Imagine you have a computer at home and on that computer you connect a mouse, a keyboard and a monitor to get a full setup.
This is exactly the same with the Raspberry Pi but instead of it being a large case to rest your feet on, it sits in the palm of your hand.
Typical home computers are build with an Operating Software installed such as Windows XP, Windows 7, 8 or Windows 10. This is licenced software which means that you have to pay for the use of it.
On the Raspberry Pi, your hard drive (where you store all your files) is a small memory card and the Operating Software you use is a development of Linux, which is classed as “open source” software.
Open source means that instead of hiding all the code that is used to create the user interface that you are met with when you turn on the pc, you are allowed access to it and they encourage that you change the code to suit your needs.
If you are new to computing then don’t be afraid of this idea as you can easily download a version of Linux for the Raspberry Pi without the need to worry about any code.
If the Raspberry Pi that you purchase does not come with a memory card with the software installed then you can download it for free from the Raspberry Pi foundation.
There are numerous distributions available to download for the Raspberry Pi but if you are starting off then its probably best to try Raspbian.
Once you have everything setup and the Pi is up and running with your Raspbian operating software you can have a play around and get yourself familiar with the feel of it. It will look different if you are used to using Windows but the concept is the same.
Raspbian also comes with Scratch pre-installed which is what the children learn in the first term at Code Club so it allows them to explore further.
If you wanted to get creative with the Raspberry Pi, you can also create games and numerous other projects by using code called Python.
Python is the most commonly used code for the Raspberry Pi and if you search the internet as well as YouTube, you will find many different tutorials.
You will notice that on the top of the Raspberry Pi you will have lots of pins running along the side. These are called GPIO (General Purpose In/Out) pins.
These are used for projects such as making an LED (Light Emitting Diode) flash on and off. You would wire up one side of the LED to one of the pins for example: pin 8 and the other end of it to the ground pin.
Then you will need to write a bit of Python code to state you wish for pin 8 to go HIGH and you can state how long for and then go LOW. This is basically telling it to turn on with the HIGH command and off with the LOW command.
**Please remember that the Raspberry Pi will give out more power than is needed for an LED so make sure that you connect a resistor to this setup so that you do not burn out your LED**
There are different types of LED which can handle different values of power but as a rough guide, you would provide enough protection for your LED if you were to use a 220ohm resistor. It does not matter if you connect the resistor before or after the LED as it will still have to run through the resistor so will still offer protection.
The Raspberry Pi also has a camera that you can attach to it for instance if you would like to create a CCTV network for home or a dash cam for the car.
Here are a few other projects that people are using the Raspberry Pi for:
• Home Automation – turning lights and circuits on and off in the house.
ALWAYS be careful with electricity.
• Light shows using LED strips.
• Building robots that have sensors that can move towards or away from
• Music media centre.
• Digital photo frame.
Trust me, the list is endless and is only limited by your imagination.
For even more details about the Raspberry Pi then visit https://www.raspberrypi.org/ and why not visit a Raspberry Jam, an event to learn new things about the Raspberry Pi.