1. Raspberry Pi
You’ve probably heard of the Raspberry Pi: a palm-sized computer with enough power to run servers or media centers paired with retro games; with the ability to connect to security systems and projects for enthusiasts; and with programming tools to encourage learning and understanding of programming.
Since its launch in 2012, the Pi has surpassed all expectations, becoming a must-have piece of computing equipment for enthusiasts and tech executives alike. For a small project designed to be sold to schools and colleges for the purpose of teaching programming principles, this is not bad.
In this guide, you’ll find everything you need to know about the Raspberry Pi computer, its history, purpose, system specs, the software it runs, and the amazing things it can do.
1.1 What is Raspberry Pi?
Capable of offering basic office computing, low-level gaming, Internet and email access, media playback, and many other features that are regularly expected from a computer in the 21st century, the Pi achieves it all with a reduced component count, an ARM processor, and a very low price.
Costs are kept low by selling a computer without cables, storage, or a case. Cables and storage are, of course, vital, and if you decide you need a case, there are various solutions (see below). 3.1: Options case).
1.1.1 Other tiny computers
You may know that Pi is not the only small computer project. Over the past few years, there have been a number of stripped-down low-cost computers released to enthusiasts, somewhat reminiscent of the golden home days of the 1970s and 1980s.
Other small computers include:
- Arduino : focused on providing a computer interface for electronics projects. However, the Arduino is more of a control device and can be used in conjunction with the Pi to control projects with moving components. See what an Arduino is
- ODROID : A slightly bulky computer with the same processor as the Samsung Galaxy S3 smartphone. This runs Android OS, Arch Linux and Ubuntu.
- Pine A64 : Not yet available, this 64-bit ARM device runs Android and is slightly larger than the Raspberry Pi.
Availability for these projects differs from the Pi, which due to its low cost (and despite lower specs than ODROID and Gooseberry) has proven to be extremely popular. This is no doubt partly for successful supply chain management and delivery, as well as for the philosophy behind the device.
1.2 Ethos of the Raspberry Pi
Designing and building an inexpensive computer that was so flexible was the idea of a group of programmers such as Eben Upton and David Braben, both of whom are members of the Raspberry Pi Foundation. Their idea for this computer was to develop hardware that children and students could use to learn programming. The low cost of computers means they can be sold to schools around the world, thus offering educational opportunities for everyone.
1.3 Some ways to use Raspberry Pi
Enthusiasts around the world use the Pi for much more than its original purpose. The Media Center software exists as a version of Kodi, and there are several Linux distributions that can be installed.
Retro gaming is possible (modern games since circa 2000 require much more hardware resources), as is multimedia playback; Notably, the Pi is capable of HD video. You can also use the device as a web server, print server, stop motion camera, time lapse camera, digital photo server, NAS controller, home security computer… the possibilities are endless!
Later in this guide, we’ll take a look at operating systems and media center software. Meanwhile, in Section 8 «Fun Using the Pi» provides an overview of many other uses of the computer.
2. What’s inside the Raspberry Pi?
One would expect the Raspberry Pi’s specs to be low, but the device isn’t so stripped down that it’s useless. Rather, it combines quad-core processing and sizable cache with smart engineering to deliver a pleasant computing experience.
Some aspects of Pi are up to you. It usually comes without a case, storage, or cables, although it can be bought as a bundle. If you choose a board alone, you’ll be surprised to find how much is available in terms of peripherals and storage. This is largely due to the hardware options that the device supports.
2.1 Raspberry Pi system specifications
There are four versions of the Raspberry Pi: model A , model B , computing module and zero . We will ignore the compute module in this guide; This sends directly to hardware manufacturers, typically for smart home projects.
Between the Raspberry Pi Model A, Model B and Zero, you will find small but important differences.
- Raspberry Pi Model A+ A: The latest version is $20, with a Broadcom BCM2835 SoC, a 700MHz single-core processor, 512MB of RAM, and one USB.
- Raspberry Pi Model B : available in two versions:
- Raspberry Pi 2 A: It’s $35 with BCM2837 SoC, 64-bit 900MHz quad-core CPU, 1GB RAM shared with GPU, and four USB ports.
- Raspberry Pi 3 A: For $35, it also features a BCM2837 SoC, this time with a 1.2GHz 64-bit quad-core processor and 1GB of shared RAM. Again, there are four USB ports.
- Raspberry Pi Zero :
- Available for just $5 (a $10 wireless version is also available), this 32-bit compact Raspberry Pi features a BCM2835 SoC with a 1GHz processor and 512MB of GPU-shared RAM.
- See our dedicated Raspberry Pi Zero guide. for more information.
Some aspects of the Pi’s hardware (despite the Pi Zero) remain standard. It has a micro-USB power connector, with an HDMI port. The Ethernet port is connected to the USB bus, and the microSD port. Then there’s the dual purpose 3.5mm mini jack for audio and video if your output device doesn’t have HDMI.
You’ll also find ribbon ports for displays and a Raspberry Pi camera module.
