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Old 6th June 2017, 14:31   #1
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Default Review: Raspberry Pi, the $5 computer

The Raspberry Pi has been priced from $5 to $25 in the U.K

What you'll like:
  • Very well priced. A value for money proposition
  • A wide range of models to choose from. You are bound to find the correct one for yourself
  • Unmatched versatility. Can be the basis for numerous DIY projects
  • Well built and good hardware quality
  • Good support with a variety of forums available
What you won't:
  • Not a full fledged computer just yet. Intel Galileo is far more capable
  • Definitely on the expensive side for developing countries and if you don't know where to source it from
  • The cheapest variant (pi zero) is too stripped down to begin with. Stretch for the model A plus if you can
  • A bit difficult to configure third party hardware (touchscreen, sensors etc). Official Raspberry pi hardware range is too limited

Review: Raspberry Pi, the  computer-pi2modb1gb_comp.jpeg

Last edited by vishy76 : 8th June 2017 at 15:30.
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Old 6th June 2017, 14:52   #2
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Default What is it?

What is it?

I have heard many people asking me what a Raspberry pi is. To put it very simply:

" It's a $5 computer that was built so that children could learn how to program and build projects "

It's fair to say, the pi has surpassed all of these aims and you are bound to find one in each and every programming enthusiast's home.

In the following posts, I will be giving you a boring history lesson, what the raspberry pi is, specifications, various models and what I have done with the pi along with further potential which is to be exploited.

The Original Raspberry Pi. Used a larger SDHC card as opposed to the Micro SD card that the later ones use:
Review: Raspberry Pi, the  computer-front_of_raspberry_pi.jpg

The Raspberry Pi foundation

A brief history as to where the Pi actually comes from. The Raspberry Pi was built by a team of software engineers based in the U.K. The original motive of building the micro-computer itself is in the quote below:

Quote:
When the decline in numbers and skills of students applying for Computer Science became a concern for a team that included Eben Upton, Rob Mullins, Jack Lang and Alan Mycroft at the University of Cambridge’s Computer Laboratory in 2006, a need for a tiny and affordable computer came to their minds. Several versions of the early Raspberry Pi prototypes were designed but were very limited by the high cost and low power processors for mobile devices at that time.
Eben Upton, known as the founder of the Raspberry Pi. Designed it along with his team:
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The whole team:
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The prototype:
Review: Raspberry Pi, the  computer-1280pxraspberry_pi_board_at_transfersummit_2011_cropped.jpg

The Raspberry Pi was finally introduced in 2012 after a number of prototypes and a lot of testing. The two models initially available at launch were the model A and model B (both of which have been phased out now). The Raspberry Pi became an instant hit with enthusiasts of all ages mainly due to its size, durability and most importantly cost (starting at £17 on launch).

Apart from schools and colleges, which were the expected cutomers for the Pi, many enthusiasts also bought one. This demand was fulfilled by the Sony factory where the Pi was initially manufactured in South Wales.

The Raspberry Pi model A. Had 256mb of RAM and only a single USB port:
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The model B in comparision had 2 USB ports and the RAM was also significantly more at 512mb:
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The factory at Pencoid, South Wales, where the Raspberry Pi is still made to date:
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Both these models garnered success and laid a foundation for other models to follow. Although there were no rivals the Pi originally, there were plans of giving it a better processor, even more RAM and most importantly, a compact size which would be it's most potent weapon.

The Intel Galileo was priced too high (4x the Pi in India) and it was also too large although it had good RAM and better graphic handling capabilities than the Pi. However, the tech savvy DIYers didn't want outright performance only. Size was equally important. Thus came the later generations of the Pi based on these changes. The first one to benefit was the Raspberry Pi model B plus.

The Model B plus had very minor changes which were made after taking feedback from customers:
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The next one was the Model A+. Was just like the 1st gen Model A but power consumption was lowered and it now used a micro SD card along with 40 GPIO pins as opposed to 26 before:
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Come 2015, and the Raspberry foundation was ready to roll out the second generation of the Raspberry Pi.

