Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Getting Started with Raspberry Pi

I've been working with the Raspberry Pi, or R-Pi, for a couple months now, and figured it was high time I blog about it.  As usual, my goal is to give you links and references that I found helpful, and to give you a few helpful nuggets that I learned the hard way, to save you time.

For starters, I got the Raspberry Pi Model B Revision 2.0 (512MB) and a Transcend 16GB Class 10 SDHC Flash Memory Card (TS16GSDHC10E).  

Although there's a ton of info on the internet, I still like books.  I took some time reading reviews and previews before settling on three books.  They've each been helpful in different ways:

Here are some lessons learned:

1) Make sure to get an SD card that is known to be R-Pi compatible: check this list Don't waste your time on a card that others had trouble with.    

2) The SD card socket on R-Pi is very cheap and sooner or later it'll break.  I thought I was being very careful, but I managed to break it, and it was a hassle to fix.

3) The Adafruit Pi-Cobbler is great way to connect the R-Pi to a solderless breadboard.  (Actually, I would have preferred the T-Cobbler, but they were out of stock at the time.)

4) This Adafruit R-Pi case is a great value and works fine, except that it doesn't hold the R-Pi down very securely.  

One time I was unplugging the Pi-Cobbler from the GPIO pins and didn't realize the R-Pi was lifting up inside the case.  The SD card was still plugged in, and that was the demise of the cheap plastic SD card socket. 

Here's how I fixed it, without soldering.  I used some foam tape, with a smooth durable top layer, to build up the area inside the case, below the SD card slot:

Then I added a nylon standoff, to the right of the GPIO pins, to hold the R-Pi down inside the case:

Now my SD card makes good contact again.

Next up: ATX Raspi, and then direct serial com between R-Pi and Arduino...