Getting Started with a Raspberry Pi

As mentioned before I wasn't able to start with my Pi straight out of the box. It arrives with no power supply and more importantly it lacks an SD card. This is done to keep the costs of the item down but it can leave some people (myself included) not knowing where to start.

Power Supply

One thing that isn't widely publicised (particularly by the people who sell them) is that power supplies need to be able to provide the current the Pi will need under heavy load. Ideally it should be above 2A (2000mA). Quite a lot of the cheaper power supplies only go up to 1A (1000mA). This can cause the device to reboot sometimes when you plug a new USB device in - or simply to restart when you start taxing it, like when the GUI loads (after typing 'startx' from the command line). If you are getting these symptoms it can be that the power supply isn't powerful enough to cope with the load required. It can also stop USB devices working correctly as the Pi is simply not able to keep up with the demands of the thing plugged into it.

SD Card Specification

One thing that is fairly well publicised is that the Micro SD card required by the Pi should ideally be a class 10 device. This means that read and write operations to the disc are done faster and you'll see a dramatic improvement in performance when this happens.

SD Card Setup

Once you have the SD Card you'll need to burn an image of the Operating System (OS) onto the card before it will work. All Electro Cat Studio systems come with Raspbian. Electro Cat systems use Jessie but the Stretch Lite with Desktop image is pretty much the same. You will need to download the image as zip file then unzip the file. How you go next will depend on the operating system you are using. If you are using Windows you will need to download the Win32DiskImager, details for using this can be found here. If you are using Mac you will need to follow the instructions that can be found here. If you are on Linux then follow the instructions here.

Once the card has finished burning you can pop it into your Raspberry Pi then hook up the monitor and a keyboard and mouse. Once it's all hooked up simply plug in the power supply, there isn't a power switch on the Pi.

Next Steps

In an upcoming post we'll be exploring some of the ways to get started with using your Pi once it's on.