WTF is the Raspberry Pi?

WTF is the Raspberry Pi?
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Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pis are low-cost, credit-card sized computer boards that can plug into a TV. Being tiny they are often used for electronic projects and specialised devices at home.

Introduction to the Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi is a low-cost, low-power, credit-card sized single-board computer. They can be plugged into a PC monitor or HDMI TV and mainly run Linux-based operating systems. With their four USB ports, they can be connected to a keyboard, mouse and/or other external devices.

The Raspberry Pi 4B is one of the latest models and was released in 2019.

The Raspberry Pi also has an Ethernet port and Wi-Fi for network and internet connectivity, Bluetooth, and a set of GPIO pins to electronic components and modules. Sound output is in the form of an HDMI connection or audio jack and power input is in the form of a 5V power supply.

The Raspberry Pi can either be used as is, or it can be protected by a Raspberry Pi case.

Raspberry Pi’s are popularly used for learning, low-end desktop computers, stand-alone devices, and as electronics modules.

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Catda Raspberry Pi 4B Starter Kit
Catda Raspberry Pi 4B Starter Kit
2019 Model B, 4GB RAM
1.5GHz 64-bit quad-core CPU & 4GB RAM, Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB 2.0/3.0, headphone jack and duel Micro HDMI (4K). Kit includes power supply, MicroSD, USB MicroSD card reader, a case with heatsink and fan, mini-HDMI cable and USB-C PiSwitch.
Available from BangGood
iUniker Raspberry Pi 4B 8GB Starter Kit
iUniker Raspberry Pi 4B 8GB Starter Kit
2019 Model B, 8GB RAM
1.5GHz 64-bit quad-core CPU & 8GB RAM, Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB 2.0/3.0, headphone jack and duel Micro HDMI (4K). Kit includes power supply, MicroSD, USB MicroSD card reader, a case with heatsink and fan, mini-HDMI cable and USB-C PiSwitch.
Available from Amazon.com
iUniker Raspberry Pi 4B 4GB Starter Kit
iUniker Raspberry Pi 4B 4GB Starter Kit
2019 Model B, 4GB RAM
1.5GHz 64-bit quad-core CPU & 4GB RAM, Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB 2.0/3.0, headphone jack and duel Micro HDMI (4K). Kit includes power supply, MicroSD, USB MicroSD card reader, a case with heatsink and fan, mini-HDMI cable and USB-C PiSwitch.
Available from Amazon.com

The Raspberry Pi Models

There has been many revisions and models of the Raspberry Pi since its launch 2012. The B Models are preferred over the A and Zero models because of their Ethernet connectivity.

Raspberry Pi Model B comparison
Comparing all the Raspberry Pi B models up to date.

One thing that didn’t change though was the form factor. The Raspberry Pi remained small and compact. The Raspberry Pi 4B released in 2019 is still credit-card sized and little has changed with regards to its layout.

Learning with the Raspberry Pi

One of the focus points of the Raspberry Pi Foundation is to make the Raspberry Pi a great tool for learning.

“We want to see the Raspberry Pi being used by kids all over the world to learn to program and understand how computers work.” — Raspberrypi.org.

Topics such as computing, Linux, networking and computer programming can easily be explored on the Raspberry Pi.

Using the Raspberry Pi as a desktop computer

The Raspberry Pi is capable of doing everything one would expect a low-end desktop computer to do.

Like a desktop computer, the Raspberry Pi is powerful enough for browsing the internet, playing high-definition videos, listening to music, making spreadsheets, internet streaming, word-processing, and playing computer games.

Using the Raspberry Pi as a stand-alone device

The Raspberry Pi is popularly used for media centres, music players, game emulators, digital signage, and streaming devices.

Kodi media center screen
Kodi is a popular choice when it comes to media centre software and is readily installed on Raspberry Pis.

Various forms of free and open-source software packages are either installed on top of the current operating system or a single-purpose operating system can be used.

Using the Raspberry Pi as an electronic device

“What’s more, the Raspberry Pi has the ability to interact with the outside world and has been used in a wide array of digital maker projects, from music machines and parent detectors to weather stations and tweeting birdhouses with infra-red cameras.” — Raspberrypi.org.

With the power to use programming languages like Python and Bash, its internet connectivity, and its GPIO pins, Raspberry Pis are popularly used in the place of microcontrollers for micro-electronic projects.

The GPIO, screen, keyboard and mouse, and internet APIs can be used to collect data from the outside world. The data can be processed and/or permanently stored on the Raspberry Pi and the screen, LAN, GPIO, or the internet can be used to output data.

The Raspberry Pi can also connect to electronic databases like SQL and DynamoDB.

GPIO pins

A powerful feature of the Raspberry Pi is the row of GPIO (general-purpose input/output) pins along the top edge of the board. A 40-pin GPIO header is found on all current Raspberry Pi boards.

Getting Started with the GPIO Pins of the Raspberry Pi
The Raspberry Pi’s GPIO connectors can be used to collect and send data to and from other electronic components.

The Raspberry Pi USB ports

Raspberry Pi B models come standard with 4 USB ports. These ports are used to connect peripherals such as a keyboard and mouse, game controllers, USB Drives, USB adapters, and external hard drives.

Raspberry Pi alternatives

Although there are many more, popular competitors for the Raspberry Pi include single-board computers such as the Banana Pi, LattePanda, PocketBeagle and Odroid.

Raspberry Pi accessories

To get started with the Raspberry Pi, you might need the following accessories.

Conclusion

The Raspberry Pi is a low-cost, low-power, credit-card-sized single-board computer. It can be used for learning, low-end desktop computers, stand-alone devices, or as an electronics module.

About the author
Renier busies himself with improving his English writing, creative web design and his websites, photoshopping, micro-electronics, multiple genres of music, superhero movies and badass series.
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