The Raspberry Pi is one of the most interesting and novel tech creations to have hit the market. With greater miniaturization and advancement, it is a popular technological gizmo in the world of tech.
However, this open-source PCBA lacks some electronic components to get t running. This post will tell you apart from the equipped components that come with the Raspberry Pi kit, what extra components you need, and how to get them.
Introduction: What is a Raspberry Pi?
To begin with, let's look into the basics of the Raspberry Pi.
It is a computer that is greatly miniaturized, albeit with equivalent computing power. From the perspective of electronics, it is a PCBA board mounted with components like RAM, processor, CPU, GPU, Ethernet port, etc.
It was developed in the United Kingdom by the Raspberry Pi Foundation to promote learning and education about computing among students as well as in developing countries. While originally designed along with humanist principles, the technology has steadily expanded to allow for customization and subsequent application in a variety of applications.
The latest model currently on sale is the Raspberry Pi 4, and the company steadily releases more updates. The development of technology continues and will continue to do so well into the foreseeable future.
Although the term "computer" would make the Raspberry Pi seem like it's a desktop or laptop, the truth is very different. It is one of the simpler computers around and essentially comprises of a simple PCB board, mounted with added components. In other words, the Raspberry Pi is a computing board, as opposed to being an actual "computer" in the traditional sense.
To put it differently, it is a miniaturized version of the desktop's CPU, meaning that everything you would find in the PC Cabinet is present in it, minus the hard disk, optical drive, and a few other components.
For the untrained eyes, it basically looks like a computer chip, or it would easily be mistaken as a component of a larger gadget. They are not wrong, for it's basically a "mini" motherboard, a miniaturized version that you would find in a desktop or laptop.
What Components Are on a Raspberry Pi Kit?
For those interested in purchasing a Raspberry Pi, this is something important to know.
When you buy the Raspberry Pi as a "standalone" product, what you'll be purchasing is just the chip and nothing more. In other words, you'll just be getting the main motherboard, along with all the other components that are embedded in them.
And that would be the end of it. There is nothing else that would be supplied to you, in terms of a monitor, mouse, keyboard, or anything else. These are all extras that you'll have to purchase separately if you want to assemble a working Raspberry Pi computer.
Let's take a closer look at the various components that are already present on the Raspberry Pi, to better understand the nature of what is "present" and what is "required".
A standard Raspberry Pi comprises, in no particular order, the following components, all of which are embedded into the chip.
- ARM CPU/GPU – This is the processor of the computer, which handles the main data as well as graphics. The first is the main processor, which is a Broadcom BCM2835 System on a Chip (SoC). The GPU or Graphics Processing Unit, on the other hand, comprises all the necessary graphic operations, such as those required for general display, or to a certain extent, even gameplay.
- RAM – The RAM or Random Access Memory is a temporary memory present on the Raspberry Pi. It is a volatile memory, allowing for temporary storage, just like it would be in the case of a regular computer. As for the size of the RAM, the memory varies and currently comes in three options, namely, 2GB, 4 GB, and 8 GB.
- GPIO – This is an input and output connection port, which is meant for connecting external hardware, depending on the nature of its purpose.
- RCA – An RCA is a cable, also referred to as a phone connector, used for connecting two different devices and carrying video or audio signals. In the case of the Raspberry Pi, it can be used to connect the device to analog televisions and other related devices.
- LEDs – LEDs or Light Emitting Diodes, present in the chip, provide an indication the computer is active and running.
- This is a port that can be used to connect to an external audio device, which ranges from headphones to speakers. It is a standard 3.55 mm jack, which only allows for output, meaning that there is currently no option for audio input.
- USB – The USB or Universal Serial Bus is a standard USB port that can be used to connect with any other device that is compatible and USB-ready. The presence of a USB allows for the Raspberry Pi to be connected to a wide range of devices, such as keyboards, mice, flash drives, external hard drives, joysticks, and computers of all kinds, including desktops, tablets, laptops, netbooks, etc.
- Power – This is the main power connector, which connects a 5v Micro USB slot to a compatible power source.
- HDMI – The HDMI cable is a connector that allows you to connect the Raspberry Pi to high-definition monitors, televisions, and other such devices, through the use of a suitable HDMI port.
- Ethernet – This is a port that allows one to connect the computer to the internet through wired network access. At the same time, however, this feature is currently limited to Model B, while other variants lack the same.
- SD Card Slot – A full-sized card slot, it permits one to use standard memory cards on the device. In addition to this, it also serves another important function, which is the installation of an OS, given that one needs a bootable memory card to install an operating system on it.
Having looked into the above, it seems that the Raspberry Pi is a fully integrated computer system, as far as the main computing aspects are concerned.
But that's where it all ends, for you'll need more than these elements to have a fully functioning computer. It is here that the Raspberry Pi Kit comes into the picture.
The Raspberry Pi can be thought of as a hardware "bundle" of sorts, which gives you everything you'll need, to get started with computing.
