Thursday, September 13, 2012

Day 0

Someone told me IRL that I was putting the cart before the horse, that I should really have at least one or two posts that explain how to get started with the raspberry pi.

So, here is what you will need to do if you are interested in getting one, but don't know where to start:

1. Buy a raspberry pi. You can do this online, there are a few distributors. Go to to figure out which one to use, based on your country. Or maybe your local hackerspace is doing group buys on them, check them out.
2. Wait a while until you get one delivered to your door.

Seriously, it will take a while, so in the meantime, start shopping or digging around for the other stuff you will need. At a minimum, you will need:

1. A 5v micro usb power supply
3. A USB keyboard
4. An old tv or color monitor with composite (RCA) in.

It will make things nicer if you also get:
5. A USB mouse
6. A USB hub
7. A wifi dongle
8. A case
9. A USB drive
10. ...

Instead of 4, an HDMI monitor might be a better option, particularly if the Raspberry Pi will be used as a full time desktop computer. The Pi doesn't support VGA directly, but an active adapter can be bought (expensive).

Yes, the $35 computer can cost twice that or more depending on the options.

So, today, we will address point #1, the power supply. Physically, the plug needs to be a micro USB and electrically, it needs to deliver 5V at 700 mA or more (0.7 A). Look around, you probably have a cell phone power supply that will work.

I've used Blackberry Power supplies, quite appropriate for a Raspberry...

But another option I am quite fond of is the Duracell 3 in 1 charger. I've not seen anybody mentioning it anywhere, but i've been using a few for months now and they work well.

It has adapters for iPhone and iPad, motorola, kindle, nook, samsung, lg, blackberry etc.

It is 3 in 1 because you can use it from the wall socket, from 12V (in a car or a solar kit) or from a USB port, including a battery pack (that part is not included). It puts out 4.75V to 5.25V at around 1 A. Perfect match for the RPi.

The tip to use is the micro USB.

So, once everything is connected together, you'll get this:

It sells online for about $13 to $20 but in local discount retail stores (in the USA) I've found them for about $12, so it pays to shop around. If you know of an equivalent product in your neck of the woods, drop us a note in a comment!

Next on our list will be the SD card...


grtfercho said...

Two weeks from now my nephew is coming to live with us for a couple months. He's expressed interest in learning programming. I just found out about Raspberry Pi and I was looking for a way to start working with the Pi and Python. This blog came as great resource. I'll be following your posts. Thanks.

Francois Dion said...

I hope you find the blog helpful for that. You might want to look at the book "Snake Wrangling for Kids".

The english pdf:

For other visitors, the french pdf: and the spanish pdf: and german:

This is not tuned specifically for the Raspberry Pi, but choosing the Linux version should do the trick.

Also, I welcome feedback and suggestions. If there is a specific type of Python program you'd like to see featured on the blog, let me know.

Gary Horn said...

Well, I'm an Old Guy, and I've ordered my Raspberry Pi. I plan to use it to learn Python 3. I'm looking forward to using your blog as a guide!