Just a quick post to let you know I received an email from Farnell this morning with an update about the latest delays due to compliance testing. Here’s the email in it’s entirity:
In recent days you may have heard various reports on the Web about Raspberry Pi, the need for compliance testing and possible further delivery delays.
We recognise the impact on our customers of the constantly changing delivery dates, and we apologise for the frustration and disappointment this is causing. We will supply you with accurate delivery dates just as soon as we can, as the Boards undergo compliance testing.
It is clear that many of our customers will be using the Raspberry Pi as a finished product, not just an engineering development board. As such, we see it as the most responsible approach to ensure that all Pis meet the required standards for finished products in all territories.
We are therefore going through a much accelerated compliance process, working closely with the Raspberry Pi Foundation and RS Components. We take our commitment and responsibility in this area very seriously and believe the short-term delays, whilst frustrating, will be worthwhile to ensure our customers receive a fully compliant product.
The exact situation at the present time is as follows:
The compliance teams of element14, RS and Raspberry Pi are working round the clock with the testing houses to assess the product now. Any issues that are identified (hardware or software) will then need to be rectified and we will ensure this happens as quickly as is humanly possible.
There are different compliance standards around the globe. We are focused on meeting all of those as quickly as possible. Some may take longer than others.
As soon as these initial 2000 Boards are compliant to at least one set of required standards, we will receive our share of this first batch from Raspberry Pi and ship these to customers in the locations where the compliance standards have been met on a strictly first come, first served basis. Those who ordered first in those countries will receive the product first.
Regrettably we cannot give any firm delivery commitments on Raspberry Pis until this testing is complete. Please be assured we will provide this information as soon as we can.
Once the product is fully compliant our manufacturing partners have the necessary stocks of components to ramp up production very quickly. So, despite these frustrating, initial delays we are confident the picture will improve and lead times for new orders will reduce.
We will email you individually to confirm your personal delivery date as soon as we are able to. We will continue to share generic information, but recognise that it is the detailed specific information to your order that is most important to you.
We will continue to post news and updates on our element14 community. Next week, on April 4th, Raspberry Pi founder, Eben Upton will give a 40-minute webinar on programming the Raspberry Pi as part of our element14 Design Flow series.
To join the 2000+ Pi fans who have already registered to attend and learn more Click here
Once again we apologise to all of our customers for this delay in providing the hotly awaited Raspberry Pi. Despite these initial teething troubles, we’re certain you’ll be delighted with the end result.
HOT OFF THE PRESS UPDATE FROM EBEN UPTON OF RASPBERRY PI:
“We have spoken with BIS this morning, and have been told that, given the volumes involved and the demographic mix of likely users, the development board exemption is not applicable to us; as a result, even the first uncased developer units of Raspberry Pi will require a CE mark prior to distribution in the EU…… ….we are working with RS Components and element14/Premier Farnell to bring Raspberry Pi into a compliant state as soon as is humanly possible.”
From Farnell element14
The first set of boards were supposed to be development boards and I think most people understood that they wouldn’t be compliant.
I’m getting rather frustrated about these constant delays – I just want to play with Raspberry Pi!
Unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do except wait and hope that this testing doesn’t result in further delays.
Their reasoning is that because of it’s popularity, a lot of non-engineer consumers have put in orders and they want to cover their backs in case of any problems. Originally, compliance testing was deferred until later in the year and the first batches of units were to be sold as ‘development’ boards.
If you’re like me and excited about the possibilities of the Raspberry Pi, you’ll be keeping tabs on all the Raspberry Pi related news and gossip. Sometimes, however, there aren’t enough hours in the day so I thought it might be useful if I shared all the latest goings-on in a weekly news round-up.
This is the first ‘Newsround’, and if it goes well and enough people benefit from it I’ll try and publish one every week
Raspberry Pi To Receive Memory Boost?
Pete Lomas, hardware designer at Raspberry Pi has suggested that future versions of the Pi may receive more memory than the current 256Mb. If you’ve read my article on the Raspberry Pi’s specs, you’ll know that the amount of onboard memory was a bit of a sticking point for me – especially as it is shared between the CPU and GPU.
He goes on to say that the cost of memory may make an upgrade difficult but it is something that they are looking into and they are going to assess demand before making a decision.
Speaking to TechRadar, Raspberry Pi Co-founder David Braben explained why manufacturing of the computer was not kept in the UK. Apparently it’s down to the UK’s antiquated tax system, whereby they would have to pay tax on the individual components imported into the country (for manufacturing) but don’t have to pay tax on the completed systems.
