Beginner - What should I buy? :-)

Hello all

I need some advice

Bought my Son a Raspberry Pi 3 a while ago, but he never really got into it. I’d like to get one as well (and take advantage of the Pimorini discount - yes I’m a cheap skate! lol)

I’d need to learn Python - which isn’t an issue, but wondering if I would be happy with a PiZero W (as I’m on a bit of a budget) or go straight to a Pi 3?

I’d also like something “extra” to play with when learning programming - been looking at the Unicorn Hat HD - yes, I do like a challenge lol

Any advice would be appreciated. Hope I’ve made myself clear.
Thanks in advance
Wayne :-)

If you have your own keyboard and HDMI display you could go for one of our Zero W project kits, like:

It might be a little on the deep-end, but you could install Raspbian Jessie Lite on an SD card and start programming Python at the command-line - re-creating those C64/BBC Micro/Amiga experiences of yore and old.

The Pi 3 is pricier, but it’s also a lot easier to hook up to a display, keyboard, mouse and more capable of running a full desktop environment if you want something that feels a bit more familiar (depending on how much tinkering you’ve done with Linux, or the Command-Line). There are also some good hand-holding Python IDEs now, which will be easier to work with.

Of course, you can run a desktop environment on a PI Zero, but to get a mouse and keyboard connected you’ll either need a set with a wireless dongle or a USB hub.

The Python IDE Thonny may be a good place for you to start:

My generic Python getting-started guides might be useful:

And, of course, you always have the fine folks of the forums to help you when you get stuck!

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Thanks @gadgetoid

Will have a look through.

The problem is, I think, I don’t really know what I want, or what I want to do with it - just like the idea of being able to program a computer again, like in the “Old days” that you reference :-)

Thanks again!

The Pi Zero is the cheapest, but you will more than likely spend extra dollars buying the adapters for it smaller ports. It has a MINI HDMI and Micro USB. Plus it only has the one Micro USB for device hookup. That means you will need a USB Hub. I have several Zero W’s now and use this with them, no having to use an adapter. Also keep in mind the Zero is single core, while the 3B is 4 cores. Much better performance. I also have several 3B’s. The build in 4 USB ports comes in handy, plus the regular size ports makes hookup to a monitor or TV easy. If you do go with a Zero W, I highly recommend you at least buy the kit with adapters included. It may be your only option anyway, the singles sell out quick. The Sense Hat may be a better choice than the Unicorn Hat HD. I’ve had a lot of fun with mine. It has all kinds of sensors built in to play with, plus the LED matrix to show info on. Lots of tutorials and info on how to get it all working in Python. I learned a lot of Python playing around with my sense hat and will be more than happy to share my code.

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Thanks @alphanumeric

That’s a really useful answer, and has got me thinking - I may well take your advice.

Definitely going to take the leap - so I should apologise in advance for all the silly questions I may be posting here! :-)

Wayne :-)

Those should help, If you go that route. I have one sense hat setup as a portable weather clock. It shows the Day, Date, Time, temp, humidity and barometric pressure on the LED matrix in a continuously scrolling message. All measured in real time. I take it with to our dog play area to keep an eye on things so the dogs don’t get heat stoke etc. And out on my deck etc. It’s battery powered for portability. I also have an Explorer pHat and pHat Beat to play around with. And GPIO breakout boards with solderless bread boards attached for messing around with switches, LED’s and other breakout boards like GPS etc. All lots of fun. My stuff has all been bought in drips and daps over the years. A little bit here and a little bit there.
Pictures of my projects here if your interested.!AjOYwiwlwDtpgUMsp2qnevKpGEHb

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If you’re just getting started with the RPI, I’d definitely go down a route similar to alphanumeric!

Just get some odd bits over time that stand out to you as just being darn cool and clobber them together into something useful, like that awesome weather clock (you might have just persuaded me to get a sense hat @alphanumeric :D), then you soon get the hang of most of the basic RPI aspects.

Even if you have tons of “projects” running at once and never finish any of them, it’s always insightful to discover the new and unique ways things go about working.


The sense hat is one of the few things that is almost plug and play with a Pi. All the libraries etc are all included in Raspbian. You just have learn some python to get it to do what you want. I had some head banging at first but I just kept at it and as I sorted things out, the next projects got easier and easier. My weather clock just keeps getting things added to it. It has a DS3231 Real Time Clock for accurate time. And a SI1145 light sensor to measure the UV index. I like playing around with various breakout boards. Some of those are pretty cheap and you learn a lot from getting them working.

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Thanks @alphanumeric - that sounds like the route I am going to go down.

I’ll probably have to buy my son a second one once he sees it lol

IMHO, its a great investment considering all the sensors etc on it. The LED matrix is fun to play with too, full RGB LED’s. The different elements of my scrolling message change color based on conditions. The message for temperature is Blue if the temp is below 0c for example. And Red if the temp goes above 25c. It’s all done in the python code. There are two astro Pi’s on the International space station. It just doesn’t get any better than that. =)

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Yup! That’s me 😁

At least one of every revision of RasPi board ever released (except “compute”). Plus multiple HATS/pHATs and project kits. Mostly half-finished or waiting for further inspiration to strike.

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