Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Raspberry pi zero

Well a few weeks ago the Raspberry pi Foundation surprised the world by not only releasing a very small raspberry pi called the Pi Zero, but at a price point of £4 /$5 in the UK /USA. And if that wasn't enough they gave 10000 of them away free with the official magazine, MagPi. 

I was one of those lucky enough to get hold of a few copys of the magazine for me and my makerspace and thus the Pi Zero. As this board only has 1 micro USB port for peripherals and a Mini HDMI port for video out it was a couple of days before I could test it after getting hold of the converters. Once these arrived (cost about £3-4 for the pair on ebay) I was able to hook up the Zero to my lap dock. 

I loaded the Micro sd card with the latest Raspbian Jessie image, plugged it into the dock and away we went. The Pi Zero is factory clocked at 1GHz and has 512mb RAM so is on a par with the raspberry pi B+ and performance wise it compares well. 

However this tiny PC will for most folk not be used for day to day PC tasks it's size 65 x 30 x 5 mm, unpopulated 40 pin GPIO and 9 grams in weight, will mean that at this price most of these boards are destined to be used in embedded projects where the lack of connectivity will be a positive not a negative, as you are able to add only the nessesary conections for your project.

As it is fully compatible with the other Raspberry Pi's you can programme the card with a B+ or Pi2 and test out everything prior to putting the Zero in whatever project it will run. 

If your into programming and electronics and have been using previous Raspberry Pi Boards then at $5/£4 this is a must buy bit of kit, if you can get your hands on it. The original stock of both the magazine and those available through outlets such as  The Pi Hut, Pi Supply and Pimoroni all sold out within a day or so of release. With manufacturing beeing about 2000 units a day it will be a while before supply exceeds demand.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Linux Mint 17.1 and Old P4 Towers

Well thought I'd write about the New Linux Mint update and some old kit I've been getting ready to give away. A while ago a friend asked if I wanted all their old corporate P4 towers which they had recently replaced and I ended up with 12 HP Compaq P4 2 - 2.8gig towers with 512mb - 1Gig Ram and 40-80Gig HDD's.

I've put Mint 17.1 Mate on several of these PC's and after install they Run very well with 768mb DDR Ram and 1 with a P4(HT) 2.8Gig CPU and 512mb DDR2 Ram runs very smooth (I didn't have any compatible Ram to upgrade and not having realised it was a HT (Hyper Thread) CPU so had been surprised how quickly and smoothly the install went.

On the whole all these PC's are running well with such low resource and make capable homework PC's. They’re never going to be modern Gaming PC's or run the latest graphics effects that are available in Mint, but for word processing and office tasks they work well and surf the net without any problems. You can even watch U Tube videos at low resolution and thus it is possible to listen to streaming music and the like. 

The technology in theses PC's is now over 10 years old but with Linux Mint (other Linux Distributions are available) installed they are perfectly capable of having a few more years of use with a secure and modern OS on board. So if you have any old Computer hardware knocking around don't send it to the recycle centre install Linux and use it as a spare PC, set up a print/file server or donate it to a charity or just give it to a younger member of the family as a starter PC/homework Box.  

If you have any other ideas or stories of what you've done with an Older PC let me know via the comments.