A Piece of the Pi

Raspberry Pi Circuit Board

For what’s essentially a low-cost, credit card size PC, the somewhat unconventional Raspberry Pi has turned into a world-scale masterstroke. Invented by a British foundation, it was designed with the intention of teaching computer programming in school, but its versatility has instantly catapulted the Pi into the global marketplace.

The Pi is an exposed circuit board – all you need to do to get started is plug in a mouse, keyboard and screen and you’re away. But don’t be fooled by the its unassuming design – the gadget is a near-perfect platform for some of the most fun and interesting hobbyist projects in the computing world. It’s release caused such a manic reaction that both licensed web-shops were ‘brought to their knees’ during the launch, from buyers furiously trying to refresh their screens.

The mini PC contains a 700 Mhz Linux processor, 512MB of RAM, USB, HDMI, SD storage, composite RCA video outputs and 3.5mm audio ports. But what exactly does all that technology do? Depending on what you want to create, the possibilities are endless. You’ll need to invest in all the additional kit required for each task (such as thermal printers, LEDs, solenoid valves, media software, speakers, SD cards, microphones etc), but once you do you can create anything from a time lapse rig for your camera to a baby monitor, or even a temperature monitor that allows you to brew your own beer (maybe not for the school curriculum, that one).

Retail: $42 (£26), www.uk.farnell.com

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