Tag Archives: Raspberry Pi Products

FluSense takes on COVID-19 with Raspberry Pi

via Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi devices are often used by scientists, especially in biology to capture and analyse data, and a particularly striking – and sobering – project has made the news this week. Researchers at UMass Amherst have created FluSense, a dictionary-sized piece of equipment comprising a cheap microphone array, a thermal sensor, an Intel Movidius 2 neural computing engine, and a Raspberry Pi. FluSense monitors crowd sounds to forecast outbreaks of viral respiratory disease like seasonal flu; naturally, the headlines about their work have focused on its potential relevance to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A photo of Forsad Al Hossain and Tauhidur Rahman with the FluSense device alongside a logo from the Amherst University of Massachusetts

Forsad Al Hossain and Tauhidur Rahman with the FluSense device. Image courtesy of the University of Massachusetts Amherst

The device can distinguish coughing from other sounds. When cough data is combined with information about the size of the crowd in a location, it can provide an index predicting how many people are likely to be experiencing flu symptoms.

It was successfully tested in in four health clinic waiting rooms, and now, PhD student Forsad Al Hossain and his adviser, assistant professor Tauhidur Rahman, plan to roll FluSense out in other large spaces to capture data on a larger scale and strengthen the device’s capabilities. Privacy concerns are mitigated by heavy encryption, and Al Hossain and Rahman explain that the emphasis is on aggregating data, not identifying sickness in any single patient.

The researchers believe the secret to FluSense’s success lies in how much of the processing work is done locally, via the neural computing engine and Raspberry Pi: “Symptom information is sent wirelessly to the lab for collation, of course, but the heavy lifting is accomplished at the edge.”

A bird's-eye view of the components inside the Flu Sense device

Image courtesy of the University of Massachusetts Amherst

FluSense offers a different set of advantages to other tools, such as the extremely popular self-reporting app developed by researchers at Kings College Hospital in London, UK, together with startup Zoe. Approaches like this rely on the public to sign up, and that’s likely to skew the data they gather, because people in some demographic groups are more likely than others to be motivated and able to participate. FluSense can be installed to capture data passively from groups across the entire population. This could be particularly helpful to underprivileged groups who are less likely to have access to healthcare.

Makers, engineers, and scientists across the world are rising to the challenge of tackling COVID-19. One notable initiative is the Montreal General Hospital Foundation’s challenge to quickly design a low-cost, easy to use ventilator which can be built locally to serve patients, with a prize of CAD $200,000 on offer. The winning designs will be made available to download for free.

There is, of course, loads of chatter on the Raspberry Pi forum about the role computing has in beating the virus. We particularly liked this PSA letting you know how to free up some of your unused processing power for those researching treatments.

screenshot of the hand washer being built from a video on instagram

Screenshot via @deeplocal on Instagram

And to end on a cheering note, we *heart* this project from @deeplocal on Instagram. They’ve created a Raspberry Pi-powered soap dispenser which will play 20 seconds of your favourite song to keep you at the sink and make sure you’re washing your hands for long enough to properly protect yourself.

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Make a hamster feeder with Raspberry Pi Zero

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People make marvellous things for their pets with Raspberry Pi. Here’s a splendid hamster feeder tutorial from Christopher Barnatt of Explaining Computers, just perfect if you’re after a small project for this weekend.

Raspberry Pi Zero Hamster Feeder

Raspberry Pi servo-controlled pet feeder, using a Raspberry Pi Zero and two SG90 servo motors. This project builds on the servo control code and setup from m…

All you need to build your hamster feeder is a Raspberry Pi Zero and peripherals, a couple of servos, some plasticard, sellotape and liquid polyadhesive, and some jumper wires. The video takes you very clearly through the entire set-up, from measurements to wiring details to Python code (which is available to download). As Christopher explains, this will allow you to feed your hamster controlled portions of food at suitable intervals, so that it doesn’t eat the lot in one go and, consequently, explode. What’s not to love?

Check out the Explaining Computers YouTube channel for more clear, detailed videos to help you do more with computing. And for more Raspberry Pi projects, head to our own Raspberry Pi projects, with hundreds of ideas for beginners and beyond available in English and many other languages.

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Is upgrade culture out of date?

