Raspberry Pi essential components

I purchased my first Raspberry Pi six months ago, primarily so that I could play around with it in preparation for a job interview at the University of Manchester, where the School of Computer Science has started using them as part of the first year laboratory exercises. It was interesting to poke around an architecture other than x86 for once – the last time I did so was on the Fundamentals of Computer Science module in the first year of my degree.

There are several components you need for a working Pi – ignoring the common peripherals such as a mouse, keyboard etc. (I usually login to my Pi on the console over ssh, and most geeks will have spare monitors lying around which their parents or partners have been trying to get rid of for years). This list is primarily for my own reference, in case I want to expand my collection, but hopefully it will help others too:

  • Model B Pi: The main board for the Pi, to which you can attach everything else. There is also a cheaper Model A, but I feel the small difference in price (about £6 at the time of writing) is worth paying for ethernet, an additional USB port and 256MB extra RAM.
  • Power supply: Many chargers are available, but not all will deliver sufficient current to power the Pi. This one appears to work fine though.
  • SD card: In theory only a 4GB card is required, but since capacities seem to double every 1-2 years at the same price point, you may as well buy an 8GB card now.
  • Plastic case: Optional, but makes the Pi much easier to handle and transport. This particular case is transparent so you can still see the board, and it also comes with a snug-fitting card box.

If you prefer to buy a boxed set, there is a starter kit available on Amazon which is roughly the same price as buying everything separately (personally I prefer individual components as each package then fits through the letter box). Other suppliers are available – the main reason I buy from Amazon is because they usually have everything in stock, postage and packaging is included and I know from previous experience that their refunds process is quick and efficient.

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