Gaining access to new embedded processors is exciting. I recently ordered a Raspberry Pi Model B for 49.49USD, which includes the cost of the board, a case, and shipping. With an expected ship date that is 11 weeks away, its delivery is something I can be excited about for awhile.
The Raspberry Pi Model B features a Broadcom BCM2835 system on chip, which uses a 700 MHz ARM11 (ARM1176JZF-S) processor. The board contains two standard USB Type A ports and one HDMI receptacle. It uses a Micro-USB Type B connection for its power source. With all that it has on board, the Model B is ready to be connected.
I plan on connecting the Raspberry Pi Model B’s HDMI port to an HDMI television. One USB port will be connected to a Bluetooth USB adapter, which supports Bluetooth keyboard and mouse input devices. The other USB port will be attached to a WiFi USB adapter, which provides network connectivity. I plan on reusing my e-reader’s charger to power the Model B. My environment is ready after little preparation for operating the Raspberry Pi Model B.
As for software, the Raspberry Pi uses GNU/Linux as its default operating system. A web browser and office productivity software are included. Out of the box and connected to a display device, keyboard, and mouse, the Raspberry Pi can be used as a personal computer.
Education through their device is the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s primary motivation. The Linux kernel can be recompiled to experiment with the processor’s features. Python, which is bundled with the operating system, can be used for learning software development. The GPIO pins on the Raspberry Pi allows experiments with integrating external devices. The Raspberry Pi has great potential as a tool for education.
Advanced subjects such as cross-development and operating system specifics can be explored with the Raspberry Pi. The Linux operating system can be abandoned, and bootloaders, memory managers, process managers, and I/O managers can be implemented for the Raspberry Pi. Much education can be gained from the implementation of a specialized operating system. The benefits of implementing a specialized operating are beyond understanding an operating system’s function. Experience in complex software implementation and systems engineering also can be gained.
The Raspberry Pi, starting at 25USD, is an exciting tool for education about and exposure to embedded computing.