Sunday, February 15, 2015

Raspberry Pi B+ Quick Review

Have you heard of Raspberry Pi? Well if you have you know what this little device can do, but for those who don't know it, it is an AWESOME little computer.

There are several version of it. 

Today we will be talking about the B+ model.

This is a mini computer the size of a credit card. In the picture above you can see the Pi is a very versatile device, with a solid processor, HDMI support, audio, Ethernet connection and 4 USB ports. The storage is a MicroSD Card slot and is powered by a 5volt Micro USB power connector. Expand-ability is easy with a CSI Camera connector and 40pin GPIO Header.

If that isn't cool enough I got a kit from Amazon that included a case and an 8GB SD Card loaded with different Operating Systems I could try for $65. There is an easy sub-program called NOOBS (New Out Of Box Software) that gives you an easy choice of the 7 different OS's you can install.

In my early tech years, I used to build PC's from parts up. Power supply, case, motherboard, processor, RAM, Hard drive, CD Rom drive, video card. And then install and Operating System, run all updates and then install hardware. This could take about 3-6 hours and now in less than 1 hour I had done almost the same thing with the Raspberry Pi.

So as soon as I got it, I put it in the case and this is what it looks like now!

In this first pic, you see the Pi is fully protected from shock or drops. I have the Wireless adapter installed and works very well. You can also see 3 other USB ports along with the NIC card adapter.

Taking off the top part reveals the 40 Pin GPIO connector, and the camera connector.

When all is connected, this is what it looks like. Power, Keyboard, Mouse, and HDMI and a USB memory stick with music loaded on it.

When you first boot up your PI, you are given a choice to install a software.
I chose Raspbian first and it was like having a nice little desktop to run the web and other items on but I have several PC's and Ubuntu machines so another desktop did not appeal to me so I wanted to try something new.

So I installed OpenELEC which is a great media center operating system X-BOX Media Center product. 

It can connect to any PC on your network and browse the shared folders by using SMB and its so simple to do. I had to just drag files into a Public folder on the PC and then use the OpenELEC interface to drill to that folder and I was able to see the files there. A couple of Emma's movies are shown below, but what about training videos, teaser commercials and how to's on a lobby or common area in a hotel or business. 

Video playback was spot on and quick as you can see below. It can play pictures and music from any network source or USB Stick as well, so you can have a variety of file access options.  

It has a weather station and you can pick from all over the world.

I could connect to Pandora and listen to all my stations! 

I could connect to other services like Apple iTunes Podcasts, although the interface is a little slow at times (a minute or two passed an menu would open but I did get to hear a new Tiesto's Podcast! 

This could be a great alternative to the Amazon Fire Stick, Google Chromecast and the Apple TV.

So when I say this little credit card computer is AWESOME, it is! You can learn to code, understand electronics, and build almost anything with the Pi! 

I hear that Raspberry Pi 2 is a great desktop replacement for word processing, spreadsheets, and more. They are even saying that Windows 10 (Which is downloadable now) will run on on the RaspberryPi 2! 

There is a ton of support and many videos on YouTube to help get you started, and maybe you can make the next big thing!