Basics of the Raspberry Pi – Setup

Basics of the Raspberry Pi – Part 1
Part 2 – How it all works 
Part 3 – Turning a light on and off 

Part 1: Raspberry Pi – Prototyping, Simple Lights and some Java


I kept hearing about the Raspberry Pi and all of the wonderful things you can do with it. It was time for me to roll up my sleeves and dig in with my first real project.  I can honestly say that I seriously struggled to find all of the information and documentation out there that I needed put together in a way that I could easily take it and run with it.  Well after many hours of tinkering I decided to write my own guide in words that makes sense to how my mind works.

In this blog I will go over everything you need to know about the Raspberry Pi from what to buy down to running some basic java code to turn on an led.

Here is what you need and more importantly; why you need it!  The total cost of all of this should not exceed $65 unless you cannot find #9 at a good price.

  1. Raspberry Pi – This is basically your computer
  2. Micro SD Card  – This is your hard drive that you will install your Operating System on
  3. 40 Pin Cable – This is used to connect to the Breakout Board (#4)
  4. GPIO Extension Board (Breakout Board) – This is placed on the BreadBoard and basically allows you to create controllable circuits with the Raspberry Pi
  5. BreadBoard – This is nothing more than a bunch of metal wires and pin holes for you to create circuits on using Jumper Cables that connect pins from the Breakout Board (I will explain in detail later)
  6. Resistor – This is here to reduce the voltage that will run through your LED; if not it may melt or pop!
  7. LED – This is your LED that basically will tell us if the circuit that we created is active or not.
  8. Ambition

Lets get started!  The first thing that we need to do is setup our Raspberry Pi.  This is probably the easiest part of the entire thing.  If your Raspberry Pi came with an SD card then it probably already has the OS installer setup.  You will need to download and install NOOBS onto your SD Card. NOOBS is an easy operating system installer which contains Raspbian which will be the Operating System that you interface with when running your code.

Once you download this file; simply unzip it onto your SD Card.  Now lets pop the SD Card in your Raspberry Pi and fire it up.  Your goal is to see a screen like this one. 

The next part is quiet easy; all you have to do is click the CheckBox for Raspbian and click install.  This process takes about 10-15 minutes or so.  
Once the install is finished the system will reboot and load up your brand new Raspbian GUI.

This base install is all loaded up with some of the tools you will need to start programming.  Most notably it already has Java SDK, VNC Server, SSH Server, and other countless developer tools.  Some of which you will need to enable through the rasp-config tool.  The easiest way to enable some of these tools is to open a new Terminal and type “sudo raspi-config”.  Once this menu appears, navigate to “Advanced Options”, this is where you can drill down into SSH and/or VNC and enable/disable these services.

Now that we have a working Raspberry Pi we can start adding all of the other components to it.   In part 2 of this Blog we will go over all of the components and how it all comes together.

Basics of the Raspberry Pi – Part 1
Part 2 – How it all works 
Part 3 – Turning a light on and off 

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