Getting a Raspberry Pi to play Minecraft Pi…

If you already have a Raspberry Pi, feel free to skip to the next blog post.

Occasionally I have a discussion with someone about the Raspberry Pi and at some point I mention what a wonderful device this $35 computer is…  they typically get excited they can do so much for just $35.  And if I have the chance, I’ll try to adjust their expectations noting that it can cost “as little as $35” if you have all the “accessories” already.

So I wanted to try to lay out in this post just what it costs to get started – and hopefully this may be a useful list if you want to buy one yourself.

The Raspberry Pi is an amazing little computer and it only costs $35.  However if you want to play minecraft pi or access the web, you’ll need a few more things including:

  1. a TV or PC Monitor capable of receiving a signal via HDMI.  (For this post, I’ll assume only HDMI – although Raspberry PI includes analog/composite video and analog stereo support)
  2. A HDMI cable to connect from the Raspberry PI to the TV/Monitor.
  3. A cable to power the USB – e.g. a micro USB power cable with 1 amp of power.
  4. A 4GB+ SD card for local storage (including the operating system)
  5. A keyboard with USB connection
  6. A mouse with USB connection
  7. a USB Wifi 802.11b+ adapter so you can connect to Wifi.  (You can also connect via Ethernet, but I’ll assume Wifi is what most people want)
  8. A USB hub (because the Pi includes 2 USB ports, and I’ve specified 3 USB devices above – Wifi, keyboard and mouse)
  9. And of course… the Rasbperry Pi device — 256MB of RAM or 512MB of RAM

Now for me, I already had everything else when I got the Rapsberry Pi.  I had a micro USB device from my kindle ebook reader, with a USB charger.  I had a keyboard, mouse and USB hub from an old computer.  I did have to buy the USB Wifi adapter/chip, but my cost was closer to $35.  If you have nothing though (other than a HDMI Capable TV/monitor) you’ll need to spend more like $130 (including the $35 for the Raspberry Pi).

Here’s how I came up with the $130 price.  Newark.com (aka Element 14) is one of the manufacturers and retailers of the Raspberry PI – so via their web site I added the following to my cart:

Screen Shot 2013-02-26 at 4.35.26 PM

And the total for the above was:

Screen Shot 2013-02-26 at 4.35.35 PM

Add another approximately $8 for shipping and you get to $130…

So again — hopefully this will cost you less as you have some of the above things already not being used, but worst cast it’s like $130.

Is it worth it?

So if you’re asking whether it’s worth spending that much money for one of these devices?  I’d say:

  1. If you are considering buying a kid a Raspberry PI vs. a low cost desktop/laptop PC — I’d say go for the PC!  Yes you can access the web, etc with the Raspberry PI — but it’s slow and it’s more complex for a kid to start out.
  2. If you are considering buying this to experiment, play or other purposes — then absolutely go for it!

For me, as a father wanting to teach my kids more about computers — it was a great investment (and I just bought two more today).

Of course my bias is on software — and Rapsberry Pi is as much about connecting to to hardware of all types – and controlling it with software.  That’s something you can’t get to the same degree on a PC..

Beware the starter kits — know what it includes and whether it’s important to you…

Again if you are mostly looking for how to get it up and running so you can interact with the software — the list above is what you need.

There are lots of great web sites that sell starter kits that include what you need to connect raspberry pi to other hardware — but not the mouse, keyboard, power, SD card, hdmi cable, etc described above.  So look carefully at what’s included in these kits.

Are you looking at Raspberry Pi primarily as a way to play minecraft?

In that case, you should know that Minecraft Pi Edition is free — but it’s a subset of the full Minecraft experience on the PC.  Minecraft Pi is based on Minecraft Pocked Edition and both are missing some features that many kids enjoy like the ability to connect to multiplayer servers across the internet.

What did I miss?

Hopefully the above is helpful — and make no mistake, I’m very excited about Raspberry Pi and I recommend to most people to get one — as long as they understand what it is they are and are not getting…

Please add your comments though on your view.  If there are cheaper options to get a starter kit as described above – please add that in the comments as well!

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