2nd Generation

The 2nd Gen Pi's had certain minor improvements. The most prominent one was the addition of a better processor rated at 900 Mhz.

The first pi to roll out with the new processor was the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B :
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This was one of the most popular versions as it combined the size of the A+ with an ethernet port and an upgraded processor as well. The only two things missing were proper graphic handling capabilities and inbuilt wireless capabilities.

3rd Generation

The 3rd generation Pi upped the game even further. It came with inbuilt wireless capabilities that included wifi and bluetooth. If you wanted to avail these earlier on a Pi, you would have to purchase a USB adapter for both wifi and bluetooth seperately.

The third generation was a massive step ahead for the foundation. Gets its own Wifi and bluetooth hardware so you don't need to shell out extra cash on USB adapters for the same:
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Apart from these changes, the 3rd generation also gets a 1.2Ghz processor and 1GB RAM. Both these changes make it a more versatile solution if your project requires you to deal with graphics.

Raspberry Pi zero

The Raspberry Pi zero is a more radical approach towards computing. It capitalises on the main USP of the Pi range, that is, size. It still uses a 1Ghz processor, albiet a single core one. Do note that the Pi zero does not have a proper USB port. You will most definitely have to purchase USB adapters and HDMI ones too. This is the single deal breaker for me when it comes to the Pi zero.

And rightly so, the size of the Pi zero is less than a $5 note! The Pi zero is mainly meant for projects where size is a constraint. Even the weight plays a major role here. For example, if you want to build a pocket camera or say a watch, the Pi zero makes for the perfect platform.

Priced at $5 initially, demands sky rocketed within only a month of launch, which meant that the $5 price tag, was a pipe dream for us Indians! The cheapest price at which you can source this model is Rs. 1000 in India :
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Also note that the Pi zero didn't have a camera connector at first. It was silently added later on by the Raspberry foundation. You can find many Pi zero's for cheap on Aliexpress as they don't have camera connectors and belong to the initial few batches.

Last edited by vishy76 : 8th June 2017 at 15:25.
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Old 7th June 2017, 22:01   #3
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Default Re: List of operating Systems

List of Operating Systems

Before I do list the operating systems supported by the Pi, here is how you can have to download the software. The Pi doesn't come with any storage inbuilt (Or any that you can use). So, it has been provided with an SD card slot. Here's what you need to get started with the Pi:

- Raspberry Pi (Seriously?)
- A Micro SD card (8GB or more, a class 10 card would be preferred for better writing and reading speeds)
- A keyboard
- A USB hub, if you are using a Model A+ as it only has a single USB port
- A mouse (not a must have)
- An LCD monitor or TV with HDMI input
- A 5V USB charger (A phone charger will work)

That's all you need to fire your Pi up and get it to work. Let me brief you through the list of Operating Systems available for the Pi.

Raspbian

This is a modified version of the Linux OS and is the official software available for the Raspberry Pi. The only problem with downloading the Raspbian copy is the fact that you have to manually write the Raspbian image onto a formatted SD card. It's not as complicated as it sounds, but could get tricky for beginners. Here's the link:
https://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads/raspbian/

The file is in the form of an image file. You have to manually write it to an SD card. Although there are clear instructions on how to do these, there's always a chance of corrupting the Card itself:Name:  raspbianlogo.png
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NOOBS

This is essentially meant for beginners who don't want to do the tricky stuff, such as formatting SD cards or writing images. You simply have to download a ZIP file and extract it to the SD card. Insert the card into the pi and fire her up. Simply select the software to be installed (Raspbian) and NOOBS will format the card for you and install the software too.

NOOBS makes it a breeze to install software for the Pi. Just select the OS you want and the rest is taken care of:
Review: Raspberry Pi, the  computer-os_selected.png

Third Party software

There is also a laundry list of third party softwares available for the Pi, ranging from the traditional Linux based Operating systems, to certain softwares specially customised for the Pi. I will be listing out the popular ones.

