Welcome

Just more than four years ago the first Raspberry Pi was released to overwhelming response. Many people had to wait for their first-generation Pi while production was ramped up to meet the demand. Now you have an entire array of Pis from which to choose, and demand is still so high that you might have to wait for your computer on backorder immediately after a new model is released. Moreover, the quad-core Raspberry Pi 3 has broadened the possibilities of what you can accomplish with the little nanocomputer.

Just more than four years ago the first Raspberry Pi was released to overwhelming response. Many people had to wait for their first-generation Pi while production was ramped up to meet the demand. Now you have an entire array of Pis from which to choose, and demand is still so high that you might have to wait for your computer on backorder immediately after a new model is released. Moreover, the quad-core Raspberry Pi 3 has broadened the possibilities of what you can accomplish with the little nanocomputer.

In this issue, we look at the history of the Raspberry Pi and what it has accomplished in four short years. You'll also get a detailed look into the most powerful generation 3 Model B Pi, and the projects in a number of articles underscore the improved capabilities of the newest Rasp Pis.

Computer-aided design (CAD) might be something you never considered attempting on a Raspberry Pi, but in this issue we look at two CAD programs. 3D Slash is especially suitable for kids who want try their hand at modeling simple geometric designs, whereas FreeCAD lets you create models of real-world objects suitable for submission to a 3D printing service.

Drtorq upgrades his "Conference Presentation and Manipulation Apparatus" from the RPi1 to the RPi2. You can glean some useful information about how he uses an unusual machine that presents a slide show during his conference lectures and, in the meantime, generates added interest and attendance. In SwitchDoc Labs, John C. Shovic analyzes the solar gain of stationary and sun-tracking solar panels; one of his goals is to offset the additional power needed by the newer Raspberry Pis. In this article, you learn how to build the tracking mechanism and collect and analyze the data.

Most Internet of Things devices rely on the cloud for monitoring and control, but we show you how to take a WiFi-enabled smart plug with a programmable interface and start your Raspberry Pi at predefined times. Not only can you decrease power consumption when your project doesn't need to be on 24/7, you can remain free of the manufacturer's cloud. In another article that looks after your privacy, you can learn how to set up your home network with upribox to intercept online tracking and advertising before it reaches any of the computers or mobile devices in your home.

Three articles get down to the basics of the operating system. A scripting article shows you how to manipulate and analyze your data using the tools provided by Linux, avoiding the need for specialized software. To help you use these Linux tools, you can read all about "man pages" – a command-line documentation system – and how to decipher their concise and highly structured information. Compiling programs on a Raspberry Pi can be a time-consuming process, so you might want to check out how to use distcc to distribute the CPU-intensive compilation tasks from the Raspberry Pi to other computers in your network.

Don't skip the Kid Stop, where we teach you how to program a Scratch project that cycles through costumes to display a game score in an attractive font. Also, the Metcalfe family builds a paddleboat controlled by an Android app they wrote themselves with the MIT App Inventor package.

Welcome to Raspberry Pi Geek. I hope you find some information you can use in one of your inventions from the projects in these pages.

Rita L Sooby Managing Editor

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