So, manufacturing abroad helps to keep costs down (and I imagine labour is cheaper as well).
A Charitable Case
ModMyPi, who have designed and are selling a case for the Raspberry Pi computer announced that they will be donating 5% of all their profits to the Raspberry Pi Foundation.
Looking at the cases, there is a recess around the USB and RJ45 ports which may result in connection problems for some types of leads but I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions about that.
The cases are created using 3D printers and will be available at the beginning of April for around a tenner (£10).
Massive torrent website Pirate Bay has suggested that the Raspberry Pi could be used in flying drone server stations that hover in the sky. In their words:
With the development of GPS controlled drones, far-reaching cheap radio equipment and tiny new computers like the Raspberry Pi, we’re going to experiment with sending out some small drones that will float some kilometers up in the air. This way our machines will have to be shut down with aeroplanes in order to shut down the system. A real act of war.
A rather innovative use for the computer
Raspberry Pi co-founder Eben Upton, along with representatives from Farnell, will be hosting a webinar at the beginning of April to talk about and show you how to do stuff with the Raspberry Pi. Sign up for it here.
Today, I thought I’d go over the specifications of the Raspberry Pi to give you an idea of what you’ll be getting for your £20/£30.
The on-board CPU is an ARM 11 (actually an ARM 1176JZF-S), which is the same processor used on lots of smart-phones including Apple’s Iphone. I believe it’s also used in the Nintendo 3DS and Amazon’s Kindle (but don’t quote me on that!).
It’s a RISC-based processor, which means x86 software won’t run on it (unless it’s been ported). It runs at 700MHz, although there’s headroom to overclock it to 800MHz and higher.
It was chosen for use in the Raspberry Pi because of it’s relatively low cost and high performance.
The on-board GPU is Broadcom’s VideoCore IV, which provides 1080p 30 FPS H.264 hardware accelerated decoding.
Supported resolutions range from 640x48oVGA to 1920×1080 (1080p) HDTV.
Basically, this will easily be enough graphical performance for regular home computer tasks and video playback. There’s a lot of buzz across the Internet claiming that it will be able to play Blu-Ray quality movies without any stutter or flicker and the guys at XBMC have produced a video (see below) of a Raspberry Pi playing movies on their media centre operating system. The quality looks awesome but I’m going to reserve judgement until I’ve seen it for myself
There’s 256Mb of SDRAM on the Raspberry Pi, which is shared with the GPU so this would leave between 128Mb and 224Mb of usable memory depending on how much of it is being used for graphics.
If you pause the video above at 00:45, you can see that there is a total of 128Mb of memory. This suggests to me that half of the SDRAM (128Mb) has been reserved for the GPU (as would be expected for a media centre computer), leaving the remaining 128Mb to be used by the CPU. As you can see in the video, after the OS has loaded into memory, that leaves just 94Mb of free memory – again I’m going to reserve judgement about whether this is enough memory until I’ve seen the device in action
I’ve heard that there are a number of different configuration options for splitting the memory between the CPU and GPU depending on what you will be using your Raspberry Pi for, so if you won’t need video decoding or 3D rendering, then you could allocate more of the onboard memory to the CPU.
I should add that these are the ports on the MODEL B version of the Raspberry Pi. The MODEL A version is slightly cheaper but only has a single USB port and no network port.
All in all, I think that Raspberry Pi provides excellent value for money (although you’ll need a few other bits of hardware). For just £20/£30 your getting a powerful processor and GPU and enough connectivity options to use it in a wide variety of applications.
Depending on what you want to use it for, the available memory may be a bit of a bottleneck and with it only having two USB ports, a USB hub is almost certainly required.
If you want to use it as a home computer for browsing the web, writing documents, working on spreadsheets etc. the Raspberry Pi will perform with ease. Similarly, it is perfect for learning programming, electronics and Linux administration skills.
However, playing graphic-intensive games or using it as a media centre/home theatre, I’m not so sure about. The hardware is good but whether it’s good enough for these kind of tasks remains to be seen – I do hope it is capable but I’m going to have to wait until I get my Pi to find out.
If you’re planning on using your Raspberry Pi as a home computer, there’s a few things you’ll need (in addition to the Raspberry Pi itself).
Although the device is very cheap, you will have to factor in the cost of some or all of these additional components to create a usable system. I’ve split them into three groups; stuff I think you’ll definitely need, stuff that is highly recommended and stuff that is desirable.
In writing this article, I’ve referred to the technical specs of the Raspberry Pi (B Version) although I should mention that as I haven’t actually received my Raspberry Pi yet, I’ve not tested them.
The first thing you’re definitely going to need is a way to power your Raspberry Pi. This can easily be provided by a mobile phone charger that operates at around 700mA at 5V and has a micro-USB connector, similar to the one pictured below:
Micro USB Adapter
Next, you’ll need a way to give your Raspberry Pi instructions and this achieved using the time-honoured input device, the Keyboard – there’s no legacy PS/2 socket on the Pi, so you’ll have to connect via USB.
From input to output. Most people will have either a HDMI television/monitor or an older analogue TV with a composite socket on it, so it’s simply a matter of having the correct cable to connect it to the Raspberry Pi.
The Pi uses a standard-sized HDMI socket (not the smaller micro/mini HDMI sockets that are often found on portable devices). To connect your TV/Monitor to your Raspberry Pi over HDMI, you’ll need a HDMI Cable. As well as providing video output, HDMI will also carry the audio output.
If you don’t have a HDMI-capable TV or monitor, there is a fallback – the RCA analogue video connector on the Raspberry Pi can be used to connect to older television sets. For those that don’t know, these are the little yellow, red and white sockets on a television set. The Pi only uses the yellow socket because the red and white are for left and right audio. If you need audio, you’ll have to use the analogue audio jack with either a set of speakers or a 3.5mm audio jack to RCA converter.
Composite (RCA) Cable
A Short Note About SCART, DVI and VGA If you don’t have HDMI or RCA sockets on your display, you can use a converter to connect using a SCART or DVI port. A SCART adapter will convert composite (RCA) signals and a DVI adapter will convert HDMI signals. Converting to VGA could potentially be a little more complicated, so I don’t want to make any recommendations until I’ve tested it.
And, finally, on your list of essentials should be an SD Card, to hold your operating system, applications and files – the equivalent of the Hard Disk Drive on a regular home computer.
The size (capacity) of you SD Card will depend on what you will be using your Raspberry Pi for, but because SD Cards are so inexpensive, I’d recommend getting the biggest you can afford.
The Raspberry Pi uses a standard sized SD Card slot (not the smaller versions you may have seen for portable devices).
The cost of these ‘essentials’ shouldn’t be any more than £25/$40 (interestingly, around the cost of the Raspberry Pi itself) and will be significantly cheaper if you shop around
The first item I would highly recommend purchasing to make your interaction with your Raspberry Pi easier is a mouse. For a long time, I considered putting a mouse in the ‘essentials’ section but the truth is you do not NEED a mouse to use a Pi – it just makes things a helluva lot easier!
Like the keyboard, the mouse will connect via USB, which brings me nicely to the next piece of highly recommended kit…a USB Hub.
With only two USB ports (which will most likely be filled with a keyboard and mouse), any other devices you want to connect to your Raspberry Pi will need to go through a USB Hub. In simple terms, a USB hub converts one USB port into many, however the low power requirements of the Pi means that the hub should really be powered externally by a separate power adapter.
In theory, you should be able to run 3 low-powered USB devices (e.g. keyboard, mouse, memory stick) without any additional power but, over the long term, you’re probably going to need some extra power for your USB devices.
Any other devices you want to use with your Raspberry Pi home computer fall under the desirable category and, of course, there’s too many for me to list here but I’ll mention a couple that I’ll probably be using with my own configuration.
First of all, I want my Raspberry Pi to connect to my broadband router via wi-fi because otherwise I’ll have an untidy cable running across the house as I can’t be arsed to lay the cable properly
So, I’m going to need a USB Wireless dongle (which will plug into my USB Hub). Before I make a purchase, I’m going to have to do a little research into which dongles will work with Linux, so that’s perhaps a topic for a future post.
Next, I feel I may need more storage capacity, so I’ll be looking into getting a USB hard disk drive to store my files on.
And, finally, once i’ve got it working the way I want it to work I’ll be looking to buy a case for it to keep it looking neat and tidy. Judging by the demand for the Raspberry Pi, I’ve no doubt there’ll be a number of case-suppliers for this device in the not-too-distant future (and I guess some will come with an integrated USB hub) but, again, that’s a topic for the future
I hope you found this article useful and if I’ve made any mistakes or omissions, please let me know in the comments box below and I’ll do my best to rectify them as quickly as I can
For those of you that are new to Linux, I’d like to give a quick shout-out to Liam Fraser over at Raspberry Pi Tutorials. He’s created a series of videos on his YouTube Channel, which shows you how to set up a virtual Linux box on your Windows computer and introduces some of the things that you can do using this operating system.
