D3 Tips and Tricks v4

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Setting up the Raspberry Pi Hardware

The following post is a section of the book 'Raspberry Pi: Measure, Record, Explore'.  The entire book can be downloaded in pdf format for free from Leanpub or you can read it online here.
Since this post is a snapshot in time. I recommend that you download a copy of the book which is updated frequently to improve and expand the content.
Raspberry Pi Hardware Setup
To make a start you will require some basic hardware to get you up and running and talking to the Raspberry Pi.

The Raspberry Pi

I know this is kind of obvious, but you will need a Raspberry Pi :-). As mentioned earlier, we will focus on using the B+ model, but since this book is very much a living document I am hopeful that in the future we should be able to make the comparison with other models.
Raspberry Pi B+
The Raspberry Pi has a great range of connection points and we will begin our set-up of the device by connecting quite a number of them to appropriate peripherals.
Get yourself a simple case to sit the Pi out of the dust and detritus that’s floating about. For the purposes of ongoing development I have found that having one that leaves the top side of the Pi exposed (and the connections there accessible) is useful.

SD Card

The Raspberry Pi needs to store the Operating System and working files on a micro SD card (actually a micro SD card for the B+ model, but a full size SD card if you’re using a B model).
MicroSD Card
The microSD card receptacle is on the rear of the board and is of a ‘push-push’ type which means that you push the card in to insert it and then to remove it, give it a small push and it will spring out.
MicroSD Card Positioning
This is the equivalent of a hard drive for a regular computer, but we’re going for a minimal effect. We will want to use a minimum of an 8GB card (smaller is possible, but 8 is recommended). Also try to select a higher speed card if possible (class 10 or similar) as it is anticipated that this should speed things up a bit.

Keyboard / Mouse

While we will be making the effort to access our system via a remote computer, you will need a keyboard and a mouse for the initial set-up. Because the B+ model of Pi has 4 x USB ports, there is plenty of space for you to connect wired USB devices.
Wired Keyboard and Mouse
A wireless combination would most likely be recognized without any problem and would only take up a single USB port, but as we will build towards a remote capacity for using the Pi, the nicety of a wireless connection is not strictly required.
Wireless Keyboard and Mouse


The Raspberry Pi comes with an HDMI port ready to go which means that any monitor or TV with an HDMI connection should be able to connect easily.
HDMI Connected Monitor
Because this is kind of a hobby thing you might want to consider utilising an older computer monitor with a DVI or 15 pin D connector. If you want to go this way you will need an adapter to convert the connection.
VGA to HDMI Adapter


The B+ model of the Raspberry Pi has a standard RJ45 network connector on the board ready to go. In a domestic installation this is most likely easiest to connect into a home ADSL modem or router.
HDMI Connected Monitor
This ‘hard-wired’ connection is great for a simple start, but we will ultimately work towards a wireless solution.
The pi can be powered up in a few ways. The simplest is to use the microUSB port to connect from a standard USB charging cable. You probably have a few around the house already for phones or tablets.
Power Supply Connection
It is worth knowing that depending on what use we wish to put our Raspberry Pi to we might want to pay a certain amount of attention to the amount of current that our power supply can supply. The B+ model will function adequately with a 700mA supply, but if we want to look towards using multiple wireless devices or supplying sensors that demand power from the Pi, we should consider a supply that is capable of an output up to 2A.

The post above (and heaps of other stuff) is in the book 'Raspberry Pi: Measure, Record, Explore' that can be downloaded for free (or donate if you really want to :-)).

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