• Tech Harry


Raspberry Pi is the name of a series of single-board computers made by the Raspberry Pi Foundation, a UK charity that aims to educate people in computing and create easier access to computing education.

The Raspberry Pi launched in 2012, and there have been several iterations and variations released since then. The original Pi had a single-core 700MHz CPU and just 256MB RAM, and the latest model has a quad-core 1.4GHz CPU with 1GB RAM. The main price point for Raspberry Pi has always been $35 and all models have been $35 or less, including the Pi Zero, which costs just $5.

All over the world, people use Raspberry Pis to learn programming skills, build hardware projects, do home automation, and even use them in industrial applications.

The Raspberry Pi is a very cheap computer that runs Linux, but it also provides a set of GPIO (general purpose input/output) pins that allow you to control electronic components for physical computing and explore the Internet of Things (IoT).

What Raspberry Pi models have been released?

There have been three generations of Raspberry Pis: Pi 1, Pi 2, and Pi 3, and there has generally been a Model A and a Model B of most generations. Model A is a cheaper variant and tends to have reduced RAM and ports like USB and Ethernet. The Pi Zero is a spinoff of the original (Pi 1) generation, made even smaller and cheaper.

Model (release date) Price Pi 1 Model B (2012) $35 Pi 1 Model A (2013) $25 Pi 1 Model B+ (2014) $35 Pi 1 Model A+ (2014) $20 Pi 2 Model B (2015) $35 Pi Zero (2015) $35 Pi 3 Model B (2016) $35 Pi Zero W (2017) $35 Pi 3 Model B+ (2018) $35 Pi 3 Model A+ (2019) $25

Is the Raspberry Pi open source?

The Raspberry Pi operates in the open source ecosystem: it runs Linux (a variety of distributions), and its main supported operating system, Raspbian, is open source and runs a suite of open source software. The Raspberry Pi Foundation contributes to the Linux kernel and various other open source projects as well as releasing much of its own software as open source. The Raspberry Pi's schematics are released, but the board itself is not open hardware. The Raspberry Pi Foundation relies on income from the sale of Raspberry Pis to do its charitable work.

What can you do with a Raspberry Pi?

Some people buy a Raspberry Pi to learn to code, and people who can already code use the Pi to learn to code electronics for physical projects. The Raspberry Pi can open opportunities for you to create your own home automation projects, which is popular among people in the open source community because it puts you in control, rather than using a proprietary closed system.

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10 coolest uses for the Raspberry Pi

1. Media streamer

Setting up a media center using the Raspberry Pi is a popular choice, perhaps unsurprisingly given how easy it is to connect the board to a TV via composite or HDMI.

2. Arcade machine

The Raspberry Pi will help greying gamers relive their misspent youth thanks to a number of projects to bring classic arcade game and 1980s computer emulators to the system.

3. Tablet computer

The end result might not give the iPad a run for its money but a number of modders are already working out how to pair the Pi with a touchscreen.

4. Home automation

Too lazy to press a light switch? Can't be bothered to open the curtains in the morning? Then the Raspberry Pi could be just what you're waiting for.

5. Carputer

Creating a touchscreen, in-car tablet computer based on the Pi is another popular goal among modders.

Tech hobbyists want a Pi carputer to be a media player and GPS that can run off the cigarette lighter, and have pulled together a list of specs for the device.

6. Internet radio

Internet radios still cost a pretty penny, so why not pair up the Pi with a low-cost LCD screen, some speakers and create your own.

Various Pi-based internet radio projects already exist and are piecing together the components and code needed to create a Pi-based internet radio, and it seems only a matter of time before this becomes a reality.

7. Controlling robots

Robots and Raspberry Pi seem to be a match made in heaven, if hobbyist projects are anything to go by.

Projects include controlling quadroceptor drones (the jury's still out on this one), an autonomous plane, a voice controlled Star Wars R5-D4 droid and a robot boat.

Messing around with robots and the Raspberry Pi will be helped by expansion boards for the Pi like the forthcoming Gertboard, which will make it easier to hook the computer to a range of motors and sensors.

8. Cosmic computer

As far fetched as it sounds, the Raspberry Pi is even being considered for a trip into space.

The idea is that Raspberry Pi computers could provide a low-cost, off the shelf alternative to the bespoke hardware used normally in spacecraft and satellite systems. Using scores of Raspberry Pi boards would build redundancy into the platform, allowing one board to take over if another fails.

Another space-bound Pi project in the works is sending a board to the edge of space by weather balloon to use it as an eye in the sky.

9. Hunting for meteorites

Even if the Pi doesn't make it in to space it seems likely that it will be watching the cosmos.

A high school project in Australia is looking to use the Pi to spot meteorites blazing across the Antipodean skies.

Pi boards would analyse feeds from low-cost web cams and grab timestamped images of any suspected meteorite trails.

10. Coffee and Pi

Slightly less ambitious than some of the projects in the pipeline, but no less deserving of a mention is the MoccaPi.

The MoccaPi is a Raspberry Pi controlled coffee machine designed to conjure up the perfect brew via a few typed commands.


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