2.1.1 How big is the Raspberry Pi?
In addition, each model is slightly different in size. The latest Model A and Model B boards (Pi 2 and Pi 3) are 85.60 mm × 56.5 mm (3.370 in × 2.224 in), while the Pi Zero is 65 mm × 30 mm (2.56 in) × 1.18 inches). The depth of the board also changes; The zero is only 5mm deep, while the Model B boards are 17mm deep thanks to additional hardware connectors.
One of the greatest things about the Pi is that the developers never rested on their laurels. Revisions are released regularly, both hardware and software. For example, Model A and Model B initially launched with 256MB of RAM. This was updated in 2014 to 512MB. However, the Raspberry Pi 2 and 3 come with 1GB of RAM.
2.1.2 GPIO pins
An array of GPIO pins comes with the Raspberry Pi. They can be used for a wide variety of tasks, from controlling a Pi (perhaps a game controller or other input device) to controlling or receiving power from a secondary device.
The GPIO pins vary depending on the model (and some versions) of the Pi, so make sure you use them correctly.
While the detailed use of GPIO pins is outside the scope of this guide, security is not. You will need the same careful approach to connecting to these pins as you would on any computer or circuit board. Without proper care, you risk blowing up your Raspberry Pi’s processor if the GPIO pins are used incorrectly. Make sure you check the voltage across the cable before connecting to your Pi!
2.2 Development of the Raspberry Pi
The prototype computer that would become the Raspberry Pi dates back to 2006. The Raspberry Pi Foundation was established in 2008, but it wasn’t until 2011 that the possibility of releasing the computer as a viable project became apparent.
While the original 10,000 boards were built in Taiwan and China, the Pi is now being built in the United Kingdom, in South Wales. After its launch on February 29, 2012, 500,000 boards were sold by September 2012. As of November 2016, an astonishing 11 million Raspberry Pis have been sold, according to the Raspberry Pi Foundation!
3. What you need for your Raspberry Pi
As we have seen, pi-ships are as they are. When you open the box, you will only see a small motherboard with the required components. You should be done with cables, case and media.
Cases for this device come in all shapes and sizes, from Lego to downloadable cardboard cutouts. In addition to the case, you will need specific cables for your Raspberry Pi, as well as storage, usually an SD card. Let’s look at your options.
3.1 Case options
The first thing you’ll notice about the new Pi is that it doesn’t come with a case. It’s a bit like running a PC motherboard without worrying about the tower — unwise! Of course, the solution is to find or build a business — what is available?
3.1.1 Punnet Case
The Punnet case is a popular option as it is completely free and easy to make. It exists as a printed form that can be cut and made from thin plastic, heavy paper, or card, providing a home for your Pi computer.
Several versions of penets are available.
- Original punetka suitable for Raspberry Pi Model B
- Modification for Raspberry Pi Model B+ boards
- Revised version for Raspberry Pi 3
There isn’t much you can’t build with Lego, and Pi is no exception. As with any case for this computer, you need to make sure that there is enough space for cables and a memory card and that there is enough ventilation in the case. You can use the Punnet body design to help with the positioning of these gaps.
Various cases are available for the Pi. The only complication comes when choosing the right case for your device. The best places to find a deal are eBay, Amazon, and also:
By the way, if you’re a Lego fan, some cases are designed to be compatible with Lego!
It is also possible to build your own hull from various materials. This eLinux page contains many options. Later versions of various Pi models are equipped with a pair of mounting holes that can be used to mount the Pi. You can find their position with this template from Pi Spy.
3.1.4 Upgrading old hardware
There are many more ways you can fit your Pi into a case — this is just the tip of a very sweet and confection-covered iceberg!
Whichever solution you use, make sure it’s durable, will protect your Raspberry Pi from shock, and provide the necessary airflow to keep the CPU cool.
To get the most out of your Raspberry Pi, you’ll need a few cables:
- ethernet : If you don’t plan on using Wi-Fi (your Pi probably doesn’t have a built-in wireless device and you don’t have a USB Wi-Fi dongle yet), you’ll need this to connect to your router. ,
- HDMI cable A: Notably, the Pi has one HDMI port for high-definition video and audio. Even more notable is Mini-HDMI on the Raspberry Pi Zero. A standard HDMI adapter is included, but if you have a Mini-HDMI cable, it will fit perfectly.
- Audio cable A: The Pi has a dedicated dual-purpose 3.5mm mini jack. Its first use is for audio, ideal for connecting your Pocket PC to speakers. This is useful if you are not using HDMI or want to send audio to another device.
- RCA video cable : the second destination of the mini-jack is the alternative video output (low resolution) for use with non-HDMI displays.
- Micro USB cable A: While you should use a power adapter in most cases (see below), a cable that can handle 5V will prove useful if you need to connect your Pi to a computer. You can also use a portable smartphone charger as a power source.
Cables are not everything, however…
One of the most important elements of any computer is storage, from which the operating system is launched and data is stored. The Pi doesn’t have a hard drive — instead it comes with a microSD card slot.
You should aim to purchase a high-rated SDHC card for use with this mini computer. The capacity should be 8 GB or more — more memory provides the best results. The Pi uses storage much like an SSD, so the SDHC format is used to improve read/write stability.
