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First Steps With the Raspberry Pi 241

Posted by timothy
from the free-in-cracker-jacks dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Raspberry Pi received an extraordinary amount of pre-launch coverage. It truly went viral with major news corporations such as the BBC giving extensive coverage. Not without reason, it is groundbreaking to have a small, capable computer retailing at less than the price of a new console game. There have been a number of ventures that have tried to produce a cheap computer such as a laptop and a tablet but which never materialised at these price points. Nothing comes close to the Raspberry Pi in terms of affordability, which is even more important in the current economic climate. Producing a PC capable of running Linux, Quake III-quality games, and 1080p video is worthy of praise." Beyond praise, though, this article details the hooking-up and mucking-about phases, and offers some ideas of what it's useful for.
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First Steps With the Raspberry Pi

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  • by bunratty (545641) on Sunday June 03, 2012 @07:40PM (#40204891)
    s/OLAP/OLPC/g
  • Re:SoC datasheet? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 03, 2012 @08:07PM (#40205015)

    there u go
    http://www.element14.com/community/docs/DOC-43016/l/broadcom-datasheet-for-bcm2835-soc-used-in-raspberry-pi

  • Re:Different markets (Score:4, Informative)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday June 03, 2012 @08:22PM (#40205097) Homepage Journal

    Why would I want to build my latest project with a Raspberry Pi instead of Arduino?

    It's very near the same price and has vastly more RAM and processing power, not to mention I/O.

  • Re:Different markets (Score:4, Informative)

    by ChipMonk (711367) on Sunday June 03, 2012 @08:43PM (#40205185) Journal
    I would like to build a custom-soldered board with LED's. I know that I may do something wrong, and overload the GPIO pins on the Pi. Who knows, I might hack up something on the display to go with it, although 1080p might be a bit beyond my needs. ;-)

    So, you ask "what kind of project do you need a cheap system and 1080p video for?" Believe me, if I fry the hardware, I'll be glad it's built cheap. I'd rather fry a Pi than an Arduino. That's the whole point of the Raspberry Pi: a system that won't set back an experimenter (or a kid's parents) big money if somebody's voltage calculations were wrong.

    As someone below points out, it also makes better sense for schools: for a student taking an electronics course, having parents pay a $35 deposit on an RPi (refunded at the end of the year) makes for a lower entry barrier than a >$150 deposit on (name your other device).
  • by humanrev (2606607) on Sunday June 03, 2012 @08:44PM (#40205191)

    The video probably isn't quite as good as the Pi (it maxes at 720p), but who is going to be doing sophisticated video with these devices anyway, at this stage? It's a hobbyist board.

    A lot of people are buying the Pi to run XBMC. Since it can support 1080p flawlessly and the Via APC cannot, well... for many people the choice is obvious.

    With any luck, the (relatively) open nature of the Pi and increasing size of the community will make it a more interesting option than competing boards, which is the reason why the Arduinos are still very popular despite being outclassed hardware-wise by other boards.

  • Re:Different markets (Score:5, Informative)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Sunday June 03, 2012 @11:04PM (#40205753) Journal
    Why would I want to build my latest project with a Raspberry Pi instead of Arduino?

    That very strongly depends on the nature of your project. Arduinos are great for nice, accessable, GPIO twiddling and some light sampling. In the hands of people who actually know their microcontroller-fu, you can also wring some surprising calculation power out of them.

    For connected applications, though, their weaknesses become apparent fairly quickly. As a slave peripheral? No problem. One or two other devices over TTL serial, custom protocol? Fine. Ethernet(wired or otherwise): There's a shield for that, and it'll set you back as much as the board it connects to. Fantastic.

    That's the trouble with some of the Arduino 'ecosystem' stuff. At heart, it's still based around a microcontroller. Nothing wrong with that, microcontrollers are exactly what the doctor ordered for all sorts of applications; but it makes bolting certain functions (ethernet, any serious level of video, USB host capabilities, etc.) fairly clunky and expensive. There is practically nothing that some clever person hasn't managed to encapsulate as a TTL or SPI-interface shield object that exposes some capabilities to the arduino and does a lot of the heavy lifting behind the scenes; but most such shields are easily as powerful as the Arduino itself, and the cost can mount fast.

