Purchase a Raspberry Pi
The Raspberry Pi is an under-$50 computer developed by the Raspberry Pi Foundation in the UK.
To set up a Raspberry Pi, you will typically need at least these pieces:
- A Raspberry Pi board. There are two models available:
- Model A - with 1 USB port, no ethernet, and 256M of memory - this is a good model for some embedded applications (e.g., building into a robot, or using for a car media centre)
- Model B - with 2 USB ports, 10/100 Mbps ethernet, and 512M of memory - this is the model that most users will want
- A micro-USB power supply (same as a smartphone charger) or a USB cable to connect to an existing USB port or charger
- An SD card of 4 GB or larger
- An ethernet cable and a wired network connection
To use the Pi interactively as a desktop computer or media centre, you'll need:
- A USB keyboard and mouse
- An HDMI connection to a TV or monitor (you can connect to most monitors with an HDMI-DVI cable)
(Alternately, you can use the Pi remotely over the network connection, interface various devices to it, or use it as a small server).
Interfacing the Pi
To experiment with interfacing the Pi to electronic circuits, it's recommended that you get:
- A Pi ribbon cable set
- A solderless breadboard
- The device(s) you wish to interface. For basic experimentation, a few LEDs and a matching number of 220 ohm resistors, plus a few switches and some 2 kilohm resistors will get you started.
Where to Buy
You can buy the Pi and accessories at:
- The Seneca bookstore (except interfacing supplies)
- Creatron, Inc at 255 College St
- Online from Newark/Element14
- Online from Adafruit
It's not necessary to spend a lot of money on the basic accessories:
- Dollarama sells HDMI cables (with gold-plated contacts!) for $2-$3 depending on the length.
- The SD cards don't have to be ultra-fast or very big. Basic Class 4 or higher cards from Canada Computers or WalMart will work fine.
- It's important to get a decent power supply; bad supplies can cause difficult-to-diagnose glitches. However, it's really hard to know if a given power supply is any good or not -- some cheap ($0.79) power supplies have performed poorly, but so have some expensive ($39) ones. Some $3-$7 supplies from dollar stores have worked fine.
- You may have a USB keyboard and mouse lying around.