At long last my Raspberry Pi is on the way
Everything you want to know about the Raspberry Pi Computer
At long last my Raspberry Pi is on the way
I thought RS had forgot about me since I ‘registered for interest’ but I got this email from them yesterday:
This week there’s more good news on availability of Raspberry Pi’s from RS and Allied Electronics. We’ve invited the next 4,000 people in our queue into the Raspberry Pi online store to place their orders. The second batch of boards are on their way to us, and we’ll be shipping those out direct to customers as soon as they arrive in our warehouse.
Many of you want to know when you can place your order for a Raspberry Pi. We’re making good progress with volume production quantities, and that will allow us to invite more people in to the store and place their order. There will be more news on this next week, so please bear with us while we finalise these arrangements. We will be keeping our promise to invite people to order in line with when you first registered with us, so no-one will lose their place in the queue as we move into volume production.
In the meantime keep up-to-date with the latest information regarding Raspberry Pi by visiting DesignSpark. Find out what happened when some initial Raspberry Pi users met-up to discuss using the board as an open-source tool. Read the latest blog from one of our DesignSpark members, an ICT tutor who has just received his Raspberry Pi. Or find out about how your board can be used as a media centre .
Thank you for your continued interest and patience.
RS Components Ltd
So, like Farnell, it seems as though they’re slowly getting them shipped or.
Got an email from Farnell this morning:
Having successfully passed its CE compliance testing, we can now confirm that your Raspberry Pi will be delivered by the end of June. You will receive a confirmation email prior to your Raspberry Pi being shipped.
So, just 2 more months to wait…
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:
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.
Due to high demand, the two suppliers of the Raspberry Pi (Farnell and RS Components) have requested that compliance testing (the CE mark) be bought forward. Sadly, this indicates that there may be further delays in getting our Raspberry Pi units
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.
So, when can we expect to get our Raspberry Pi’s?
Originally, I estimated sometime this month. I was way off the mark.
I’ve just got off the phone with my supplier (Farnell) and they informed me that they will be shipping backorders between the middle of May and the middle of June.
Personally, these delays are rather frustrating. I want my Raspberry Pi NOW!
Unfortunately, like everybody else, I’m going to have to wait until Summer
I’d be very interested to hear your feelings on the shipment dates in the comments below…
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.
Check out the full Q&A with Pete on the official Raspberry Pi website.
Made in China
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.
That’s all for today
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 go into more detail of the Raspberry Pi’s interfaces in this post, but, briefly, there’s:
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.
I thought it would be useful to put together a mailing list for anyone interested in receiving Raspberry Pi related news and info.
If you’re interested, fill in the form below
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:
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.
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.
Finally, if you want connectivity to the Internet or your home network, you’ll need a Cat5 (Ethernet) cable
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.