Raspberry Pi


Taylor gave me a Raspberry Pi kit and wireless keyboard for my birthday. So far I haven’t done much – I set up Rasbian, streamed live video from the International Space Station, played a little Minecraft – but I’m pretty excited to start some projects on it. My initial goal was to create a media center and couch computer on my TV. The latter is done, and I may or may not be able to accomplish the former, but I’m realizing now there are so many other interesting challenges.

For example, I want to try this retro gaming emulator. I also want to try my hand a some simple GPIO games, or maybe even hook it up to my robotic arm. I think this binary LED clock would be pretty cool, and I’m exploring whether I can put my Kindle to work as a Kindleberry Pi. I’ve also seen some cool automated holiday light setups, and if I’m feeling ambitious, I might even create a monitoring system for our container garden.

In order to do any of this, however, I’ll need to get a lot better at electronics and code. I have absolutely zero computer engineering experience. I was under the impression that all computers were powered by magic until about a year ago when I read “Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software.” It explained computational logic and schematics in terms of old technologies like telegraph relays, slowly transitioning into transistors and modern chips. It gave me the basics. As for electrical engineering, I read some of the free text available here on allaboutcircuits.com, particularly those about basic DC and AC electrical systems and computing. So now I know almost nothing instead of entirely nothing.

I also know very little about programming, but I found some resources to get me started. I used Codecademy to learn the HTML/CSS/Javascript and PHP I needed to build this site, and I’ve not moved on to Python and Ruby lessons. In addition, the Pi itself comes loaded with some Python learning environments, so I’ll be diving into those when I’ve got the basics down.

I’ve never used a Linux system before. But the interface feels very familiar, and I’m getting used to the terminal/command line, so I hope that means I can continue to explore this environment smoothly. It’s weird playing around with the Pi after using Windows 7, an iPad and an Android phone all day. I feel like I’m learning computing backwards. Maybe when I get done with Raspberry Pi projects I’ll build a Turing Machine (or at least read this Turing biography).

Does anyone have any more good ideas for beginner Raspberry Pi projects? Can you point me to any resources? Any good texts?

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