Like many, it seems over the last few years, I’ve been getting more interested in some simple home brew hardware hacking. Thus, I’ve recently taken delivery of an Arduino Starter Kit, and a Raspberry Pi model B. If you’ve somehow missed these, then a quick summary on both.
The Arduino group are an open source team, bringing that philosophy to hardware. The upshot is a collection simple circuit boards, bread boards, and simple electronic components – in the fact the whole thing makes me think of school electronics classes when I was 17. I got the starter kit, which contains all the important things you’ll need to do the 15 projects contained in the guide, from a Spaceship Interface to Touchy Feely Lamp. The book is well put together, and a great introduction to the system, but a brief search around the place shows people are doing some great things with their systems. (Starter Kit costs around 100USD / 9000JPY)
The Raspberry Pi is a little different – it still has an open source basis, but is essentially a basic computer – CPU, memory, the whole thing. You just add USB power, a case, an SD card for storage, and on a simple level, install a special Debian Linux release called Raspbian. From this you have a computer which can run media at 1080p over HMDI, to simple tasks and desktop over the RCA video connector. the base board costs from 20GBP for the Model A, to 26GBP for the Model B, which is the one I bought. So far it:s been a lot of fun, and impressive something so cheap and simple can be used to stream video off my home NAS, and on a different install be a normal desktop for learning a bit of Python on.
Addendum: Note that most of my tech posts are now over at brightblack.net