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Raspberry Pi 3 – Now More Powerful And Still Affordable

Raspberry Pi 3 model B features

Raspberry Pi is a tiny and inexpensive computer that can perform many light and medium duty tasks. It was developed by the ‘Raspberry Pi Foundation’ in the United Kingdom as a series of single board computers. The first generation Raspberry Pi i.e Raspberry Pi 1 Model B was released in February 2012.

Raspberry Pi 3

Raspberry Pi 3 is the latest version of the circuit board sized Pi computer. Experts are quoting this as the most powerful and at the same time most affordable version of the Pi. The new and improved version, Raspberry Pi 3, is more powerful now due to the added advantage of having both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi without any raise in the price. It can now be termed as a versatile and all-in-one board. It is now more useful as a retro games machine and also as a media streamer too.Before going into the details of Raspberry Pi 3,

Before going into the details of Raspberry Pi 3, lets check out what is Raspberry Pi and how it helps through the following video shared by Raspberry Pi Foundation.

Comparing Raspberry Pi 3 and Pi 2:

Physically, Raspberry Pi 3 and Pi 2 both look very identical. Pi 3 has the same port selection, the same board layout, the same GPIO pin layout, etc. like that of a year old Raspberry Pi 2 Model B. Raspberry Pi 3 is being claimed as having the potential to be used as a proper PC. Compared to Pi 2, the additional specifications it has:

  • 11n Wireless LAN
  • Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)
  • 2 GHz 64-bit quad-core ARMv8 CPU
  • Bluetooth 4.1

The specifications common in both Pi 2 and Pi 3:

  • 1 GB RAM
  • 40 GPIO pins
  • 4 USB ports
  • Ethernet port
  • Full HDMI port
  • Camera interface (CSI)
  • 5mm audio jack and composite video
  • Micro SD card slot
  • Display Interface (DSI)
  • Videocore IV 3D graphics core

Raspberry Pi 3 is completely compatible with Raspberry Pi 1 and Pi 2. The creators of Raspberry Pi 3 Model B claims it to be very useful in schools or any general usage of computing. If you would like to embed Pi in any of your project, then Pi zero or Model A+ are preferable for projects which needs low power and are embedded projects.

Features of Raspberry Pi 3

Although the upgradation to version Pi 3 may not look much significant on paper, but the additions have given a serious usability boost. The special mention can be given to its on-board wireless capabilities, which works awesome with the default Raspbian operating system. The Raspberry Pi specific OS, Raspbian, makes Pi 3 easy to use when compared to standard Linux installations.

Inclusion of Wi-Fi itself is another huge step that makes Pi 3 stand out from previous Raspberry Pi models. Because now you don’t have to buy a separate Wi-Fi adapter or hardwire the board through Ethernet connection.

Raspberry Pi 3 has moved a step further from its previous versions in terms of USB inputs, as Pi 3 now has native Bluetooth compatibility which allows connection of wireless peripherals or gadgets for advanced maker projects.

Raspberry Pi Foundation founder Eben Upton said “This 50–60 percent [performance improvement] has moved us over some sort of line, where it becomes a much more credible PC replacement,” which does not seem false at any point. This statement makes it clearer that Raspberry Pi 3 can definitely manage basic web browsing and productivity tasks.

Raspberry Pi programming with Raspbian

Raspberry Pi Programming

Raspberry Pi Programming

Programming for Raspberry Pi is possible with some free and easy software tools. Raspberry Pi projects are being developed for enterprise projects, IoT education or product prototyping. Raspberry Pi programming requires understanding the IDEs (Integrated Development Environment).

To do Raspberry Pi application development, first you need to write, test and run the code. Pi offers wide choices of languages to write the code. Some of the IDE’s are as follows:

BlueJ IDE

BlueJ is an IDE used for programming in Java. It runs with the help of the JDK (Java Development Kit version 3.14) and useful for small scale development. JDK allows development as well as the execution of programs on the Pi. BlueJ allows complete access to any hardware when attached through an open source Pi4J library from Java SE language.

Algo IDE

Algo IDE supports Syntax highlighting, execution modes, break points and debugger, auto completion, real-time explorer, syntax error management, optimization for small screens and with support for C, C++, Java, JavaScript, Python, Smalltalk, Objective-C, Lua and Actionscript.