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At Raspberry Pi, we’re interested in all things to do with technology, from building new tools and helping people teach computing, to researching how young people learn to create with technology and thinking about the role tech plays in our lives and society. Today, I’m writing about our habit of replacing devices with newer versions just for the sake of it.

Technology is involved in more of our lives than ever before: most of us carry a computer in our pocket everywhere we go. On the other hand, the length of time for which we use each individual piece of technology has grown very short. This is what’s referred to as upgrade culture, a cycle which sees most of us replacing our most trusted devices every two years with the latest products offered by tech giants like Apple and Samsung.

An illustration of four people using smartphones

How we got to this point is hard to determine, and there does not seem to be a single root cause for upgrade culture. This is why I want to start a conversation about it, so we can challenge our current perspectives and establish fact-based attitudes. I think it’s time that we, as individuals and as a collective, examine our relationship with new technology.

What is the natural lifespan of a device?

Digital technology is still so new that there is really no benchmark for how long digital devices should last. This means that the decision power has by default landed in the hands of device manufacturers and mobile network carriers, and for their profit margins, a two-year lifecycle of devices is beneficial.

Where do you see your role in this process as a consumer? Is it wrong to want to upgrade your phone after two years of constant use? Should phone companies slow their development, and would this hinder innovation? And, if you really need to upgrade, is there a better use for your old device than living in a drawer? These questions defy simple answers, and I want to hear what you think.

How does this affect the environment?

As with all our behaviours as consumers, the impact that upgrade culture has on the environment is an important concern. Environmental issues and climate change aren’t anything new, but they’re currently at the forefront of the global conversation, and for good reason.

Mobile devices are of course made in factories, and the concerns this raises have been covered well in many other places. The same goes for the energy needed to build technology. This energy could, at least in theory, be produced from renewable sources. Here I would like to focus on another aspect of the environmental impact device production has, which relates to the materials necessary to create the tiny components that form our technological best friends.

Some components of your phone cannot be created without extremely rare metals and other elements, such as silicon and lithium. (In fact, there are 83 stable non-radioactive elements in the periodic table, and 70 of them are used in some capacity in your phone.) Upgrade culture means there is high demand for these materials, and deposits are becoming more and more depleted. If you’re hoping there are renewable alternatives, you’ll be disappointed: a study by researchers working at Yale University found that there are currently no alternative materials that are as effective.

Then there’s the issue of how the materials are mined. The market trading these materials is highly competitive, and more often than not manufacturers buy from the companies offer the lowest prices. To maintain their profit margin, these companies have to extract as much material as possible as cheaply as they can. As you can imagine, this leads to mining practices that are less than ethical or environmentally friendly. As many of the mines are located in distant areas of developing countries, these problems may feel remote to you, but they affect a lot of people and are a direct result of the market we are creating by upgrading our devices every two years.

"Two smartphones, blank screen" by Artem Beliaikin is licensed under CC0 1.0

Many of us agree that we need to do what we can to counteract climate change, and that, to achieve anything meaningful, we have to start looking at the way we live our lives. This includes questioning how we use technology. It will be through discussion and opinion gathering that we can start to make more informed decisions — as individuals and as a society.

The obsolescence question

You probably also have that one friend/colleague/family member who swears by their five year old mobile phone and scoffs at the prices of the newest models. These people are often labeled as sticklers who are afraid to join the modern age, but is there another way to see them? The truth is, if you’ve bought a phone in the last five year, then — barring major accidents — it will most likely still function and be just as effective as it was when it came out of the box. So why are so many consumers upgrading to new devices every two years?

"Nextbit Robin Smartphone" by Bhavesh Sondagar is licensed under CC0 1.0

Again there isn’t a single reason, but I think marketing departments should shoulder much of the responsibility. Using marketing strategies, device manufacturers and mobile network carriers purposefully make us see the phones we currently own in a negative light. A common trope of mobile phone adverts is the overwrought comparison of your current device with a newly launched version. Thus, each passing day after a new model is released, our opinion of our current device worsens, even if it’s just on a subconscious level.

