By Doug Lowe

Before you can fire up your Raspberry Pi and start building your own electronics projects, you need to do some basic setup work. Start by setting up the hardware. You’ll need the following to set up your Pi so that you can program it for your projects:

  • A Raspberry Pi 2 or 3.
  • A suitable power supply: The Raspberry Pi requires a 5 V power supply connected via a micro-USB connection on the card. The Pi itself will draw about 800 mA, so be sure to use a power supply that can handle at least that much current draw.
  • A monitor: You don’t need a large monitor, but go for at least 17 inches.
  • An HDMI cable: If your monitor has an HDMI connection, you’ll need a cable with HDMI connectors on both ends. If your monitor has some other type of connection, such as DVI or VGA, you’ll need an adapter to connect your monitor to the Pi’s HDMI connector.
  • A USB keyboard: Any keyboard with a USB connector will do.
  • A USB mouse: Any mouse with a USB connector will do.
  • A microSD card with NOOBS: The Raspberry Pi uses a microSD card instead of a disk drive. Ideally, you should purchase a microSD card that already has a special program called NOOBS installed on it. (NOOBS stands for New Out Of the Box Software.) This program will allow you to install an operating system so that your Pi can run.
    If you prefer, you can format your own microSD card for your Pi. You can do that by downloading NOOBS from Raspberry Pi — Teach, Learn, and Make with Raspberry Pi on your computer and then copying the NOOBS software to the microSD card.
  • A network connection: A network connection is essential to download several of the support packages you’ll need for your projects. You can connect your Pi to a network in one of two ways:
    • If you have a Raspberry Pi 3, you can use the built-in Wi-Fi to connect to a wireless network.
    • You can use a standard Ethernet cable to plug a Raspberry Pi 2 or 3 into a wired network, provided you have a nearby router or switch with an available network port.

That’s all you need to get started. Plug the monitor, mouse, and keyboard into your Pi’s HDMI and USB ports, insert the microSD card into the microSD slot, and then plug in the power connector. Your Pi will start right up.