Traveling and working from coffee shops a good bit I’ve put together this little Raspberry Pi Go Kit that slips into bag and is fun to work with. The Raspberry Pi is a $35 Linux computer. Complete with 700 MHz ARM processor, 512MB RAM, two USB ports, Ethernet port, HMDI and composite video out, GPU capable of rendering 1920×1080 video, stereo audio out via headphone jack and HDMI, general purpose I/O ports, and is powered via a run-of-the-mill USB charger. I love playing with it! My portable setup…
|core||Raspberry Pi||allied||$35||Full little linux computer!|
|core||USB WiFi Dongle||adafruit||$12||Gives Pi 802.11b/g/n connectivity|
|core||blink(1)||thingm||$30||USB RGB LED controlled via command line or Python that is lovely for easy status updates|
|core||32GB Class10 SD Card||amazon||$24||Class10 for speed, I got mine for $17|
|tool||RadioShack Leatherman Squirt E4||adafruit||$30||Fantastic little all-purpose electronics tool with camp, wire strippers, wire cutter, knife, flat-head and Philips-head screw drivers, chissle, bottle opener, and file|
|parts||1 fl. oz. Container||REI||$0.75||Mini container for electronic bits|
|parts||Electronic Bits||mouser.com||$10||Various items like resistors (100, 220, 1k, 4.7k, 10k, 100k), buttons, LEDs, transistors (PNP,NPN), rotary encoder, pin headers, connection wires, wire jumpers, capacitors (0.1uF, 1uF, 10uF, 100uF)|
|parts||Tiny breadboard||adafruit||$4||Small enough to fit nicely|
|parts||12-bit DAC board||adafruit||$5||Little digital-to-analog conversion|
|wires||M/F 3” jumper wires||adafruit||$7||Plugs straight from Pi to breadboard|
|wires||F/F 3” jumper wires||adafruit||$6||Plugs from Pi to board via extra pins|
|wires||Breadboard wires||adafruit||$6||For on the breadboard|
|misc||Black Caring Case||goodwill||$1||Actually a ‘beauty kit’ case, just the perfect size. Goodwill is a great place to find bags and cases of all sorts of shapes and sizes.|
|misc||MS Bluetooth Mouse||amazon||$28||Not used with the Pi, but included in the picture for size (love it with my MacBook)|
|power||Apple 1A USB Power||amazon||$19||5W for plenty of Pi power|
|power||6’ USB mini/micro cable||walgreens||$10||Handy cable w both mini and micro ends. Only available inside Walgreens stores.|
|power||Anker Astro Charger||amazon||$30||1A 5W 5600mAh usually used for cell phones, will power the Raspberry Pi for many hours|
|power||6” USB micro cable||amazon||$6||nice and short|
|tools||Pocket Digital Multimeter||adafruit||$25||This one is just so small and works great. I use a larger Fluke at home, but for on the go (or as a single meter) this is nice. I cut off the probe ends and replaced them with pins to use in the breadboard more easily.|
How I use the stuff…
I’m using the kit for things like:
- Remote autonomous file download station
When I’m traveling the internet connections are slow. Like hotels, coffee shops, remote offices, etc. I want to download movies and files from home, but it needs to run for awhile. So I use the Pi as a headless automated downloader. On power-up it connects to an open WiFi (or secure WiFi connections I’ve added), makes an SSH connection to my home system so I can remote into the Pi independent of firewalls, then it grabs the latest download queue, and starts/resumes downloading of large files. It uses the blink(1) to show status: purple=connecting, blue=downloading, green=done, red=error. I can put it in the corner, let it run for a day, and pick it up later full for file goodness.
- Learning linux, python, web dev, electronics
It’s fantastic for learning remote file sharing, automation, linux, bash command line, python, etc. As well as playing with electronics, like the Pi’s IO Ports, rotary encoders, DACs, etc.
- Kids ‘time to wake up’ door alarm
Pictured below is a project to let my kids (2yrs & 5yrs old) know when they can wake up in the morning and sounds an alarm if they open their doors before. We’re having a real problem with them leaving their rooms several times a night. After 10pm the light goes red in their rooms. If they open their door (door sensor represented by bottom button) it buzzes at them (represented by top red LED below). At 7am the light goes green to let them know they can get up. Parents can push a button on the outside to disarm/arm (top button). Using a Raspberry Pi instead of an Arduino (almost the same price) lets me much more easily remotely monitor and update the device, program in Python, and use a less expensive WiFi adapter. I’ve got my ‘go’ Pi (below) to work on while away, and a home one installed for the kids.
- What’s in your bag? The Portable Office
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I’d love to hear in the comments if you’re using the Raspberry Pi, have ideas on how to use one, or if this post inspires you at all to get one and give it a try.