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Thanks, Grant

Posted on: July 19th 2020

Grant Imahara passed away last Monday, July 19th 2020. I knew him best from the hit show Mythbusters in which I'd watch either at a friend's house, since I didn't have cable growing up, or at school on days where we had a sub for physics class.

I have a fond memory of Grant coming to U of I's Engineering Open House back in 2009. I didn't get to secure a ticket to see him but I do remember a crowd gathering around him outside sometime. I believe a friend at the time was a head organizer for the events and he was ecstatic to secure Grant as a participant.

As a tribute, I decided to finally break open a pHAT I bought for Raspberry Pis and upgrade the one I've been utilizing. A pHAT is a hardware component add-on and stands for (pi?) Hardware Attached on Top. It usually requires no soldering to attach to the Raspberry Pi and is thus easily removable/installable. This one, however, does require soldering to put together at first.

Here's my setup:

Raspberry pi in orange pimoroni case, pHAT component on side, scattered tools

After I (poorly) soldered on the LED matrices, I taped on the 40-pin connector to start soldering that on. Thanks Pimoroni for the tip!

pHAT with 40-pin connector taped on

Once finished, I attached it to the Pi and eagerly assembled the case back on.

Assembled attached to Pi

I booted up the pi, followed the tutorial for how to program the pHAT, and got LEDs to turn on! Oops, one of the rows of pixels wasn't on, though. See the 6th matrix of LEDs, 3rd row from the bottom.

pHAT LEDs on with a row on the right-most column not turning on

I probably should have tested it first before assembling the case back on!

I hit up Pimoroni's Discord channel and posted my issue. Someone got back to me and gave feedback on my soldering job on the afflicted matrix, saying the joins probably weren't complete. Again, I haven't soldered in awhile so my skills were rusty.

I opened up the case again, took off the pHAT, fired up my soldering iron once again, and redid the joins on the matrix that had the issue.

Back of pHAT with fixed soldering

I tested it to make sure the once-broken pixels turned on, and they did! I assembled everything back togather and now have a sweet attachment to the Pi that's on my desk.

Thank you for the inspiration and hard work, Grant. We'll all miss you.

pHAT display on Raspberry Pi showing 'Thank you, Grant Imahara!' in horizontal scrolling text.