I’ve Got One… So Now What?
So you’ve taken the plunge and bought a Raspberry Pi (RPi), but what else do you need? Or maybe you’re trying to see what you would need to get a Pi up and running before you actually buy one! Well, I won’t go into the details of getting the Operating System (OS) or software on a Pi running as our friends at the Raspberry Pi organization have already done a great job with that, check here.
I’ve just recently had to finish a complete hardware list for twenty (20x) RPi setups for an educational institution and I wanted to share the specifics of what hardware we ordered and why that specific hardware. There are also lots of ‘starter kits’ that you can buy that include a RPi, but rarely are they complete so hopefully this list fills in the missing parts.
I’ve broken it up into two sections: The Obvious and The Not-So-Obvious. If you are really impatient you can just skip to the bottom to see the shopping list of all the hardware an associated links!
There are several different RPi models now, so be careful to know which ones you have! All of the below will work for any of the RPi 2 ‘B’ model. If you have a RPi 1 (A, A+, B, or B+), you’ll have to make some minor adjustments to the case and SD card accordingly, the rest of the items work for all the RPis.
Don’t think you must go a buy a brand new monitor; most modern TVs these days have/use HDMI so check yours before you go buy a new one.
If you do have to buy a new one, or you don’t want to share your TV with your RPi, then make sure you get a monitor or TV that takes HDMI natively. This can be tricky with monitors, but for TVs it is straightforward. On the back/side of the TV it will say ‘HDMI’ somewhere and it may have multiple HDMI ports.
PC monitors most likely won’t take native HDMI so you’ll need to look for ‘DVI-D’ or ‘DVI-I’ as this can easily take a converted HDMI connection with a HDMI to DVI cable. What you want to avoid is the ‘DVI-A’ connectors as those are analogue only and they won’t work with a RPi without a special powered converter as well.
Here is a Wikipedia link so you can read the difference if you are interested, but just use the pictures here to confirm what the monitor takes, and the HDMI-to-DVI cable provides (see below).
Keyboard and Mouse
This hopefully is ‘easy as pie’. The most important part is just make sure they have USB connectors and not the old school PS/2 connections!
The wonders of RPi can only be unlocked with an OS and software. These are initially stored on ‘disc’ which is the form of a standard SD memory card. For the RPi 2, you are looking for a microSD not the big brother like the RPi 1 models. Here is the sizing guide taken from Wikipedia [….SD (blue), miniSD (green), microSD (red)]
SDHC is fine, class is not too important as better ‘class’ improves large reads/writes only and your RPi will be rarely being doing those as most of the time it will be doing small reads and writes. There is a compatibility list found here if you are in doubt that your SD card will work.
HDMI Cable or HDMI to DVI-D cable
This one can be straight forward if you going to a native HDMI device, or tricky if you are going to a monitor with DVI connection. Below is a picture of what you are looking for when you buy the HDMI-to DVI-D cable.
Micro USB and Power Plug
Your RPi will need power, that comes in the convenient form of a microUSB cable. Simple to source, easily forgotten about. And look for a screen/router/printer that may provide a powered USB connection so you may not have to power the power adapter to plug into the wall.
Here is a picture guide to the see which one is microUSB from Wikipedia:
Case and possible VESA mount
The RPi on it’s own from the manufacture is just bare bones circuitry! If you were lucky your’s came with a case and if you were clever you purchased a case with it already. Regardless, you want to get a case and protect that little guy! There are a multitude of case options out there, and a lot of it comes down to taste (e.g. colour, images)
After you have a case, are you going to just let is dangle around like lost tourist! What about getting a case that can be VESA mounted to back of the TV or monitor that you’ll be using for the RPi? This way is is protected and out of the way for harmful coffee spills.
Now the Goods!
Now that you know all the hardware goods you need to buy, here is the shopping list with links to stores in the UK (where the educational institution is at) where you can buy the stuff!
|HDMI Cable||£ 2.28|
|Pi Power Cable||£ 1.07|
|Pi Power Plug||£ 5.88|
|microSDHC Card 8GB||£ 3.02|
|Pi Case||£ 8.50|
|Raspberry Pi 2 – Model B||£ 29.99|
Now the Why
- The RPi – at the time of writing this was the Raspberry Pi 2 – model B
- Monitor – We went for a low cost, power efficient PC monitor over a TV. Mainly because the TV costs were near double that of the monitor. And since you need to buy a HDMI cable, the HDM-to-DVI for the monitor wasn’t more expensive.
- Keyboard/Mouse – Easy choice, driven by price
- SD Card – Again, just price driven but make sure you look at the compatibility list before you buy.
- USB Power/Adapter – Driven by price and the length of cable you need. You may have something lying around and if you’ve got spare USB plugs on the monitor or nearby printer/router you may not have to get the power adapter.
- Case/Vesa mount – We chose not to get a vesa mount as we wanted the RPis on display for the class to see the circuitry to get a more ‘hands on’ feel. That also drove the decision to get the clear case with access to the break-out pins.
Hopefully this helps with understand what is needed and an example project of what was actually purchased. Now you just need to decide on your stuff!