Part One: Get the Stuff!
You wanna’ learn about the Raspberry Pi and build one for yourself? You’ve come to the right place! I’ve got all the instructions and tutorials you need in one place: right here! So follow along and build your own and have some fun learning about SBC’s (single board computers).
Here’s a shortlist of the things you’ll need to get started. You may already have some of them. Some you’ll need to buy. I’ve given lots of (affiliate) links to help you find the stuff you need. Clicking my links doesn’t cost anything extra, but Amazon will send me a gift card to get more stuff to blog about!
- Raspberry Pi
- SD card
- power supply for Raspberry 4 or USB-C cable
- power supply for Raspberry 3 or micro-USB cable
- network cable
Depending on how you want to sent things up, you can either:
Put the Raspberry on your network and connect to it from another computer
Plug in a monitor, keyboard, and mouse and run your Raspberry “stand-alone”
If you’re going the stand-alone route, you’ll need a little more, but you’ll end up with your own desktop replacement. Yes, just like the cool kids…
- HDMI cable
- keyboard – any USB keyboard works. Here is the “official“. Here is the wireless one that I like.
- mouse – again, any USB mouse words. Here is the “official“. Here is a cheapy with awesome ratings.
Once you’ve got everything you need, it’s time to start setting up your “boot drive”. This is just an SD card that you’ve built with a couple of downloads. I’ve included the links here so you can find all the software that you’re going to need.
First, you’ll need to download the Raspbian. This is the Operating System that the Raspberry Pi runs. It doesn’t matter what version Pi you have– the Raspbian download is the same. I like to download the full-up version. There are lots of things to play with once you get going: http://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads/raspbian/
Second, you’ll need to tool to “image” your SD card. This is a little different from just copying files to your F: drive or whatever drive your computer calls your SD. To image the SD card, you’ll need to run “Win32 DiskImager”. This takes the Raspbian software and “images” it to the drive. This process creates the partitions and the bits that the Raspberry needs to boot up! Download here: http://sourceforge.net/projects/win32diskimager/
Finally, let me offer two more tools that you may not even need, but they’re nice to have when problems strike! The SD Card Organization offers a formatting tool. If your imaging goes haywire or you want to recycle some old SD cards from your camera or phone, I highly recommend this tool: http://www.sdcard.org/downloads/formatter/ It makes your SD card like new again!
And last but not least. As you’ll learn, as we get further into this, SD cards trade speed for reliability. Sometimes SD cards go bad. Not in the traditional sense, like stale bread, but they get bad sectors or become writable. You can try reformatting, but sometimes you have to test them and mark bad sectors and for that, you’ll need this: http://www.vconsole.com/ckfinder/userfiles/images/files/Flash_Drive_Tester_v114.exe Nice to run on questionable SD cards, before you put a lot of extra time into building a bootable drive.
When you are ready, click to Step 2: How to Build an SD card for the Raspberry PI