Getting Started with Raspberry Pi


13 posts
by MattRichardson » Tue Jan 01, 2013 6:02 pm
Over the past few months, Shawn Wallace and I have been working on Getting Started with Raspberry Pi, a book for MAKE. I'm happy to say it's now available from lots of different book stores. It covers RPi basics (hardware you'll need, getting around in Linux), Scratch, Python, GPIO, and some web server stuff. We even used the Pi to write much of the book! Anyway, I wanted to share the news of the book, and I'm eager to know if you have any feedback.

Amazon:
http://amzn.to/12LbF7f

O'Reilly (DRM free ebook available here):
http://shop.oreilly.com/product/0636920023371.do

Thanks!
Matt
Matt Richardson
Getting Started with Raspberry Pi - Now Available: http://amzn.to/V02MkH
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by BobCochran » Tue Jan 01, 2013 11:20 pm
Hi Matt,

Congratulations on publishing the book. What a massive job that is. I will order it later tonight. I've already studied and printed some of your stuff on GPIO access. I believe you did YouTube video on GPIO access on the BeagleBone and I watched that one twice. Since I'm deaf, I appreciate that the video was captioned. Thank you for that!

Bob Cochran
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by BobCochran » Wed Jan 02, 2013 1:22 am
I ordered the book and should get it in a couple days. Got to secure my place in line before Amazon runs out! I also plan to buy your BeagleBone book as well, since I'm curious about the device.

Bob
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by MattRichardson » Fri Jan 04, 2013 12:49 am
Bob,

Thank you so much for your support; I really appreciate it. It also makes me so happy that you find the closed captioning on my MAKE videos useful. I'll continue to do that. I'm planning to make a similar RPi GPIO video.

Matt
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by BobCochran » Fri Jan 04, 2013 3:30 am
I have my copy of the book. I'm reading it now.

Bob
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by BobCochran » Sat Jan 05, 2013 1:25 am
I have some impressions based on a rapid 'riffling' through the book, plus starting to read it from the very first page. In general, the book has interest for me: it keeps me reading. The illustrations (by Marc de Vinck, right?) are a bit of a surprise for me, since I was expecting to see photographs. They add interest to the book. Marc's illustrations make me recall with some delight the illustrations in a Rodale Press book, "Pirating Plants", which I bought when I was 18 or 19. (Umm...that was a long time ago, folks.) I loved the illustrations in that book. So the illustrations we see here certainly get my attention. I'm not sure whether there should be some photographs added. I'll reserve judgement at this time because I can hardly say I've read through the entire book.

I wish the book has an index! I wanted to quickly check if there are multiple pages discussing a real time clock, which might lead me to an installation procedure for that. Is one present, since you mention it as an accessory?

Page 4, "F. Status LEDs" is accompanied by Table 1-1 which is great. Some other bits of hardware might benefit with tabular lists of specific details, too. "A. The Processor." on page 2 could certainly benefit from this; perhaps change the text to "A. Onboard Processor and Video Chipsets" and accompany it with a table listing the exact model numbers of these items plus a link to reference manuals for each. Links to chipset reference materials could alternatively be put under under "Going Further", on page 17.

Page 5 is a bit confusing. It starts with list item "H. Composite video out." and "I. Power input." which reference the illustration on page 3. Then pow! Without a heading to introduce it, we have a new illustration, Figure 1-3, with new list items A through D. The illustration needs a heading that reads something like: "Power and I/O Pins, Version 2 PCB". Isn't that a Version 2 board we see in Figure 1-3? You ought to show an illustration of the Version 1 board as well.

Pages 6 and 7 make no mention of the specific USB cable needed for the power connection. Would you believe I bought the right charger for it, but the wrong USB cable? Apparently, a "MicroB" connector is not the same as a "MicroUSB" connector. That fooled me good. It will be a couple days of shipping time to fix my mistake with a new cable. Perhaps you should show an illustration of the exact cable connectors so that even old guys like me will get it right the first time.

Page 11 has a big sidebar box on Bittorrent downloads. With the small page size of the book, I don't understand why so much space has to be devoted to Bittorrent. These days, downloading the compressed zip file is about a 4-6 minute wait which is not at all bad. So I don't really see why Bittorrent needs a shout in Chapter 1. Couldn't that go into Appendix A? Perhaps mentioning that doing an sha1sum on the zip file and comparing that to the sha1sum published by the provider would save a lot of unhappiness when the user tries to put a partially downloaded image on the sd card and then wonders why nothing is working.

