Raspberry Pi Introduction and Resources

Whenever you drive your car or place a phone call on your mobile, you are using a device consisting of powerful microprocessors and electronics. Usually, these electronics are devoted to a single application such as processing voice commands on a phone or controlling certain aspects of an engine. If you ever wondered how such electronics worked or wanted to get started on your own projects, then the Raspberry Pi is an excellent starting point. Thousands of hobbyists and enthusiasts have already created some great projects ranging from simple MP3 players to complex 3D printers. Let's take a look at some resources to help you get started!

History

Back in the early 2000, Eben Upton was frustrated with school children's lack of interest in science and engineering disciplines. So in 2006, he and his colleagues at Cambridge University set out to create an inexpensive computer board that was easy to program. The hope was to create an environment where kids could build simple projects to understand electronics. The result was the Raspberry Pi (RPi). Since then, millions of units have been sold.

RPi units have gone through several updates over the years. The first unit, the Raspberry Pi 1, was introduced in 2012. This line featured several models including A and B which were later updated to A+ and B+. All models currently feature the ARM processor with varying speeds and amounts of RAM. Initially all cards supported SD but now support microSD for storage. The boards differ mainly by the processor speed and RAM along with what hardware is supported. The latest units support 802.11n Wireless and Bluetooth along with HDMI, ethernet, 3D graphics, and audio/video output. Add-ons for the units including 8-megapixel cameras and the Sense HAT featuring multiple sensors including a gyroscope and accelerometer are also available.

Tutorials

When checking out these tutorials, think about changes you can make to enhance the project. Here are some links to websites featuring tutorials for various projects to help you get started:

  • Raspberry Pi Foundation Projects: these are simple projects that allow the user to get an initial taste for the environment, write simple programs, and interface with external sensors.
  • Instructables Projects: the Instructable website features projects ranging from simple to complex. The projects include code as well as a Bill of Materials of the items needed to complete the project. Detailed installation instructions are also included.
  • Makezine Projects: like the Instructable's website, Makezine also features different Raspberry Pi projects varying by difficulty level that include detailed instructions. An added benefit to Makezine's website is that users are able to sort by project duration and difficulty. Some projects also include video to demonstrate setup.

Some tutorials to understand the Raspberry Pi system and setup can be found here:

Video Tutorials

Here are some video tutorials that may also be helpful:

Operating Systems

Just like your PC or laptop, Raspberry Pi units need an OS. To get an OS, you need to download an image to the SD card. The following tutorial can help you download an OS image to an SD or micro-SD card:

Most of the OSes installed are based on different Linux distributions similar to Debian and Fedora. When working with Raspberry Pi units, it pays to get comfortable with the Linux command line. Here are a couple of resources that can help:

  • Common Linux Commands: This list of commands from the famous "Dummies" series of books features some commonly used Linux commands.
  • Linux Command Cheat Sheet: Helpful reference of Linux commands and examples. Great page for a quick reference!

Remember, when working with Linux, all commands are case sensitive. This means that if you wish to execute the "ls" command you cannot enter something like "Ls" or "LS" and expect the same result.

Books

Besides viewing online tutorials and videos, take a look at these books:

General

Projects

Summary

Whether you want to create some great electronics projects or prototype real-world designs, the Raspberry Pi units are a low-cost, yet effective investment of time and money. Get one today and start building some awesome projects!


Further Reading and Resources

We have more guides, tutorials, and infographics related to coding and hardward:

Raspberry Pi: How to Get Started

Want to get up to speed fast on the Raspberry Pi? Check out our infographic, Raspberry Pi: How to Get Started It shows you all the parts of the hardware and runs you through your first program.