Ninja IDE

Ninja is a cross-platform IDE designed to build Python applications. It is a light-weight IDE and has common functions like file handling, go to line, find in files code locator, automatic indentation, tabs, editor zoom, etc. Ninja IDE also provides Syntax highlighting for different languages, static and PEP 8 error highlighting, code migration embedded console, project management modules, code auto-completion, code location, a plugin system and session handling. Previously, Ninja IDE was designed for Windows, Linux, Mac OSX and now it has been documented to how to install Ninja IDE on Raspberry Pi.

Greenfoot IDE

It is an IDE designed primarily for Java programming and is used for educational purposes at schools and colleges. It is designed in a way to allow easy development so that beginners can also start programming. Greenfoot has auto-completion, project management, syntax highlighting and other tools in IDEs.

Raspberry Pi OS
Raspbian

Raspbian is a free Debian-based OS optimized for Raspberry Pi hardware. Raspbian has all basic programs and utilities like that of other general-purpose OS. It is officially supported by Raspbian foundation and its highlighting feature is its more than 35000 packages and fast performance. Its latest version Jessie can be installed on a 8 GB SD card.

Ubuntu MATE

Ubuntu MATE is a stable and simple OS, which is good for devices with less hardware specs. This makes it perfect for Raspberry Pi devices. Ubuntu MATE is an original Ubuntu with an APT package manager and Ubuntu’s Software Center. For loading its latest version, Ubuntu MATE 15.10 (Wily Werewolf) for Raspberry Pi, 4GB or more high-speed SD card is required.

Linutop

Linutop can be quickly set up on Raspberry Pi, which uses Raspbian base with lightweight and classic XFCE graphical environment. It boots as quickly as in 30 seconds and can be configured quickly for all purposes. Its security features include a ‘read-only mode’ to save from viruses and hack attempts. All the alterations will not be saved unless you input the password.

Programming tools bundled with Raspbian:
Node-RED for IoT applications

Node-RED is an open source and free tool for wiring hardware devices, online services, APIs together in an interesting manner. It is developed by IBM Emerging Technologies and runs on every major OS. It provides browser-based flow editor. It is built on Node.js which makes it ideal to run at the edge of the network on low-cost hardware like Raspberry Pi. Also, an online flow library allows you to share your best flows with others.

Python – a modern language for RPi

IDLE (Integrated Development and Learning Environment) is an IDE for Python bundled with the default implementation of the language. Python for RPi is cross-platform, it avoids feature clutter. It’s highlighting features are multi-window text editor with syntax highlighting, autocompletion, persistent breakpoints, Python shell with syntax highlighting and call stack visibility. Raspbian comes with both Python version 3 and 4 Installed.

Sonic Pi – a Domain Specific Tool

When compared to all the tools bundled with Raspbian, Sonic Pi is the most domain specific tool. It is an open source, free and live coding music synthesizer released under MIT license. As its name suggests, yes it runs on  Raspberry Pi and it also runs on Linux, Windows and OS X.

Raspberry Pi in home automation and IoT

Uses of Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi as a Personal Web Server

The miniscule machine, Raspberry Pi has the capability to be used as web server that can host simple site or landing page and stores files in the cloud (without any hosting fees). In terms of server and hosting, Raspberry Pi can act as web server and responds to requests to serve up Web pages like sophisticated Web based apps or simple HTML apps.

Pi Web server hosts single Web page that connects to a MySQL database, which gets data from Python program, which is receiving data from a smart thermometer. Pi server cannot be used as a business solution because it is not as powerful as our desktop PCs but still can be used for personal resources like spaces designed for sites and storage. To make your Raspberry Pi into a web server you need a router, modem, an Ethernet cable, an operating system and a SSH (Secure Shell) access.

Use in Internet of Things based Home Automation

Home automation allows you to control your devices at home from your mobile device no matter wherever you are in the world.

“Home Automation contributes towards ‘Internet of Things’, which means that everything, every device can be assigned with an IP address and can be accessed, monitored and controlled remotely.”

Home automation using Raspberry Pi, allows you to access and control systems at your home like water leaks, garage door, watch for movement, sense for gas, check for lights, etc. Home automation system can be set to send alerts on your phone, if something happens. So now you can monitor everything from your phone.

For IoT applications based home automation, Raspberry Pi provides a suitable platform because of availability of many open source communities. For example, building a dashboard that can be accessed and managed to monitor Raspberry Pi. To the single dashboard, more and more sensors can be connected to Raspberry Pi and thus monitor all sensors remotely anytime from anywhere.

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