Thursday, August 14, 2014

Overview of the Raspberry Pi (Part 1 of 5)

By this point in time I'm guessing many of you already know what the Raspberry Pi is or probably already own one. For those of you that are interested in learning how to write Microsoft C# on the Raspberry Pi this blog series is for you.

I want to start the series by talking about the hardware. As an overview the Raspberry Pi is a small computer that has special pins that can be used to read input or turned hot for output and you can manipulate them through code. It also has a built in HDMI port so you can use your TV as a monitor. The thing that got me excited was the low cost of the hardware. You can pick up a new Raspberry Pi for about $35. People use them for a wide variety of tasks like multimedia players or controlling things like a garage door.

I bought one a few years back when they first came out and I was waiting for the perfect project, well that project never came and I felt like I needed to do something with this piece of hardware because it was sitting on my shelf for way to long. I decided like many others that I would make a garage door opener. I figured since I already knew how to write iPhone apps this would be a perfect way of tying these two technologies together.

The thing that makes the Raspberry Pi so powerful is the GPIO pins. First off GPIO is an acronym for (General Purpose Input Output). These are the pens that I needed to test if my garage door was open or closed and if I sent a signal to open my garage I needed to turn one of the pins hot so that way the garage door would open. For my project I used GPIO 4 to test the current status of the garage door and GPIO 17 to push the garage opener button. I could have chosen any of the GPIO pins in the image below. The GPIO ports are light green in color.

As I work through this blog series we will get to a point where we can actually test the current pins and change the status of the pins. Each post will walk you through the exact process I went through in order to get everything working correctly. I will also include all the software that I use in each project as well. By no means am I trying to take any credit for any of the 3rd party software I used. I'm only including it as a mirror because at some point I will want this software again and I don’t want to risk not finding the correct version.

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