Raspberry PI – Entering the world of embedded software

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In this post, we will discuss a first look at the Raspberry PI and a macro view of what’s embedded software. We’ll start by answering the following question: but after all, what is a Raspberry PI?

A computer the size of a credit card

The Raspberry PI it is a laptop, or in other words an integrated circuit board containing several features such as audio, video, network – the standard version of the board does not have support for wi-fi – the size of a card credit. Developed in the UK, its main goal is to provide a means for computer science learning in schools, and allows the development of solutions involving the combination software + hardware, such as home automation, monitoring systems for security, etc.

Currently, the card is sold in two designs, known as A and B:

especs_pi

Source: Wikipedia

As we can see in the specifications, it is a very powerful processing power, considering its dimensions. Some features of the board, such as the camera and the wifi, is not available from the factory, so it is necessary to buy separately the official accessories, or use the GPIO interface (which we will discuss later) to connect the card to additional circuits such as sensors, alarms or even electronic circuits that you can build yourself!

A  B model raspberry pi

Operational system

The standard operating system of the card is the raspbian, a Debian distribution made especially for the card. The OS installation procedure on the SD card is quite simple and can be learned in the tutorial video below:

Embedded Software

The concept of embedded software, is of programs that run on low-cost and / or hardware resources, usually for projects involving the automation of processes of the physical world, as controls closing doors with motion detection, curtains that open and close according to the brightness of a room, fire detectors and so on. On this site you can see several projects made with the raspberry pi. There´s even drones!

The raspberry pi due to have a complete operating system, with all the basic features of a desktop operating system, allows to use different programming languages such as Python, Ruby, and even Java. In my experiences with the card, I recommend using Python, due to have a more complete support in many ways, as a good library for handling the GPIO.

GPIO

The GPIO – General Purpose IO – consists of a set of electronic pins which provide input, output and ground for the connection of other electronic components to the pi. The figure below shows the layout of the pins, in a future post, we’ll talk specifically about this interface.

Shops

From my experiences on my country (Brazil), this are the best shops to buy eletronic components and the PI itself, so I recommend:

Lab de garagem

Farnell Newark

Multi Comercial (loja da Santa Efigênia)

Conclusion

And so we conclude our first general contact with the world of embedded software, and raspberry pi. In future posts, we will deepen more on the many issues that we brushed on the post. Until next time.