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Raspberry Pi in the Library

Mon Nov 25, 2013 9:20 pm

I am considering placing a bid to our PTFA to purchase a number of RasPi's for our library. An option would be to purchase 10-15 and have them flexible to move between departments or rooms but I don't believe they will be used. My preferred option is to purchase only 5 or 6 and also a box of add-on boards so the pi's can be booked out to used by responsible students and they can be used in small clubs/groups after school - these sessions could give them the support needed to use them effectively and experimentally in their own time at break and lunch.

Has anyone any thoughts on this idea? Our school is full of very responsible respectful students and I do not think intentional damage or theft is an issue but obviously they are youngsters and accidental damage is possible but I'm not sure how fragile these things are to this sort of use.

Also, I'm curious how easily the device can be destroyed by accidental deleting of files or more importantly, as experimenting and mistakes are likely, how quick the OS can be restored.

Any thoughts welcome. I know our students are eager to discuss Pi's so I'm sure they would be well used.


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Re: Raspberry Pi in the Library

Tue Dec 03, 2013 12:51 pm

regarding damage to files, etc, its as easy as breaking a Windows machine - delete a crucial file and it will not boot any more.
However, getting the Pi back up and running is far easier than reinstalling Windows. As the OS is stored on a standard SD card, you can make
a master backup, and restore it quite quickly. Obviously any other work stored locally will be lost, but then your pupils work could also be saved on
a USB stick or external hard drive, etc.

Various male/female 40- and 26-way GPIO header for sale here ( IDEAL FOR YOUR PiZero ):

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Re: Raspberry Pi in the Library

Tue Dec 03, 2013 1:56 pm

Sounds like a wonderful idea!

Regarding the OS, yes it can be broken fairly easily, but if you ensure you have some spare SD-cards, you have them pre-loaded with a copy of your original image and swap it over very quickly (you can then reformat and image the old card back to how it should be). If you can get them into the habit of saving their work to a USB flash stick, or the network or similar then this would be a good way to handle it (although it is usually possible to access the files off an SD-card if you really need to, you will need a linux computer/another Pi to do it). The ADAfruit webIDE might help here, since I think it stores everything in on their account.

Connecting hardware is a little more difficult since bad connections can result in damage. One way around this is to use hardware which connect to the whole GPIO port, so that it is obvious which way around to connect it. There are RGB LED modules which do this, motor drivers, and many others (personally I'm not keen on them because it blocks all the pins which aren't being used, but in your case this is a good thing).

A good one would be to use as they want to try more things is an IO Expander board ( ... akout-boad other similar boards are available...). This would allow them to experiment with RAW components, which I think is far more exciting. Not only are the connections more robust to incorrect connections, but the chip if broken is as little as a £1 to slot in and replace. If you use the wiringpi library, it is just as easy to use the Expander I/O pins as it is with the Raspberry Pi's.

Finally, when they are wanting more..the GertDunio would open up another set of things to experiment with. Probably more useful when they have had a proper go with the rest of it.
Last edited by meltwater on Tue Dec 03, 2013 3:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Raspberry Pi in the Library

Tue Dec 03, 2013 2:44 pm

One scheme is to have the students respobsible for thier own SD cards (just a few bucks). Whem the students get access to the Pi, they pop in thier own card, and remove it when they return the Pi. The same Pi can be used for Scratch programming in the afternoon, and to run a robot after school. No chance of one project breaking another, and the students can be encouraged to make backups offline (suitable USB card adapters are also just a few bucks).

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