raspberry pi

Get the minimum necessary Raspberry Pi Hardware

I get asked a lot what parents should get for their kids to get started with the raspberry pi.  This article has the short list of items that I consider the minimum set. (So I can simply point to this! 😉 )

Something to keep in mind – if you find you are interested in getting a kit – go for it – many contain several of the items here for a bit of a discount.  Don’t assume only these items will work.  These are simply to help folks make purchases who are having a hard time sussing out all the options.

The Minimum


Besides the Raspberry PI 3 pictured above, you’ll need a couple of other accessories.  (Note: I just bought some PIs at Fry’s – they sell them for $35 and NO shipping fee!)

The very minimum is the SD card and the power supply.

My favorite SD card is this one:


The SanDisk 16GB 10-Speed

16 GB is more than enough for all the projects I’ve found so far and its speed is top of the line.  For the power supply I’m still rooting around for my favorite.  Having clean strong power is essential, especially if you want to try the IR work featured in my other article:

Raspberry Pi – Control by Magic Wand!

The one I have the highest hopes for is this:


Power Supply with Push Button Switch

Card reader/writer for USB.  You’ll need this if your computer does not already have a flash card slot.  This one seems like a decent deal:


Card Reader/Writer

Other basic supplies…

The minimum starting set above allows you to run your raspberry pi on the network, and then ssh into it.  Set it up using PiBakery as described in this article (because it will start up on your network.):

PiBakery – Tool with Side benefits for setting up your Raspberry Pi

Its likely you’ll also want a way to connect the Pi to a TV.  To do that you’ll need a free HDMI port on one of your TVs or monitors and an HDMI cable.  This one by Amazon Basics is a good one:


HDMI Cable

The to use the pi desktop you’ll need a usb keyboard and mouse.  Any will do, but here are some Amazon Basics that are cheap and good:


Keyboard and Mouse by Amazon

Getting a little more extravagant…

Now, if you have all of that, and you want to get a few more things that are nice to have.  First, buy a couple more SD cards, same as the one I linked above.  Then get yourself an Official Raspberry PI case.  I’m partial to this one:


Official Raspberry PI Case

Another useful bit is a set of heatsinks.  The heatsinks allow you to take full advantage of your Pi’s processor.  These:


Raspberry Heat Sink Set

Cadillac Equipment…

Sense Hat…

Another useful bit that will be explored in some of the lessons found on this site is the Raspberry PI Sense Hat.  This board was designed to be sent into space as part of a project to run experiments in zero gravity.  It has lots of devices to explore and LEDs sufficient for fun:


Raspberry PI Sense Hat

A Screen…

If you want to go all out, consider purchasing a monitor (make sure it has an HDMI port) dedicated to your pi, or you could consider getting the Raspberry PI Screen:


Regular screen

You might consider the PI screen too small, or just want to get your inventor off of the family television.  If so I recommend this screen from Best Buy:


Its slim, a recognized brand and a good price and size for most work.

A better disk…

A faster disk… these save time.  They are twice as expensive but many times more fast:


Now that you have all the stuff…

Head on over to lesson 1 to play!


One thought on “Get the minimum necessary Raspberry Pi Hardware

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