Arman's stuff
Rasberry Pi

(Wed Feb 8 12:38:38 2012)

This is the part where I say something like "WANT! WANT WANT WANT WANT WANT!"

There is a reason I browse tech news sites, and this nifty little device is the perfect example. The device is designed to be a small, cheap computer - the cheapest full computer money can buy, in fact. It runs a 700Mhz ARM processor, and comes with USB, sound, HDMI out, and an Ethernet plug for the 'B' version. It's really, really cool. Seriously. I want one. no, make that 10!

Why is it so cool? Well, two reasons:

First, it's cool because it's a cheap, high-quality way to learn about computers. This is... epic. For only $25 each - less than the price of a textbook - schools could outfit an entire classroom with these. Kids could learn how to really program - not the silly junk they teach in most schools, which is really only typing and data entry. No, this lets you teach kids about everything from basic game design to networking and drivers. Kids can blink lights, make sounds, and draw pictures on the screen - the TV! - with ease. you don't need a $2000 computer setup to program it. You need a TV or computer monitor and a keyboard - and that's it. At $25, kids could take it home to play with! If you break one, you don't even need to throw it away - if all you did was, say, break a port off, you can just solder a new one on! And even if it is so broken as to need tossing, it's only $25. Not free, but certainly less than the hundreds of dollars for professional or educational development kits!

And second, it's cool because it's got such great hardware. The $35 'B' version has 256 MB of RAM, 10/100 Ethernet, two USB ports, a micro-USB charging port, an RCA video jack, an HDMI video jack, a slot for an SD card, audio out, several status LEDs, and a custom Linux kernel with support for Fedora, Debian and ArchLinux - all on a credit-card-sized board. The $25 'A' version has only one USB port, no ethernet, and only 128 MB of RAM, but is otherwise the same. the B package needs about 700 mA to run, while the A package needs around 200 mA.

My mind positively reels with the possibilities. A tiny proxy, running Squid; a robot brain; a security system. It runs XBMC, so perhaps an almost-instant-on TV? It can run on batteries, so a wifi-enabled friend for my Rovio may be in order. Or a smart LEGO-driven robot. Or the brains of an LCD picture viewer (the cheapest LCD monitor with HDMI I can find is $130; not bad for a 18.5 inch LCD picture viewer!). Or, how about a car video/audio setup? A little work, and your car could sync with your home network, download maps, and with the right accessories, even report relevant statistics to a server! The Rasberry Pi could do anything from monitor your flowers and watch the weather to run your washing machine and open your front door on voice command - with a little work, that is. And that's the fun part, right?

Meanwhile, if you're looking for a birthday present for me... this is it. It goes on sale Feb. 20th, but there are only 10,000 of them the first run, so, y'know... hurry :-D

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This blag is tagged: Design, Electronics, Linux, Rasberrypi, All