Windows 10 IOT core

Before you start jumping up and down thinking that the Pi can support Windows 10, let me tell you it's just a stripped down non-GUI version meant to offer a framework for communicating with sensors over the internet rather than connecting or wiring them up physically. Only the Model B supports this due to the presence of an ethernet port.

Windows 10 IOT has lots of potential in the coming years. You can check out more about it here: https://developer.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/iot

IOT core is only supported on the Raspberry Pi model B revisions. The A+ misses out due to the lack of an ethernet port:
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Ubuntu Mate

This is a spruced up version of Linux. The graphics have been enhanced, which means that you can use the Pi as a computer. Unfortunately, it is only available on the Model B due to RAM availability issues on the A+.

Here's the download link: https://ubuntu-mate.org/raspberry-pi/

The Ubuntu mate is also very popular for desktops. Very smooth User interface:
Review: Raspberry Pi, the  computer-04_desktop.png

OSMC (open source media centre)

This an open sourced media centre. It has a very versatile layout and can also play videos and music. It can transform your Pi into a remote media player. Just connect it to your TV and you are good to go. The OSMC also has good graphics paired with reasonable operating speed even on my Raspberry Pi model A+.

Here's the download link:https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/osmc-stable-release/

Good graphics combined with a very good User Interface make OSMC an ideal entertainment system:
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Snappy Ubuntu Core

This is yet another software based on the Linux distribution. You will have to create an account in order to download this OS.

Again, it's only available for the Raspberry Pi 2 and 3 revisions.

Download link: https://developer.ubuntu.com/core/ge...spberry-pi-2-3

User interface is slightly rudimentary as compared to Ubuntu Mate:
Review: Raspberry Pi, the  computer-maxresdefault-1.jpg

RISC OS

This is a non-linux distribution. It is a full fledged desktop OS meant for the Pi. Unlike the Ubuntu core and Ubuntu Mate, it doesn't require a lot of RAM.

Here's the download link: https://www.riscosopen.org/content/d...s/raspberry-pi

User interface is very similar to the earlier Windows 98:
Review: Raspberry Pi, the  computer-riscosscreen20121126.png

PiNet

This is an OS which gives you a centralised account to control the Pi. Everything including the OS of the Pi itself is loaded onto a central server, giving you central access to the Pi.

Very useful for classrooms and offices, where you require a centralised monitoring system:
Review: Raspberry Pi, the  computer-raspberrypikids_pinetlogo.jpg

Last edited by vishy76 : 8th June 2017 at 14:26.
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Old 8th June 2017, 14:37   #4
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Default Re: My Take on the Raspberry Pi

This post highlights my take on the Raspberry Pi, some starter instructions and operating systems available. I have a Raspberry Pi model A+.

How it came into the family is a very interesting story. I was around 12 and was entering my teens. That's when my curiosity was at it's maximum.

This curiosity lead me into thinking whether I could make a phone for myself! I saw many DIYs on phones especially on instructables (Excellent place for DIYs). While the complexity and price of building the phone meant that it remained a pipe dream, I did stumble across the Raspberry Pi website where a member had made a phone for himself out of it!

Immediately started searching for it on Amazon, and stumbled across the Model A+. It was the cheapest Pi back then, so I had to eventually go for it although I wanted a B+. Bought it for Rs. 1800, although they did charge Rs. 100 for one day shipping thanks to my impatience.

Once I had the Raspberry Pi, it was a bit of a shock for me. We didn't have Wifi back in Mumbai, so I had to download the software through my dad's office network. It took him 5 days to get it downloaded, but finally I did get the file. Formatted my SD card, and uploaded the file.

Fired the Pi up for the first time, and the screen lit up asking me which software to download. And now came the real shock, no Keyboard!

Took another 2 days to get a keyboard for myself and it was only then that I could actually use the Pi. The lack of a mouse did take getting a bit used too though.

Accessories bought by me

I haven't bought many accessories for the Pi yet. Although I am a Tech savvy person, my interest is more towards cars and not computers. However, DIYs is something that I am very fond of, one of the reasons why the Pi is so damn popular.

Following are the accessories and a mini review on them.

