The Raspberry Pi – a computer the size of a credit card!

1 Dec


The idea for a tiny and cheap computer for kids came in 2006 but now the raspberry pi created by the Raspberry Pi Foundation has become a dream to anyone who is interested in electronics and programming.

After I heard that the raspberry pi; a computer the size of a credit card had been made and was for sale from farnell. I had to buy one.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation talk about the idea of why they decided to create the raspberry pi a little more in depth;

“Something had changed the way kids were interacting with computers. A number of problems were identified: the colonisation of the ICT curriculum with lessons on using Word and Excel, or writing webpages; the end of the dot-com boom; and the rise of the home PC and games console to replace the Amigas, BBC Micros, Spectrum ZX and Commodore 64 machines that people of an earlier generation learned to program on.

There isn’t much any small group of people can do to address problems like an inadequate school curriculum or the end of a financial bubble. But we felt that we could try to do something about the situation where computers had become so expensive and arcane that programming experimentation on them had to be forbidden by parents; and to find a platform that, like those old home computers, could boot into a programming environment. From 2006 to 2008, Eben designed several versions of what has now become the Raspberry Pi” (, 2012)

Since it has arrived I haven’t looked back. I bought a four gigabyte SD card and flashed it with a copy of  Raspbian “wheezy” using Win32DiskImager for windows.

RaspberryPi Model B

When the raspberry pi finally arrived the first thing I did was inserted the SD card and peripherals but most of all I connected it to a HDTV to see what all the fuss was about.

raspberrypi on bigscreen hdmi loading

So it booted up and I had to go through the set up options. Finally it was ready for me to play around with it…but how? well along with the raspberry pi I picked up a copy of the Raspberry Pi – user guide.

raspberrypi user guide

It was handy to have and after skimming through it the first time, I was able to login with username: pi , password: raspberry.

the command: startx , launched the graphics user interface and I had a desktop!

raspberrypi on a big screen HDTV

What was on the desktop you ask? Well there was a lot of preinstalled software to play around with not to mention the raspberry pi was python ready.

Some neat features I found useful were:

  • Debian Reference – a great place to start learning Linux terminal commands. (I started here when I was learning to use linux)
  • Leafpad – this is a simple text editor, which is useful for making notes or writing programs.
  • Terminal – this allows you to use the linux command line in a window without leaving the graphical user interface.
  • Internet browsers – Midori and Netsurf web browser
  • For educational use the rapberryPi came with Scratch and Squeak both great fun to play with.
  • The GPIO (The Raspberry Pi – user guide gives great tutorials on how to use this)

I really think every school in Ireland should have these to teach computer/electronic skills to children. I’m not talking about getting rid of Microsoft office but instead add this to the curriculum. With I.T , Pharmaceutical/Medical and High Tech Manufacturing Industries being a big employer for future graduates it is essential to get peoples core skills in maths, physics,science and computers developed early.

With this I will leave you with what we discussed and a list of cool projects you can do with the raspberry pi.

Here is what I am currently doing with the raspberry pi ( making a small desktop computer)


My raspberry pi sits ontop of my desktop pc tower

rii wireless keyboard

The rii wireless keyboard + mouse I am using  for raspberry pi…it’s the size of a small remote but wireless with 30 meter signal distance and a month battery life!!

3.5'' monitor raspberrypi 1

3.5'' monitor raspberrypi 23.5” monitor for raspberry pi, it is an amazing little screen and after I found an old phone charger lying around I tore it apart and rigged it to the little thing to get it to light up. This would be brilliant gadget for cars as the raspberry pi is a fully functioning computer. Facebook/Twitter updates or watch HD movies while stuck in traffic?

Thank you for reading and your comments are welcome.

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