The Powerful Tiny – Raspberry Pi

The name sounds like a dish with juicy raspberry made into a tasty Pie. But, it’s not!!

This is the name of a computer, capable of connecting to the internet through Wi-Fi or Ethernet, driving an HDMI based Full HD display, having a Linux based powerful operating system (Now a version of Microsoft Windows also!!) and handling sensors and actuators through codes.

Now you might think that it will be of a size of a cabinet having heatsinks and exhaust fans, requiring UPS for powering it up etc. But what if I say it is of the size of an ATM Card? Isn’t it surprising?

The revolution in electronics brought by VLSI (Very Large Scale Integration) leads us to this stage where we make a powerful computer that fits in our palm. This category of computers is called as ‘Single Board Computers’.

There are many manufacturers which make them like Banana Pi, Orange Pi, Beaglebone Black, Intel Edison etc. But most famous among them is ‘Raspberry Pi’.

Raspberry Pi Foundation developed this in the United Kingdom. There are several versions which are available in the market, where the latest one is Raspberry Pi 3, Released on 29 February 2016. The first version was released in February 2012.

It is powered by a CPU based on ARM architecture, which is the very popular and used in almost all smartphones.  It requires a Micro SD card for storing all data including the Operating System. It has a RAM of 256 MB to 1GB. It takes power using a Micro USB port, similar to the one in smartphones. It can be connected to 4 USB devices including a mouse and keyboard. It has 3.5mm jack for audio output. Also, it has 40 GPIO (general purpose input output) pins to control or take input from external devices.

This device was developed for educating children and teenagers to encourage them to learn to program and for hobbyists to prototype their device or software applications.

Raspberry has support for a variety of Operating Systems, most famous of them is ‘Raspbian’ which is a scaled version of famous Debian distribution of Linux. This OS comes with software packages like Libre Office (free office software like Microsoft Office), Scratch (Application for a new innovative programming language), Python (a famous and simple to learn scripting language) and some basic games also.

Using Raspberry Pi, we can make many projects like simple home automation, robots, media player etc. There are many resources available on the internet for this.  For detailed specifications and information for using this, you can refer to https://www.raspberrypi.org or blogs written by hobbyists.

So, techno enthusiasts, get ready to fill your curiosity with awesome things you can do using this small yet powerful device.

Author:

The author, Akshay Dhotre is an Application Developer at IBM India Pvt Ltd, Pune. He is a techno enthusiast and loves reading and writing about the latest technological developments. He is an avid reader, a passionate programmer, and a tech blogger.

Image Courtesy: AlphrAdafruitSmart Systems