The Raspberry PI

As anyone who has been reading the tech section of any website will know, the Raspberry PI (version B) was released a couple of weeks back.

The Raspberry PI is a credit card (85.60mm x 53.98mm x 17mm) sized computer that runs a flavour of Linux as its O/S (a version of Fedora I believe has now been released).

The Raspberry PI foundation has the goal of releasing a cheap computer that can be given to school children to encourage them to explore the world of programming. A whole generation of programmers was created off the back of the Spectrum ZX, Commodore 64 and similar during the 1980’s  and there is hope that this could spark a similar interest in school children today and help to boost the UK’s standing in I.T education.

The Raspberry PI foundation is a charity so they have tried to keep the cost of the machine down, the version B is available for $35 in the US. Whilst there was some confusion over prices on the website, due to exchange rates, local taxes and similar, I was able to pick one up via Newark electronics  for exactly $35 – a total bargain!

A quick overview of the hardware specs shows it includes:

  • RCA
  • 2 USB ports
  • HDMI
  • SD card
  • GPIO
  • 256 MB RAM CPU & GPU
  • LAN
  • 700 MHz ARM processor

You can see a picture of it here from the Raspberry PI foundation website:

Raspberry PI version B

Raspberry PI version B

This looks like it would be a perfect tool to include in my home heating system. A machine this small could be placed in a small 3D printed case and mounted to a wall and then connected up to the wireless router via the LAN port. In fact Shapeways already have a 3D printable case ready to go, you can see it here.

The specs show it would also easily handle the sort of algorithms required to optimize the heating system, so it could act as the controller and dump data to the machine that will act as the DB server.

I’ve placed my order and it doesn’t arrive until May, so this will give me time to work on the Thermostats in the interim.

I’ll keep you posted on the Raspberry PI.

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