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The Ultimate Raspberry Pi Bundle - Review

Scoring

Product Performed to Expectations: 10
Specifications were sufficient to design with: 10
Demo Software was of good quality: 9
Product was easy to use: 8
Support materials were available: 10
The price to performance ratio was good: 10
TotalScore: 57 / 60
  • RoadTest: The Ultimate Raspberry Pi Bundle
  • Buy Now
  • Evaluation Type: Independent Products
  • Was everything in the box required?: No - The Raspberry Pi Camera was not included in the box, but Element14 were helpful to supply a replacement. Breadboards, Soldering Iron, Solder, etc are required for using some of the components. It would also have helped to have a few MicroUSB power cables as well.
  • Comparable Products/Other parts you considered: Beagle Bone Black Arduino PIC32 Dev Boards
  • What were the biggest problems encountered?: When testing the serial functions of the Gertboard, there was no obvious documentation on setting up hardware and software-wise. It took an hour to find all of the required information.

  • Detailed Review:

    Note: This review really does not do me or the kit any favours. I will get around to rewriting this.


    Initial Unboxing

    The initial unboxing of all the parts was quick and simple and was neatly packaged in a lot of bubble wrap and thick plastic. Nothing was damaged in the long transit from the USA to the UK.

    Everything was in seperate boxes and clearly labelled. The only issue I had at this stage was that the Pi Camera was missing.

    I later emailed Christian DeFeo, who quickly put in a request to send out a new one to me, which also came in a box and very well wrapped.

     

    Section Score: 10/10

     

    Setup

    My first job was setting up the Raspberry Pi. Having already owning a Raspberry Pi, it was easy to get set up and connected. The included 8GB SD Card was preloaded with NOOBS, which I admit, I have never used before.

    Upon bootup I was pleased to see that the card was automatically set up and it gave me the choice of choosing the OS. I selected Raspbian and it went away and installed itself.

    I then did the initial configuration of password changes, etc. Overall, getting started was a pleasant experience.

     

    Section Score: 10/10

     

    Gertboard

    Now, one of the items in the box that really stood out to me is the Gertboard. It was one of the biggest items in the box, and looked quite interesting. I went about and unboxed it, finding Gert Van Loo's remarkable creation.

    This was my first ever encounter with the electronic side of things and it was confusing. My first issue was figuring out which way the board connected to the GPIO pins. (Hint to self: The way it will actually fit on without stopping down the pin halfway)

     

    With this all connected up, I hopped over to a website called Gordon's Projects. This site was extremely helpful in setting up the Gertboard. The initial experience of setting up the Arduino IDE and Avrdude was surprisingly pleasant. The site provided an automated script that installed everything. I immediately started to program the Gertboard - to find I had not initialised the chip and the programmer was set incorrectly. I later initialised the chip and all the red lights came on. Fancy :3

     

    I then tried to program it again. And my jumpers were not set. This is where things got a little complicated.

    sch.png

    Image taken from Gertboard UM Final w/ Schematics

     

    Using the above diagram which took a while to find, I connected the providing jumper cables required to program the ATmega. I then connected Pin 13/GB PB5 to Output Buffer 1. When I programmed the blink example to the board, it worked.

     

    I later tried programming a friend's project that required Serial. This eventually worked after a day of research, but took a number of steps that I may document another day, as it is too much to detail here.

     

    Section Score: 6/10


    Adafruit 16 x 2 LCD + Keypad

    I cannot really say much about this yet, as I have not yet finished soldering it. But, the parts are extremely well built and have held through a newbie's awful soldering skills.


    Section Score: N/A


    PiFace C&D

    The PiFace C&D is an easy to use LCD shield for the Raspberry Pi. After setting up the included Python example, the LCD immediately got to work. Sadly the time it takes to change the details onscreen is not really ideal for many uses. I also had issues setting it up with LCDproc so I could display XBMC details.

    There was also no obvious documentation on setting up the keypad.

    The IR function is untested due to the lack of IR remote.

     

    Section Score: 5/10

     

    element14 XBMC Bundle

    The XBMC bundle was the monolithic beast of all. Inside it contained a 4gb SD card, Ethernet Cable, HDMI cable and a wireless keypad. Sadly it did not contain a power supply, which would have been nice to make the setup complete.

     

    The wireless keypad works extremely well, and I have yet to recharge it's battery. The HDMI cable is 1m long and performs to a high standard. The ethernet cable is a whopping 3m and works extremely well.

    The software on the SD card is outside of the scope of this review, But RaspBMC is awesome, and you can expect a high performance out of it.

     

    Section Score: 10/10

     

    PiRack

    The PiRack is just what you would expect - a rack of GPIO pins that are accessible, however some parts (Embedded Pi, PiFace c&d) could not be connected due to the design, however this could be solved using a ribbon cable.

     

    Untested Items

    I was unable to test the Chipkit Pi, Embedded Pi, Pi Cobbler and Prototyping plate. The Embedded Pi and Chipkit Pi require male headed jumpers, which I do not own and in addition require programming knowledge I currently do not have. I do not own a breadboard, and thus was unable to test the Pi Cobbler. The prototyping plate is currently not at my skill level.


    Please note that as time goes on I will be adding more detail as I have limited time, so I advise you to check my blog and see how I am getting on.


    Used Resources:

    Gertboard UM

    element14.com

    projects.drogon.net

    PiFace C&D Manual

    CooCox Website

    Raspberry Pi Forums

    Personal Knowledge


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