Thursday, 20 April 2017

Recommended Raspberry Pi 3 Starter Set Up

Based on my experience of buying a range of Raspberry Pi units and accessories, this is what I would recommend as a great set up to get started. It will give you a good prototyping rig for starting to extend the Pi with simple electronics with the minimum of trouble.

The important items to get are as follows:
  • Raspberry Pi 3 (the latest full size Pi at the time of writing this)
  • Official Raspberry Pi power supply
  • Micro SD Card
  • Pimoroni Pibow coupe case
  • Pibow breadboard base
  • Breadboard (5.5 cm x 8.5 cm)
  • USB Keyboard
  • USB Mouse
  • HDMI cable
  • HDMI monitor
Also pictured above (but not essential) is the Raspberry Pi camera module.

The Pibow coupe case keeps all the connectors accessible, and the breadboard base add-on for this case provides a space to stick the breadboard on next to the Pi. I recommend the official Raspberry Pi power supply because it provides enough current (2.5A) to power both the Pi plus additional electronics you might add. A standard tablet charger USB power supply is typically only 2A, which is enough to power the Pi, but may cause it to misbehave if you add any additional electronics which require much power.

Then to give you a great start in building some simple circuits to control, I highly recommend the Explorer HAT Pro, and the Explorer components kits.

You can see these in the photo above, along with the camera module (available separately). The Explorer Hat Pro provides 8 touch inputs and has 4 built in LEDs. It also provides protected inputs and outputs making it less likely you will damage the Pi when prototyping add-on circuits.

The Hat includes a small breadboard for prototyping, but it quickly gets crowded. The Pibow breadboard base and case with a larger 'half size' additional breadboard attached provides a lot more room to build more complex circuits.

Finally, if you have a computer monitor with built in speakers then you can use these to output sound from the Pi 3. We wrote some simple code based on the Explorer Hat Pro examples which lit up a different LED for each touch sensor, and also spoke a phrase (the kids came up with some phrases which we wrote into the code and used text to speech libraries to get the Pi to say them). The kids loved it and it caused much hilarity as the text to speech tried to pronounce what they had programmed it to say.

The components are all available from the usual suppliers, details of which can be found on the links page of this blog.