The Raspberry Pi (Pi) is a great computer board. After you learn about it, it’s a whole computer with endless possibilities! It has short pieces of metal (called pins) that you can use to connect things like wires and lights to the Pi. However, the biggest problem for people learning to use a Raspberry Pi is that there are so many things needed to get started. I got my first Raspberry Pi for Christmas, with the official touchscreen. It turned out that you need some other accessories to make use of its capabilities. I am trying to build a laptop out of mine. Whenever you need to use the Pi like a normal computer, you need a screen, keyboard, and mouse. There are numerous other uses for it, some not requiring a screen, keyboard, and mouse. So what we want to do today is get the Pi set up and ready to use, with sound, a screen, and a keyboard and mouse. The point of it is to get the Pi all ready for use as a normal computer. That involves connecting the display, installing (flashing) an SD card with an operating system, and several other things. Thanks for reading, and have fun!
What you Need
- Raspberry Pi (any model works)
- micro SD card (make sure you get one that someone else has tested, this one worked for me)
- micro SD to USB or full SD adapter
- micro USB Power Supply (Pi 3 and older)
- Power Supply (Pi 4 and newer)
- Keyboard and Mouse
- A monitor or TV
- Earbuds (optional)
- Access to a computer with an internet connection and an SD card slot or USB port
First of all, install the Raspberry Pi Imager. Download it from the Raspberry Pi website.
For Windows computers:
First of all, open File Explorer. Double-click the Downloads folder. Look for a file called “imager_x.x.x”, x meaning a number, depending on the version you download and double-click it. The installer will launch. Now, just follow the instructions on the installer, and it will install itself. Launch the software by selecting the search icon on the taskbar, then searching for “raspberry pi”. Click on “Raspberry Pi Imager”. A prompt will come up asking if the application can make changes to your device. The software needs this permission to flash the SD card, so allow it.
The macOS version of the Raspberry Pi Imager is downloaded as a .dmg file. DMG stands for Disk Image and is commonly used to install software downloaded from the Internet on your Mac. They act as a removable disk. First of all, open the Finder. Then, double-click the file. It will launch the installer. Follow the instructions to install the application. When you launch it for the first time, use the Finder to find the app icon. Control-click the app icon, then choose Open from the menu. After that, you can open it from the Launchpad like normal. This process bypasses the developer registration process so that the application can run.
And now, regardless of what type of computer you have, the next thing to do is to put the micro SD card in the adapter (either micro SD to full SD or micro SD to USB). Next, plug the adapter into your computer. File Explorer will pop up several times during the installation, but you don’t need it, so just close it. Now, in the Raspberry Pi software, select “Choose OS”. After that, pick “Raspberry Pi OS (32-BIT)”. Select “Choose Storage”. Select your SD card. Next, select “Write”. Lastly, choose “Yes”. If another notice comes up, choose “Yes” for that one too. After a while, a notice will pop up saying that the SD card is finished (flashed). Get out your Raspberry Pi. Flip it over, and insert the micro SD card. It will only go in one way.
About the display: If you have a TV in the house, try plugging the cable into the Raspberry Pi’s HDMI port. If it fits, great! Otherwise, if the connector looks like this,
you may need to buy a Micro HDMI to HDMI cable. Plug the small end into the Raspberry Pi and the other end into the monitor. If your Pi looks like this,
you will need an HDMI to HDMI cable. Both ends are the same, so plug one end into the Pi, and another into the TV so that the video signal can be transferred to your TV.
Now, if you want, you can set up the sound. Get out your Raspberry Pi. Flip it over, and insert the micro SD card. It will only go in one way. If you have them, plug your headphones into the audio jack. You might hear a buzz, but other than that, you won’t hear any sound until you start a sound when you turn the Pi on.
Keyboard and Mouse
Get out your keyboard and mouse. Find the receiver, and plug it into a USB port on the Pi. Turn on the mouse and keyboard.
Get out your power supply. Plug the large end into a wall socket. Next, plug the USB end into the Pi. Just so you know, it doesn’t have a power switch. To turn it on, you have to plug it in. To turn it off, you need to use the software. I’ll show you how to do that in the next section. Also, the Pi doesn’t have a battery. To have it on, you need to have it plugged in.
The Pi will then boot up. Raspberries will start to show up in the corner of the screen, or you may see a splash screen with the Raspberry Pi logo or a pattern of random colors. On the first boot, the Raspberry Pi Setup Wizard shows up. It will ask you to connect to Wi-Fi, choose your keyboard layout, (e.g if you live in the US, choose the US keyboard), and update the software. To shut it down, click on the raspberry icon in the top left corner. Then, click on “Shutdown”. A dialog box will pop up. Select “Shutdown”. A helpful tip: A resource that is very helpful is the diagram of the Pi’s pins at pinout.xyz.
There are a lot of different things you can do with the Raspberry Pi. I put together a couple of tutorials from the Raspberry Pi website to give you some ideas.
- Laser Tripwire
- Programmable Balloon Popper (push a button to pop a balloon!)
- Line Following Robot
- Control Lights with your Voice
Thanks for reading, and have fun experimenting and coding! If you have any questions, just write a comment below. Keep watching my blog for more projects and tutorials!