6 Best New Things To Do With Raspberry Pi (Part 1)

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Discover fantastic ways to program the $36 computer that’s taken the world by storm

Raspberry Pi computers were conceived to inspire programmers to show off their coding talents and earn themselves a place on the computing degree at Cambridge University. But when word got out about a $30.5 credit-card-sized computer anyone could buy and write programs for, the developers were overwhelmed by requests from computer enthusiasts wanting to know how they could get their own Raspberry Pi. The first edition, the Model B, launched in February 2012 and cost $43. Since then, its developers have made good on their promise to offer a $30.5 computer ($36), launching the Model A in February 2013. More than a million sales later, it’s fair to say programming is back and the Raspberry Pi a great British success story.

Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi

Setting up your Pi

Download the PDF manual (www.snipca.corn/9250) produced by the Raspberry Pi Foundation and follow the assembly instructions. The Pi starts up as soon as you plug it into the mains or attach a battery pack. Don't switch in on yet though. First, plug in a keyboard, mouse and monitor.

Since there’s only one USB port on the Raspberry Pi Model A and two USB ports on the Model B, you’ll need a USB hub for your keyboard and mouse. You’ll need a powered USB hub as the Pi won’t supply enough current to run them. If you've got a Model A Raspberry Pi, You’ll also need to plug in a USB Wi-Fi dongle to your powered USB hub.

Install an operating system on your Raspberry Pi

The Pi’s Raspbian operating system runs from an SD card. Programs you install will also be stored and run from this card. You can use SD cards of up to 32GB, but a capacity of 4 or 8GB is plenty.

Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi

You can buy an SD card with the Raspbian operating system installed on it ( However, this Kingston-branded card is only a Class 4 SD card. We recommend buying a Faster SD card (one with a higher class number) and installing the free open-source Raspbian OS yourself. You’ll need to format the SD card first, which you can do on any Windows computer. If your computer doesn't have a built-in SD card slot you need to attach a USB SD card reader. Formatting will wipe the card’s contents, so make sure it doesn’t have anything you need stored on it. Use SD Card Formatter 4.0 ( to format the card.

Now go to, download the NOOBS zip file and unpack it to your SD card. The ‘wheezy’ version ( is recommended for Raspberry Pi newcomers. Enter the username ‘pi’ and the password ‘raspberry'.

Remove the SD card from your Windows computer and insert it into the Raspberry Pi. Since the operating system is on the SD card, your Pi won't I run without it. Plug in the Pi to turn it on then select Raspbian as the operating system. This is a version of the Linux Debian open-source OS that’s been tweaked especially for use on Raspberry Pi computers.

Controlling your Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi uses a free operating system based on Linux. Instructions can be given in a range of programming languages. We're using Python. This is a ‘high level’ programming language in which the commands approximate to English words. Although the thought of learning a coding language may sound off-putting, it‘s very easy no follow. Raspbian boots into a Windows-like desktop, but to get the most out of the Raspberry Pi you need to use text commands. This text-based approach is straightforward enough and helps you achieve tasks very quickly.

You’ll soon start to recognize commonly used commands such as sudo and apt-get. These tell the Pi to treat your instructions as those of an administrator and to install a ‘package’ (software and drivers) on your Pi. In the following projects, type the code exactly as we’ve written it, then press Enter at the end of each command.

Project 1: Set up Wi-Fi and print from your Pi

The Raspberry Pi has only a basic set of functions. These include the Midori browser and LXTerminal, which is similar to the command prompt in Windows.

Your Pi will need web access to download and install other programs as the first thing Raspbian does is check for the latest version. To add a Model B Pi to your network plug in an Ethernet cable and attach it directly to your router. On a Model A Pi you need to plug a USB Wi-Fi dongle (there’s a list of supported devices at into your powered USB hub before you turn on the Pi. Double-click ‘Wi-Fi Config' and choose Manage Networks. Click Add to see a list of wireless networks. Double-click your network name to select it, then add your Wi-Fi password and click Add to complete the setup.

Add Printer Daspberry CUPS 1.5.3

Add Printer Daspberry CUPS 1.5.3

In order to print from your Pi you’ll need to install CUPS. Connect your printer to your Raspberry Pi and switch them both on. Double-click LXTerminal on the desktop. LXTerminal is similar to the command prompt in Windows. Type sudo apt-get update, press enter then type sudo apt-get install cups. The installation will take up to 30 minutes – the Pi is built for experimentation rather than speed.

Once CUPS is installed, add the user pi to the group allowed to access the printer. Type sudo usermod -a -G Ipadmin pi and press Enter. To set up the printer double-click Midori and type into the address bar. Now, click the ‘Adding Printers and Classes’ button and, on the next screen, click Add Printer. Type the username ‘pi’ and password ‘raspberry’ into the pop-up box.

Raspbian Desktop

Raspbian Desktop

Select your printer from the list of Local Printers then click Continue. Click Continue on the Add Printer page, then, on the next page, choose your printer model from the list. If your exact model isn’t shown, click the closest equivalent, such as another model of the same name. Next, click Add Printer, then Set Default Options. Test whether the printer has installed correctly by clicking Print Test Page under Maintenance.

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