The core of our projects are centered around the RaspberryPi, which is an affordable and completely customizable computer that in this case, is no larger than a deck of playing cards. The RaspberryPi was created by the London-based charity the RaspberryPi Foundation whose goal is to "put the power of digital making into the hands of people all over the world, so they are capable of understanding and shaping our increasingly digital world, able to solve the problems that matter to them, and equipped for the jobs of the future.". There are plenty of free software, tutorials, communities, and apps you can use to learn and use your RaspberryPi to it's full potential.
We will be using the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B, as it's the latest model on the market. It has the ability to connect to Wifi, which will make operating and developing on the fly much easier.
Here is a list of it's features:
- 1.2GHz 64-bit quad-core ARMv8 CPU
- 802.11n Wireless LAN
- Bluetooth 4.1
- Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)
- 4 USB ports
- 40 GPIO pins
- Full HDMI port
- Ethernet port
- Combined 3.5mm audio jack and composite video
- Camera interface (CSI)
- Display interface (DSI)
- Micro SD card slot
- VideoCore IV 3D graphics core
- Switched Micro USB power source (now supports up to 2.5 Amps)
All of that packed into a tiny computer you can purchase for under $50.
If you've been around the engineering block and know all about these tiny miracle computers, you might ask "Why RaspberryPi"? The short answer is support and simplicity. The Raspberry Pi community is large so there are lots of resources out there if things get confusing. There are also a lot of sources out there for programming in Python. But most of all, it's the availability of custom hardware that we can choose and program to solve the problems we're looking to solve. I also have found the amazing Adafruit shop, that not only supplies custom hardware for electronics projects like the Raspberry Pi, but it has tutorials and educational kits so that you can get started learning as soon as you get your parts. A big thank you to Lady Ada and the Adafruit team for their high quality products. I am not sponsored by them, but I definitely believe they have high quality products and it's why I chose them for most of our project hardware.