Adafruit GPIO Reference Card The Adafruit GPIO Reference Card. Adafruit What We Like Inexpensive. Fits only one way. Easy to use. What We Don't Like Low tech solution. Low profile Another GPIO label card offering, this time from Adafruit in their iconic blue PCB color. Whilst the RasPiO Portsplus focusses on showing all GPIO numbers, the Adafruit board instead highlights the different GPIO functions available such as SPI, UART, I2C and more. Depending on what you'd rather see from a label card, the Adafruit board offers a different way to identify your GPIO pins. 09 of 10 52Pi Multiplexing Expansion Board The 52Pi Multiplexing Expansion Board. 52Pi What We Like Useful expansion plate. Easy to connect. Creates 3 copies of GPIO pins. What We Don't Like Larger profile than other cards. Difficult to find and buy. Another add-on that offers multiple break-outs of the GPIO — the 52Pi Multiplexing Expansion Board offers no less than three GPIO headers! It's hard to think of why you might need three breakouts, however, when considering some of the smaller add-ons that could be fitted on top of this board, the use case becomes clear. The layout and labeling are somewhat unconventional, but it should still be a helpful tool for those of you that need all of those pins! 10 of 10 RasPiO GPIO Ruler The RasPiO GPI Ruler. RasPiO What We Like Inexpensive. Multiuse as a regular ruler. Small and easy to store. What We Don't Like Low tech solution. Small and easy to lose. Yet another product from the GPIO labeling masters at RasPiO, but one that can't be omitted from this list as it's a very unique product on the GPIO labeling market. The RasPiO GPIO Ruler gives you the usual straight edges you desire from this classic pencil case item, however with a very useful twist. The ruler features a very similar GPIO labeling section to the Portplus before it, alongside some of the most commonly used code examples for using the Raspberry Pi's GPIO with Python. A new 12" version has also just been released on crowdfunding site Kickstarter, which this time features GPIO Zero code examples.