Average read time : 3 minutes , Complexity : Starters
Raspberry Pi is a debit card sized single board computer. In case you are new to single board computer then read our previous blog on single board computers here.
Currently, Raspberry Pi comes with model known as Raspberry Pi3. These board have the capability to connect with your LCD monitor or smart tv using HDMI cable. Raspberry Pi is Linux based and needs an external SD card to load the operating system. You can also connect an external speaker and mic for multimedia functions. Raspberry can also be run in headless mode using VNC (Virtual network computing) which is like a remote desktop access for the Pi. Raspberry Pi also has Bluetooth connectivity which can act as an interface as well for your robotics project. Additionally, usb slots, Ethernet slot for LAN make it a killer combination for home automation and robotics projects. Raspberry Pi cam module or a normal HD webcam can be used in conjunction with OpenCv for image processing and computer vision as well. We used the same approach as we built SID2. Pi can run many development tools like Arduino, Python, Scratch and BlueJ etc.
Raspberry pi has a concept of 'Pi Hat' which is the equivalent of the shield from Arduino world. You can configure your Pi HAT (Hardware attached on top). Raspberry Pi HAT is a rectangular board that has four holes in the corners that align with the mounting holes on the Pi. It connects with the GPIO's so using a HAT is very convenient but not a must.
Finally, comes the question - What is then Raspberry Pi zero ?
Raspberry Pi Zero is the lowest price board from this series but in a punch of power with -
1Ghz, Single-core CPU , 512MB RAM, Mini HDMI and USB On-The-Go ports, Micro USB power and GPIO's. The limitation here is none to be honest apart from the part that if you are weak in soldering then it's a challenge to solder the GPIO's yourself but the advantage is that you can change the angle from straight to right angle to fit your needs. It can also be configured with the T Cobbler. There is no Ethernet port as well but you can use the usb with wifi to get that. Bear in mind the plus here that Zero only costs a $5 and you can do quite well with a 1Ghz cpu.
Pi zero is released for sale in UK and USA but some re sellers do stock them in India . Our advise is to start with Raspberry PI3 and also use Pi zero as your second project. The Foundation provides Raspbian, a Debian-based Linux distribution for download which is the first recommended OS from us to start. However, you are free to install other OS like third party Ubuntu, Windows 10 IOT Core.
Image source : Efa [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Herbfargus (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons