Using Raspberry Pi for Python Coding

If you’re considering on which platform to install and use Python, then give some thought to one of the best coding bases available: the Raspberry Pi. The Pi has many advantages for the coder: it’s cheap, easy to use, and extraordinarily flexible.

The Power of Pi

While having a far more powerful coding platform on which to write and test your code is ideal, it’s not often feasible. Most of us are unable to jump into a several hundred-pound investment when we’re starting off and this is where the Raspberry Pi can help out.

While having a far more powerful coding platform on which to write and test your code is ideal, it’s not often feasible. Most of us are unable to jump into a several hundred-pound investment when we’re starting off and this is where the Raspberry Pi can help out.

The Raspberry Pi is a fantastic piece of modern hardware that has created, or rather re-created, the fascination we once all had about computers, how they work, how to code and foundation level electronics. Thanks to its unique mix of hardware and custom software, it has proved itself to be an amazing platform on which to learn how to code; specifically, using Python.

While you’re able, with ease, to use the Raspberry Pi to learn to code with other programming languages, it’s Python that has been firmly pushed to the forefront. The Raspberry Pi uses Raspbian as its recommended, default operating system. Raspbian is a Linux OS, or to be more accurate, it’s a Debian-based distribution of Linux. This means that there’s already a built-in element of Python programming, as opposed to a fresh installation of Windows 10, which has no Python-specific base. However, the Raspberry Pi Foundation has gone the extra mile to include a vast range of Python modules, extensions and even examples, out of the box. So, essentially, all you need to do is buy a Raspberry Pi, follow the instructions on how to set one up (by using one of our excellent Raspberry Pi guides) and you can start coding with Python as soon as the desktop has loaded.

Significantly, there’s a lot more to the Raspberry Pi, which makes it an excellent choice for someone who is starting to learn how to code in Python. The Pi is remarkably easy to set up as a headless node. This means that, with a few tweaks here and there, you’re able to remotely connect to the Raspberry Pi from any other computer, or device, on your home network. For example, once you’ve set up the remote connectivity options, you can simply plug the Pi into the power socket anywhere in your house within range of your wireless router. As long as the Pi is connected, you will be able to remotely access the desktop from Windows or macOS as easily as if you were sitting in front of the Pi with a keyboard and mouse.

Using this method saves a lot of money, as you don’t need another keyboard, mouse and monitor, plus, you won’t need to allocate sufficient space to accommodate those extras either. If you’re pushed for space and money, then for around £60, buying one of the many kits available will provide the Pi with a pre-loaded SD card (with the latest Raspbian OS), a case, power socket and cables, this is a good idea as you could, with very little effort, leave the Pi plugged into the wall under a desk, while still being able to connect to it and code.

The main advantage is, of course, the extra content that the Raspberry Pi Foundation has included out of the box. The reason for this is that the Raspberry Pi’s goal is to help educate the user, whether that’s coding, electronics, or some other aspect of computing. To achieve that goal the Pi Foundation includes different IDEs for the user to compile Python code on; as well as both Python 2 and Python 3, there’s even a Python library that allows you to communicate with Minecraft.

There are other advantages, such as being able to combine Python code with Scratch (an Object-Oriented programming language developed by MIT, for children to understand how coding works) and being able to code the GPIO connection on the Pi to further control any attached robotics or electronics projects. Raspbian also includes a Sense HAT Emulator (a HAT is a hardware attached piece of circuitry that offers different electronics, robotics and motorisation projects to the Pi), which can be accessed via Python code.

Consequently, the Raspberry Pi is an excellent coding base, as well as a superb project foundation.

Raspberry Pi 4

Introduced on 24th June 2019, the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B is a significant leap in terms of Pi performance and hardware specifications. It was also one of the quickest models, aside from the original Pi, to sell out.

With a new 1.5GHz, 64-bit, quad-core ARM Cortex-A72 processor, and a choice of 1GB, 2GB, or 4GB memory versions, the Pi 4 is onestep closer to becoming a true desktop computer. In addition, the Pi 4 was launched with the startling decision to include dual-monitor support, in the form of a pair of two micro-HDMI ports. You’ll also
find a pair of USB 3.0 ports, Bluetooth 5.0, and a GPU that’s capable of handing 4K resolutions and OpenGL ES 3.0 graphics.

In short, the Pi 4 is the most powerful of the current Raspberry Pi models. However, the different memory versions have an increased cost. The 1GB version costs £34, 2GB is £44, and the 4GB version will set you back £54. Remember to also factor in one or two micro-HDMI cables with your order.

Raspbian Buster

In addition to releasing the Pi 4, the Raspberry Pi team also compiled a new version of the Raspbian operating system, codenamed Buster.

In conjunction with the new hardware the Pi 4 boasts, Buster does offer a few updates. Although on the whole it’s very similar in appearance and operation to the previous version of Raspbian. The updates are mainly in-line with the 4K’s display and playback, giving the Pi 4 a new set of graphical drivers and performance enhancements


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Russ Ware

Russ has been testing, reviewing and writing guides for tech since the heady days of Windows 95 and the Sega Saturn. A self-confessed (and proud) geek about all things tech, if it has LED's, a screen, beeps or has source code, Russ will want to master it (and very likely take it apart to see how it works...)

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