This marketing strategy is related to a business practice called planned obsolescence, which sees manufacturers purposefully limit the durability of their products in order to sell more units. An early example of planned obsolescence is the lightbulb, invented at the Edison company: it was relatively simple for the company to create a lightbulb that lasted 2500 hours, but it took years and a coalition of manufacturers to make a version that reliably broke after 1000 hours. We’re all aware that the lightbulb revolutionised many aspects of life, but it turns out it also had a big influence on consumer habits and what we see as acceptable practices of technology companies.

The widening digital divide

The final aspect of the impact of upgrade culture that I want to examine relates to the digital divide. This term describes the societal gap between the people with access to, and competence with, the latest technology, and the people without these privileges. To be able to upgrade, say, your mobile phone to the latest model every two years, you either need a great degree of financial freedom, or you need to tie yourself to a 24-month contract that may not be easily within your means. As a society, we revere the latest technology and hold people with access to it in high regard. What does this say to people who do not have this access?

"DeathtoStock_Creative Community5" by Denis Labrecque is licensed under CC0 1.0

Inadvertently, we are widening the digital divide by placing more value on new technology than is warranted. Innovation is exciting, and commercial success is celebrated — but do you ever stop and ask who really benefits from this? Is your new phone really that much better than the old one, or could it be that you’re mostly just basking in feeling the social rewards of having the newest bit of kit?

What about Raspberry Pi technology?

Obviously, this blog post wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t share our perspective as a technology company as well. So here’s Trading CEO Eben Upton:

On our hardware and software

“Raspberry Pi tries very hard to avoid obsoleting older products. Obviously the latest Raspberry Pi 4 runs much faster than a Raspberry Pi 1 (something like forty times faster), but a Raspbian image we release today will run on the very earliest Raspberry Pi prototypes from the summer of 2011. Cutting customers off from software support after a couple of years is unethical, and bad for business in the long term: fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. The best companies respect their customers’ investment in their platforms, even if that investment happened far in the past.”

“What’s even more unusual about Raspberry Pi is that we aim to keep our products available for a long period of time. So you can’t just run a 2020 software build on a 2014 Raspberry Pi 1B+: you can actually buy a brand-new 1B+ to run it on.”

On the environmental impact of our hardware

“We’re constantly working to reduce the environmental footprint of Raspberry Pi. If you look next to the USB connectors on Raspberry Pi 4, you’ll see a chunky black component. This is the reservoir capacitor, which prevents the 5V rail from drooping too far when a new USB device is plugged in. By using a polymer electrolytic capacitor, from our friends at Panasonic, we’ve been able to avoid the use of tantalum.”

“When we launched the official USB-C power supply for Raspberry Pi 4, one or two people on Twitter asked if we could eliminate the single-use plastic bag which surrounded the cable and plug assembly inside the box. Working with our partners at Kuantech, we found that we could easily do this for the white supplies, but not for the black ones. Why? Because when the box vibrates in transit, the plug scuffs against the case; this is visible on the black plastic, but not on the white.”

Raspberry Pi power supply with scuff marks

Raspberry Pi power supply with scuff mark

“So for now, if you want to eliminate single-use plastic, buy a white supply. In the meantime, we’ll be working to find a way (probably involving cunning origami) to eliminate plastic from the black supply.”

What do you think?

Time for you to discuss!

As I said, I want to hear from you about upgrade culture.

  • When was the last time you upgraded?
  • What were your reasons at the time?
  • Do you think upgrade culture should be addressed by mobile phone manufacturers and providers, or is it caused by our own consumption habits?
  • How might we address upgrade culture? Is it a problem that needs addressing?

Share your thoughts in the comments!

Upgrade culture is one of the topics for which we offer you a discussion forum on our free online course Impact of Technology. For educators, the course also covers how to facilitate classroom discussions about these topics, and a new course run has just begun — sign up today to take part for free!

The Impact of Technology online course is one of many courses developed by us with support from Google.

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How to set up and use your brand-new Raspberry Pi

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If you’re reading this, it’s probably because you bagged yourself a brand-new Raspberry Pi for Christmas, and you’re wondering what you should do next.

Well, look no further, for we’re here to show you the ropes. So, sit back, pull on a pair of those nice, warm socks that you found in your stocking, top up your eggnog, and let’s get started.

Do I need an operating system?

Unless your Raspberry Pi came in a kit with a preloaded SD card, you’ll need to download an operating system. Find a microSD card (you may have one lurking in an old phone) and click here to download the latest version of Raspbian, our dedicated Raspberry Pi operating system.

