The Best Raspberry Pi Accessories For Newbies
STEM Hobby Kit
The Raspberry Pi is a single-board micro-computer developed in the UK as a hobby kit and teaching aid. It’s aimed at the STEM booster community, helping to promote technology skills.
Its closest cousin is the Arduino, though Arduinos are merely single-board micro-controllers as opposed to a whole computer. The Raspberry Pi has outdone all projected sales forecasts, becoming one of the best-selling general purpose computers worldwide and the UK’s best-selling PC ever.
Put out by the non-profit Raspberry Pi Foundation, the company is dedicated to promoting tech education in schools. The Raspberry Pi is capable of running a broad range of operating systems and even acting as a game emulator. Meaning you can easily turn your Raspberry Pi into a Super Nintendo. You can even grab yourself a SNES case to house your Raspberry Pi right here.
Its most typical base comes with Raspbian, an adapted version of the Debian Linux operating system. It’s also optimized for use with Python and Scratch as its native programming languages. However, it’s a computer hobbyist’s laboratory in a box, so if you want to run anything from Windows 10 to BSD to even more obscure systems like Plan 9 From Bell Labs, it’s set up for that too. And its not that difficult to use.
Hobbyist computing is built into cultures such as hackers (the benevolent kind) and makers (as in Maker Fairs), going back to the Homebrew Computer Club based in Menlo park, California, in 1975. This launched Silicon Valley as we know it today and which counted both Steve Wozniak and Bill Gates as members.
Words cannot convey the heady days of pioneering exploration this covers, far before either Apple or Microsoft became household names. And these members were content building Altair units. Those were several thousand dollars more expensive and orders of magnitude weaker in terms of computing power. To think that this tradition now lands in the present day as a gigahertz of processing power at your disposal for less than a hundred dollars is simply mind-blowing.
The Raspberry Pi has applications such as retro and custom gaming, “Internet of Things” inventions, experimental industrial applications, robotics, and general hacker projects of every stripe.
No less than NASA has built an open-source rover powered by the Raspberry Pi 3; you can obtain the plans, buy the hardware, and have your own planetary exploration rover to tool around with. Fully supported by the JPL at the California Institute of Technology, you can find the source code on Github. Are we living in the 21st century or what?
There are several models of the Raspberry Pi, including the series model A and A+, model B and B+, and model Zero. The Zero tends to be the stripped-down model which is also the cheapest. The latest full-powered model as of this writing is the RPi 3 model B+, with 1.4 GHz processor, gigabit Ethernet, and wireless capabilities.
Various builds and models come with support for WiFi, Bluetooth, overclocking presets, and USB. Of course, the point of a Raspberry Pi is custom-building it to your purpose, so it has connectivity with virtually any reasonable hardware peripheral you could throw at it.
Tinkerers Will Love It
For computing and tech products of any size, or for passing down a love of tinkering to the next generation, it’s hard to beat the Raspberry Pi and the minor home hobbyist revolution it’s helped launch. Here, we’ll go over some kits to trick out your RPi for any purpose, all economical and convenient.
This starter kit includes everything you need for a core Raspberry Pi build, without a specific purpose. Includes the Pi 3 B+ with 64-bit Quad-Core processor and on-board WiFi and Bluetooth, CanaKit power supply, 32 gigabyte MicroSD card, cables and heat sinks, a handsome case, and a quick-start guide. Ready to roll for general projects.
A budget option for specific-purpose builds, this gives you the the Pi 3 B+ with 64-bit Quad-Core processor and on-board WiFi and Bluetooth, CanaKit power supply and guide, cables and heat sinks, and a switch controller. Get this if you know it’s all you need.
Another complete kit for general-purpose starters with smaller memory needs, this gives you the Pi 3 B+ with 64-bit Quad-Core processor and on-board WiFi and Bluetooth, 16 gigabyte microSD card, a microSD to SD adapter for overwriting the card, cables and heat sinks, basic power supply, a clear plastic case, and a quick start guide. A full build for smaller, stream-lined projects.
A stripped-down budget kit for specific projects, you get Pi 3 B+ with 64-bit Quad-Core processor and on-board WiFi and Bluetooth, power supply with an on/off switch, and heat sinks. The bare-bones beginning when you know this will be all you need for small projects.
A complete set with many peripheral parts, for a wide range of projects. The standard Pi 3 B+ with 64-bit Quad-Core processor and on-board WiFi and Bluetooth, CanaKit power supply, 32 gigabyte microSD, heat sinks, USB readers, ribbon cable, breadboard, jumpers, LEDs, resistors, switches, and guide. This is the full-featured large project kit, practically a Radio Shack store in a box. Build anything you can imagine!
For traditional computing builds, this kit provides all the I/O peripherals you’ll need to have a functioning laptop-style build. Includes Pi 3 B+ with 64-bit Quad-Core processor and on-board WiFi and Bluetooth, a seven-inch touchscreen full-color display, wireless keyboard and mouse, 32 gigabyte microSD with SD rewrite capabilities, power supply, and standard heat sinks and cables. It works out to a build-your-own laptop for gaming and software development.