Raspberry Pi 101: What Is It and What Can It Do?

Raspberry Pi. Some of us have heard of it, while others think of it as nothing more than a tasty treat. But what is Raspberry Pi? What does it do?

We spoke to our resident Digital Skills Trainer, Chris, to find out more.

OK, what is Raspberry Pi?

Raspberry Pi is a computing student’s equivalent of a swiss-army knife. It’s a small computer with a lot of versatility meaning you can use it to do a lot of different things. You can find out more by watching a video created by the Raspberry Pi Foundation, whose aim is to get people making and computing.

What can Pi do?

All sorts of things! While it does have some limitations, it can allow you to experiment and come up with different inventions. With a 1.4 GHz quad core processor it might be less powerful than an old laptop however, its low power requirement and built-in features make it ideal for compact projects. It might not be suitable for video editing or 3D gaming but you can use it for other things like office, surfing the web, learning to code, watching Youtube etc. However, if you’re using it as part of a larger build, it's easy to link up to hardware so you might be able to use a PI in projects involving robotics and sensors.

Robotics and sensors?! Can you give us some cool examples?

Arcade machines, clappers, audio players, old games machines- there’s a lot of options! It depends on what you can think up.


Wow. So, how can people get started?

Simply buy a Raspberry Pi. They cost somewhere between £30-£50 (depending on where you get it from and the model type). The Pi can be used in different ways but for a good starting point use the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s beginner’s guide, as well as their help page.

Have you got any good tips for us?

  1. Have a look online at what others are using it for and decide if it's the right project for you or not.

  2. Try Instructables and search for Raspberry Pi to see what others are doing with it.

  3. Grab a few extra memory cards and you can swap out the operating system in a couple of minutes and use it for something completely different.

Thanks, Chris!

Raspberry Pi offers a great starting point for many young programmers. That’s why we are continuing to develop and refine our Raspberry Pi workshop for students as part of our Little Waves, Big Waves sessions. If you would like to find out more about these, visit our products page.

In the meantime, why not look into this handy little computer and see what you can come up with? Let us know how you get on by sharing your creations with us either on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram!