A Slice Of Pi

Posted: June 25, 2013

Double Click

In the first quarter of 2012, developers came up with a new flavor of PC in the United Kingdom — Raspberry Pi. Not to be eaten, but plugged in and used as a computer.

Before you sigh and think, “Here he goes talking about another new desktop or notebook computer.” Pause. Raspberry Pi’s are different, really different.

Physically, Raspberries weigh in at about1 ½ ounces — the same as eight quarters. Dimensionally, they’re only 3.4-inches-by-2.2-inches and 0.83 inches thick. Mine is a slightly larger, as I also purchased a case, which only cost $7.

The real attraction is price. There are two versions: The A version sells for $25, the B for $35. Now, you do need a couple of other things to run it, but they are likely already in your home.

Sales first started in February 2012 and are still pretty strong. The Raspberries were originally created to teach kids in the U.K. to write programs and be creative with computers without spending much money.

I read that developers estimated 10,000 unit sales; by May 2012, there were more than 40,000 in sales. By May 2013, there were more than 1.2 million in sales worldwide, with India taking the lead.

Raspberries have no hard drive, so an SD card of at least 4GB is recommended.  I run mine on an old 8GB I had left over from an Android phone. Android also serves as the power source for the Pi, the phone charger, wire and all. This makes maintaining the Pi affordable and convenient, as most people have chargers or inexpensive access to them. You’ll also need a mouse, keyboard and monitor — then, you’re ready to go.

Beware, these are not for beginners. It is not a gadget that you can just plug in and use; it takes a little bit of setup. The SD card must first be set up on a regular computer, then plugged into the Raspberry Pi.

For ideas of what the Pis can be used for, visit your favorite search engine and look for “What are people doing with Raspberry Pi?” Uses include experimentation with human prosthetics, streaming videos or listening to music, as cameras, for surfing the Internet, etc.  

Check out this video (bit.ly/1bHdbc3) where one creative dad launched his son’s favorite toy into space, got video of the ride, and the return to Earth. They even found the toy later.

Apparently, the sky is the limit.

Contact Ron Doyle at ron@doubleclicks.info.

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