Back in the 80s my Dad had an Intel 8088 based computer that ran DOS. It featured a whopping 20mb hard drive, a four color screen, and “turbo” mode that took it to 16 MHz. Back then it cost around $3000 new and was nearly state of the art. I spent hours on it playing games like Chuck Yeager’s Advanced Flight Trainer as well as teaching myself BASIC. I think remembering that old computer is why I’m so blown away by the Raspberry Pi. A 700MHz computer with 512MB of RAM that fits in your hand and costs $35? The 80’s version of me would never believe it!
The Raspberry Pi is a multifaceted device that can use a host of skills. While this single board computer was made with education in mind, it is not what I would call “easy to use.” You’ll have to write an image to an SD card (which can sometimes be problematic) and spend some time using the command line. From programming and wiring to building your own enclosure, Raspberry Pi projects can challenge even the most savvy maker. Fortunately, with a thriving online community and books like Matt Richardson & Shawn Wallace’s Getting Started with Raspberry Pi, help isn’t hard to find.
You’ll need several peripherals to get a Pi up and running. These include a 5V-1amp power supply, Micro USB cable, and SD card with compatible Linux distribution at a minimum. If you don’t want to SSH into your Pi you can connect it to a TV or computer monitor. In this case you’ll need a video cable (HDMI or composite) and a USB keyboard & mouse. Want to play with the GPIO pins? You’ll need more stuff for that. Thankfully the Maker Shed has a Getting Started with Raspberry Pi Kit that includes just about all the stuff you’ll need to get your Pi project off the ground. The kit also includes Matt & Shawn’s book listed above, as well as the Raspberry Pi itself which can be difficult to get due to demand.
Don’t forget, as part of our New Skill in the New Year celebration, you can save 10% on this and any other kit in our Getting Started category by using the code NEWYEAR upon checkout. Don’t miss this opportunity, the sale ends at midnight PST 1/15/2013!