Monday, 11 February 2013

What to do with a Raspberry Pi

I've got a Raspberry Pi today to play with for a while. I was pretty excited and happy, I guess we all have that feeling when we see these small devices. Originally I was more fond of the Arduino family but I never against something good.
Let me explain my previous concerns. Arduino is a small electric circuit board capable to store programmes - but still not equivalent with a PC. I think it's a bit of a sexiness level that it carries. Arduino is really a family having many different types of boards containing special characteristics - such as added chipsets, sensors or connectors. So you really have to get them all if you need those functionalities. And it has many cute extras, like little screens, speakers, leds, motors, etc.

On the other side Raspberry Pi is a PC - if you ask me, a small fully integrated motherboard. It has USB, HDMI, audio, RCA video, lan, SD card for storage and of course RAM, CPU, GPU and all the shebang. It's not that strong, though. Close to a Pentium 2 machine. However - as far as I know - it has a special decoder for HD video on the board so able to play 1080p videos.

I really like the right tool for the right problem - and not blinking 2 leds with a PC compatible device. So what are the things that makes the Raspberry Pi so great?

I guess it's size and weight. Small and light, so could be carried or installed where a normal size PC would fail.

It's cheap. I know it's a bit contradictory but the price allows it to be used with the risk of suffering damage, as it's replaceable (and hopefully the SD card remains working).

It consumes much less energy than a PC. It's around 3.5W - compare to a PC which is 70 - 200W usually (or ~16-20W a MacbookPro). It means it can be run and it stays cost effective. Even you can fuel it with a small solar cell.

So what that suggest - what is it for? The energy consumption made me realize I'd use it in the desert, for example compiling source code or update my Twitter account.

Also probably I'd install it in an apartment - everywhere! In the kitchen it could show the recipes, or the item list in my fridge or I could listen to the BBC news while browsing the articles so I'm not bored eating my breakfast. Of course toilette needs one too, there I'd install a MAME arcade machine.

Hm, actually I'm pretty surprised there is no special screen offers for these purposes. I think between 6 - 12 inch and ultra thin would be a brilliant choice. Or is there? I mean I'd expect having this everywhere. Anyways.

Many suggests to use it as a server, which makes a lot of sense. You can even carry it, and it's not a virtual server at least.

Of course, internet people had much better ideas already, here you are some collections:

So - I have a device. I need a mini USB cable and a video connector and it's ready to be hacked.


My question for you - what would be your test project for Raspberry Pi that really use the benefit of the device?



  1. The main difference between an Arduino and a Raspberry that you can rather solve software problems with a Raspberry and hardware problems with Arduino. They just have different purpose, use case.

    1. I forgot to answer your question: I would do a very easy-to-use media center what could beat all the apple product and works seamlessly over ethernet. It should have very nice and sleek UI. :)

  2. All right :) You know what it means? Mockups!
    About the hardware and software problems - yup, you're right. Haven't really thought about that and it's indeed makes sense. However the Arduino community has already a big showcase of applications - and I guess you only need to chose the targeted video player - audio player - network layer, etc. But yeah, still a puzzle.
    Thanks for the observation!

  3. really a cheap way to transform the raspberry into a notebook ;)

  4. Hi Alexander,
    Wow I love it. I can imagine this 'notepad' having a swiss-army knife like plug kit - iPhone, Arduino, Android or RaspberryP. Thanks for linking it in!