To get Raspbian onto the microSD card, use free online software such as Etcher. Here’s a video from The MagPi magazine to show you how to do it.

Use Etcher to install operating systems onto an SD card

Lucy Hattersley shows you how to install Raspberry Pi operating systems such as Raspbian onto an SD card, using the excellent Etcher. For more tutorials, check out The MagPi at http://magpi.cc ! Don’t want to miss an issue? Subscribe, and get every issue delivered straight to your door.

Turn it on!

Here, this video should help:

How to set up your Raspberry Pi || Getting started with #RaspberryPi

Learn #howto set up your Raspberry Pi for the first time, from plugging in peripherals to setting up #Raspbian.

Insert your microSD card into your Raspberry Pi. The microSD card slot should be fairly easy to find, and you need to make sure that you insert it with the contact side facing the board. If you feel like you’re having to force it in, you have it the wrong way round.

Next, plug your HDMI cable into the Raspberry Pi and your chosen HDMI display. This could be a computer monitor or your home television.

If you’re using a Raspberry Pi Zero or Raspberry Pi Zero W, you’ll need a mini HDMI to HDMI cable or adapter.

If you’re using a Raspberry Pi 4, you’ll need a micro HDMI to HDMI cable or adapter.

Raspberry Pi official keyboard

Next, plug in any peripherals that you want to use, such as a mouse or keyboard.

Lastly, plug your power cable into your Raspberry Pi. This is any standard micro USB cable (if you have an Android phone, check your phone charger!), or a USB-C power cable if you’re using the Raspberry Pi 4.

Most kits will come with all of the cables and adapters that you need, so look in the box first before you start rummaging around your home for spare cables.

Once the power cable is connected, your Raspberry Pi will turn on. If it doesn’t, check that your SD card is inserted correctly and your cables are pushed in fully.

Still in doubt? Here’s Sally Le Page with more:

How to use a Raspberry Pi ft. Dr Sally Le Page

What is a Raspberry Pi and what do you need to get started? Our ‘How to use a Raspberry Pi’ explainer will take you through the basics of your #RaspberryPi, and how you can get hands-on with Raspbian and #coding language tools such as Scratch and Mu, with our host, Dr Sally Le Page.

Once on, the Raspberry Pi will direct you through a setup process that allows you to change your password and connect to your local wireless network.

And then, you’re good to go!

Now what?

Now what? Well, that depends on what you want to do with your Raspberry Pi.

Many people use their Raspberry Pi to learn how to code. If you’re new to coding, we suggest trying out a few of our easy online projects to help you understand the basics of Scratch — the drag-and-drop coding platform from MIT — and Python — a popular general-purpose programming language and the reason for the “Pi” in Raspberry Pi’s name.

The components of a virtual analogue Raspberry Pu synthesiser

Maybe you want to use your Raspberry Pi to set up control of smart devices in your home, or build a media centre for all your favourite photos and home movies. Perhaps you want to play games on your Raspberry Pi, or try out various HATs and add-ons to create fun digital making projects.

Sally Le Page

Whatever you want to do with your Raspberry Pi, the internet is full of brilliant tutorials from the Raspberry Pi Foundation and online creators.

Some places to start

Get involved with the Raspberry Pi Foundation

From community events and magazines to online learning and space exploration – there are so many ways to get involved with the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

The Raspberry Pi community is huge, and spreads across the entire globe, bringing people together to share their love of coding, digital making, and computer education. However you use your Raspberry Pi, know that, by owning it, you’ve helped the non-profit Raspberry Pi Foundation to grow, bringing more opportunities to kids and teachers all over the world. So, from the bottom of our hearts this festive season, thank you.

We can’t wait to see what 2020 brings!

 

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Raspberry Pi Christmas Shopping Guide 2019

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Stuck for what to buy your friends and family this Christmas? Whether you’re looking to introduce someone to Raspberry Pi and coding, or trying to find the perfect gift for the tech-mad hobbyist in your life, our Christmas Shopping Guide 2019 will help you complete your shopping list. So, let’s get started…

The good ol’ Raspberry Pi

They’ve asked for a Raspberry Pi but not told you which one they want? You know they like coding but don’t know where to start? They’re an avid baker and you think they may have spelt ‘pie’ wrong on their Christmas list? No problem, we’ve got you sorted.

