Top 12 tips and tricks for any Raspberry Pi enthusiast

By : |July 9, 2013 0

BANGALORE, INDIA: Since its launch in 2012 the Raspberry Pi has caught the imagination of hobbyists, engineers and young people alike.

The credit-card sized device quickly achieved iconic status and has now been sold in over 64 countries across the world. This article explores the top 12 tips for any Raspberry Pi enthusiast, from getting started to building your final project complete with additional motors and drives.

We share advice on the latest accessories and take a look into what the future holds for the Raspberry Pi.


1. Starting and the basics: On the element14 Community you can get free access to the official guide to getting started with Pi, complete with tips on SD cards, operating systems and how to get up and running. The Community also has a range of tusoftware debtorials to introduce you to Raspbian Linux, installing packages, coding style and a guide to building your first game. and

2. Use your computer’s Internet connection for your Raspberry Pi: 
If you don’t have a convenient Ethernet connection, or a USB WiFi adapter handy, you can also use your Windows computer’s WiFi connection and share it via Ethernet to the Raspberry Pi. This technique is called Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) in Windows. Here are guides to do this on various operating systems: Mac OS, Windows, or Linux (Ubuntu).

3. Making your Pi portable: The Raspberry Pi is usually powered from its USB port using a mains adaptor or computer. If you need your Pi to be portable many people have reported that the best solution can be found by using a backup power supply for a mobile phone that plugs directly into the Pi.

4. Unlock the true potential of your Raspberry Pi: Looking to learn to code? In which case Python is an excellent starting point. It’s the standard programming language for the Raspberry Pi andits intuitive format means it’s suitable for even the most novice of gamers. Here’s a quick guide to getting started.

5. Making your Raspberry Pi compatible with other devices: The more experienced Raspberry Pi user might want to further the capability of your Piby improving running times and connecting with external sensors… and what better way to do this than by combining it with an equally impressive device. The BeagleBone, like the Raspberry Pi, is a small low cost computer that connects to the Internet and runs software such as android. These two devices are very different and enjoy different strengths and weaknesses. The two devices naturally complement each other and combine to provide better functionality than either does alone. Find out how other engineers are combining the two.

PiFace digital: PiFace Digital allows you to connect your Raspberry Pi to real world devices such as driving outputs to power motors, actuators and LEDs, the possibilities are endless. This summer we’ll also see the launch of PiFace, and Pi Rack – an accessory that will enable you to connect multiple PiFaces to the Raspberry Pi.

Gertboard: The Gertboard is an add-on GPIO expansion board for the Raspberry Pi computer. It comes with a large variety of components, including buttons, LEDs, A/D and D/A converters, a motor controller, and an Atmel AVR microcontroller. The Gertboard turns your Raspberry Pi into a computer capable of controlling the real world, allowing you to detect and respond to external physical events.

6. Pi Camera: Available to buy from element14in May 2013, the Raspberry Pi Camera module is a custom designed add-on. It attaches to Raspberry Pi by way of one of the small sockets on the boards upper surface. This interface uses the dedicated CSi interface, designed especially for interfacing to cameras.

7. Embedded Pi: Embedded Pi brings together the best of both worlds, by combining Raspberry Pi and Arduino allowing designers to control Arduino shields as well as LEDs, motors, and compatible connectors. Embedded Pi uses STM32F103 series (ARM Cortex-M3 MCU) as the main control chip. It’s fully compatible with Arduino and Raspberry Pi’s interface. Programming Embedded Pi with the Raspberry Pi or from a Windows PC is made possible by the free and code unlimited CooCox IDE. Embedded Pi can also be used on its own as a development platform.

8. Faster Browsing: The default browser for the Raspberry Pi is Midori. Sometimes accused of being slow and while it is lighter than Firefox or Chrome a fantastic alternative for anyone looking for a faster browser is Luakit. This highly configurable micro- browser system based on WebKit Web content engine and the GTK+is aimed at developers of who want ultimate control over their web browsing experience

9. Getting kids started on Raspberry Pi: The Raspberry Pi was designed to get kids into programming and the Raspberry Pi foundation provides a host of programming tools and guides to inspire the engineers of tomorrow. The best way for kids to get started is through Scratch, the unique programming environment for young children. Scratch uses blocks instead of traditional programming language, transforming the programme creation process into a visually engaging experience. You’ll find Scratch preinstalled on the latest operating system

10. Use the Raspberry Pi as a media centre: Turning your Raspberry Pi into a media portal for listening to music, watching videos and viewing pictures couldn’t be easier. The best way is to install XBMC, a special Linux distribution built for the Raspberry Pi. Next steps can be found on the element14 Community:

11. RetroPi: Re-live your youth with a retro game console emulator. Using a few simple steps you can easily turn your Raspberry Pi into an 80s gaming station. There are countless different ways to do this, but the one that comes most recommended is to install Retro Pi which is a super convenient installer for Retro arch available here

12. Join the code exchange: Once you have your project up and running this handy corner of the element14 Community is a place for engineers to come and help each other solve coding problems, build skills and swap code. you can also stay up to date with all the latest Raspberry Pi developments by following Huseyin Anac’s blog

(The author works at element14 as Technical Development Manager)

(The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of CIOL)

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