Edimax EW-7811Un 150 Wifi adapter

This is a must have for the Raspberry Pi itself. Wifi capabilities are a boon to have for the Pi. You can wirelessly connect your laptop through SSH and access the Pi through a command line interface.

What I liked:
-Easy to configure. Plug and play
-Works 99 out of 100 times
-Cheaper and more popular then other wifi modules

What I didn't:
-Costly in it's own league. The cheapest one I could find was Rs. 1,250
-Not compatible with all Operating systems

Link to purchase: http://www.amazon.in/Edimax-EW-7811U...CBH88YV350C4VH

The Edimax adapter is pretty versatile. A must have accesorry for the Pi IMHO:
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Rii„‚¬ Mwk08 I8 Mini 2.4Ghz Wireless Touchpad Keyboard

The mini keyboard was bought only a few months ago for a DIY project in school. It's very good VFM although it is actually a copy and not an original.

What I liked:
- Excellent VFM. Convenience of both mouse and keyboard
- Fairly accurate and works well

What I didn't:
- Appalling plastic quality. Very cheap feel
- Not an original product. Support will be bad

Not an original keyboard, but good VFM considering the genuine one costs upwards of Rs. 2,000:
Review: Raspberry Pi, the  computer-24gfontbwirelessbfontoriginalfontbriibfonti8fontb.jpg



USB Hub

Bought mine from a local store. It is a must have for the model A+ as it only has a single USB port. However, I did manage to find a good example on Amazon.

What I liked:
- Good value for money
- Speeds are good

What I didn't:
- Placement of the USB ports is not ergonomic

Here's the link: http://www.amazon.in/iBall-Lappie-Pi...=iball+usb+hub

USB hub is a must have rather than a good to have accessory if you want to connect multiple devices:
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3.2 Inch TinyLCD screen


This is by far the best accessory I have bought for the Raspberry Pi. It is a 3.2 Inch LCD without a touchscreen though. The total cost including shipping was about Rs. 1900.

What I liked:
- Good support by the vendor
- Crisp screen clarity

What I didn't:
- Not a known brand internationally
- Screens are cheaper internationally

Store link:http://www.tinylcd.com/tiny149/

The 3.5 inch LCD is good VFM:
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Projects undertaken till date

As of today, there has been only one major project done with the Pi.

Home automation System

This was done by means of a relay. The GPIO pins of the Pi were hooked upto the relay and an Android app was used to communicate with it.

Here's the User interface of the app itself:
Review: Raspberry Pi, the  computer-cayennecreateanappreview.png

The Pi hooked up to the Relay. (Representational image)
Review: Raspberry Pi, the  computer-maxresdefault-2.jpg

The only difference was that I used a 4 channel relay for this project. The Cayenne app truly made it a breeze to use.

Here's a link for the official Cayenne website: https://mydevices.com/

The lesser known things

A size comparision with the mighty Arduino. Both computers have a very different approach towards computing:
Review: Raspberry Pi, the  computer-arduinopi.jpg

Strongly recommend a good class 10 SD card for the Pi:
Review: Raspberry Pi, the  computer-71xuioef8hl._sl1500_.jpg

The Raspberry Pi can be modded to suit your requirements. You can remove the GPIO pins by unsoldering them:
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Anyone for a Raspberry Pi mobile Phone?
Review: Raspberry Pi, the  computer-screenshot20140425at11.42.30.png

The official Raspberry Pi screen. A 7 inch Touchscreen along with a bezel:
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That's it folks. Kindly do tell me incase you have any doubts and most importantly, do not forget to give your feedback on the review. Hope you enjoyed reading..

Signing off for now,
Vishy

Last edited by vishy76 : 8th June 2017 at 15:33.
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Old 8th June 2017, 17:39   #5
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Default Re: Review: Raspberry Pi, the $5 computer

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Gadgets & Computers Section. Thanks for sharing!

What a review, dude. Rating 5 stars . I wasn't aware of such a device.

This is going straight to our homepage.
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Old 8th June 2017, 17:53   #6
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Default Re: Review: Raspberry Pi, the $5 computer

Trust a youngster to put up a thread like this. Thread gets a 5 star from me.