Additional storage can be connected via the USB ports. It’s also possible to ditch the microSD card and boot from a USB device, but you’ll still need a microSD card to set it up.
One option is to purchase a Western Digital PiDrive hard drive. It comes with a custom version of NOOBS (see below), allowing you to install multiple Pi operating systems on a 375GB or 1TB hard drive. This has the advantage that you don’t have to install a new OS every time you need to start a new project.
3.4 Everything else
There are a few other things you will need to get the Pi working.
- USB keyboard and mouse : very important if you plan to enter any text or use the configuration menu. Once the device has been connected and configured, you can use the USB ports for other purposes (such as additional storage or wireless networking) instead of entering text commands via SSH.
- 5 volts via Micro-USB power adapter.
3.5 Handle with care
Whatever you plan to do with your Raspberry Pi, make sure you respect and deserve it. It may be small, but it’s just as susceptible to damage from static electricity, bumps and bumps, not to mention temperature extremes, as any other computer.
Therefore, you should remove all jewelry and items that attract static electricity (nylon and other man-made fibers as well as wool), move the device in a clean, dust-free area with a hard floor without carpet, and make sure that you have clean hands and you have grounded yourself.
Once your Raspberry Pi is securely protected in a box or case, you can continue to use it just like any other device. However, starting and shutting down can be problematic (especially the last one) — see Section 5.1: Safe startup and shutdown for more details.
4. Raspberry Pi Setup
With the right cables and storage prepared, you should be able to install an operating system on your Pi. However, due to the hardware profile, this is not a device that will run Windows or Mac OS X. Instead, you will need to rely on a Linux distribution.
Other distributions can be downloaded and installed on the Pi, but the most interesting one is Android. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves: keep reading to find out how to install Raspbian.
The following steps are for setting up the software on Windows. Linux users can write to the SD card using the dd tool and Mac OS X users can also use utility for creating dd card or RPi-sd . Full instructions for these platforms are available online.
4.1 Installing Raspbian
To start installing Raspbian, go to the Raspberry Pi Downloads site and download the latest version. You will also need Win32 Disk Imager. With both downloaded, unpack Win32 Disk Imager and insert your card into the card reader.
Run the utility and select the correct drive letter (check in Windows Explorer) and click the file icon to navigate to the directory where you downloaded your latest build of Raspbian.
To start the installation, click » Write» and wait. When the process is completed, you will be notified.
Your Pi is ready to go!
4.1.1 Using Raspi-config
With Raspbian installed on your microSD card, you’re ready to go. Safely remove it from the PC, insert it into the Pi, and turn on the computer by connecting the HDMI cable and keyboard.
The first time you boot up the Pi, you will be taken to the Raspbian Wheezy PIXEL workspace. From here, open the menu, go to » Settings» and open » Raspberry Pi Configuration» .
A command line version of the configuration tool is also available. raspi-config can be run at any time from the command line:
Use the arrow keys on your keyboard to navigate through the menu and make any necessary changes.
Whichever configuration tool you choose, you should check for updates before continuing. To do this, use the option » Update» in the configuration menu and follow the instructions. Once this is done, you must expand the root partition as well.
4.1.2 Managing your Pi with SSH
Headless use of your Raspberry Pi — using it without a dedicated monitor — is achievable using SSH.
You can enable this in the desktop configuration tool or raspi-config on the command line. If your Pi is connected to the same network as your computer and you have an SSH utility such as PuTTY running (available at www.chiark.greenend.org.uk/~sgtatham/putty/download.html ), you should the ability to connect via SSH in seconds.
Setting up PuTTY is easy: on the screen session add your Raspberry Pi’s IP address in the field host name (or IP address). Make sure it’s selected ssh, and press » Open» . You can log in to your Pi account using the credentials provided by the distribution of your choice (for example, if you use Raspbian, the username and password are displayed on the Raspbian download page).
You will find the IP address in two ways:
- Use command ifconfig on the command line
- Check devices connected to your router; Your Raspberry Pi usually appears by name.
4.1.3 Enabling SSH
Don’t have a monitor for your Raspberry Pi? The answer lies in connecting via SSH — but how can you do this without connecting a monitor to enable SSH?
Fortunately, there is a workaround. Before inserting a microSD card into the Pi, open the directory Boot in the file manager of your computer’s operating system. Here create a text file named SSH being careful not to expand the file.
For example, if the file was named ssh.txt rename the file so that it is simply called ssh . After closing the file manager and safely removing the microSD card, insert it and restart the Pi. With this SSH file, you have enabled the conditions for secure network connections and can connect to the Pi using the default username and password.
Make sure you have changed your password ! Do it with the command passwd after logging in.
4.1.4 Data exchange via FTP program
Moving data in and out of the Raspberry Pi can be a little tricky without using SSH. Luckily, you can get around this with FTP software. Several are available, but you need one that supports SFTP (I’m using FileZilla). This is essentially SSH over FTP and offers a secure route to communicate with your Pi.