In this video, we explain everything you might need if you just bought a Raspberry Pi or are thinking about buying one. You can also download our Unofficial Raspberry Pi Guide Unofficial Guide Unofficial Guide

1. There are two models

There are technically two variants of the Raspberry Pi: models A and B. Model A costs $25 and was the original design with 256MB of RAM and no network port; Model B has 512 megabytes of RAM and costs $35. Model B is more accessible, so most projects and tutorials assume you have Model B.

2. It’s a computer

The Raspberry Pi is essentially a mini computer with an ARM processor, memory, and graphics capabilities. It requires an operating system to run.

3. Works under Linux

While the Pi is a capable computer in its own right, it won’t run Windows — you’ll find various Linux options instead, and there’s even a Risc OS and Amiga OS version. The official operating system is a version of Debian Linux called Raspbian, and in almost all of my own Raspberry Pi guides you find on , we assume you’re running the latest version and a clean install of Raspian. In order to try anything, it is suggested to download the NOOBS tool, which is a graphical boot menu to open several different operating systems.

4. Bring your own storage

Storage is one of the few things the Raspberry Pi doesn’t include in the box. Instead, you need to provide an SD card with the operating system image loaded on it, and you should only use class 10 or higher SD cards. Use a tool such as Win32 Disk Imager to burn the booted operating system, or copy the NOOBS files to a freshly formatted FAT card, then you can insert it into the Pi and boot.

5. It’s USB powered

The Raspberry Pi is powered by micro-USB, the same connector found on most Android phones. It is recommended to use a wall outlet to provide sufficient current, but depending on your computer, a standard USB port may suffice, or a powered USB hub may also work.

6. You can use Ethernet or WiFi

For connectivity, each Pi (Model B) is equipped with a built-in Ethernet interface up to 100Mbps. You can also connect a compatible Wi-Fi interface. but whether your particular operating system supports it out of the box is another matter. Two USB ports are supplied, but getting a powered USB hub is highly recommended as there is very little power delivered through the ports. Everything will be fine if you just plug in the Wi-Fi adapter.

7. You can use it without a dedicated monitor

Video output is either through an analog RCA connection for older TVs or through the more typical HDMI for HDTVs and monitors. The easiest way to get started is to simply connect your keyboard and mouse to the USB ports and load your chosen graphical environment. However, for many projects, it is recommended to run your Raspberry Pi offline, which means connecting to it over the network from another computer using the terminal command SSH (you can also use Putty on windows) . The default username and password is — pi and raspberry respectively. After logging in, you will have remote access to the command line without having to connect a monitor, keyboard, and mouse to the Pi itself.

8. Has non-standard 3.3V GPIO pins

Interestingly, there is also a set of GPIO pins that stands for universal input/output equivalent to digital outputs input/output Arduino. However, you have to be a lot more careful when working with them because (a) it’s much easier to overload the Pi and burn it out, and (b) it runs on non-standard 3.3V, unlike the Arduino IO pins which are 5V. Since most of the sensors you will encounter will require 5V, you will need to use transistors, mospheres, or other electronics to modify this circuit. This isn’t to say that electronics projects are particularly difficult for the Pi, but if you plan on using circuits designed for Arduino, it might be better to plug the Arduino into a USB port and connect such a circuit instead.

9. You need a case

You should buy a case as soon as possible — there are many options for cases and you’ll even be able to 3D print one — the only thing you really need to know is if you want to open a hole to access the GPIO ports. I picked up a transparent case for about $10.

10. It’s expandable

Like the Arduino, there are a few add-on boards you can pick up and plug into the Pi, such as the Gertboard or Laika Explorer Board, which add a range of switches, LEDs, sensors, and motor controllers; there are mini LCD displays; and there’s an official camera add-on, though you can use most USB webcams fairly easily. The range is not as wide as the Arduino shields, but if you have a particular need for a specific shield, you can also connect an Arduino and use it that way.

11. It’s versatile

What can you do with Raspberry Pi? Last week I created a DIY SafePlug. which is an anonymous Tor router that broadcasts the WiFi network and routes your communications through the many layers of global Tor nodes. Next week I’ll try to adapt this as a public Wi-Fi network, but with one small change: it will replace all images with an image of a kitten of the same size. Right now I’m using my Pi as a controller for these cryptocurrency ASICs which mine several thousand Dogecoins every day – the low cost of the Pi, combined with its extremely low power consumption, makes it ideal for this. Some people turn their Pi into a living room home theater using either XBMC’s own turn turn or an optimized OpenElec distribution; and there’s even a special ROM emulator distribution called PiMame that can run pretty much anything about the Dreamcast console generations.

There is a lot you can do with the Raspberry Pi and there is a huge community to support you. What are you waiting for?

Image Credits: Jan Barbour Via Flickr

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