The Raspberry Pi is a computer designed to be useful for teaching the basics of computers and programs at an affordable price (under $50). It is very small and is equipped with a port for interaction with the environment. It is alternative board for building projects, if a stronger processor, multimedia experience or Internet interaction is needed. (Yes, we are aware that this things can be done in the Arduino, but it may be the board of choice in many situations)
To me the real appeal is a little nostalgia from the early days of home computers. In the 80's one of the first widely available computers was a Commodore Vic 20. It came with around 3 kilobytes of RAM. The follow-up computer was a Commodore 64, with a whopping 64K of RAM. Of course there was the Apple computers and Tandy's among a few others. The beauty of these for kids was that by turning these computers on, you were directly placed in a programming environment. Several generations have been skipped and have only related to computers as users ore consumers rather than programmers and operators. I still remember the time, we wrote a bit of code that placed a password on the school computer. It was a simple code that was easily gotten around if you knew how. The teachers made us take it off, but I think they were rather proud of us for being able to do it in the first place. So, there is a part of our generation that would want this up and coming generation experience the same process albeit with much greater possibilities.
The Raspberry Pi is a project in and of itself and many computer solutions could be developed with it. I do believe there will be sufficient cause to play around with it.
For more information you can read here:
The Raspberry Pi has GPIO (General Purpose Inputs Outputs) This can be used for interacting with the environment.
- They are digital only, however they can be used in conjunction with a ADC more info
- Raspberry Cobbler is a break kit for the GPIO pins to a bread board. Still must keep in mind that the pins are NOT protected. You can destroy your RPi very quickly.
- Good short explanation of how to use the GPIO. http://cymplecy.wordpress.com/2012/08/26/scratch-controlling-the-gpio-on-a-raspberrypi/
For hacking adafruit has a distro. http://learn.adafruit.com/adafruit-raspberry-pi-educational-linux-distro/overview
- Getting started with Raspberry Pi by Matt Richardson and Shawn Wallace A Make Book. Not a comprehensive book but a start. Including programming, using the GPIO and using in conjunction with Arduino.
- Raspberry Pi a quick start guide