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The Raspberry PI – adventures of a non techie – episode 3

So, I’ve talked in previous blogs in general terms about how to get started with the wonderful 80s throwback that is the Raspberry PI, but I thought it might be useful to talk specifics. As in, what have I done, and how much did it cost?

Michael Wood | 6 February 2013

So, I’ve talked in previous blogs in general terms about how to get started with the wonderful 80s throwback that is the Raspberry PI, but I thought it might be useful to talk specifics. As in, what have I done, and how much did it cost?

What Michael did next...

SO, this is the set up that I have at home, some begged and borrowed, some new, I have included prices for all new, but try to be creative if you are on a budget.

First, there is the PI itself, there are 2 versions, models A and B.  B has an extra USB port, more memory and a wired network connection (ethernet is the grown-up name apparently). The people behind the PI are a charity and really only sell out of two main places, the RS and Farnell shopping sites, amazon are starting to sell them and other places are catching up, but due to the charity's intentions, at the moment there is a limit to how many you can buy at once. Price on the RS site as of February 2013 is £25.92...the charity have been overwhelmed by demand, so expect a wait, it is a couple of weeks at the moment, but it was months for me, back in the day...

Second, the keyboard and mouse, I have a very typical set up for this, a logitech wired usb mouse (£5), and a logitech wired USB keyboard (£8), both from amazon, although to be honest, I salvaged mine from other PCs...waste not..

I opted to power the PI from a powered USB hub, so I went for the rather nifty Advent HB312 7-port USB 2.0 hub, I got mine from PC world for £20. You will also need a micro USB to USB cable to connect from the hub to the PI itself, I had one from an old mobile phone, but they are about £1 normally.  NOTE: - you don't need a USB hub if you have a model B, as there are 2 USB ports, one for keyboard and one for mouse, but if you intend on being adventurous with your PI, sooner or later you will want to connect it to other things, so it ends up being a wortwhile investment.  If you go for the wired option, then you can be online and playing with software without the need for a hub.

IMPORTANT NOTE - the PI people do not recommend using a non-powered USB hub.  It will draw power to run it from the PI itself, and the PI doesn't have much to start with, at best it will be unreliable, or not work, and at worst you may cause permanent damage, so go with powered.

For the network, there are two options - option 1 is the wired solution.  The PI model B has an ethernet port, so provided you have a network port on your internet router you can plug into this.  My router is in one room and my TV in another so this wasn't practical for me.  I have gone for the wireless route, I use a belkin wireless g usb network adapter, they are about £10.  they have the advantage of already being ready to go in the Raspbian wheezy build (it already has the firmware I mentioned earlier), but really any wireless adaptor will do, I just happened to have that hanging around spare.

There is an alternative; you can go wired if you use one of those nifty power supply network adaptors.  They are about £40, but you plug one near your PI, one near your router, plug network cables into them and it uses your power network as a data network..very clever!

Finally there is the SD card, anything up to 8Gb is cheap as chips...I have a 4Gb Sandisk SD card which are about £4..

So, in summary:




usb hub£20

micro sd cable£3

wireless dongle£10

SD card£4

Total£75.92 - for a fully up and running networked PI, TV not included!

Beg and borrow what you can, people often have keyboards and mice laying about, you could buy a power supply for the PI instead and not have a hub, which will take off £20, but basically that is it.  I have to say I scrounged a lot of that, and now I am happily running my PI...SO...on to what you can do with it

Next :- what can you with a Raspberry PI?

QA Training | Michael Wood

Michael Wood

Learning Programme Director

Michael has been teaching at QA for 12 years and is the lead trainer for MSP, managing successful programmes. Before this he worked with the public sector to implement initiatives such as the egovernment agenda. Michael has also project and programme managed many large scale implementations in the construction industry and in web technologies and ecommerce, as well as enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution for some well know utility and communications organisations. Michael believes in teaching in a down-to-earth style, using everyday real examples and injecting a bit of humour!
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