If there's one thing the Raspberry Pi organization has proven time and again, it is that great things come in small packages and, if you happen to unwrap a Raspberry Pi 3 this Christmas, know that incredible things are in store for you.
Before getting to the amazing part, however, you must first set up that tiny computer in your hand. Don't worry because Tech Times is here for those who need more guidance on that journey.
You probably want to get started with learning to code or building cool new things right away but there are a few things you need to take care of before jumping into that and the two most important things are equipment and an Operating System. Other than those, the Raspberry Pi 3 is already a complete computer system at a really affordable price.
Just like most toys with a "Batteries not included" note on their packaging, the credit card sized Raspberry Pi 3 does not come with the tools you need to make it run so you first have to ensure that you have the correct cables, external memory, and peripherals to be able to use it.
What You Will Need
Despite the Pi 3's small size, it has enough ports to attach necessary cables and peripherals and is Wi-fi and Bluetooth enabled for a comfortable user experience. It has four USB 2.0 ports and an HDMI output, which means USB hubs are not really needed for basic use. It is also powered through a micro-USB port, much like smartphones.
Basically, what you will need to hook up to the Pi 3 are the following:
• HDMI monitor*
• USB mouse
• USB keyboard
• microSD card with a minimum capacity of 8GB and a card reader
• 2A (2,000 mAh) microUSB power supply, charger or adapter
*For the HDMI monitor, you can use an HDMI television or any monitor with an HDMI input port.
Assuming that you have all the equipment you need, start connecting the cables to your Pi 3. Take note, however, that you should connect and plug-in the power supply last for obvious reasons.
But if it is not obvious enough, we are talking about electricity. Just like with any set-up that involves electricity, power already begins to course through one the device is plugged in so it is better to be safe than electrocuted.
Verify Your Version
Some Raspberry Pi Model 3 versions already have the latest Raspbian OS installed while others do not. If you're one of the lucky people to have been given a Pi 3 with a pre-installed Raspbian OS, you can head on straight to the Raspberry Pi Organization's website and look up several cool projects from both the team and the community of fellow users. If there is no OS, however, please read on.
Set Up Raspbian OS
Assuming that you have got everything connected and powered up, you can start following the steps below to get you started.
Step 1: Download the latest Raspbian OS
This is where the microSD and card reader comes in because the Raspbian OS, which is over 4GB, will have to be installed in it. Unlike the typical computer set-up, the Pi 3 does not have the luxury of an internal memory so both the system and the user must rely on a good, not easily corruptible microSD in its stead.
You can download the latest Raspbian OS here and manually install the image but beginners should opt to install via New Out of Box Software (NOOBS) instead. If you choose to install manually, skip to step 4. If you choose NOOBS, continue to step 2.
Step 2: Format the microSD card as FAT
Assuming you chose to use NOOBS to install Raspbian, you will also have to prepare the microSD card by formatting it as FAT32-a necessary step for NOOBS. But don't worry, doing that is easy. All you have to do is download and use the SD Association's SD Card Formatter and ensure that the "Format Size Adjustment" option-in the Options Menu- is turned ON and you're good to go.
The SD Card Formatter is also available for Mac users but with additional instructions and Linux users can use gparted. You can find additional instructions here.
Step 3: Extract NOOBS
The Raspberry Pi Organization offers NOOBS and NOOBS Lite in its website for easier OS installation. However, do note that what you need is NOOBS because the Lite version does not have the latest Raspbian OS pre-installed, so save yourself the time, hassle, and frustration.
Use 7Zip for Windows or The Unarchiver for Mac to extract the files you need. Note that the two unzip tools are not required, however, they are also the ones which proved to correctly unzip the necessary files without corrupting any of the files contained in the archive.
Once this is successfully done, copy all the extracted files onto the microSD card then insert it in the card reader the insert that in an available USB port.
Step 4: Hook up and set up
Make sure the connections are all secure to the display and peripherals are all secure then power up your Pi 3. Now wait a bit while NOOBS boots up and prepares your Pi 3.
When the loading process is complete, you will see a window asking you to install an operating system and you just have to choose Raspbian and your default language and NOOBS will do the rest. Once the installation is complete, NOOBS will restart your Pi 3 and it will now boot up with the Raspbian OS desktop where you can configure everything else.
Step 5: Personalize it
Once the desktop is booted up, it will now be easier for you to access your WiFi and pair Bluetooth devices or peripherals. Play around with your new system and look up some projects you can do.
Another Way For A Headless Raspberry Pi
In the event that you have no extra HDMI television or display monitors on hand, you can still install the Raspbian by connecting to it using another laptop or desktop.