If you have followed us through our series of lessons on the Arduino, and then the lessons on using Arduino with Python you have already learned some really cool stuff. You have probably learned so much, in fact, that you are starting to contemplate projects that will stretch the resources available on the arduino. For example, if you decided to add an LCD display to our GPS tracker project, you would probably find that you had run out of memory on the Arduino.
So while we all love, and will continue to love, the Arduino, you do finally reach the point you need a microcontroller with a little more horsepower. This is where the Raspberry Pi comes in. The raspberry pi is about the same size as the arduino, but it has the power of a desktop computer. With the Raspberry Pi, you still have direct access to ports and pins to build your own custom projects, but you have the speed, memory and CPU needed for much more sophisticated projects. The Raspberry Pi runs Linux, which we will have to learn in these lessons. The good news is that when we get the Pi up and running you can write and run python programs on it, and we have already spent quiet a bit of time learning python. So, with your background in Arduino and Python, you will be up and running on the Pi in no time.
To start with you will need to get your gear together. I definitely recommend the Raspberry Pi model 2, as it is the latest and greatest at the time this lesson is being made. You will need the Pi, a power supply, a micro SD card, and a monitor cable. You will also need a monitor, keyboard and mouse, but you probably already have those things laying around. I have found that the best thing is to buy a kit that includes the pi, power supply, micro SD card, monitor cable and USB WIFI adapter. A kit I really like that I think is an excellent value can be found HERE. Please note that this kit (and most all kits) contain an HDMI to HDMI cable. The output of the Raspberry Pi is HDMI. However, many monitors to not have an HDMI input but want a DVI connector. If your monitor only has DVI input, you will need an additional cable, which you can find HERE. For most people, getting the kit and the cable will be all you need to get started.
If you only have a really old monitor with a VGA input, please note that the HDMI to VGA cables available on amazon do not work. (At least all that I have tried to not work). It is not just a matter of getting a cable with the right connectors on the end. You have to convert HDMI to analog, which the cable does not do. For the case of making the Pi work with a VGA monitor, I have found the Belkin HDMI to VGA adapter will work with the Pi and you can get it HERE.
Please note that I have found the trickiest part of getting the Pi up and running is getting the right cable for your monitor. Please carefully check what type of monitor you have, and get the right cable.
So, get your gear ordered and in the next lesson we will cover how to get things hooked up and configured.