Vishy76, in my teens I 'trained' on my school friend's home/hobby computer called the Sinclair ZX Spectrum. It is positively ancient by todays standards. It had 48K of memory (even a calculator probably does better today!) and programs were loaded through a cassette tape recorder. My friend also had an optional thermal printer. It was MEGA cool back in those days
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Old 8th June 2017, 17:53   #7
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Default Re: Review: Raspberry Pi, the $5 computer

Nice review , I have been using it for sometime now after hooking it up with the TV and adding the Openelec, then later Libreelec , i have successfully removed the tatasky connection .
Also the Retropie is a blast to play the old nintendo games
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Old 8th June 2017, 17:58   #8
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Default Re: Review: Raspberry Pi, the $5 computer

Is this a good analogy for what Raspberry Pi is? Without the tyres?

Review: Raspberry Pi, the  computer-img_4891.jpg
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Old 8th June 2017, 18:02   #9
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My home firewall is based on Raspberry Pi Model with openWRT. I've even configured adblock too
https://wiki.openwrt.org/toh/raspber...n/raspberry_pi
https://github.com/openwrt/packages/.../adblock/files
https://computers.tutsplus.com/artic...all--mac-55984

Every day adblock list is updated. The advantage is it is small, cheap, uses very less power to secure the network.
The disadvantage is that most of the ads are blocked (links in emails). If you click any then a blank page is displayed (I've not configured error page)
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Old 8th June 2017, 18:03   #10
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Default Re: Review: Raspberry Pi, the $5 computer

1. Are you able to connect to WiFi using Edimax? I have bought three WiFi dongles and tried configuring Pi (B version) without success. LAN cable works fine though. Tried all the network configurations till date but no avail.

2. I have done quite a few DIY "projects" using PI. Interfacing with other hardware/software is easy - if plug and play modules/components are available - else PI needs serious background of Electronics and OS/networking concepts.
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Old 8th June 2017, 18:08   #11
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Default Re: Review: Raspberry Pi, the $5 computer

Whoa what a post! I have heard of this raspberry Pi, but this post leaves nothing to imagination. Very well detailed. Thanks man!
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Old 8th June 2017, 18:53   #12
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Default Re: Review: Raspberry Pi, the $5 computer

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Gadgets & Computers Section. Thanks for sharing!

What a review, dude. Rating 5 stars . I wasn't aware of such a device.

This is going straight to our homepage.
Thanks for that. The very goal of putting up this review is to make people aware of something like this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by R2D2 View Post
Trust a youngster to put up a thread like this. Thread gets a 5 star from me.

Vishy76, in my teens I 'trained' on my school friend's home/hobby computer called the Sinclair ZX Spectrum. It is positively ancient by todays standards. It had 48K of memory (even a calculator probably does better today!) and programs were loaded through a cassette tape recorder. My friend also had an optional thermal printer. It was MEGA cool back in those days
Thanks. There were many hobby computers but price was a major constraint. The size was also too large for students.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kippu View Post
Nice review , I have been using it for sometime now after hooking it up with the TV and adding the Openelec, then later Libreelec , i have successfully removed the tatasky connection .
Also the Retropie is a blast to play the old nintendo games
Thanks. Good to know you are putting the Pi to good use. The retro pie is truly a blast IMHO. I tried installing it multiple times but couldn't configure it with my screen.

Quote:
Originally Posted by smartcat View Post
Is this a good analogy for what Raspberry Pi is? Without the tyres?
:lol

Quote:
Originally Posted by kozhissery View Post
My home firewall is based on Raspberry Pi Model with openWRT. I've even configured adblock too
https://wiki.openwrt.org/toh/raspber...n/raspberry_pi
https://github.com/openwrt/packages/.../adblock/files
https://computers.tutsplus.com/artic...all--mac-55984

Every day adblock list is updated. The advantage is it is small, cheap, uses very less power to secure the network.
The disadvantage is that most of the ads are blocked (links in emails). If you click any then a blank page is displayed (I've not configured error page)
The Raspberry Pi is extremely versatile. You get to learn something new everyday!

