Raspberry Pi: Tools and Resources That You Need To Know

Raspberry Pi is one of the most exciting credit-card Linux machines that break the frontiers of wearable computers since it became available in April 2012. Useful for a variety of applications in science, technology, to engineering or education, the fruit-named computer became an instant hit in programming and electronic DIY projects, and loved by anyone in the field.

Raspberry Pi is a single-board computer with processor, memory, I/O ports and many more features, which together make it a functional computer for a wide range of applications in robotics.

It is so simple than any logical person can program it, even it is for the first time when you work with a single-board computer.

The ARM powered minicomputer is a platform with enormous possibilities and powerful enough to run many of the same programs as PCs.

About the price, probably is the cheapest Linux machine in the world. With a price tag of only $35, this is the perfect minicomputer for hobbyists all over the world.

Below you will find some of the best resources to help you get started working with Raspberry Pi including tools and resources that you need to know.

Before I Start

At least one year you need to know when you work with single board computers – 1976. This is the year when E&L Instruments finished the first SBC prototype with all components on a single printed circuit board. Except power, all the components including memory, I/O, and a display was available on the first real SBC called MMD-1.

Something closer to our days, in 2006, Eben Upton along with a colleague from the University of Cambridge’s Computer Laboratory came up with the idea to build a basic computer for use in schools. Between 2006 and 2008, something magically happened and the Raspberry Pi Foundation developed the first Raspberry Pi prototype based on the Atmel ATmega644 microcontroller in the UK.

After four years, in April 2012, the Raspberry Pi became available for the entire world at an exceptional price for such a device.

The operating system recommended for Pi is Linux, while Python is the favorite programming language. This could be changed as you can see in the following where a long list of operating systems are compatible with Raspberry Pi, and more than just the Python programming language can run on the Linux computer.

Engineered as an educational device for students and hobbyists that aspire to learn computer programming, the minicomputer replaces more and more the brain of robots.

Now they have some competition from Arduino with the single-board computer called Tre and prepared to be released in 2014. If you compare the Arduino Tre with Raspberry Pi, you may find some differences in the number of ports, difference in processor speed, or at the number of microcontrollers dedicated for real-time applications.

Model A vs. Model B

The Pi is available in two models called simple Model A and Model B. There are few differences between these two models:

Model A Model B
Memory 256MB SDRAM 512MB SDRAM
Ethernet None onboard 10/100 Ethernet RJ45 jack
USB 2.0 Single USB Connector Dual USB Connector
Price $25 $35

Getting Started with Raspberry Pi

Despite its small dimensions, instead having a CPU, memory, GPU, and USB controller each of their own individual chip, the design of the Pi include all of those components on a single chip.

The Pi is a simple computer that requires a few steps for the initial setup phase. After the initial setup, the second phase is to prototype different autonomous robots.

  • you need a 5V Raspberry Pi power supply;
  • one SD card to write the OS image;
  • a wide range of Raspberry Pi cables such as Flat Micro USB cable, and an HDMI cable in case of using an HD monitor;
  • the next step is to install the OS on the Pi;
  • you need also a USB mouse and a keyboard;

Note: Depending on the version used and if your Pi is networked to another PC, you can activate the SSH service and control the Pi remote. In this case you don’t need a mouse and a keyboard.

In this stage, you can finally start prototyping the desire robot.

Raspberry Pi Starter Kits

You can walk in the Raspberry Pi community in two ways: using the classical method that involves effort to buy each component separately, or choosing a Raspberry Pi starter kit. For the first method, you can start step-by-step using a series of Raspberry Pi tutorials for beginners and average users. The second method is also the simplest method to learn and get started with Raspberry Pi and build creative projects.

All these Pi compatible kits include a selection of most common and used electronic components to start building from simple to complex electronic projects using sensors and actuators.

Deluxe Raspberry Pi Starter Kit

The Deluxe kit is a box with a series of components Pi compatible including here an SD card with Raspberry Pi NOOBs environment image.


This kit includes everything that you need to start using the Pi. It has over 35 components including the Raspberry Pi – Model B, sensors, SD card with NOOBS, USB Power Supply, and many more components.

Raspberry Pi Model B XBMC

Simple kit with Raspberry Pi model B, Pi Case, Power supply, Power cable, and a MicroSD card pre-installed with XBMC.

Pi Plate Kit

Adafruit comes with a special kit that allows you to be creative. You need to add the prototyping Pi Plate to the Raspberry Pi and start wiring sensors, actuators, or any other components that you need.


