Special: Getting started with your Raspberry Pi


Perhaps you've just got your Raspberry Pi and PiBot board and you're wondering how to make the Pi part work? This guide will help you along your way.

OK, this is Raspberry Pie, not Pi, but they're both great!

Four slices of Pi - A brief guide to RPi setup

1. Why would I start?

Well, why not? The Raspberry Pi is a fun and powerful (and cheap) little computer. It's perfect to learn programming, learn about hardware control like flashing lights and motor control (and a lot lot more - see this) or embed in your own little machine like our PiBot. The great thing about a Raspberry Pi is if you really mess up, you just take the SD card out, reformat it and start again. You can run all kinds of operating systems on it (but be aware, this is a Windows and OS X free zone!) and you can fit it in your pocket which is pretty neat!

2. Where would I start?

Assuming you have a new Pi in a box, you'll need:
  1. An SD card (8Gb or more and Class 10 speed preferably)
  2. USB keyboard
  3. USB mouse
  4. HDMI monitor (The yellow plug also supports old-fashioned composite video, but most people have a screen or TV with HDMI now)
  5. HDMI Cable
  6. Micro USB Power Supply (at least 1A)

Once you have everything ready, you'll need to plug it all together, but leave the SD card to one side. Onto this you'll need to install some software called NOOBS. You can get this here: Raspberry Pi NOOBS Download. If this link is broken, go to the Raspberry Pi website and look for the downloads section. NOOBS will download to your Mac or PC as a zip file. Unpack this zip file (usually just a double click) and copy the entire contents to your fresh SD card. Don't put the contents in a folder, it all needs to be in the root of the SD card. With NOOBS copied, you should be ready to boot up your new Pi, so plug in the SD card and then the power and cross your fingers that it all comes on! If it doesn't just try pulling the power out and re-inserting it. Raspberry Pi
Your Raspberry Pi

3. How do I start? - Software

Installing NOOBS is really simple, you just follow the onscreen prompts and it will almost install itself. As the installer and OS can change, you'd be well advised to follow the official guide which gets updated often. You can find that here. All the Raspberry Fool projects like the PiBot use the Raspbian OS, and we'd recommend that at first, but feel free to play with all or any of the OS listed.

This is the NOOBS start up screen

4. Where do I go next?

Assuming you've installed Raspbian in NOOBS, you'll be taken straight to a desktop which looks like the picture below. If you chose to install multiple OSes, you'll be given a boot menu. Whichever way, it's as easy as a normal computer, to get straight to a desktop where you can explore and get hacking/coding or maybe just browsing the Internet.

The Raspberry Pi desktop

On the desktop you'll find a number of icons - Scratch is a visual programming language that is very easy to learn and surprisingly powerful. You can find out more at the official Scratch Website. Also, IDLE is installed which will allow you to create your own Python apps and games (with PyGame). Have a look at this great Python tutorial if you're interested. Sonic Pi is a programming language to make music and that also comes included with your Raspbian OS, so if you're feeling musical, have a go on that. Another thing we really like is Google's Coder software - It lets you make Websites really quickly and easily and like everything else on this page, it's completely free. Check out Coder here

This page is just the beginning too. We'll aim to get more fun stuff posted that you can try out, and if the best way to eat use your Pi changes, we'll be sure to let you know!

Tom Stacey - October 2013

Summary of links on this page

Air Pi
Raspberry Pi NOOBS Download (Direct LARGE download)
The official Scratch Website
Learn to think like a Computer Scientist - Python tutorial
Sonic Pi
Google Coder

Raspberry Fool has been lovingly handmade in England by Tom Stacey and Brendon Shaw.