I just got my first HAT today (The Sense HAT). I placed it on the GPIO pins and played around with it for a while. But then I wanted to remove it to access the pins again. I found the HAT very hard to remove. I eventually got it off, but the black socket on the Sense HAT was loosened. I pushed it back on, but I don't want the connections to weaken and break. This worries me, and I want to be able to keep my Pi and my Sense HAT safe. Is there a recommended or safer way to remove one?

I thought that maybe the plastic just needed some loosening up, so I put the HAT back on and took it off again. I bent pins 1 and 2 in the process... I bent them back and they are fine, but this really worries me.

I do have a Pibow Coupé case on my Pi, if that makes any difference.

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    As long as you pull the HAT straight up, it shouldn't give you any trouble. No pins will bend if you pull it straight up off the Pi. It should be pretty hard to pull off, as each of those pins locks in pretty well. – Patrick Cook Feb 19 '16 at 1:13
  • @PatrickCook So I lifted it straight up, and I bent my pins again :( – Nathan Craddock Feb 19 '16 at 1:50
  • I can't even imagine a way that pulling a straight connector off of straight pins can bend them. Either your HAT has a bad connector, or you're doing something wrong. – Patrick Cook Feb 19 '16 at 3:40
  • Sorry. I meant to say I tried to pull it straight up, but I wasn't getting anywhere so I wiggled it a bit. That's why it bent. I can't seem to get it out if I don't wiggle a bit. – Nathan Craddock Feb 19 '16 at 3:46
  • Is it a 40 pin (20x2) or a 26 pin (13x2) HAT? The 40 pin hats are an absolute pain to remove. The only way I could get mine off (straight off at least) was to unplug my Pi from everything, hold the Pi in one hand and the HAT in the other and just pull like my life depended on it, without wiggling it. – Patrick Cook Feb 19 '16 at 3:54

I do workshops with Sense HATs all the time, taking the HATs on and off regularly. I find that when my colleagues and I take them off we do it carefully (and we've got a technique) because it's our kit and we look after it but when members of the public try it they often end up bending the pins.

You are obviously keen to look after your own kit, but don't worry about taking it off - just be careful and find a way that works: holding the pin side and the opposite side with your fingers, tilt the HAT up and down slightly using the pin side as a hinge, rock it back and forth and it'll come loose.


The Raspberry Pi GPIO pins are pretty durable, but ultimately you should try to minimize damaging the pins by limiting how often you put on/take off full, 40 pin connectors. The nature of the 40 pin connectors is to establish a secure connection, and tends to be difficult to detach. It is by all means possible, and designed to be removable, but in reality it requires patience and slowly, slightly wiggling and getting all of the sides to rise up together. It is important that you use the plastic and not the wires when pulling, and pull straight up.

It would be much safer to use jumper wires, connected to individual GPIO pins. It takes a little more time, but makes it so much easier to remove connections, and will ensure your GPIO pins stay strong. If you look up details about what you're connecting to the Raspberry Pi, you'll realize that many hats and devices (ie: Sense Hat) only need a few connections, vs all 40, so it's not that big of a deal.

If you're having fun with this and want to be able to more quickly swap hats and devices, while also touching your Raspberry Pi less often, you can find a Raspberry Pi GPIO "Breakout Board" or "Breakout Kit", which you would connect to the GPIO, and then to a breadboard. This can help you clean your workspace by putting the Pi elsewhere, keeping it safe from your soldering iron, and making adding components very easy. If you plan on making circuits, or your own hats, this would be a good prototyping solution.


Check pinout here. http://pinout.xyz/pinout/sense_hat

Detach SenseHat from raspberry and connect through breadboard, you will have to connect these pins.

  1. Pin 1 : 3v3 power to power sense hat.

  2. Pin 9 (or any ground pin): Any one ground to complete circuit.

  3. Pin 27 : ID_SD to detect sense hat
  4. Pin 28 : ID_SC to detect sense hat.
  5. Pin 3 (BCM2) and 5 (BCM3): which is the primary GPIO pin used by sensehat.

Alternatively you can replace that sense hat black connector, Which will let you use GPIO pins with sensehat attached. Check this video for the demo. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHMwcdIjQeg&t=338s


but the black socket on the Sense HAT was loosened. I pushed it back on, but I don't want the connections to weaken and break.

Don't worry about that, the black socket on the bottom of the sense hat is actually plugged into a second socket on top which it sometimes starts to unplug from.

There is certainly a knack to unplugging large pin header connectors without bending pins. You have to wiggle them enough to make them give way while not applying so much force that when they do give way you bend the pins.

With something like a pibow coupe that leaves little space between case and card I expect you may do better levering gently with a screwdriver than trying to use your bare hands.

Just be thankful it's a cheap pi and not an expensive devboard.

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    A screwdriver's going to work, but I always finish up nibbling the corners of my headers with the relatively blunt metal tip. My current go-to for brute force wedging is a cheap off-brand version of this plastic spudger. The points and edges are great for applying different kinds of leverage, and you run a little less risk of marking up the plastics on your connectors. Would you be open to the possibility of substituting 'levering tool' for 'screwdriver' with a couple of examples in your answer? – goobering Apr 4 '17 at 11:14

I know this is a little late, but there is a computer repair tool that's shaped like a u, with a 90° bend at the tip. To start, clamp onto the ends of the hat and squeeze gently... Then do the same thing along the wide sides... Once you feel less friction you can try pulling straight up with your hands, or what I do is secure each end with thread and apply a very moderate amount of pulling force. If it's still stuck, I take the U tool and clamp in themiddle and very gently pull up. You do NOT want to be forceful when clamping the middle or you will damage the hat. Basically, once you're comfortable, you can start doing it with fingernails and dexterity... But a noob will always pull to one side or the other and bend the outer pins. Done it lots. The 40 pin is pretty durable, and you can straighten the pins back out just by doing it properly one or two times more. If your gaf factor is really high, and you suck at this... Find a sh*tty old pi or any junk board and practice on that. It feels stupid while you're doing it... But after a while you will naturally just start pulling straight up. It just takes time and patience really. Don't let pride stop you from using the tools if you aren't comfortable with your hands yet

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