Who wants pi? The Raspberry Pi has made quite a splash since it was first announced. The credit-card sized computer is capable of many of the things that your desktop PC does, like spreadsheets, word-processing and games. It also plays high-definition video. It can run several flavors of Linux and is being used to teach kids all over the world how to program… Oh yeah, and it does all that for under $50.
The secret sauce that makes this computer so small and powerful is the Broadcom BCM2835, a System-on-Chip that contains an ARM1176JZFS with floating point, running at 700MHz, and a Videocore 4 GPU. The GPU provides Open GL ES 2.0, hardware-accelerated OpenVG, and 1080p30 H.264 high-profile decode and is capable of 1Gpixel/s, 1.5Gtexel/s or 24 GFLOPs of general purpose compute. What’s that all mean? It means that if you plug the Raspberry Pi into your HDTV, you could watch BluRay quality video, using H.264 at 40MBits/s.
But wait, there’s more. The Model B also has a 10/100 Ethernet port so you can surf the web (or serve web pages) from right there on the Pi. The system volume lives on an SD card, so it’s easy to prepare, run and debug several different operating systems on the same hardware. Most Linux distributions for the Pi will happily live on a 2GB SD card but larger cards are supported.
The Model B’s two built-in USB ports provide enough connectivity for a mouse and keyboard, but if you want to add more you can use a USB hub. It is recommended that you use a powered hub so as not to overtax the on-board voltage regulator. Powering the Raspberry Pi is easy, just plug any USB power supply into the micro-USB port. There’s no power button so the Pi will begin to boot as soon as power is applied, to turn it off simply remove power.
On top of all that, the low-level peripherals on the Pi make it great for hardware hacking. The 0.1" spaced GPIO header on the Pi gives you access to 8 GPIO, UART, I2C, SPI as well as 3.3 and 5V sources. Mating ribbon cables can be found in the related products below.
If a board needs code or communicates somehow, you're going to need to know how to program or interface with it. The programming skill is all about communication and code.
Skill Level: Competent - The toolchain for programming is a bit more complex and will examples may not be explicitly provided for you. You will be required to have a fundamental knowledge of programming and be required to provide your own code. You may need to modify existing libraries or code to work with your specific hardware. Sensor and hardware interfaces will be SPI or I2C.
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If it requires power, you need to know how much, what all the pins do, and how to hook it up. You may need to reference datasheets, schematics, and know the ins and outs of electronics.
Skill Level: Noob - You don't need to reference a datasheet, but you will need to know basic power requirements.
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Based on 21 ratings:
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I use NextPVR to record .TS videos to my desktop computer and have been watching them using WDTV-Live on ethernet. WDTV-Live FF-RW stumbles on large .TS files, so I wanted to try XBMC (Kodi) on Pi. It sort of works.
First off, KODI is beautiful and responsive. The PI happily took my wireless keyboard and trackpad. However, natively I can get it to play only AVI files and have learned that I need to purchase a MPEG-2 license for about $5.00 to play other file types. The FF-RW works on the AVI files until I really work it. You can do that on a more powerful computer, but that strain caused my PI to freeze. As a start-to-end player, I have no complaints, in fact, it’s pretty amazing.
I next installed Raspbian to use VLC, which has its own codecs. Aside from looking grainy and washed out, the .TS video loaded and froze at the initial frame. I had suspected that for my media I need a more powerful computer. But the PI came close and sure is a lot of fun!
The learning curve could be less steep for nontechies like me. In my experience, it takes a little chasing around to install software. I had to go one place to get a SD card formatter that would work, another place to get a proper image writer to get the programming onto the SD card, and another place to get the software I wanted to run. I’m still confused about exactly what an image is and how it must be written to a device, which took a couple hours to figure out. I could now write a tutorial that clearly outlines these steps, but I don’t have a place where it could be easily found by those like me who have little knowledge and worry about downloading software from unknown and untrusted sources. Perhaps in time, there will be a “go to” site that’s simple and complete to get the PI running in no time. Then again, it was intended to be a learning platform. For me, that mission was accomplished.