Simple kit with the basic components that can be used with Pi. The Raspberry Pi is not included, but many others components as resistors or push buttons are included.


This is a simple two wheeled robot compatible with Pi and ready to be used. The kit includes a Raspberry Pi case, two motors, two wheels, a battery holder, screws, wires, adhesive tape and a PicoBorg.


Frindo is a multiplatform and open-source wheeled kit that can be programmed to do a series of autonomous tasks.

2WD Robot Instructional Pack

This is one of the most completed kit fully compatible with Pi. It included all components that you need to build a wheeled autonomous robot in minutes.


Even it has a strange name, this 4WD kit is flexible and easy to use platform with wheels, motors, gearboxes, battery box, wheel sensors, screws and all mountings.


BrickPi is a wonderful platform that uses a Raspberry Pi as brain, and many more Lego components including here sensors, motors, and other parts. It is a platform compatible with Lego NXT and EV3, and includes the power source, motors, sensors, and the Pi.

Operating Systems for Raspberry Pi

When you buy a PC you have the option to choose what operating system to use. In this case, you have to choose from a short list starting with Windows and continue with Linux and few other options.

For Raspberry Pi you have to choose from a very long list of compatible operating systems, which complicate the things.

Depending on what is your purpose, you have to choose one of these operating systems:

  • Raspbian
  • Linux
  • AROS
  • Haiku
  • Android
  • Firefox OS
  • Debian
  • Arch Linux ARM
  • Puppy Linux
  • Gentoo Linux
  • Google Chromium OS
  • openSUSE
  • PiBang Linux
  • Raspberry Pi Fedora Remix
  • QtonPi
  • WebOS
  • Unix
  • FreeBSD
  • NetBSD
  • Windows CE
  • Kali ARM

Here you can find all recommended OS’s for Raspberry Pi ready for download and installing using SD cards and formatting tool.

Development Tools

Working with Pi you have to combine several tools that help you to install, write programming lines, debug, maintain, or support several programs and applications. Probably you are already familiar with some of these tools like Eclipse and you can start working in minutes after the installation.

From the IDE, to image tools and emulators, in the following you have linked few options to choose the perfect tool for your project.

Image Tools

The memory of Raspberry Pi is an SD memory card. You have to use an image tool to access the memory card and write on it the operating system.

SSH and Telnet clients

Connected remote and communicate with Pi is a key ingredient in developing fast and easy applications. In this stage you need an SSH and Telnet client, which are software program that uses the secure shell protocol to connect to a remote computer.

Programming languages

A long list of programming languages was already tested on Raspberry Pi and development environments, in addition to the Python programming language. You can use any of these programming languages together with a proper IDE:

  • C#
  • CodeBlocks
  • Forth
  • Java
  • JavaScript via Node.js
  • Pascal
  • PHP
  • Python

Integrated development environment

You have many options to develop programs for Raspberry Pi, and almost all of these integrated development environments provide comprehensive facilities to start programming the Raspberry Pi.

Raspberry Pi Emulators

An emulator for Pi uses a digital model of the single-board computer and replicates the usage of the original device. Below you can find the most used emulators for Raspberry Pi.

Further Resources

The development community behind Raspberry Pi is very large and make a significant contribution in everything related to Pi. The primary goal of this community is to help, share information and programs, to give everything related to the fruit-named computer.

Including hobbyists that never programmed anything and up to advanced users, below you can find a list with websites you could check to get what you need in developing the desire robot.

  • Rpitodo – here you can find resource compilations about Pi including tutorials and articles in one place;
  • EihiS – blog with tutorials about Pi;
  • Pi Beginners – here you can find very useful tutorials getting started with Pi;
  • Raspberry Pi – robots based on Raspberry Pi;
  • Raspberry Pi Projects – you can get inspired by these projects;
  • Designspark -useful tutorials for beginners from installing to start using the Pi;
  • Wolfram Language & Mathematica – now you can combine the Wolfram software with Pi;
  • Articles – a set of articles from you can learn hot to use the Raspberry Pi for a wide range of operations;
  • Voice Command v3.0 for the Raspberry Pi – now you can talk with Raspberry Pi using the Voice Command library;
  • Raspberry Pi Support from MATLAB – Raspberry Pi has now support for Matlab. You can use Matlab to read information from sensor interfaced with Raspberry Pi;

The Raspberry Pi provides the necessary flexibility to prototype a wide range of robots and this is a critical advantage for everyone, even if you’re students, hobbyists, or scientist.


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