Raspberry Pi Workshop held in science building

J’Mari HughesReporter

Raspberry Pis are pocketsized devices used to learn coding and build electronics that can be plugged into TVs, keyboards and computer mice. Members of Buley Library and the Computer Science Club put on a ‘Raspberry Pi Workshop’ on April 23 in the Science Building.

Tech support analyst and graduate student Omar Abid said Raspberry Pi are a single board computers usable as a standalone, where a person can plug sensors into it and use it as a multi-purpose gadget.

Abid gave a presentation on how to work the devices and their different uses for them, allowed students to try them out. They can be used to create spreadsheets, go on online, and some types can play music. Alumni Bob Juliano said there is almost nothing these “small robot drones” cannot do.

“A lot of computer science students haven’t ever seen one of these or used one before,” Abid said. “I think it’s useful if they come and learn how they work so they can use them for projects or for some things they can use in their everyday life.”

Raspberry pis require a micro SD card and are, Abid said, completely useless without one—like a computer without a hard drive. The cards provide free space needed to install and design programs.

The pis, which are not sold in Conn. stores and are typically purchased online between $5 and $35, are part of the library’s Makerspace collection, Buley’s lendable electronic section, and the devices are available for students to use, check-out and see their different uses.

“We want students to know that they’re available if they’re gonna do projects or internships, they can come to these workshops where they can learn how to use [Raspberry pis] and take them outside and inside the classroom,” said Lauren Johnson, graduate student and library assistant.

Abid said the Computer Science Club hosts collaboration projects once a month, every semester. They have previously focused on topics such as Arduino, an open-electronic prototype program, as
well as introductions to applications like HTML, CSS and JavaScript. The pi workshop, Johnson said, is the most advanced and was saved for last.

Juliano said certain pis can play mp3, wav and aux with the help of a micro SD card, while others enable one to check their email. According to the pi’s website, it also enables game play and high definition video.

It features texture filtering and Direct Memory Access infrastructure, which creates graphics, the site said, “roughly equivalent to the original Xbox’s level of performance.”

“These things are fantastic,” Juliano said. “They’re really versatile and they can deal with a lot more tougher environments than most computers.”

Like an iPhone, Raspberry Pis can be seen as a computer that can fit into someone’s pocket. But unlike iPhones, whose software is all produced by Apple, Abid said the pi’s basic software is an open-source project where people can redesign its features by customizing how they would want theirs to be.

“It’s a great workshop and it’s free,” Johnson said. “You get to learn about the pi’s and be able to use them.

Photo Credit: J’Mari Hughes

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