Seeking Advise for those new to Raspberry Pi

For those of you with experience with Raspberry Pi, I am looking for advice on information and devices for someone is interested in learning and using these devices. I interested in recommendations for books, specific devices models (shields?), and tools (such as a soldering station) for a beginner who it pursuing an IT education.

Please note that the Rpi is a full Linux Computer, so depending upon the audiences prior experience it can be a large jump from a simple micro-controller without network access. At LMN we do not have any Intro Kits for the Rpi. We do have a few Arduino Intro Kits, available for members to loan, The Rpi being a more capable system, it is difficult to pick out a kit. As there are so many different kinds of kits out there.

I might suggest the following:

With a focus toward IT. I would also then recommend reading the following
Initial Server Setup with Ubuntu 12.04

Additional Recommended Steps for New Ubuntu 14.04

How To Setup a Firewall with UFW on an Ubuntu and Debian Cloud Server

NEED TO DO - How To Use Tripwire to Detect Server Intrusions on an Ubuntu VPS

Linux unattended-upgrades updates For Raspberry Pi

Do you have a project in mind that you’re looking to use it for ?

I feel like its a lot easier to get started with when trying to piece together a project (which we can totally help with, btw!) than it is to try to learn it in vitro.

Totally understand you’re just looking for the basics, but don’t be afraid to hit us with specifics, if might be easier to help you out!

When it comes to models, you /really/ only need to consider a couple of things.

  1. Full size PI or PI zero.
    a. The PI Zero is super small, but doesn’t have as convenient of options for connecting with things. It has a single usb port and HDMI port. Lower horsepower than a full size, but still great for most things.
    b. The Full Size PI (B, B+, Pi 3, etc) has at least two full size USB ports (and up to 4) as well as an Ethernet port and full size HDMI. The later the generation, the better specs it has in terms of performance, but unless you’re doing a lot of processing, you’ll probably not notice tooo much.

  2. Do you need WIFI?
    a. On a zero, buy the Pi Zero Wireless (rather than just the Pi Zero). It has wifi built in and can connect straight away.
    b. On a full size PI, you can either go with a PI 3 which has onboard Wifi, or buy a cheapo USB wifi dongle. While you could do the same things with a Pi Zero (non wireless), you’d be eating up a valuable USB port for not a real good reason. (The PiZero W is still super cheap).

As for tools for working with a pi, the biggest frustration (for me) is cables and SD cards. The PI Zero’s usb ports are USB micro, which means you’ll need an OTG adapter to plug anything into them. B/B+/3 are full size, so that’s easier.

HDMI is full size on the A/B/B+/3, but micro HDMI on the Zero, so you’ll need an adapter there.

PI’s can be power hungry especially when you start plugging USB devices into them, so you’ll want to good sized USB power brick to supply them (2 Amp at least). Don’t try to power it off a laptop or other computer… you’ll be met with frustration.

Last, SD cards. Make sure you’ve got the right size for you PI, or just buy microSDs and full size adapters for when you need to plug them into a computer or an older PI with a full size slot. Also, you can speed up your PI by using higher class cards. Write/Read speed to the SD is one of the bigger things that can slow down a PI.

FWIW, there’s a raspberry PI workstation in the design area of the space with a monitor with HDMI (and cables for a Zero or a A/B/B+/3), keyboard mouse, and power supply of sufficient amperage all conveniently bundled together. I’ve found it super convenient when I need to plug in a PI and see if it shows signs of life.

Sorry, I just thought of one more thing:

If you’re looking to learn electronics along the way (like moving servos, reading buttons and switches, flashing LEDS, reading sensors, yada yada), I /strongly/ suggest playing with Arduino for that stuff first. That way you can focus on just the electronics without having to worry about things like “is it not working b/c I don’t have the right python library, or is my circuit wrong”.

Once you’ve got a good feel for that, its a lot easier to jump into interfacing that stuff with the PI.