That's all for tonight...I'll say more in due course...

Bob
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by BobCochran » Sun Jan 06, 2013 9:31 pm
Still reading, and also using the book to set up the Pi for GPIO. In Chapter 7, "Basic Input and Output", page 91, we learn how to turn on an LED which is connected to GPIO pin 25. Some of the command line code is:
Code: Select all
echo 25 > /sys/class/gpio/export
...
...


but when we get to the bottom of page 91, we have no instructions for unexporting pin 25. I would imaging that when we are all done with our LED exercise, we would want to unexport it like so:

Code: Select all
echo 25 > /sys/class/gpio/unexport


Or is the above not necessary? Is it okay just to reboot the raspberry, and all the pins will be reset to some default state?

Bob
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by BobCochran » Sun Jan 06, 2013 9:44 pm
Chapter 6, "Arduino and the Pi", is very interesting for me since I have loads of "Really Bare Bones" boards and a JeeNode plus an RFM12B transceiver. On page 78 of the book, we learn we can install the Arduino IDE, which also causes Java to be installed. But I was under the impression from the posts and downloads offered on this website that the Oracle JVM is not yet working, on the recommended Raspbian Wheezy OS? I'm going to do an update in a moment and try to see if Java can install properly on my Pi.

Maybe Chapter 6 could benefit with a discussion of Java on the Raspberry.

Bob

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by MattRichardson » Sun Jan 06, 2013 10:32 pm
Thanks for all this feedback, Bob. I really appreciate it! I'm keeping all this together and will see what I can do about making appropriate changes in future editions or printings of the book. In the meantime, please keep the feedback coming; this is fantastic.

And if you feel so inclined, errata for GSWRPi can be viewed and submitted here: http://oreilly.com/catalog/errataunconf ... 6920023371
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by BobCochran » Tue Jan 22, 2013 3:59 am
Sometimes I think this book should be named "Getting Started with Python using Raspberry Pi"!

In looking at the order of the chapters, the book starts with 2 chapters devoted to the Pi, then the next 3 chapters are Python focused, followed by a chapter discussing the Arduino when connected to the Pi. In Chapter 7 we come back directly to the Pi, discussing its I/O capabilities. We then return to Python in Chapter 8, then discuss webcams in Chapter 9, which also continues our Python training. Chapter 10 focuses on Python and the Internet.

I think the book is interesting for young readers, but it leaves them a bit lost sometimes. The book sorely needs a totally new chapter to become Chapter 1, explaining where to find the hardware for the projects discussed in succeeding book chapters. Without the additional hardware, the Raspberry itself is a little lost. You need to provide complete details of websites that have the needed parts since a young reader's parents have to pay for those, and it is nice to make that process as easy as possible. Furthermore, you need to discuss soldering skills right up front, from Chapter 1. All the information currently printed on page 87 ought to become Page 1, and expanded. For example, mention http://www.sparkfun.com/ as Sparkfun Electronics, and provide part names that are good search terms. (To see what I mean, just try searching "pushbutton switch" on digikey.com. They have improved over the years, but it still takes a bit of study to drill down to the exact switch of interest.)

There also needs to be a completely new chapter that deals with command line Unix.

I think I would show more Pi-focused chapters at the start: Current Chapters 1 and 2 become Chapters 2 and 3, current Chapter 7 becomes new chapter 4, then introduce Python using current Chapter 8 to become new Chapter 5. Current Chapter 3 becomes new Chapter 6 and it has a new name, continuing to introduce the reader to Python. Continue with the remaining chapters. The book now expands by a chapter and most old chapters are reordered.

In a future post I'll discuss Appendix C. I worked with this Appendix today utilizing the Adafruit.com ADS1115 breakout board, not the ADS1015. I've made a couple purchases from Adafruit now thanks to this book.

Bob
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by GordonTGopher » Sat Jan 26, 2013 11:09 am
Matt, great book, two questions, firstly is the an update on availability of the robotboard (this month, this quarter...) and secondly are there any plans to sell a complete kit? I am struggling to find all the components from one supplier in the UK so the postage could mount up :D

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by ormingtrude » Sun Apr 20, 2014 12:30 pm
[quote="BobCochran"][size=150][color=#0000FF]Sometimes I think this book should be named "Getting Started with Python using Raspberry Pi"!

Hi Bob,

I really don't want to hijack this topic, but could you PM me regarding the radio4matic sometime soon. thanks

Wayne
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by georgehudson » Wed May 28, 2014 9:45 am
I also got it and starting reading, hope it will be good for me .
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