Mar 09

Raspberry Pi Model B – Fun Mini $35 computer for doing many things

Sun, 03/09/2014 - 09:46 — julie

I have been using the Raspberry Pi Model B for doing many fun activities like watching video, listening to music, browsing the web, etc. The Raspberry Pi uses very little power, and makes very little noise because it uses a cell phone Micro USB power adapter for power, and it’s CPU, RAM, and other parts are mostly from Cell phones which don’t use a lot of power. The Pi being noiseless, and power efficient would save you money on your power bill when you use the Pi for less intensive tasks which the Pi can handle to do like listening to music, watching video, playing older games, word processing, basic web browsing, and office work.


The Raspberry Pi’s compatible operating systems which include Raspbian, Rasbmc,  OpenElec, RISC OS, Arch Linux, Puppy Linux, Pidora, and other operating systems for the Pi are all free because most of them are based on Linux which is free and opensource.

Most of the operating systems fit on a 2-4GB  SD Card. You can also use programs like NOOBS or BerryBoot to install multiple operating systems on a 8GB or larger SD card, so you can use more operating systems on the Pi with the same SD card instead of buying 2 or more SD cards to use different OSes on the Pi.

The best thing about the Raspberry Pi is that the Pi only cost $35 for a circuit board with a 700MHz CPU, 512 MB RAM, SD Card slot, full size HDMI port, Ethernet wired networking jack, RCA video port, headphone port, 2 USB ports, and a Micro USB power port. You would need to buy your own SD card to install the operating system. A HDMI video cable, or RCA video cable, a TV or monitor, keyboard, mouse, SD Card, MicroUSB charger and ethernet cable is needed to use the Pi as a desktop mini PC.  I recommend a Class 4-10 SD Card with 4GB or more space. For the power adapter it should be a Micro USB charger with 5Volts and 1A of current. Accessories for the Pi can usually be found at your local electronics store, online, or even in your own home from other unused devices which you don’t use anymore. For example, you can use an old 2-4GB SD card from a digital camera as storage for your Pi’s operating system, get a old HDMI cable from a game console like a PS3 or Xbox 360, a USB keyboard and mouse, speakers and ethernet wired network cable from an old computer, and use a TV or monitor with HDMI or RCA video input ports as the Pi’s monitor. If you have a smartphone or tablet charger which uses a MicroUSB cable to charge your device, it may be good enough to power the Raspberry Pi. The Raspberry Pi is a good device for re-using your monitor, HDMI cable, SD cards, USB keyboard and mouse, computer speakers, and Micro USB charger instead of not using them, and storing them in a box being unused. There are also a lot of affordable kits for $50 or more like CanaKit Raspberry Pi (512 MB) Basic Kit (Raspberry Pi 512 MB + Clear Case + Micro USB Power Supply) for the Raspberry Pi which come with the Pi, case, and power adapter which you need to use the Pi together, so you save time and money by not needing to buy the power adapter, case, and Pi separately which could be more expensive than buying the items as one package instead of buying multiple items at different stores.

If you do not own a TV with RCA or monitor with HDMI video inputs, you could buy inexpensive HDMI to VGA video converter which let you use a old VGA monitor for your Pi. If your monitor is newer, and have DVI video inputs, you can use a HDMI to DVI video cable to attach your Pi to a monitor with DVI video input. The benefits of using DVI is that it is digital, so the video quality is better, and more sharp compared to RCA, and VGA video inputs.

The Raspberry Pi also has a headphone jack which let you plug in a pair of headphones, or speakers into the Pi to use to listen to sound.

There are also a lot of smaller power efficient monitors which you can buy for the Pi, but you need to buy them online on Sites like eBay, Amazon, Craigslist, etc.

I recommend getting a case, or making a case for the Raspberry Pi to protect it from dust, dirt, and getting in contact with metal objects which can short circuit, and damage the Pi’s circuit board. I also find using a case makes the Pi look more cool, and makes inserting a SD card, and cables into the Pi a lot easier because the case has hole’s on it to let you easily slide the SD cards, HDMI cable, and USB plugs into the Pi’s port.

One of my favorite things to do with the Raspberry Pi is used it to watch video by using Raspbmc or OpenElec which is a multimedia operating systems with XBMC media player designed for the Raspberry Pi. I played many 720-1080P HD video, music files, and online video, and they ran very well without any noticeable slow down. One of the benefits of using the Raspberry Pi for media playback is the Pi uses very little power compared to a full size computer, and it does not make any fan noise like a laptop or desktop computer which need a fan to cool it to prevent the PC from over heating. The low power, and fanless design of the Pi means you’ll use less power while also not being bothered by fan noise while watching video, listening to music, and viewing pictures in Raspbmc. There is also OMXplayer for Raspbian, but OMXplayer is harder to use than Rasbmc or OpenElec unless you install TBOplayer onto Raspbian.

Web browsing in the Raspberry Pi with Midori web browser in Raspbian is not very fast, but it is fast enough for faster loading mostly text based sites like Wikipedia, Craigslist, and basic websites like HTML websites, forums, and blogs which don’t have a lot of pictures, animations, and video, scripts, and widgets. There is also the Netsurf web browser in Raspbian which is faster.

I can even play 3D games like Quake 3, Open Arena, Minecraft, classic retro games and many classic console games with emulators on my Raspberry Pi. Although, the games on the Pi are not as fast as a regular PC and laptop, but the games are still fun to play on the Pi, and are playable with not a lot of slowdown on low to medium video quality settings for games like Quake 3 and Open Arena. Since the Pi is fanless, it can make games more enjoyable since there are no loud cooling fans which are found on laptop and desktop computers.

There are also almost 40 Raspberry Pi games, and many programs and apps for Raspbian on the Pi Store which is found on the Raspbian desktop operating system for the Pi.

The Pi has been one of the funnest computers which I ever used because I can easily try new operating systems for the Pi by inserting new SD cards with pre-loaded operating systems which I installed on the SD card. All operating systems for the Raspberry Pi are also free. Plus, there are a lot of accessories like monitors, cameras, keyboards, mice, speakers, wi-fi adapters, LED lights, etc which work with the Pi for doing many fun tasks. There are also a lot of online tutorials for doing different tasks like making a Camera with the Raspberry Pi.

The Pi is also easy to maintain because I don’t need to run virus scans, disk cleanups, disk defrags, and other tasks which I need to run in Windows to keep it’s operating system running well. Also, replacing parts like the SD card, power adapter, speakers, etc are easy to replace because I just need to slide them out, and insert another part like SD card into my Pi.

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