The small, bare-bones Raspberry Pi 2, meant to encourage children and adults to build and engage more with computers, does more than you think. WSJ’s Joanna Stern puts it to the test
…I wouldn’t know where to start to make anything like that, but that’s the beauty of the Pi’s supportive online community of engineers. The most well-known, Limor Fried, known to many as LadyAda, posts written and video tutorials on various hardware projects onAdafruit.com, which she started in 2005 to help those of all ages learn about making electronics. (The full tutorial can be found here.)
I was lucky enough to get a real-life lesson from LadyAda, who held my hand through a beginner project: creating a robotic, Pi-powered stepper motor that spins a small flag. We went through a few of the steps, including attaching a series of colorful wires on the motor to the Pi and reviewing the software code that controls the direction and speed of the motor.
I’m not sure I would have had the courage to start the project on my own, but Ms. Fried’s advice to beginners is to jump in. “People think these projects are really hard, but even if you don’t get it right away, you’ll learn skills you normally wouldn’t learn, and hopefully have fun.”
No, the Pi isn’t going to be everyone’s idea of fun. You can lose hours of your day just trying to accomplish the smallest task on a computer that is far slower than even the cheapest Windows PC. But for the adventurous—and patient—that time spent losing yourself in critical thinking and learning how those easy-to-use computers around us work can be incredibly satisfying. And hey, it’s only $35—and unlike a real raspberry pie, it has no carbs.
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.