If you’ve been around the tech scene for any amount of time, no doubt you’ve heard of the Raspberry Pi. You’d be hard pressed to find a tech website without mention of some cool Raspberry Pi project. For those who have been living under a rock, the Raspberry Pi is an ARM based single board computer. It’s small size and low power requirements allow users to keep the Pi as an always-on computer. The Raspberry Pi has the standard inputs you’d expect from a computer. The HDMI, USB, ethernet, and audio ports should all look familiar. Newer models even come equipped with WiFi. For those who wish to practice some basic electrical engineering skills, the GPIO pins can be used to recieve input from other electronics, as well as control them.

RPi 4B - Michael Henzler/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

The Raspberry Pi isn’t the only single board computer (SBC). There are a large number of SBC manufacterurs, not to mention Chinese knockoffs. But the Pi’s low bar of entry for beginners, extensive documentation, and ready-made kits have made the Raspberry Pi a household name.

If all you do with your main computer is read emails, browse the web, and listen to music, you should definitley consider switching to a Raspberry Pi instead of shelling out thousands on an over-powered pc. A Raspberry Pi is also an excellent idea for testing new software, or if you need a program to be running 24/7.

MiPi

I have two different Raspberry Pi models. My RPi 3B+ is connected to an 8TB external hard drive, and is essential to my daily life. My RPi isn’t as powerful, so I often change what I use it for. It’s nice to experiment with, without impacting my “main” Pi.

So far, I’ve used my RPi systems for:

  • Syncthing Client
  • Nextcloud Server
  • Media Server
  • Kodi box
  • FTP Server
  • VPN Server
  • Torrent Box
  • Private video game server
  • Network-wide Ad Blocker
  • Website hosting
  • Retro video game console emulator
  • Microchip firmware extraction
  • Backup Linux PC

But they’re actually capable of much much more.

So which Raspberry Pi should you get?

There are several different models and configurations available for purchase. So, it can be overwhelming to figure out what you need as a beginner. My recommendation is to get the latest and greatest Raspberry Pi, included in a kit with everything you need to start off.

Model Includes Amazon Link
Raspberry Pi 4
4GB Ram Model B
  • 32GB SD Card
  • Power Supply
  • Set of Heat Sinks
  • Micro HDMI to HDMI Cable
  • On/Off Switch
  • Protective Case
Buy Now

If you’re on a budget, consider bulding the previous generation system yourself. At a bare minimum, the Raspberry Pi requires an SD card, and a power supply with a high enough power rating. Note: Although they may look similar, chances are the chargers you have lying around for your cellphone and tablets aren’t strong enough to power the Pi at full load.

Model Includes Amazon Link
Raspberry Pi 3 Model B
  • Power Adapter
  • Set of Heat Sinks
Buy Now
32GB SanDisk Ultra SD Card Buy Now

Whichever kit you choose, remember to experiment and have fun!

Raspberry Pi projects, guides and tutorials are easy to find, however there’s one thing so important that I want to state it here: CHANGE THE DEFAULT PASSWORD AS SOON AS YOU LOG IN. The recommended RPi operating system, Raspbian, comes with a default username and password of pi and raspberry respectively. Because the Raspberry Pi comes with these default credentials, and because many new users fail to change the password, it makes an easy target for hackers. Changing the password can be accomplished by typing the command

passwd

at the shell prompt, or by entering

raspi-config

in order to change it in the overall configuration menu. If no other security precautions are taken, at least do this one thing.