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  #1  
Old 12-12-16, 17:27
mistergrumpy mistergrumpy is offline
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Default Raspberry Pi Review/Experience

So it's coming up to Xmas and the heating's on and the curtains drawn and I was taking a look at the combi boiler and realising how inefficient it is when it dawned upon me that a room thermostat would help that efficiency, as I don't have one. I took a look at the fancy Nest and Hive things and came across a "how to build a homemade Nest thermostat" guide using the Raspberry Pi. Well I'd heard of the Pi in a pub and was told how great it was, to which I replied "what is it for?" Well it can do loads of things. "Like what?" Loads, was the answer. That many that no ideas were put forward! The official line is
"The Raspberry Pi is a series of credit card-sized single-board computers developed in the United Kingdom by the Raspberry Pi Foundation to promote the teaching of basic computer science in schools and in developing countries".
Now, I'd heard they were to get kids into coding at an early age and I saw the naff adverts on telly and the official line cites schools as using them so surely I must be able to use one? I was a kid and I'm still under 40 so what the heck, I'll have a go. So I borrowed one from my brother. 25 it costs. A powerful, small computer.
Well first things first, forget the 25 tag. You need a keyboard, mouse, SD card, monitor, power supply and cabling including a wi fi dongle if like me you can't lie between the couch and wall all day plugged into the modem because that's where it's wired in.
So, I have to download an operating system first, which I believe is something like Windows or Android. I could buy it pre installed onto an SD card however I'm not going to because I'd rather save my money for all the peripherals. I look at a simple beginner guide and spend the best part of a day and a half trying to download the thing onto an SD card. Part of the problem is my laptop doesn't have an SD card reader, so something else to buy. (I used the GF's laptop to get round it in the end as she has a reader). You need to download a zipped file and then extract it and move it and something about roots. Now I know what a zipped file is but extract? In the end its just "unzip", don't know why they didn't just say so! Now, I've to do all this but if the download presents as a folder I've to just move the files separately. It didn't, but it did contains folders. What now? No help from the beginners guides but I got there in the end with a little direction from my brother.
So, it's on the screen and working. Back to the plan, I'll note the shopping list down and nip to Maplin. On route it occurred to me that in fact the outcome of the project would be in fact, nothing like a Nest. It would be a bundle of wires with a thermometer jammed down the side of the boiler. That'd be no good as it needed to be in the living room where the temperature is different to a warm boiler cupboard. I looked in Maplin anyway and was surprised at how expensive their bits and pieces have got compared to online so I abandoned the plan.
I came home and thought, I'll still keep playing and see if I can get the Pi to display on my laptop so I can free the big telly up. In the end I had to use the bedroom telly and wires stretched everywhere. Only to discover it doesn't display right on the screen and I'd have to play with some coding to make it work. That never happened from the start, something was missing from the simple guide so I put up with it fro now. Another few hundred beginners guides read and watched before I realise I've to download some Putty. There seems to be this inherent idea that everyone has some God given basic computing knowledge at birth and these things would be obvious. Anyway, I found a Youtube guide that looked the the job. I pressed play and it was an American, which put me on the back foot because they talk waaaaay too much on their Youtube guides but I stuck with it. Do this, do that then type ifconfig and your IP address will appear and you can then put that into putty. There's that Putty again! So I try to download that. Not a chance. A screen full of options in computer language. I guess at the .exe one and I get a screen similar to a handy guide, although I seem to have missed the downloading bits but anyway, I'm there. Right, IFCONFIG.....nowt. Nothing. I give up!
All the wires are unplugged and the bits and bobs put away and the Raspberry Pi will be going back to my brother this week. This'll be why no one can name a good use for it. It hasn't got one and God himself only knows how a schoolkid could is supposed to learn basic computer science from it. I'd suggest they'd need basic computer science before even turning it on, or even to be able to turn it on.
So, if you fancy summat a bit different and fancy this Xmas stay away from this thing! There's a reason shops sell laptops and the like all programmed up and working.
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  #2  
Old 27-12-16, 00:26
alan.surry's Avatar
alan.surry alan.surry is offline
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Default Re: Raspberry Pi Review/Experience

You could buy an old laptop and install Linux on it. You wouldn't need the power supply, SD card, CD Drive, keyboard, mouse or screen.

Just a thought.
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  #3  
Old 27-12-16, 08:00
Skippyroouk Skippyroouk is offline
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T4 Post Icon Re: Raspberry Pi Review/Experience

My 10yr lad has had no trouble getting his set up

I've got 99 problems, but a T5 ain't one
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  #4  
Old 27-12-16, 10:39
cl51ffe cl51ffe is offline
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Default Re: Raspberry Pi Review/Experience

The putty bits simple intit you put putty in then stick windows to it

then breath on the windows and rite your message , your message stays their until someone comes along and breaths on the windows, simple

"It's only the science that matters"
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  #5  
Old 27-12-16, 10:58
landie landie is offline
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Default Re: Raspberry Pi Review/Experience

You'd be better off with an Arduino, cheaper as well Arduino is designed for use as a standalone system. Once it's programmed all it needs is a power supply (12v). Addons like a display, WiFi connectivity and so on can be added very easily. Arduino is essentially an embedded microcontroller designed to run a single task, like the controller in most domestic appliances. Pi is a computer running Linux and is capable of running different applications BUT isn't really designed, like a microcontroller, as something you programme once and then have it perform that task forever.

I'm using an Arduino Mega2560 as a controller for many of the control functions in our van, including heating (Eberspacher in my case) control, water pump control, monitoring water tank levels (which also allows it to disable the pump when the water tank is empty or the waste tank is full), battery/split charge control and lighting control. All controlled via a 3.5 inch colour tft touch screen display or via an app on my phone over wifi.
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  #6  
Old 27-12-16, 11:32
mistergrumpy mistergrumpy is offline
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Default Re: Raspberry Pi Review/Experience

Well yes, I was having a bad day when I wrote that but my point stands. My understanding of the Pi was a cheap computer designed to be easy to use and to influence the next generation of kids into programming as we, as a nation, seem to be falling behind the rest of the world in that respect.
Whether you buy the ancillaries or connect it to an old laptop there is an additional expense there, thus negating the initial seen "cheap" price.
I still can't see how a child without a Linux background can do anything with it. When it's connected to a monitor it's a little more Windows looking and therefore familiar but it isn't easy to use without.
I managed to find some absolute beginner video's on Youtube that have helped a lot though and I got my project working (unbelievably)
I've not looked at the Arduino, you've peaked my interest though.
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