Raspberry Pi For Beginners (Part – 1): Versions, Hardware, Sofware

A tour of Raspberry Pi for a beginner.

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Developed by the Raspberry Pi Foundation, the credit-card-sized Raspberry Pi was released back in 2012, and it has grown to become one of the most popular platforms for developers. This low-cost computer plugs into a monitor and can act as a fully-fledged regular PC with the addition of a mouse and a keyboard. In Raspberry Pi For Beginners Part 1, we’ll be digging deeper into the history of Pi and its capabilities.

You can use this small Raspberry Pi board to do everything your PC can do. Browsing the internet, play high-definition videos and games is now feasible on the Pi. You can learn programming languages and explore the world of computing. The initial idea behind this tiny computer was to teach the basics of programming to children.

Different Versions Of Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi 1

The original series of Raspberry Pi started with the Raspberry Pi 1 Model A, released in February 2012. Followed by that, Raspberry Pi 1 Model A+ was the Model A’s successor, which was released in November 2014.

raspberry-pi-model-b - Raspberry Pi For Beginners
Raspberry Pi 1 Model B

The A-series was all about providing basic specifications at a great affordable price but for people who demanded more, the Pi 1 B and B+ were other revisions of Pi 1 with more powerful specs. The first generation model provided graphics capabilities of the Raspberry Pi equal to that of 2001’s Xbox. Now, let that sink in for a moment.

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RPI 1 Model B+ Specs:

  • 512 MB of RAM
  • Four USB 2.0 ports
  • Ethernet port
  • Full-size HDMI output
  • 700 MHz ARM Cortex-A11 SoC
  • Four-pole 3.5 mm jack with audio output and composite video output
  • 40-pin GPIO header.
  • Camera interface
  • Display interface
  • Micro SD card slot

Raspberry Pi 2

Raspberry Pi 2 is one most popular Raspberry Pi releases. It is used in most projects, and we’ll be using the same in subsequent tutorials. Pi 1 Models A and A+ didn’t have a USB hub and Ethernet. For connectivity, Raspberry Pi 2 comes with an Ethernet interface of up to 100Mbps. You are also provided with 4 USB 2.0 ports in Pi 2 Model B.

Raspberry_Pi_Model_2_Wide
Raspberry Pi 2

Unlike many revisions of Raspberry Pi 1, Raspberry Pi 2 had just one revision of model B, i.e., Raspberry Pi 2 B. Now, there aren’t many differences between the Pi 1 B+ and Pi 2 B, except you get double the amount of RAM (512 MB vs 1 GB) and an improved quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 processor clocked at 900 MHz.

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Raspberry Pi 2 I/O

Raspberry Pi 2 was also the first Pi to introduce an external distro loading using an SD card. Note that you should use a class 10 SD card for this purpose. A micro-USB powers the Pi, and you are recommended to use a wall socket for a steady supply.

Raspberry Pi 3

Raspberry Pi 3 is another very popular board from the Raspberry Pi foundation. The Pi 3 had three revisions – the first one being the Pi 3 Model B, the second Model B+, and the third Model A+. Now, I know it’s confusing but, let me break this down for you.

The Pi 3 Model B is the successor of Pi 2 Model B. Some of Pi 3 Model B’s major differentiating factors were the upgraded processor and power source supply rating. It was also the first Raspberry Pi to introduce Wi-Fi (Wireless LAN) and Bluetooth connectivity.

pi 3 model b+

The Pi 3 Model B+ is a super-enhanced version of Pi 3 Model B. Compared to the Pi 3 Model, it had a faster processor clock speed (200 MHz faster), introduced Gigabit ethernet over USB 2.0, and added a new Wi-Fi module with support for 5 GHz networks.

pi 3 model a+

The Pi 3 Model A was a cut-down version of Pi 3 Model B+ but with Raspberry Pi 1 Model A+’s skeleton. It’s affordable than Pi 3 B+ and is a great board for building IoT projects.

Raspberry Pi 4

Like the Raspberry Pi 2, Pi 4 also has only one revision, i.e., Raspberry Pi 4 B. As you’d expect from a next-gen Raspberry Pi, it comes in 2GB, 4GB, and 8GB RAM variants, a massive upgrade from 1 GB RAM on the 3 B+.

raspberry pi 4 B
Source : raspberrypi.org

Some of the other massive upgrades were the introduction of Gigabit Ethernet port, dual Mini HDMI ports with 4K support, the addition of 2 x USB 3.0 ports, an improved Broadcomm processor with more powerful Cortex-A72 cores, and finally, a USB Type-C port to power it.

Running Desktop OS has always been a challenge in the older Pi’s, but Raspberry Pi 4 B could run various distros’ flavors with ease. But, does this mean it can replace your computer? Read this article to find out if it can.

There’s Raspberry Pi 400, which is just a Raspberry Pi 4 B enclosed inside a keyboard shell.

Raspberry Pi Hardware

If you are familiar with Arduino, you would be aware that you can connect other boards that add various switches, sensors, controllers, LEDs, etc. Raspberry Pi has modules like camera add-on or mini LCDs, making it a great DIY project device.

Raspberry Pi camera - Raspberry Pi for beginners part 1
Pi Camera module

You can add a touch display for Raspberry Pi. Use of a display is recommended if you feel the need, but you can connect it over the network to another computer using the Terminal command SSH or Putty on Windows. Don’t know how to? Here’s how to install Raspbian/Raspberry Pi OS on Raspberry Pi Without A Monitor.

Raspberry Pi Software

Raspberry Pi uses Linux-kernel-based operating systems. The official operating system is based on Debian Linux and is called Raspberry Pi OS (Formerly Raspbian). If you own a Pi and don’t know how to install Raspberry Pi OS, here’s how to install Raspbian using NOOBS. While the Raspberry Pi 2 and 3 supports a stripped version of Windows known as Windows 10 IoT core, we haven’t yet heard from Microsoft about Raspberry Pi 4 support.

The always active open-source communities always make and support newer and existing distros like Ubuntu/Ubuntu MATE. The community also has LineageOS Android builds for the Pi. If you own a Raspberry Pi and want to install these OSes, here’s how to install Ubuntu MATE on Raspberry Pi and Android on Raspberry Pi.

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Raspberry Pi is a versatile piece of engineering that could be used in different DIY projects. For example, you can make your own anonymous Tor router, music player, radio, personal VPN, personal web server, connect it to your DSLR, and the list goes on. With Raspberry Pi, the sky’s the limit.

What’s next?

Getting started with Raspberry Pi is easy. All you need is the appropriate parts like the Raspberry Pi itself, SD cards, USB power supply cable, and other little things. In the next part of Getting Started With Raspberry Pi, I’ll tell you about all the components you need, where to buy them, and subsequently how to get things done.

Got any queries? Let us know in the comments section below. Do make sure to leave your suggestions below as well.

Adarsh Verma

Adarsh Verma

Fossbytes co-founder and an aspiring entrepreneur who keeps a close eye on open source, tech giants, and security. Get in touch with him by sending an email — [email protected]

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