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Raspberry PI 2 – Hardware kit unboxing & first circuit LED experiments

Posted by bcmoney on July 24, 2016 in IoT with No Comments


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English: Logical 4-bits adder where sums and l...

Logical 4-bits adder where sums are linked to LEDs on a breadboard. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hard to believe its been over 6 months since I finally decided to buy into the IoT hype train and pick up my own Raspberry PI, to try my hand at creating some useful IoT-ish experiments of my own. I’d like to say its been interesting just tinkering around and seeing what the possibilities are, but thus far I’ve really only been scratching the surface and playing around mostly with the software and on-board peripherals side of the PI’s capabilities, which is really only half of its true potential.

One of the biggest strengths of the Raspberry PI and similar “open hardware” Microprocessor platforms (Arduino, BeagleBoard, etc) is that they enable you to connect what is essentially a “cheap but fully-funtional computer” to the broader physical world. In the Raspberry PI’s architecture, this takes the form of the GPIO expansion slot, which stands for General Purpose Input Output and as the name suggests, provides a number of raw inputs/outputs to be used by ambient sensors (temperature, pressure, air, water, motion, etc) in the more complex use-cases and basic indicators like lights (LEDs), speakers, etc in the more straightforward use-cases.

If you are like me, coming from a predominantly software-based development background, and as we are in the software world often far removed from the “nuts and bolts” of the systems we build thanks to high-level programming languages, levels of abstraction and working mostly in the “application layer” of the OSGI stack; then even setting up the basic use-cases with a blinking light can seem a little daunting at first. This is compounded by the stories online of people who admit they really didn’t know what they were doing (and sometimes even of those who did) and managed to make a little mistake somewhere which resultied in frying their entire PI due to incorrectly wired circuits, overloading with incorrect power supplies/balances, or in some cases even static electricity introduced by an improper work surface not properly grounded.

To help anyone in a similar situation I will attempt to share the few things I’ve picked up in the first few weeks of owning a hardware kit for my Raspberry PI, and some experiments/resources that can come in handy for learning to teach yourself, which is arguably the most important skill of all.
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BC$ = Behavior, Content, Money

The goal of the BC$ project is to raise awareness and make changes with respect to the three pillars of information freedom - Behavior (pursuit of interests and passions), Content (sharing/exchanging ideas in various formats), Money (fairness and accessibility) - bringing to light the fact that:

1. We regularly hand over our browser histories, search histories and daily online activities to companies that want our money, or, to benefit from our use of their services with lucrative ad deals or sales of personal information.

2. We create and/or consume interesting content on their services, but we aren't adequately rewarded for our creative efforts or loyalty.

3. We pay money to be connected online (and possibly also over mobile), yet we lose both time and money by allowing companies to market to us with unsolicited advertisements, irrelevant product offers and unfairly structured service pricing plans.

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