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RASPBERRY PI - anyone got one? - how exactly does it work?

(15 Posts)
Hulababy Sat 17-Nov-12 09:30:56

I am intrigued and fascinated, but truly not sure what you do with it and how it all works.

Can anyone enlighten me?


Hulababy Sat 17-Nov-12 14:44:06


ladyWordy Sat 17-Nov-12 14:51:18

It's a very small, extremely basic computer. I'd call it an educational tool if anything. Good fun in its own way (though I haven't got one!) This article explains it fairly well:

RhinestoneCowgirl Sat 17-Nov-12 14:51:47

Yes we have one, DH on hand to answer questions...

tabulahrasa Sat 17-Nov-12 14:52:40

DS has one - I don't have a clue what it does other than sit there looking tiny and creating lots of conversations about which programming language he needs to use which I don't really listen to...

That wasn't so helpful, eh? lol

Himalaya Sat 17-Nov-12 14:58:26

Listening in with interest....

RhinestoneCowgirl Sat 17-Nov-12 15:03:26

Dh says:

"The kids are using ours right at this moment to listen to Madness though the telly (we have some CDs stored on it). If you want it can be a flexible tiny computer that can do a range of useful and/or interesting things, including running Scratch which is a programming 'game' that our 6yo likes, or it can be a media centre computer which is what we mainly use it for at the moment. All the software is loaded by SD memory cards so you can have something like Raspbmc (the media player) as well as Debian (a more general purpose operating system intended to be an educational tool) just by changing the card that's in when you switch it on. Raspbmc in particular was really easy to set up and works perfectly with our TV."

Hulababy Sat 17-Nov-12 16:27:46

I haven't done any programming since end of A levels/first year of degree - easy enough to pick up again? Although would need to learn language from scratch tbh after all this time!

In terms of buying - what would I need to get t make it worthwhile?

RhinestoneCowgirl Sat 17-Nov-12 19:00:06

DH again (bit long sorry)

"Coding's probably not too hard to pick up again if you've done it before. I think that the RPi is set up around Python (which I know nothing about at the moment but which I will probably have to learn a bit of for work...) and Scratch (which is fun but mainly aimed at kids).

However, if you mainly want to learn to code the RPi is possibly not the best route if you already have a PC - it's mainly been designed for environments where you want to have a lot of cheap computers so schools could raise funding to buy one for each child in a class instead of having to maintain a pool. That said it's an excellent toy to play with and can be a good route to get motivation to find projects to complete & learn with (for example I had a mind to try to set up a drawing robot to draw an advent calendar very slowly over the course of the whole month of December, its power drain is low enough to make that practical...)

My personal favourite environment for basic learning of coding is Processing, which is simple, powerful and flexible: available for Mac, PC and Linux (but not RPi yet as far as I know) it's based on Java but not too closely.

To get a Raspberry Pi working you either need to buy a kit (Maplin sell some, as do other suppliers) or you'll have to look if you already have some of the kit. You need:
- the board
- power supply
- USB keyboard and mouse
- SD card: at least 2Gb, 4Gb is better
- HDMI or other lead to attach it to a TV or monitor

You might want:
- a case (

The power supply can be a bit tricky - it's a modern micro-usb mobile phone charger socket but not all chargers are up to the job, you need one that can do at least 1A output: my HTC charger can do it but the other Samsung one we have won't work.

All the software is a free to download and mostly open source, you'll need to load it onto the SD card on a PC or buy a kit with software pre-loaded on the card."


Nagoo Sat 17-Nov-12 19:03:18

DH has got one.

I think it can do stuff, but I have banned him from hooking it up to anything else so I have no idea what it's for. He says he's going to teach the kids at school to do programming with it.

NetworkGuy Sat 17-Nov-12 21:27:33

"The power supply can be a bit tricky - it's a modern micro-usb mobile phone charger socket but not all chargers are up to the job, you need one that can do at least 1A output:"

Just for info... some weeks / months back, I bought a little Android unit that plugs into the TV on an HDMI input, and that, too, needs 1A power. I happened to have bought a mains-powered USB Hub (which someone might plug into a laptop at home, to provide power from the mains for certain items, without USB draining the power from the laptop), and found that a simple USB to micro-USB cable was all I needed to power the Android box.

Similar might work for the Raspberry Pi. (Just saw my Alcatel micro-USB charger only puts out 0.15 A so it's likely most mobile chargers would be inadequate.)

Quick question for anyone with a Pi...

If you plugged in a USB cable to link the Pi to a Hub, any idea if it'll handle keyboard and mouse via the hub (it just means that the Pi could be closer to a display and the keyboard and mouse further away, eg using the Pi with a 32" TV)

tabulahrasa Sun 18-Nov-12 00:22:28

I bought the hub for DS and he plugs the keyboard and mouse in there. I'n assuming it works like that or I'd have been moaned at already.

noblegiraffe Sun 18-Nov-12 00:32:09

DH has got one. If he plugs it into the telly he can stream whatever's on the iPad through the telly via Airserver instead of having to fork out for Apple TV.

It looks like a circuit board to me. <clueless>

Hulababy Sun 18-Nov-12 09:05:48

Thank you all. I shall have a good good through and see where to go from there.

NetworkGuy Sun 18-Nov-12 21:54:33

noblegiraffe - it is just a bare circuit board which is part of how it is such a low cost, the other part is that it has just the essentials with probably the most integrated circuitry possible (the lower the number of chips, the cheaper it can be).

There are lots of home designs - think one youngster made a case from Lego bricks smile

Cheapest plastic case I came across recently was one for 3-4 quid (they sell off unmatched colour top and bottom sections).

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