… for Random Weirdness

Tip #659: Build Your Own Raspberry (Pi) Computer

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A fully-functional computer that costs less than $50

The Raspberry Pi Foundation’s official case is a classic. Image via Raspberry Pi Foundation.

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This article, written by Alejandro Medellin, first appeared in PremiumBeat.com. This is an excerpt.

The Raspberry Pi is a fully-functional computer that costs less than $50. In fact, you can get one for $10. Designed over a decade ago, in England, by the Raspberry Pi Foundation, this tiny computer has been at the heart of many enthusiast projects. In fact, there are a couple of RasPis on the International Space Station, which are used from Earth by children learning to code.

While the device is used by many schools and educators to teach children to code, it’s much more than an educational tool — it’s a tiny workhorse. For instance, the RasPi Zero, which is the smallest and least powerful version, is now being used in new ventilators to combat the shortage of the life-saving device during the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are three models:

  • The Powerhouse: Raspberry Pi 4 Model B. The Raspberry Pi Foundation’s latest release, the RasPi 4 Model B, is the most powerful iteration of the Raspberry Pi to date. It comes in either one, two, or four gigabytes of memory (RAM). The RasPi 4 starts at $35, but the 4GB version sells for around $55.
  • An Oldie, But Goodie: Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+. Despite its age, the RasPi 3 Model B+ is still powerful in its own right, and more affordable. For more straightforward projects, or ones on a tight budget that don’t require many computing resources.
  • Tiny, But Fierce: Raspberry Pi Zero W. If the RasPi 4 Model B is the size of a credit card, then the RasPi Zero W is roughly the size of a stick of gum, and yet, it packs quite the punch. Starting at only $10, this smaller computer is ideal for experimentation.

Before you can use the RasPi, you’ll have to download an operating system onto a MicroSD card; you can access it on Windows or Mac. Alternatively, you can buy a MicroSD card that comes pre-loaded with NOOBS — i.e., new out of the box software — which includes several operating systems to choose from. You can also download NOOBS onto a MicroSD card and then choose your OS.

Raspberry Pis can be used to create network-attached storage, media players, even simple desktop editing. Plus, for long days with nothing to do, these are amazing tools for hobbyist.


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