I’m using these as my standard controller for my home automation system. I have about a dozen of them running various things around the house using the Arch distribution.
Bought this on the Pi Day Sale Sparkfun was running, which made it an extremely good buy. Works as it should - no runs, no drips, no errors as the old spray paint commercial used to say…
A fantastic computer at a fantastic price!
As a 72 year young retired IT person I was attracted to the Pi after reading about it and curiosity drove my purchase. So far I’ve just tinkered with it and have it running on my home network and accessing the internet. The configuration was relatively simple and the thing just works.
I’m using http://www.pythontutor.com/visualize.html in an attempt to learn Python. I’m having some difficulty applying my knowledge of assembly language, COBOL, etc. to the state-of-the-art languages but I’m hopeful. My end goal is to learn enough about it to encourage a couple of 11 year old “minds” to channel the time wasted on video games into something that could impact their future.
I’ve never used the Linux program before so its a new world of using this type of programing. The last time I tried programing was on a Amiga 500.
Awesome little machine. Spark fun always does a great job delivering everything fast and secure.
No complaints here
With the release of the model B+ and the Pi 2, this model doesn’t get much love these days, but it’s still does everything I require of it, and for a great price. I’m currently using it to do ADS-B receiving using a $20 SDR dongle, and it’s working great.
I already had one but couldn’t get it to work so I purchased this one, found out my hdmi cable was bad and my SD card wasn’t connecting properly. But it is just an awesome computer!
Nice to learn with, but better documentation is needed. Choice of video monitor , its hookup, and startup number choice , config file editing, SD card quality and format / partitioning / and file system choices, I/O cables and add ons, Bluetooth, WI-FI, cooling fan and heat sinks, HD or SSD options, different case and power gear, AND communication / I/O to other MCUs.
instead of traveling with a laptop i could see right away how useful it would be simply to have something small and portable to bring with me when i travel. the hotel you arrive at already has an HDMI compatible tv/monitor, so i bring a cable for that. i’m already traveling with a smartphone, so the charging device works as a power supply. couple it with a wireless mouse/keyboard and a wifi dongle and you’re good to go. check email, surf the web a little, jot down your notes and other travel craziness, store images of receipts or whatever. i LOVE the look on the TSA’s face when i slap this credit-card sized “computer” all alone in the gray box. “what’s this?” that’s my computer. they’re more interested in the wireless keyboard, like a bunch of goons that they are. anyway, it’s a more simplified way to travel with a computer and IF the thing is lost, stolen or destroyed, i’m only out a little instead of a lot. i get to leave my laptop at home. thanks Sparkfun!
Can’t go wrong with Yet Another Small computer! Especially given the Spark Fun $25 Pi Day special.
Next will be a PI v2!
Bought it during Pi day. Now it works with MusicBox firmware as web-radio and DLNA server, so I don’t have to connect my phone or notebook to audio system each time I want to enjoy it.
It would appear that this development board is a breeze to use and can replace a whole range of electronics i would have expected to use previously. I just installed a gaming emulator, no problems. it seems powerful too. My greatest concern is that it has very difficult physical dimensions and port orientation. cases and electronics i buy need to be well designed. this particular board will be relegated to a role out of view. replaced with something fit for purpose.
Super easy to get going and start interfacing with the outside world. Definitely recommend for anyone who wants to do various projects. It does not have an ADC so be sure you know the limits of the device or what you need to buy as an add-on.
It works well!
I was looking for a project base and these had the most features and the best performance I could find for the money. And as much as I dream of someday moving my project to a custom PCB and moving to an fpga, I believe in the long run using the Rasberry Pi will become a permanent as I won’t have the scale to ever make it cost effective to change. You just get so much power for the money.
I tried this board as a Raspbian board for my daughter. Scratch and Minecraft run quite slowly. If you want it for that, definitely get a Pi2.
For low level Arm C/C++ and ASM development, this is a very inexpensive and easy to use board. Awesome!
Great price and ease of use make this a fantastic SBC to slap on your next project.