Raspberry Pi 4 Desktop Kit

With everything you need to get started using Raspberry Pi 4, the Raspberry Pi 4 Desktop Kit contains our official mouse, keyboard with an integrated USB hub, USB-C power adapter, case, two micro HDMI leads, our Beginner’s Guide and, of course, the 4GB Raspberry Pi 4. Available from our Approved Resellers and the Raspberry Pi Store, Cambridge, the Desktop Kit is the perfect gift for anyone who’s wanting to get started with coding and digital making, or who’s simply looking to upgrade their current home computer to a smaller, less power-hungry setup.

Visit the Raspberry Pi Store, Cambridge, or find your nearest Approved Reseller online.

Raspberry Pi Zero W

Raspberry Pi Zero WH

The smallest Raspberry Pi still packs a punch despite its size and price. For $10, Raspberry Pi Zero W is perfect for embedding into projects and, with onboard Bluetooth and wireless LAN, there are fewer cables to worry about. Buy a Raspberry Pi Zero W with or without pre-soldered header pins, and pop it in someone’s stocking this Christmas as a great maker surprise.

Visit the Raspberry Pi Store, Cambridge, or find your nearest Approved Reseller online.

Get Started with Raspberry Pi 3A+

 

This isn’t just a book: it’s a book with a computer on the front. Getting Started with Raspberry Pi is a great gift for anyone curious about coding and, at £35, it’s a pretty affordable gift to give this festive season. Alongside the 116-page getting-started guide, the package also contains a Raspberry Pi 3A+, official case, and 16GB micro SD card pre-loaded with NOOBs. Raspberry Pi 3A+ can be powered with a good-quality micro USB phone charger, and it can be connected to any TV or computer display via standard HDMI. Grab a keyboard and mouse — you’ll be surprised how many people have a keyboard and mouse lying around — and you’re good to go!

Order your gift today from the Raspberry Pi Press online store, with international shipping available.

A full range of all Raspberry Pi variants, official accessories, and add-ons can be found on our products page.

A Raspberry Pie

Don’t be lazy, make your own!

Books

Raspberry Pi Press has released a small library’s worth of publications these last few months — have you ordered all your copies yet?

Pre-orders are now open for our glorious Code the Classics, so secure your copy now for the 13 December release date, with free UK shipping. And, while you’re on our Raspberry Pi Press page, check out our latest range of publications to suit all techy interests: Retro Gaming with Raspberry Pi will show the budding gamer in your life how to build their own Raspberry Pi retro arcade to play their Code the Classics favourites on, while Book of Making 2 and Raspberry Pi Projects Book 5 will inspire them to make all manner of amazing projects, from electronics and woodworking to crafts and rockets.

An Introduction to C and GUI programming by Simon Long

If they’re already full to the brim with Raspberry Pi, why not treat them to our Get Started with Arduino guide so they can expand upon their electronics skills. We also offer a host of established publications at discounted prices, including Sophy Wong’s Wearable Tech Projects, An Introduction to C & GUI Programming, and previous volumes of the Book of Making and the Raspberry Pi Projects Book.

Visit the Raspberry Pi Press online store, or head to the Raspberry Pi Store, Cambridge to find all our publications. You may also find a selection in your local WHSmith, Sainsbury’s, or Barnes & Noble.

Magazine subscriptions

Subscriptions are available for all of our magazines. 12-month subscribers to The MagPi magazine will receive a free Raspberry Pi, while a 12-month subscription to HackSpace magazine will net you a free Adafruit Circuit Playground Express.

Subscribers to Wireframe magazine, Custom PC magazine, and Digital SLR Photography will save up to 49% compared to newsstand prices, with many subscription options to choose from.

Babbage Bear

Everyone needs a Babbage Bear. Your new Babs will come complete with their own Raspberry Pi-branded shirt. And, with some felt, stuffing, and a stapler, you can make them as festive as ours in no time!

Order yours online, or buy Babbage at the Raspberry Pi Store, Cambridge.

