Getting started with Raspberry PI 2 for IoT : Hardware selection.


Today I was a guest at @TheCodeBehind discussing .NET, IoT and how to get started. Naturally as .NET developers we drifted into the domain of Windows 10 IoT Core. We talked a little bit about where to buy the hardware, how much the cost were and what projects are good ideas to start with. I felt that this is a quite broad topic so I would like to expand on this in the following blog post.

So this is (might be) a getting started guide for Raspberry PI 2, so I am not going to talk about what hardware platform to get. I am going to talk about what modules, products and tools to get depending on what product you are going to build.

 

The Raspberry PI 2 is composed by the following list of hardware items, all available to use with a Windows 10 IoT Core app.

 

SoC Broadcom BCM2836 (CPU, GPU, DSP, SDRAM, and single USB port) Raspberry PI 2
CPU 900 MHz quad-core ARM Cortex A7 (ARMv7 instruction set)
GPU Broadcom VideoCore IV @ 250 MHz, OpenGL ES 2.0 (24 GFLOPS), 1080p30 MPEG-2 and VC-1 decoder (with license), 1080p30 h.264/MPEG-4 AVC high-profile decoder and encoder
Memory 1 GB (shared with GPU)
USB ports 4
Video input 15-pin MIPI camera interface (CSI) connector
Video outputs HDMI, composite video (PAL and NTSC) via 3.5 mm jack
Audio inputs I²S
Audio outputs Analog via 3.5 mm jack; digital via HDMI and I²S
Storage MicroSD
Network 10/100 Mbit/s Ethernet
Peripherals 17 GPIO plus specific functions, and HAT ID bus

The most interesting part here, when we would like to connect sensors, LED’s and more are the Peripherals. Especially the 17 GPIO specific functions in the HAT Bus. a HAT (Hardware Attached on Top) bus is a connector that, surprisingly allows you to add hardware on top as long as they follow a certain specification. The HATs support all sorts of hardware modules such as Pulse Wide Modulation, Servo control or even GPS communication. You can even buy a clean HAT and build your own devices that fit right on top of your Raspberry PI 2. Adafruit sells lots of Raspberry PI 2 Hats (but not fruit), please note that not all hats work with Windows 10 IoT Core.

A good first project might be a weather station, Sparkfun sells a great weather station shield that Microsoft have written a great guide on how to use with Windows 10 IoT Core.

Should you want to dive right in and use the GPIO (General Purpose Input/Output) you are no longer limited to using Raspberry PI 2 HATs or even modules at all. My first suggestion is to get a T-Cobbler and a breadboard (See the picture to the right) that is available from most stores including e-bay. This will allow you to see the output names as you use them in your code, should you choose to not use the T-Cobbler the pinout picture to the left is a must have (You will need it anyhow). Since you no longer have a limitation to what modules you can use the world is your oyster, but here are some suggestions on what you can build.

You can build a guest wifi password printer using a Thermal Reciept Printer, or a cool keypad to deactivate your next doomsday device! The choice is yours, just pick a project and go.

 

 

 

In my next post I will take more in detail on how to use regular hardware modules with the GPIO pins and Windows 10 IoT Core.

 

Happy hacking!

//KH.

 

Resources

Microsoft dev center,
Getting started with IoT