As far as the components of the kits are concerned, there is no fixed set of peripherals that you'll be provided with. Depending on the exact kit you purchase, this combination factor will vary.
At the same time, however, a standard Raspberry Pi 4 kit, a common starter package, comes with the following peripherals, in addition to the main computer.
- Raspberry Pi Keyboard & Mouse – These happen to be your standard keyboard and mouse, albeit compatible with the Raspberry Pi hardware.
- Case – The case refers to the overall compartment that the hardware would be housed in during its use.
- Raspberry Pi 15.3W USB-C Power Supply – This is a standard USB-based power supply cable.
- 16GB NOOBS with Raspberry Pi OS microSD card – NOOBS is an acronym for "New Out Of the Box Software", and is an installer the Raspberry Pi would use for installing the system's OS.
- 2 × micro HDMI to Standard HDMI (A/M) 1m Cables – These are the standard cables that you would use to connect the computer to display devices.
- Official Raspberry Pi Beginner's Guide (English language) – Last but not least, you'll be provided with a manual on how to get started with using the Raspberry Pi.
It contains everything from installation guides to troubleshooting and everything else.
What Else Raspberry Pi Components Do You Need to Make a Raspberry Kit Work?
In addition to the additional components that have been mentioned above, provided in the kit, there are a few more components that would be required.
This is because, in general, the "bundle" that you purchase is but the basic computing unit. In other words, you'll only be getting that portion of the hardware managing the computing process, as well as a few basic input and output functions.
Additional components and peripherals would be required to make the Raspberry Pi as competent as any other computer, whether laptop or desktop.
A few of the most important components have already been mentioned above. Now let's look at some of the others that would be required.
- Display Devices – One of the main things that are missing would be a monitor. Whether it is a simple desktop monitor or some other compatible display device, it is something that would be lacking in the given starter kit. The exact nature of the display device, however, can vary, from your standard monitor to something that is far more advanced such as an HD TV or other large display hardware.
- Sound Devices – Another important peripheral that would be needed is sound devices such as speakers. Although not always necessary, they are certainly needed if you'll be engaged with multimedia.
- Disk Drives – The Raspberry Pi doesn't come with disk drives, given the configuration's limitations, with the only supported secondary storage option being a memory card. Therefore, you will need, preferably, a USB-based disk drive to read CDs and DVDs. They are basically "plug-and-play" devices, which don't require any additions such as drivers, software, etc.
- USB Hub – The Raspberry Pi comes with just a few USB slots, making it necessary to have additional ones for efficiency. To ensure sufficient slots to plug in other devices, USB Hubs can be used and will indeed come in handy.
- Ethernet Cable – While the Raspberry Pi Model B comes equipped with options for connecting to Wi-Fi networks, cables would have to be purchased separately for this purpose. Model A, on the other hand, doesn't have an option for networking in this regard.
- Memory Cards – You will need additional memory cards, just in case there is a requirement for more memory.
- Printer & Scanner – This is something that would be very much necessary in an office or academic setting. Should this be the case, it would be necessary to get the same for your Raspberry Pi.
Where to Get the Raspberry Pi Components under One Roof
As much as the Raspberry Pi is a compact version of your everyday desktop or laptop, the above information makes one thing clear. You'll need a lot more than just the basic computing device hardware to get things done. Simply put, you'll need to buy several other components or modules to get a fully-functional Raspberry Pi.
Coming to the place where you can get it all, there are certainly several places to source them. One excellent place offering it all under a single roof would be PCBONLINE, which is perfect for several reasons, namely the following.
- Original Parts – All of the parts and modules available with PCBONLINE are original and sourced directly from the manufacturers or their direct agents. This means that the possibility of aftermarket parts, whether used or anything else, is impossible when you shop with us.
- Quality Products – All of the products are guaranteed to be new, high-quality, and durable for long-term use.
- Stringent Quality Controls – There are strict practices in place for evaluating suppliers, which ensures that you get the best quality components and parts at any given moment.
- Wide Product Range – The company has a wide range of products on sale, ranging from complete circuitry components to individual parts such as capacitors, wires, controllers, sensors, ICs, power ports, ARM CPUs, etc.
- Assembly Services – Last but not least, the company provides EMS assembly services for the hardware as per your requirement, for PCBs/PCBA and components, making us an ideal pick for customization requirements.
PCBONLINE develops an auto system where you can upload your Gerber files to order PCBs/PCBA online, but our auto system for the components is still on the way. However, you can contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org to get a quote and order from us. We will provide factory-priced components and modules to you without minimum order requirements.
To sum up, the Raspberry Pi is a phenomenal piece of tech, but in fact, it is a PCBA that is open source. It is big fun to add components to develop it, and you can also DIY such a PCBA.
And if you are willing to get all of the components necessary to make it fully functional, you're in for a real ride with this interesting gadget like no other.