Although we don’t have our Raspberry Pi Computers yet, if you’re not familiar with Linux I’d recommend going through the tutorials to get to grips with it.
Here’s the first tutorial in the series and you can check out Liam’s channel for the rest.
For such a small board, the Raspberry Pi computer has got quite a wide range of ports that can be used to connect to various devices.
In this post, I’ll be taking a look at the interfaces you can use to provide input/output with the Raspberry Pi.
Raspberry Pi Ports
Starting from the left-hand side of the board in the diagram above and working anti-clockwise (counter-clockwise), we begin with the:
SD Card slot. This is standard-sized SD (not mini or micro SD, but these smaller cards should theoretically work via an adapter). This will be the primary storage device for most people, with the SD card holding the operating system, applications and other files.
Micro USB port, which is used to power the computer. A mobile phone charger (with the requisite connector) should do the job – it will need to provide ~700mA at 5V.
HDMI Port, which is one option for video/audio output (the others being the RCA Video and the Audio Jack). This port will be used to connect the Raspberry Pi to a television or monitor. NOTE: There is no VGA port on the Raspberry Pi.
RJ45 Jack. This is the primary method of connecting a Raspberry Pi to a network/Internet. (An alternative is to use a USB Wireless dongle, although as there are only 2 USB ports, an externally-powered USB Hub would be recommended).
The 2x USB Ports will be filled by a keyboard and mouse in most configurations so if more ports are needed, as mentioned previously, an externally powered USB Hub will be needed.
Audio Jack – A standard analogue audio-out jack, for configurations that do not use HDMI for sound. There is no audio-in, so microphones and other audio devices will have to connect via USB (again a USB Hub will probably be needed).
RCA Video to connect to older analogue televisions that don’t support HDMI.
GPIO (General Purpose Input/Output) is a set of programmable pins that can be used to interact with a variety of different low-level peripherals such as buttons, sensors and other electronic components. There’s great potential for a wide array of electronic projects to be created over this port.
So, there you have it. The Raspberry Pi has plenty of connectivity options as well as providing the means to connect further devices as required.
Although there are only two USB Ports, more can be added with the aid of a USB Hub, there’s both analogue and digital audio/video, network connectivity and storage capacity.
All you have to do is get the cables and extra peripherals you want to use with your Pi.
Having ordered my Raspberry Pi, I wanted to get an estimate of when I’ll be able to get my hands on it, so I contacted the suppliers (RS Components and Farnell).
You’re probably already aware that there has been a manufacturing problem, which means there has been a delay in the shipment of the units (basically, a component was substituted by mistake, which now has to be removed and the correct part resoldered back in it’s place).
After calling up RS Components, I was redirected to their website, which stated that they should get stock in “very shortly” and would be fulfilling orders during this month (March).
At Farnell, I spoke to a very friendly chap called Andrew who said I was the third person asking about the Raspberry Pi this morning. He informed me that they were waiting on a shipment from China but didn’t have a lead time because the manufacturers were fixing their cock-up. He went on to say that these problems could probably have been avoided if the manufacturing had been outsourced to a UK firm, which is very true, however this would inevitably increase the final unit price.
So, although we don’t yet have a precise release date for the Raspberry Pi, it’s likely that units will begin to be shipped this month. I’d guess within the next week or two but that is purely speculation.
Rest assured, I’ll update this post as soon as I receive any more info
Yesterday, I managed to order a Raspberry Pi from Farnell
I’m not sure how I did it because every other time I’ve visited the website, they’ve told me that the item is not available and to register my interest in the product ready for when they have more stock in.
But at around 12:30 on Saturday afternoon, I searched for the Raspberry and it showed up with an ‘Add to Basket’ button and, without thinking, I made the £25 purchase.
Although they’re still waiting (for an unspecified amount of time) for stock to come in, the fact I’ve pre-ordered it should hopefully put me a little further ahead in the waiting list
I’ve subsequently tried to retrace my clicks so that I could find the order page for you guys but sadly I don’t seem to be able to find it – I’m thinking it may have been a glitch in their system or they temporarily opened up for a short period of time for pre-ordering. I remembered what I did – I clicked on a Google Adwords Ad – here’s the link to the order page.
If I discover any more info about how you can pre-order a Raspberry Pi, I’ll be sure to let you know but in the meantime you can register your interest here.
P.S. I should add that the Raspberry Pi is also available from RS Components, but at the time of writing this, their websit is temporarily down.