Quote:
Originally Posted by AltoLXI View Post
1. Are you able to connect to WiFi using Edimax? I have bought three WiFi dongles and tried configuring Pi (B version) without success. LAN cable works fine though. Tried all the network configurations till date but no avail.

2. I have done quite a few DIY "projects" using PI. Interfacing with other hardware/software is easy - if plug and play modules/components are available - else PI needs serious background of Electronics and OS/networking concepts.
Try to use the dongle listed in the review. That worked out of the box for me. The Edimax should be easy to set up. Try pinging people on the raspberry pi forums.

Quote:
Originally Posted by r.K View Post
Whoa what a post! I have heard of this raspberry Pi, but this post leaves nothing to imagination. Very well detailed. Thanks man!
Thanks. Good to know I was able to increase others knowledge through this review.
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Old 8th June 2017, 19:08   #13
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May i suggest a few diy projects to work on with the RPi?
-Try wirelessly interfacing with cheaper microcontrollers, which will make it easier to automate your home.
You can use an arduino with an esp8266 wireless chip, or use the esp8266 as a smaller microcontroller directly (nodemcu based boards)

Many simple ideas that I have had, developed on and then scrapped just for the fun of DIY.
Hope i do have the patience to sit and pen down some of them. Very well written.
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Old 8th June 2017, 19:38   #14
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Default Re: Review: Raspberry Pi, the $5 computer

Excellent introduction to Raspbery pi. I was one of the early adopters of Pi first gen. Currently I have Pi 2, pi zero and the first gen Pi. Had met Mr Alan Mycroft during his talk at IIT Mumbai on 27.2.13. They are doing an awesome work. Do take a look at their homepage.

I did many projects like wireless printer, home server, surveillance camera, dash cam, number plate reader, home theatre, audio streamer, mini PC etc. Basically the list is endless. I had put up a lot of DIYs on my website, if many others are keen, I will publish them here as well.

I wanted to spread awareness in my college and my college supported me by purchasing 5 raspberry Pi and allowing me to conduct a workshop.


This is an awesome tool to engage small kids to teach basic programming, about computers + it's a good way for doing various projects.


One of the projects I'm currently working on is controlling stuff connected to Pi using Siri. Met some success, but with a full time job, time is scarce. Thanks OP for this wonderful thread, good to know there are other enthusiasts as well. This is a good enough motivation to restart my website !

Last edited by blackwasp : 8th June 2017 at 19:46.
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Old 9th June 2017, 00:51   #15
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Default Re: Review: Raspberry Pi, the $5 computer

Quote:
Originally Posted by kkkkkaran View Post
May i suggest a few diy projects to work on with the RPi?
-Try wirelessly interfacing with cheaper microcontrollers, which will make it easier to automate your home.
You can use an arduino with an esp8266 wireless chip, or use the esp8266 as a smaller microcontroller directly (nodemcu based boards)

Many simple ideas that I have had, developed on and then scrapped just for the fun of DIY.
Hope i do have the patience to sit and pen down some of them. Very well written.
That might be a very good idea. I especially find Cayenne a bit slow and laggy although I might be doing something wrong. This might be the perfect solution to that problem.

Quote:
Originally Posted by blackwasp View Post
Excellent introduction to Raspbery pi. I was one of the early adopters of Pi first gen. Currently I have Pi 2, pi zero and the first gen Pi. Had met Mr Alan Mycroft during his talk at IIT Mumbai on 27.2.13. They are doing an awesome work. Do take a look at their homepage.

I did many projects like wireless printer, home server, surveillance camera, dash cam, number plate reader, home theatre, audio streamer, mini PC etc. Basically the list is endless. I had put up a lot of DIYs on my website, if many others are keen, I will publish them here as well.
Thanks

Glad to know that you own one of the first gen Pis. The number of projects you have made with the Pi is truly astonishing. Please do put up your projects here. Youngsters like me are always interested in things like these.
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