1s and 0s, python, and you – raspberry pi 101

You may have heard of Raspberry Pi, either online or from one of your nerdy friends. What is it and what can it do?

Raspberry Pi is a single board Linux based computer. Everything a computer needs to run is all on one portable circuit board. It’s a computer that fits in the palm of your hand! Other than a power cord, you’ll need a screen, keyboard, and mouse (or not if you’re bold enough to try SSL). You’ll also need a microSD card to be used as a hard drive. Pi has built in sound capabilities, it’s not the best but it’s better than nothing. There’s also a built in ethernet port, and depending on which version you get, there’s bluetooth and Wifi. It also has a few USB ports and HDMI ports so you can hook into most anything these days.

There’s a few different models on the market today, the 4 is the newest and is what I have. The 3 is still available but isn’t as robust. Pi Zero is another low cost option that is a slimmed down version for less complex tasks. Most people run the Zero headless (without a screen) and have it run custom scripts to do things like adblock across a network (called a PiHole)

The Raspberry Pi is so popular because of all the General Purpose Input Oputput (GIPO) pins that it has. These 40 GIPO pins allow you to plug into and feed various types of input to the board. You’ll be able to build a wide variety of projects with basic electrical competents and a bread board. You could use one of the many supplemental boards called hats that plug into the GIPO pins and have a wide variety of functions, like temperature sensors, LED boards, and many many more.

The main language used on Raspberry Pi is python. Python is fairly straightforward. Pi was originally conceived as a tool to help children learn to code. I had very limited exposure to any programming language before getting my Pi, and I’ve already learned so much.

I’ve done a few small projects to start. Getting the Pi up and running at first is a great project in and of itself. I got a 7 inch touchscreen and case to hold it. Once that was assembled, I tacked PiClock, a clock that pulls weather and radar data. I’ll go into these projects in a future post. I’ve got a few other projects in mind too.

That’s the basics of Raspberry Pi. I hope you learned something. As always, thanks for reading.

-Peter

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