Raspberry Pi Linux LESSON 1: Introduction to the Pi

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.

25 thoughts on “Raspberry Pi Linux LESSON 1: Introduction to the Pi”

  1. More! More!! More!!!

    I can’t wait for you to fully explore the Pi the way you have explored the Arduino. You have made the Arduino a piece of cake, and the Raspberry Pi on my workbench is waiting for you to do the same.

    1. Well alright then! Next lesson will be how to install the operating system and get the pi booted up. Then, we will go through lessons on using the command line. We will learn linux via the terminal. Then we will see how we can write python programs in the terminal, and how we can run those programs. Then we will learn out to interact with the input and output pins, like we did in arduino. Only after we have really learned linux and the pi will we fire up the graphical windows interface. At this point hopefully you will have no need or desire to use the graphical interface.

      1. sir i have no knowledge on aurduino but i want to learn rashppberry pi. can i able to learn from your tutorials

  2. Dear Mr. Paul,
    Maybe you already know this but just in case….

    I want to share my experience I’ve had over the past week with the HDMI-to-VGA converter issue. After having tried a couple of converters and reading some Pi forums – I have found a simple solution to the booting problem using an old VGA monitor….. Simply at boot (immediately after powering on the RPi2 !!) press “2” on the keyboard. That one key press seems to invoke the “HDMI safe mode” just as suggested in the ReadMe file in the NOOBS folder. (BTW I used a cheap Chineese noname converter around 10 euros… )
    Now I can finally move on with the lessons.

    Well that’s all, I just wanted to contribute something in return for your generosity in helping others. Keep up the great work!
    Sincerely, Vladimir

  3. Hi I want to do your Raspberry Pi lessons. Your link is to US Amazon – can you do a link to a starter kit for Amazon.co.uk please so I can get the right bits and get going? Thank you.

  4. Enjoy your hands on lessons for the pi.
    Mine is on the way but have made my boot SD card and keep reading the commands to get familiar with them.

    The local library has some units and is teaching the kids how to program. They are starting a course for the ” old ” kids next week.

    Looking forward to it


    1. Glad to hear you are learning the Pi. Really a lot of fun projects are possible. Good to hear from you.

  5. Hi Paul

    Your Raspberry Pi lessons have been really helpful (and enjoyable). I haven’t done the lessons to do with GPIO pins etc yet because I’m trying to get my head round the software side of things. Using Windows has made me lazy and stupid!

    Have you used Berry Boot? It seems a good idea to keep multiple OS on a USB drive and access them via the micro SD rather than having to take the SD cards in and out the whole time. What do you think? I have a Pi 3 and the SD card slot is push in/pull out instead of push in/push out on the pi 2 and I can’t get the damn card out without taking the case apart.

    Anyway, thanks for taking the time and trouble to create your tutorials,

    Charlotte (ex IBM assembler programmer – that really shows my age!! )

    1. I have not tried the Berry Boot, so can not comment.

      I can say I am not so happy with the Pi 3 at this point. Adding bluetooth disabled the UART pins, so lost serial communication over the GPIO pins. Also, do not like the new SD card slot. Hopefully they will fix these things at some point.

  6. i have looked for pi2 and can not find one in stock amazon does not carry it do you have lessons in pi3 would pi3 work with lesson in pi 2 like to hear your comments anybody

    1. The Pi 3 is the new generation. Faster processor than the Pi 2, more RAM, built in WiFi and Bluetooth. If it runs on the Pi 2, it will generally run on the Pi 3 without any problem.

  7. Hi Sir,

    I wanted to learn Raspberry Pi for my Photo and Video project please help to learn and install the raspberry Pi stuff , it good that I found this website though one my friend.

  8. Inexpensive video adapters confirmed to work with the R-Pi:

    HDMI to VGA adapter for $8
    Plug this into your Pi, and plug your VGA cable from the monitor into the other end of the adaptor.

    HDMI (female) to DVI (male) adapter 2-pack for $8:
    Plug your HDMI cable into your Pi, put this adapter on the other end, and plug it into your monitor.

    Note: the VGA adapter comes in a plastic case. If you remove the cardboard and packing material from the case, you can fit one of the DVI adapters in with it. Makes a good “Travel Pack” for your Pi.

  9. I appreciate your work and lessons on the RasPi. I just started in this. If I may ask a question? : Out of a 16 gig SD and installing Raspian with SDformatter and Win32Diskimager I end up with 20 MB used out of a 41 MB boot sector. What happened to all my 16 gigs?
    The micro SD card tested A-OK with h2testw program and is not a fake SD card.

  10. Hello, Paul,

    I am working in accounting and finance fields for more than 10 years. I decided to learn something new and started new hobby – electronics. Quite fast I find and moved to Arduino micro controller and Your lessons. Firstly big thanks for Your Youtube lessons. They are really helpful and they are important reason why I am still interested in electronics and coding. I would like to make few comments.

    Firstly, Arduino lessons were about basics and they are very good for newbie in hobby. I got a lot of tools to use.
    Secondly, Arduino lessons with Phython looks like more orientated to one area – high altitude balloon project. These lessons give tools, but they are not as universal as in Arduino lessons . Of course, Phython is more complex than Arduino IDE. So, it would be great, if You create lessons with a little bit broader use.
    Finally, from newbie perspective one important area, in my opinion, is misted. It is basic electronics. For example, I needed to use 12V equipment in my project and Arduino can not generate such V. Thus, all lessons are assuming, that electronics is just plug and go and is more concentrated on coding. Thus it would be great, if some basic electronics lessons would be created or maybe You could recommend some material to learn basic electonics.

    Best regards,

    Tadas Gintautas

  11. Paul,
    Your tutorials are great. In this one you say the kit includes a model 2. However the current link is for CanaKit Raspberry Pi 3 Ultimate Starter Kit – 32 GB Edition. Will this kit be alright for use with your tutorials in this series?
    Very respectfully,
    Steve Andreas

  12. I’ve watched your Fusion 360 tutorial front to back (Great Job please keep those coming too if you can) and now excited to be moving into RasPi. I use the RasPi for Octoprint for my 3D printer but I don’t really understand it. Thanks again for all you do.

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