What is the correct term for a RPi shield? Should we correct mistakes when we see them in posts?

I have seen "Expansion Board" used in the wild, but that sounds a bit boring.

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    Can you please define shield so that everybody knows what to look for? – user46 Jun 12 '12 at 21:28
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    Google "Arduino shield" – user13 Jun 12 '12 at 21:55

I don't think we should use the term "shield", as it implies (at least in my mind) Arduino compatibility, and in electronics "shield" tends to imply electromagnetic shielding.

"Expansion board" is a clear term - it's a circuit board add-on used to expand the capabilities of a device. There exist expansion boards for a variety of devices and purposes, whereas "shields" tend to be Arduino exclusive.

Raspberry Pi is compatible with a large range of 3rd party accessories, many of which aren't expansion boards - e.g. USB Cameras, USB Microcontrollers. These devices plug in to the RPi to extend it's capabilities, but are not especially designed for it. There may also be circuit boards designed exclusively for the RPi (and will likely plug in via GPIO and/or USB) - these should be called "expansion boards".

  • I agree that calling them Shields is misleading, but disagree with calling them Expansion Boards. It's a bit boring. – Alex Chamberlain Jun 13 '12 at 6:52
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    It may be boring, but at least it's clear - and I'd argue that's the most important thing at present. – berry120 Jun 13 '12 at 12:50

I have seen "Expansion Board" used in the wild, but that sounds a bit boring.

That's probably what they thought at the Pi Foundation too... and which is why they came up with HAT. While the HAT (Hardware Attached on Top) expansion boards might not cover all possible boards, they are quite common now.

The models A+, B+, 2B and Zero support the HAT ID bus.


I knew I'd seen another name somewhere! Some people are using the term Backpack; for example, Raspberry Pi XBee SMT Backpack. Not sure if this will catch on or not?

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    Whether it catches on or not, we should wait and see before using it generically - otherwise I can see it getting very confusing! – berry120 Jun 29 '12 at 12:58

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