Flexible and Affordable Computers


By Scott Hamilton
Co-publisher


Have you always wanted a computer to learn programming, surf the internet, check e-mail, or just for fun, but can’t find the extra money? In this week’s Tech Talk I will introduce you to an affordable computer that anyone with a flat screen TV can afford. It is called a Raspberry Pi and can be found online for as little as $35.

I know what you are thinking: a $35 computer can’t be that great. I personally own three of them and they work great for small everyday things, like checking your e-mail online, watching You-tube videos, viewing most websites and even word-processing. It makes a great media center device connected to your TV for watching videos and listening to online music and radio.

First let me give you a little background on the Raspberry Pi Foundation. The foundation was formed in the UK as a charity that focused on educating people in computing and creating easier access to computers primarily for educational purposes. In 2012, the foundation launched the first version of the Raspberry Pi for $35 and found very quickly that they could not keep up with the demand. They have partnered now with several manufacturers and can do production runs of 4,000 computers a day.

They are now in production with the latest model 3 which is roughly four times more powerful than the original system, and they have a goal of keeping the price the same, at $35 or less for every new release.  They even have the Raspberry Pi Zero which is only $5. I would say they achieved their goal as people all over the world use the Raspberry Pi to learn programming, build projects, do home automation, and even for use with industrial applications.

The nicest feature of the Raspberry Pi is the integrated GPIO (general purpose input/output) pins and controller that let you connect and control external electronic components. This is not possible with your laptop or PC without spending several hundred dollars for additional equipment. One other thing to note is that all the software that runs on the Raspberry Pi is free.

The Raspberry Pi 3 B+ is a single board computer system with an ARM Cortex-A53 1.4GHz processor, 1GB of memory, 300Mbps wired network connection, WiFi controller and Bluetooth. It runs the Raspbian operating system based off of the popular Debian Linux Operating system.

Over the next several weeks I will cover some Raspberry Pi projects and give you ideas on how you can learn computing with the Raspberry Pi. If you want to follow along and complete the projects, I will provide a list of things you need for the next week. For next week, you will need a Raspberry Pi, with a power supply, keyboard, mouse, HDMI cable and a TV with an HDMI port. If you have questions about what you need, you can come by The Licking News Office or email me at Publisher@TheLickingNews.com.

Next week’s lesson can also be done on your computer. Just download from Python.org the Python 3.7 software and follow along as I teach you how to get started with some basics of computer programming using Python. I must give a word of warning about the column over the next weeks. Programming can become very addictive; once you learn how to control the computer, you may never want to stop.  Computers, even inexpensive ones like the Raspberry Pi, can do some pretty amazing things. With a little instruction and practice, you might create the next best thing in technology.



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