The Raspberry Pi is a wonderful microcomputer that brims with potential.

With a Raspberry Pi you can build robots, learn to code, and create all kinds of weird and wonderful projects.

Hackers and enthusiasts have turned Raspberry Pi boards into fully automated weather stations, internet-connected beehives, motorised skateboards, and much more. The only limit is your imagination.

But first, you need to start at the beginning. Upon picking up your Raspberry Pi for the first time, you’re faced with a small green board of chips and sockets and may have no idea what to do with it. Before you can start building the project of your dreams, you’ll need to get the basics sorted: keyboard, mouse, display, and operating system.

Creating projects with a Raspberry Pi is fun once you’ve mastered the basics. So in this guide, we’re going to take you from newbie zero to Raspberry Pi hero. Grab your Raspberry Pi and let’s get going.

    The Raspberry Pi 3 is the latest model, and the version recommended for most newcomers

1-SD card

On the underside of the Raspberry Pi 3 board is the SD card slot. You preload the operating system onto a micro SD card and use it to boot up the Raspberry Pi.

2-Wireless network

The Pi 3 is the first Raspberry Pi to feature built-in wireless LAN and Bluetooth. This enables you to connect to a wireless router and get online without using a WiFi dongle.

3-1.2GHz ARM CPU

Featuring the latest 1.2GHz quad-core ARM CPU (central processing unit), the Raspberry Pi 3 is faster than many smartphones, and powerful enough to be used as a desktop computer.


1-Powerful processor

The Pi Zero packs a sizzling 1GHz single-core ARM 11 CPU with 512MB RAM. Despite its diminutive size, it’s 40 percent faster than the original Raspberry Pi model.

2-Tiny form factor

The Pi Zero offers a full computer experience, complete with the Raspbian operating system, and is only a third the size of the original Raspberry Pi.

3-GPIO to go

The full GPIO header sits along the side of the Pi Zero board. These holes enable makers to attach hardware to the Pi Zero, and you can experiment with electronics projects.

I- All the kit you need to get a Raspberry Pi up and running for the first time

You don’t require much to get your Raspberry Pi started: a micro SD card

from an old camera, a smartphone charger, a recycled HDMI cable, and a keyboard and mouse are all you need.

Most items can be sourced from computer hardware around the house, or begged and borrowed from friends and family. If you’re looking for the ultimate in low-cost computing; the Raspberry Pi is it.

You should be able to source, salvage, and scavenge most equipment you need to get a Raspberry Pi up and running. To get the most out of your Raspberry Pi in the long term, though, you should use high- quality components.

A good micro SD card from
a named brand will be faster
and more reliable. Not all USB power adapters are born equal, either. A reliable branded adapter will provide a steady stream of power, even when you attach multiple devices.

The Raspberry Pi board isn’t shy, and it’ll work just fine naked, but a good case keeps the board safer and makes it easier to store. There’s a huge range of cases available, and many offer unique features such as waterproofing, stackability, or wall mounting.

The official Raspberry Pi case is a slick piece of kit that’s perfect for any Pi user. Made of five parts that click together, it enables you to quickly open the case and access the board and GPIO pins.


The micro SD card acts as the hard drive for your Raspberry Pi. You install the Raspbian operating system onto the card, then all your documents, files, and projects are saved to it as you work.

Raspberry PI fan Jeff Geerling did a community favour by purchasing over a dozen different micro SD cards and benchmarking each one. The results were pretty dramatic, with some cards running up to four times as fast as others. Samsung Evo+ and SanDisk Extreme
are two popular brands worth looking out for, and both are fairly cheap.

  • HDMI cable

An HDMI cable is the easiest way to connect your Raspberry Pi to a computer monitor or television. You don’t need an expensive one, and most people recycle one from an old games console or DVD player.

  • USB power

A GOOD 2A OR 2.5A power supply provides you with enough power to run a Raspberry Pi with all kinds of

peripherals connected.


Before you start using your Raspberry Pi, it needs to have an operating system (OS). This is the software used to start the hardware, and open and close programs.

Many computers use a specific operating system tied to the hardware. You’ll probably be used to Windows on a PC and OS X on a Mac computer.

Most Raspberry Pi owners use an open-source operating system called Raspbian, which is based on Linux. The current version is based on a version of Linux called Debian Jessie, hence the name Raspbian (sometimes you’ll hear it called ‘Raspbian Jessie’).

Linux is like Windows and Mac OS X, but more fun because it’s

open-source, so anybody can view the source code and improve it.

You can install a range of different OSes on a Raspberry Pi, some based on other versions of Linux, others based on Windows, and even completely unique environments like RISC OS.

Raspbian is the official OS and the one most beginners should start with. It’s the simplest to install, easiest to use, and most projects and tutorials use Raspbian as their base.

Start with NOOBS

There are two approaches to installing Raspbian and other operating systems. Beginners should start with NOOBS (New Out Of Box Software). More advanced

sers may copy an image file containing a whole operating system directly to the SD card.

First, you must format your micro SD card to use the Windows FAT 32 format. The easiest way to do this on a Mac or Windows PC is to use a program called SD Card Formatter (magpi.cc/2bncvkm).

Connect your micro SD card to a Mac or Windows PC, typically using a micro SD-to-SD card adapter or
a USB card reader, and use SD Card Formatter to erase the card.

Next, download the NOOBS
ZIP file from magpi.cc/2bnf5XF. Extract the contents of the file and open the NOOBS folder. Copy the contents across to the root of the SD card. See the ‘Setting up NOOBS’ steps for more information.



The official operating system is the easiest to use, and the one beginners should start with. It works a lot like other popular operating systems.

Windows 10 IoT Core

Not the full version of Windows, sadly, but Windows 10 IoT Core enables programmers to run Internet of Things and embedded projects.

Ubuntu MATE

Ubuntu is one of the world’s most popular Linux operating systems, and Ubuntu MATE is a lightweight version that runs just fine on the Raspberry Pi.

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