What is it?
The Raspberry Pi simply is a mini-computer… that fits in the palm of your hand, no bigger than the size of a debit card:
There’s nothing easier than using it: you plug the pocket computer to a screen and to the Internet, you insert a memory card on which you have installed an operating system ahead (there are versions of Linux dedicated to the Raspi, like Raspbian), you plug it to a socket and there you go, it’s ready to enjoy!
Officially launched on February 29th, 2012, the Raspberry Pi is developped via the Raspberry Pi Foundation by David Braben and Eben Upton.
Why it’s great?
The Raspberry Pi is designed to encourage the learning of computer programming: despite its small size, it allows to take your first steps in coding and set up really various projects, as it can as well read HD videos or take control of electronic devices remotely.
As for me, I love the fact of being able to see the components of a computer on the bare Raspi, I find it to be fascinating:
But its success is above all caused by its affordable price: a Raspberry Pi 2 model B can be found for about 35€, and the most recent model of the range, Raspberry Pi zero, is available for the amazing price of $5!
Adding a few complementary element (case, cables, keyboard…) to our 2B Raspi model, we get a computer for less than 150€ — yes, really, I assure you! We can easily understand this argument made the Raspberry Pi an indispensable gadgets for geeks and curious minds from all over the world!
Finally, the big plus of the Raspberry Pi is to be really well documented on the Web, since we can find a great number of websites dedicated to finding projects ideas, tips, accessories and so on.
What to do with a Raspberry Pi?
To tell the truth, there’s a lot you can do with this, as long as you have a little imagination, some good googling skills and the patience for doing things collectedly and right to the end… I’d say in summary that the Raspi does not have a unique predetermined use, and that’s it’s up to each of us to see what project is more interesting by trying, hacking and starting again!
Here’s a little selection of a few nice projects:
- How to turn a Raspberry Pi into an always-on BitTorrent box.
- Build your own Amazon Echo using a Raspberry Pi.
- A “PirateBox”, that’s some sort of large USB key allowing local files exchange over Wifi.
- A media-center using RasPlex for watching your favorite movies and series over your TV screen.
- Use Raspberry Pi to Measure Broadband Speeds to Hold Your ISP Accountable.
- A self-hosted Cloud with Cozy () on Raspberry Pi.
And if you search well, you’ll find bunches of other cool ideas () to make using a Raspi! Also don’t hesitate to take a look on the Raspberry Pi Official Project Book, available here in PDF: 200 pages presenting lots of projects, tutorials and tests to try out with your Raspberry Pi device.
The complete starting kit
The official website offers a list of providers where you can buy the different models of Raspberry Pi.
For my part I own the Raspberry Pi 2 model B, and I just love it! Here’s a complete starting kit for you to get on your own little workarounds:
- The Raspberry Pi 2 model B kit for 70€ on Amazon, containing the Raspi of course, but also a black case, a 8Go mini-SD card (just great for getting started!), a HDMI cable for plugging the Raspi to a screen and a Ethernet cable for putting it online.
- I recommend you to add a Wifi dongle (10€) to that kit, it’s more convenient for Internet connection.
- If you don’t already have a wireless keyboard, you can get the Logitech K400 (35€), which is great for having an integrated Touch Pad, so you don’t need a mouse!
- Finally, the “Raspberry Pi User Guide” (20€) is an essential book for Raspi beginners: origins of the project, installing and setting the Raspi up, doing your first projects, troubleshooting…
So, you’re ready to embark on the Raspberry Pi? Don’t hesitate sharing your fave projects or tips on this post’s comments below!