How to Get Started with Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi is a cost-effective, credit card-sized computer that was first released in 2012. Since its launch, it’s become known for being the best-selling British computer according to the Raspberry Pi Foundation. It’s also been a real success story for Pencoed in Wales, where most of these computers are made. 

If you have wanted your own Raspberry Pi for a while and you’re just starting out with this single-board computer, you’re in the right place.  Here’s a guide designed to help you get started with the Pi. 

What is the Raspberry Pi? 

Raspberry Pi is a small computer that works in a similar way to your laptop. It has the makeup of a typical computer, but it’s much smaller. It’s made up of a graphics chip, a processor, RAM and USB ports. 

There’s also space for an HDMI connection and an Ethernet port. Later versions also include Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity

What software does it need?

Due to its nature as a stripped-back computer, the Raspberry Pi can run basic software. So, you can install Linux and a very basic version of Windows 10.

The reason for it being so simple is that it has been created to teach coding and computer skills. This makes it a great choice for schools as it can be used to teach different stages of coding to everyone from primary school-aged children right up to high schoolers. 

It’s not just for children, however. Adults can build their own programs, from gaming consoles to CCTV systems, as well as use the Pi to create a web server or as a desktop computer. 

With this in mind, you can start coding on your own Raspberry Pi relatively easily, especially if you select a full kit. This will give you everything you need to get your first project underway. 

Does it need hardware? 

As with most computers, you’ll need decent hardware to make sure you can get the most out of your Pi. This includes a keyboard, mouse, a good quality display screen, and a memory card so that you don’t lose your work. 

A good power supply is also essential as you want to make sure you can operate your computer without worrying about losing power. There are different power sources for different regions, so double check you’ve selected the one for where you’re based. 

How does it work?

To make it work, you’ll need to input commands and instructions. As mentioned previously, you’ll need hardware such as a keyboard, monitor and mouse like you would with a typical computer. This hardware is what you use to input commands.

Once you have everything you need, set up your Pi using a Windows, Mac or Linux-based PC. First, insert your memory card into the computer. Then, download the Raspberry Pi Imager. This is the operating system for your Raspberry Pi and is what makes it work. 

A loading screen will appear. This is a typical desktop, so you’ll be familiar with what you see. From there, you can use the default web browser to help you install the software you want to start coding with. 

What to do next

One of the most popular programmes used by schools is Scratch, a simple introduction to coding aimed at children. It’s ideal for teaching basic programming to children and there are several themes and options to try. 

The type of coding you do will depend upon the software you download and the accessories you buy. For example, you can use an LED sensor and explore the concept of randomness. Or you could try something advanced such as creating a secure door lock. 

There are many possibilities when it comes to coding your Pi. Using this small computer as a springboard, you can build some impressive features for everything from classroom resources to everyday items. 

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