Understanding Raspberry Pi
While Raspberry Pi sounds like a delicious treat for the tummy, it is actually a feast for the mind and vital nourishment for the imagination. It is a tiny, affordable computer that fits in the palm of your hand. Raspberry Pi lets you dive deep into the inner workings of technology. It helps you understand how a computer works, but it also allows you to create your own custom gadgets.
What is the Raspberry Pi Foundation?
The Raspberry Pi Foundation is a charity that is based in the UK. It was founded to put computing technology in the hands of people all around the world. The goal is to engage individuals through networks, clubs, events and partnerships so they can harness the power of computing to solve problems and express themselves creatively through technology.
A brief history of Raspberry Pi
When computers first became readily available in the home, they weren’t very user-friendly. People had to know something about how a computer worked and how to program it to get the most out of one. Over the years, they became more and more high-level devices. Eventually, the user didn’t have to know anything about how a computer worked to operate it. Nowadays, you can just ask your favorite voice assistant and get the results you need. The problem with this is only the first generation of users had the knowledge and inspiration needed to become programmers.
The initial concept of an affordable computer that would make the fundamental concepts of programming accessible to all began in 2006. By 2012, Raspberry Pi was introduced to the world. It was a fully functional computer that was roughly the size of a credit card, complete with a CPU, RAM, a hard drive and more. In 2020, the company sold a reported 7.1 million units, proving the concept was valid.
Raspberry Pi components
Raspberry Pi is a single-board computer. This means it is a complete computer that is built on a single circuit board. Here are the basic components of a Raspberry Pi:
CPU and RAM
The CPU is the brain of a computer. It gives the Raspberry Pi the ability to complete its tasks. The CPU works in conjunction with the RAM, which provides the miniature computer a place to temporarily store and access data that it actively uses. To function, a computer needs both of these crucial components.
USB ports and an Ethernet connection
To get the most out of your Raspberry Pi, you need to connect it to other devices such as a monitor, a keyboard, a mouse and possibly the internet. Each circuit board has four USB ports and one Ethernet connection that allow you to do that.
The Wi-Fi/Bluetooth module of the Raspberry Pi is located at the upper left of the circuit board. This provides wireless connectivity for the unit.
General purpose input/output connector
If you need to connect other electrical devices, the Raspberry Pi has that covered as well. The GPIO provides a string of connectors that allow you to do just that.
In order to connect the Raspberry Pi to speakers or headphones, it has an audio jack.
CSI camera connector
For projects that involve video or pictures, such as a home security module, the Raspberry Pi has a CSI camera interface.
A micro-HDMI port gives you a quick and easy way to connect a Raspberry Pi to a monitor with a compact plug. There are two on each circuit board.
In order to get power to your Raspberry Pi, it has a USB-C port — just like your smartphone.
Micro SD slot
The clever way the Raspberry Pi gets around having a hard drive is to incorporate a micro SD card. The slot on the back of the Raspberry Pi lets you quickly plug your hard drive in with minimal effort.
What can you do with Raspberry Pi?
If you are wondering what can be done with Raspberry Pi, the list is long. And it is only limited by your imagination. To give you a little insight, here are just a few things you can make with Raspberry Pi:
- Build a stop-motion camera
- Make your own web server
- Build a home security system
- Give your old-school printer wireless capabilities
- Upgrade your old TV to a smart TV
- Learn how to code
- Control a robot
- Automate a home train set
- Play games
- Build a speech recognition system
- Stream media content
- Mine bitcoins
- Build a video doorbell
- Check the air quality of your home
- Make a Wi-Fi extender
- Light your home
- Make a hydroponic farm
- Use it as a desktop computer
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