Figure 1. Photo from Raspberry Pi Products.org
For those who may not know, the Raspberry Pi is a single board computer. It’s about the size of a credit card. The Raspberry Pi 4 is a big upgrade from Raspberry Pi 3. For starters, it’s three times faster than the Raspberry Pi3 at performing any task.
The Raspberry Pi 4 has a new processor, the Broadcom BCM2711. It has four Arm Cortex A72 cores running at 1.5GHz. [Translation for the Geek impaired: This is the first Pi that loads web pages faster than a decent mobile device. It is also reported by users that you can also have multiple browser tabs open and it still works really well. Starting up desktop applications is much faster and they are faster in operation too. It’s a much more usable desktop experience.]
Look at Figure 1 and use your imagination: You could plug a monitor, a keyboard, a mouse, and SD card, and a power supply into the Raspberry Pi 4 and voila! You have a computer that you can use to do all the same things you do on your other computer—maybe even faster, depending on your processor.
You will have a complete desktop experience. Whether you’re editing documents, browsing the web with a bunch of tabs open juggling spreadsheets or drafting a presentation, you’ll find the experience smooth but on a smaller, more energy-efficient and much more cost effective machine.
All this is at the nominal cost of $35 plus Keyboard, mouse, monitor and power supply—definitely at or under $100. (If you don’t have any old keyboards, mouse, or monitors around, visit a junk shop. They are filled with them.)
If you get a little nervous with all those delicate electronics out in the open gathering dust, you can purchase a case for yours or you can access Tinkercad (freeware), choose from one of their several designs for Raspberry Pi 4 cases and print out a case on a 3D printer.
Jonesy, one of my dear Makerspace friends who taught me all I know about Raspberry Pi has a case for his Raspberry Pi 4. He showed it to me today at our weekly board meeting, which by the way inspired this article. Below you can see it with the lid off and with the lid on.
SO WHY SHOULD YOU GET A RASPBERRY Pi 4?
I don’t know but here are a few possible reasons and scenarios that you might be able to relate to.
1. You care about the environment. Raspberry Pi 4 is a low power consumption unit that doesn’t get hot and thus does not need ventilation or fans. [This is another reason why, in addition to its size, that it can be used inside robots, as a server, or in a security web cam.
2. You have two kids and can only afford one computer but you are tired of the bickering. Set them each up with a Raspberry Pi 4 computer and then you can have your computer back.
3. You really want to get ahead and get a new job so you are learning a new programming language; however the family is fussing at you for hogging the family computer. Make your own computer with Raspberry Pi
4. You want to learn how to create websites with HTML and CSS
5. You want to build a robot.
6. You want to learn how to make apps for Android devices by doing projects that can help people in your community.
7. You want to learn how to code with Python.
You are convinced. You want a Raspberry Pi Computer.
Even if you don’t have a nice friend like I do, you can still do it. I have confidence in you. But if you get stuck, there are Raspberry Pi forums all over the Internet. Seek one of them out. Or better yet, go to a nearby makerspace. Makers love to help other makers be successful.
Here is what you need.
1. One Raspberry Pi 4 -$35
2. One SD Card – minimum of 8 GB class 4 or class 10 Micro SD card. [Don’t worry if you don’t know what it is. If you say these words in a computer supply place they will know what you are talking about. Just fake it. They will likely never know the difference, and if they do, so what? More likely they will think you are one of them.]
An SD Card (Secure Digital Card) is an ultra small flash memory card designed to provide high-capacity memory in a small size. If you are geek-handicapped, don’t worry. I am too, plus I’m old and I can still do this and thus, so can you. Still, it might be a good idea if you get an SD card that is already installed with NOOBS or Raspbian. Again, don’t let the Geek nomenclature threaten you. Just print out these instructions and take them with you when you go to purchase what you need. If you do get a regular SD card and need to configure it to the Raspberry Pi 4, don’t worry. You can do it. Find a how-to on the Internet.
3. A computer monitor or TV (for the display). Any HDMI/DVI monitor or TV will work.
[To be sure, just look up your laptop model on search engine and see the specifications. Under “I/O Ports” it will list HDMI port as “input” or “output”.] Important! You need the connectivity cable for the computer monitor. If you buy a second-hand monitor without one you may spend the rest of your life looking for a cable that fits and die before you ever finish setting up your Raspberry Pi Computer.
4. Keyboard and Mouse
Any standard USB keyboard and mouse will work with your Raspberry Pi
If you want to get fancy and go wireless you can. Wireless keyboards and a wireless mouse will work if they are paired. For keyboard configurations you can find in various forums on the Internet.
5. Power Supply
This is the electric cord with one end that plugs into the wall socket and the other end will plug into your tiny Raspberry. It is a USB Micro power supply like the one you use to charge your mobile phone. I recommend using the official Raspberry Pi Power Supply.
GO FOR IT! START MAKING THINGS YOU NEVER DREAMED OF!