Great third-party add-ons and essential kit

The Pi Hut’s 3D Xmas Tree

This newest iteration of The Pi Hut 3D Xmas Tree includes programmable RGB LEDs! Simply detach the two halves of the tree from their frame, slot them together, and place them onto the GPIO pins of your Raspberry Pi. With the provided libraries of code, the tree will be lit up and merry before you know it.

How about programming it to flash to your favourite Christmas song? Get yours today from The Pi Hut and the Raspberry Pi Store, Cambridge.

Pimoroni Pirate Radio

“Pirate Audio Speaker,” Pimoroni explain “is perfect for making a Lilliputian radio, sound effect player, or even as a teeny-weeny games console!”

Attach this HAT to any 40-pin Raspberry Pi and start creating a whole host of wonderful audio-visual projects — such as a Christmas #1 jukebox — to get you in the mood for your office party.

Available from the Pimoroni website and the Raspberry Pi Store, Cambridge.

PocketMoneyTronics GPIO Christmas Tree

This super-cute GPIO add-on allows users to write their own light shows via GPIO. Available for £4 from the Raspberry Pi Store, Cambridge, and the PocketMoneyTronics website, it’s a nice festive addition to any coders stocking.

Full instructions are provided with the kit, and are also available online. Buy the kit pre-soldered or loose, depending on your giftee’s soldering skills.

Visit the websites of all our Approved Resellers for more great Raspberry Pi gifts. Find your local Approved Reseller by selecting your country from the dropdown menu on any Raspberry Pi Products page.

Essential kit

Fill their maker kit this festive season, with a whole host of great components and tools. A soldering iron is a great way for coders to start bringing their projects out into the real world, allowing them to permanently add sensors, lights, buttons, etc. to their Raspberry Pi. They’ll also need one if they want to add header pins to the $5 Raspberry Pi Zero and $10 Raspberry Pi Zero W.

You can never have enough LEDs. Available in a variety of sizes and colours, you can find packs of LEDs online or in your local electronics store.

Never underestimate the importance of a cutting mat. Not only will it save your tabletop from craft knife cuts and soldering iron burns, but they also look great in photos for when its time to show of their latest project!

Amazon Smile

If you plan on making online purchases via Amazon, please consider selecting the Raspberry Pi Foundation via Amazon Smile! Your items will still be the same cost to you, but Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to help us continue to make free computer science education available to adults  and young people everywhere.

  • Amazon Smile for the UK
  • Amazon Smile for the US
  • For those of you based elsewhere, we’re pretty sure that you just need to add smile. before amazon in the Amazon web address you use in your country, so give that a try. If that doesn’t work, try searching for Amazon Smile via your prefered search engine.

Our gift to you

We wanted to give you a gift this festive season, so we asked the incredibly talented Sam Alder to design an illustration for you to print or use as your desktop wallpaper.

The poster is completely free for you to use and can be opened by clicking on the image above. We just ask that you don’t sell it, print it onto a t-shirt or mug, tattoo it onto your body, or manipulate it. But do feel free to print it as a poster for your home, classroom, or office, or to upload it as your computer wallpaper. And, when you do, be sure to take a photo and share it with us on social media.

You can also download a wider version of the image.

Happy gift-giving this 2019!

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Tinkernut’s Raspberry Pi video guide

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“If you’ve ever been curious about electronics or programming, then the Raspberry Pi is an excellent tool to have in your arsenal,” enthuses Tinkernut in his latest video, Raspberry Pi – All You Need To Know.

And we aren’t going to argue with that.

Raspberry Pi – All You Need To Know

If you keep your ear to the Tinkering community, I’m sure you’ve heard whispers (and shouts) of the Raspberry Pi. And if you wanted to get into making, tinkering, computing, or electronics, the Raspberry Pi is a great tool to have in your tool belt. But what is it?

“This Pi can knit a Hogwarts sweater while saving a cat from a tree,” he declares. “It can recite the Canterbury Tales while rebuilding an engine.” Tinkernut’s new explainer comes after a short hiatus from content creation, and it’s a cracking little intro to what Raspberry Pi is, what it can do, and which model is right for you.

“This little pincushion, right here”

Tinkernut, we’re glad you’re back. And thank you for making us your first subject in your new format.

If you like what you see, be sure to check out more Tinkernut videos, and subscribe.

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