So you want to get some yummy Raspberry Pi, but you’re not sure what all you need to get this little device off the ground. You have seen starter kits, but worried they do not have everything you need in them. This page will help ensure you have all the parts you need to get going regardless of if you are purchasing them all together as a starter kit or one by one. If you are not familiar with certain aspects of computers I know some parts of this guide might make your head spin, but do not let it intimidate you! Just take each item one at a time and you will have everything you need in no time!
Important: You will only need at most 1 item from each of the numbers bullet points.
1) First you need the Raspberry Pi itself.
2) Next grab a Power cord. It needs to be a 5V power cable that supplies at least either 300 mA for the model A or 700 mA for the model B. If you already have a charger you can find out if it gives enough power by looking at the power label on the device itself. Look for the part that says “Output”
This one says it’s 5v 700 mA so it will easily provide enough power for the Raspberry Pi. Be aware that 5v .7A is the exact same thing as 5v 700mA. If your PSU says 5V 1.5A that's okay too! while it *has* to be 5V the mA can be any number that is equal to or larger than 300 mA (.3A) for the model A or 700 mA (.7A) for the model B.
If you do not already have a power supply, then you have two options for an acceptable power supply. First, you can power your pi via an all in one PSU ending in a microUSB connection (such as is found on Kindle Chargers, iPhone chargers, and some Blackberry Devices)
(Picture is depicting a US model adapter, be sure to buy one with the right plugs to fit the outlets in the country you live in)
The second option is you can use a usb AC Adapter that you plug into an outlet and gives you a usb port.
This is a nice solution if you already have a usb cable that ends in a microUSB connection
If you’re unsure of whether or not you have a microUSB or a miniUSB cable, it’s easy to find out
The miniUSB (on the left) is the wrong one. It’s larger and looks like a trapezoid with its sides pinched in. The microUSB (on the right) is the correct one. It is smaller and also looks like a trapezoid except it’s sides are rounded outward.
Regardless of which one you end up going with, just remember to ensure that it says it can output 5V with at least 300mA for the model A and 700 mA for the model B.
3) You’ll need a USB keyboard at the minimum and a USB mouse if you want to use anything beyond the classic text only command prompt (Windows users might also recognize this as the "dos prompt")
(In Linux, the only OS that can presently be used with the Raspberry Pi, it’s called command line or bash prompt as opposed to command/dos prompt)
4) You’ll need a full sized SD card.
Right now, there’s a known issue with the official Fedora Remix distro where it doesn’t like micro-SD cards in a full sized adapter, so make sure to purchase a full sized SD card. If you already have an SD card on hand, but it's not a full sized card, then by all means, give it a try first! You won't damage the Raspberry Pi by using a micro SD card in a full sized adapter, and it's possible the one you have will work with it!
The minimum capacity you can get away with will depend on which Linux distro you go with but for the Fedora Remix distro, the official Raspberry Pi distro, the minimum you can go with is 2GB… usually. If the manufacturer says that 1GB = 1,000,000,000 bytes then 2GB isn’t enough, if they say 1GB = 1,073,741,824 bytes then you’ll be just fine. If you don’t know what any of that means… get a 4GB SD card
5) Almost done, the only other thing you *have* to have is a monitor. We"re going to look at 3 different types of cables. You only need 1 of these cables so make sure to buy the one cable that matches your TV/monitor and don"t worry about the other two. First let"s identify which type of video connection is on your TV/Monitor
If you have a monitor or TV that supports HDMI, then you can grab an HDMI cable
HDMI provides both high definition video and digital audio in one convenient cable. The raspberry pi only supports up to HDMI version 1.3a. You can use any version HDMI cable and it will work, but if you buy a lower version (1.2, 1.3, 1.1) there might be some quality you miss out on and if you buy a higher version (1.4) then you’ll end up paying for features the Raspberry Pi can’t support.
*Note* HDMI cables are now called "Standard" and "High Speed". If you just want something to connect to your TV/Monitor than get the "Standard" HDMI cable. It will still give you a great picture (720p/1080i) and digital audio. If, however, you're hoping to use your Raspberry Pi as a media center, you'll probably find it worth while to go ahead and get the "High Speed" one (it does full 1080p).
If you have a DVI connector, it is possible to buy a cheap HDMI->DVI cable and use DVI if you don"t have an HDMI connection.
These cables do not provide sound so you will also need to buy a cheap audio cable (more on that later on in the guide)
If you have a VGA Connector, it is not possible to buy a cheap HDMI->VGA Cable!!! If you see a cable that is VGA on one end and HDMI on the other it will not work. If you want to go from HDMI to VGA you will have to buy a more expensive convertor box. Alternatively, a cheaper solution to get VGA would be to buy a Composite video (Yellow RCA port) to VGA convertor, it's *much* lower quality than HDMI, but it will get the job done (again a cheap cable with RCA on one side and VGA on the other will not be enough to go from composite video to VGA)
If you don’t have a HDMI/DVI monitor or TV, then you’ll need to use a composite cable. In the states they’re commonly referred to as an RCA video cable (they usually have yellow ends).
It provides a much lower quality video connection, and no sound.
6) If you use the composite (RCA) cable or the HDMI to DVI cable for video and you want sound, you’ll need to buy a male to male 3.5mm audio cable.
This is the same connection as your headphones use.
You can also just use a pair of headphones, or a set of external Computer speakers that already have a cable that ends with the male 3.5mm (headphone jack) connection then you won"t need to buy this cable
Alternatively, if you want to connect to your stereo system (white and red RCA (Phono) plugs) you"ll want a 3.5mm to phono cable
(Note: This is assuming you are not using an HDMI cable, HDMI has digital audio built into it and you will not need a second audio cable if you are already attaching the Raspberry Pi to your entertainment center with an HDMI Cable)
7) Ethernet cable. If you have the model B and want to hook it into your home network, you’ll need to grab an Ethernet cable
They’re also commonly referred to as a Network cable
8) USB hub. If you want to connect more USB devices than you have ports you’ll need to grab a usb hub. These can be passive (they plug into a usb port and that’s it)
Or active (They plug into a usb port then you plug in a power supply)
If you want to plug in a device that takes a lot of power (like a hard drive) you’ll need to use an active hub. If you just want to plug in a card reader or a usb stick or a wifi adapter then you should be able to get by on the passive hub.
There are plenty more bits you could buy for your Raspberry Pi. You could get a usb WiFi adapter if you wanted a wireless connection, you could buy the gertboard if you wanted to control relays and motors. There are cases (from legos to old gaming stations, to laser cut acrylic cases), there are sensors, there are screens, there are quite literally an endless supply of parts you *could* buy for your Raspberry Pi! However, at this point it becomes a question of what do you want to with your slice of the pi?