Raspberry Pi 2

All About the $35 Computer

Raspberry Pi 2
June 10, 2015

If the term Raspberry Pi makes your mouth water, you will be disappointed in this Raspberry Pi. However, if you are a DIY computer programming and coding geek with a creative streak (and what DIY computer geek does not have one), you are likely to enjoy the new release of the simple Raspberry Pi computer (known as Raspberry Pi 2). You can enjoy an increase in speed and computing power for the incredibly low price of $35.

Raspberry Pi is a computer stripped down to its bare essence — effectively a computer on a single circuit board. It operates with standard keyboards and mice connecting through the USB port. You will need to supply a micro-USB cable (a minimal cost) to power up the unit, and must have some method of displaying the output — but any TV with standard video input will work, as well as many other monitors and devices that you probably already have.

Raspberry Pi 2 is intended to run open source software such as Linux and is perfect for learning to code in various programming languages such as Python, Java or HTML5. It is a simple yet powerful computing template that can be built into many different devices, and it has a reputation for operational stability.

You can build your own computing system to do traditional tasks like gaming, surfing the web, and spreadsheet/word processing applications — but you can also build unique systems to handle specific tasks. People have used it to build everything from weather stations to video game emulators to an automated telemarketer call blocker. With the included web server, you can even create your own cloud.

The Raspberry Pi 2 represents a step forward in several aspects. The CPU power has been significantly increased, ramping up from a single core 700MHz processor up to a quad-core unit operating at 900 MHz. Claims of more than a six-fold increase in speed have been verified in some applications. RAM has been upgraded to 1 GB and the GPU is a Videocore IV unit operating at 250 MHz. The other hardware remains standard: 40 pin GPIO, four USB 2.0 ports, and ports for 100BaseT Ethernet, HDMI, and MicroSD.

In addition to the Linux system, Raspberry Pi 2 is able to run a stripped down version of Windows 10 known as Windows 10 Embedded. It is the command line version of Windows minus all the graphical user interfaces that are unnecessary for Raspberry Pi applications.

The hardware and software is backwards-compatible with older Raspberry Pi systems, so those who are simply upgrading will still be able to get the full use out of their previous works.

If you do not have experience in coding, you need to start there before investing in a Raspberry Pi 2. Online references and courses are available for many different coding languages, along with suggestions for DIY projects. Once you have chosen a language to learn and have acquired a basic understanding, the Raspberry Pi can allow you to learn and refine your coding skills through practical applications. It is a great method of experimenting with different control systems.

If you enjoy the convenience of the average Mac or PC with typical user interfaces and standard software programs, the Raspberry Pi 2 probably isn’t for you. However, if you enjoy coding and looking for unique computing and control applications — or are willing to learn them from one of the many available online resources — then you will certainly enjoy the power, flexibility, and economics of the Raspberry Pi 2. You may even find it better than the kind you can eat.

Photo ©iStock.com/JoeBreuer

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