    Assuming(and this is important, one of Arduino's great strengths is that even n00bs can just dive in) that a reasonably sane default-beginner's-image-and-utilities emerges for the Pi, it is arguably well placed as the answer to anything where the problem requires adding frankly excessive shields to an arduino. It still has some GPIO twiddling capability; but also comes with ethernet, USB host, and video out for ~2x what an arduino would cost. As a 'desktop' the feeble main processor largely dooms it; but it's luxury by microcontroller standards and easily enough for all sorts of light web-enabling stuff.

    The PandaBoard, of course, is largely the Pi without some of the compromises. More money, more power.
  • Re:Different markets (Score:5, Informative)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday June 03, 2012 @11:17PM (#40205807) Homepage Journal

    The two just don't compare well.

    Repeating yourself doesn't make your statement true. I have an STK500 and an STK600 in the closet next to me, and a number of AVR devices and a couple Arduinos. I can still see that at some point, some projects will run off the end of Arduino and right onto the beginning of R-Pi.

    They're nothing like PC's, and the Raspi is not really like an Arduino.

    It is like an Arduino in certain significant ways (low price, GPIO) which make it suitable for many tasks for which people would like to use Arduno but they can't because it doesn't have enough horsepower. In that way, it is very like Arduino, but better. One of the best things about Arduino is standardized libraries.

    On the other hand, it doesn't have near as much connectivity as an Arduino. I suspect that a lot of people using Arduino for their projects and running out of processing power will turn their Arduino into an interface device and switch to doing their processing on the R-Pi. At these prices it makes complete sense... for prototyping, or just banging out a quick tool. Sometimes saving the time is worth the money.

  • The bigger picture (Score:4, Informative)

    by sidevans (66118) on Monday June 04, 2012 @01:51AM (#40206325) Homepage

    I think many people here are forgetting a few important things about the Pi...

    - Linux vs Android : I've had a few Android devices now - none of which have the functionality and ease of use compared to a Linux device, all the way from a Linux Modem or VoIP system to the back end of an ESXi cluster (or vSphere or whatever they call it these days), for someone with a decent understanding of Linux/Unix varieties the Raspberry Pi is the obvious solution. Entire companies have ran on server's that have less grunt than a Pi and now its all been reduced down to the size if a phone... AND

    - Power Consumption (and price) : 3 watts at peak usage.... 3 watts!!! Does this mean that I can just use 4 x AA rechargable batteries and a 30cm (12") x 30cm Solar panel and run it forever (or until the batteries need replacing)? Maybe put a small panel on the parcel shelf in your car so your CarPC is always running and ready to go? How about something more critical like medical equipment which can have sensors plugged into the GPIO and use solar/wind/batteries to monitor patients in poor areas? No other commercially available system in the past has had this much CPU Power/Ram with such little energy consumption and price, citizens of 3rd world countries might have a chance to "own" a computer and, even better - its open source - which will boost Linux usage worldwide and take a market share from the big players like Apple and Microsoft.

    - Size : And weight. It wont be too long until we see computers like this embedded into clothing and other parts of every day life, and the Pi is just the start of that, as tech gets smaller and cheaper, we'll be able to product it in abundance - data for example - we went from trading Floppy Disks, to Harder Small Floppy Discs, to CD's, and hard drives, to DVD's and now its time for solid state joy, what next? Trading complete plug in system.....

    - Autoplay? Screw that... for $50-$100 my cost, I can now give a customer a box and all they need to do is plug in HDMI and turn it on, it will give a full length video presentation on any screen or TV with HDMI in, with a keyboard and mouse you can give them a fully interactive product to play with, and with a wifi adapter and internet access you could use the box as a tech support node in their office, add a camera you have a portable video conferencing screen.

    - Hmm I might want Autoplay (Annoying Customers) : You know, the type that harass you on how to play their mp4 rip of Game of Thrones, generally family members and friends that charging a decent rate to help would make you look like an ass so you do it for free to be nice? They will be a thing of the past, you can give them a box that plugs into their TV - which they plug *THEIR* USB stick into, and it will play almost any format with an easy to use menu. I'm no economist but I predict the savings and health costs purely because of this will be in the billions.

    People need to stop being so obsessed with having the fastest and greatest and look at what they can do now. I paid almost $2000 for a Dual Celery 466 with 256 meg ram, 18 gig 7200 rpm HDD and a Voodoo 3, now days a $50 card would eat it alive and use 1/200th of the energy. In a time when the world is having an energy crisis this kind of thing is kind of important. I run my laptop, stereo and lighting in my smoking/drinking room on 12v batteries (also preparing for zombies), and once we get decent USB LED projectors, the Pi is going to be the main part of it all.

      fuck I feel old now /rant...

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