Saturday, June 6, 2015

My review of "Learning Raspberry Pi"

“Learning Raspberry Pi” by Samarth Shah is not the introductory book to the Raspberry Pi that you might think from the title.  The book is meant for someone who already has some experience with the device and is looking to expand their knowledge of what’s possible.  The book assumes that you have a model B Raspberry Pi and the special camera that was designed especially for the Raspberry Pi which you usually have to buy separately.  Additional hardware is required to complete some of the exercises in the book.
    The book begins by explaining how to set-up your Raspberry Pi and use New Out Of the Box Software (NOOBS) to load the Linux operating system on the device.  Once this is done all sorts of wonderful things are possible! Each chapter in the book covers different projects that you can complete with your Raspberry Pi (usually some extra pieces of equipment).
The second chapter discusses how you can set-up a web server and create web pages with the Python computer language and Wordpress.  By the end of the chapter you can have your own music station running from the Raspberry Pi.
The third chapter does a brief explanation of basic electronics and then helps you create your own digital clock and finally an actual alarm clock.  This all requires extra parts that you would need to purchase separately.  On a side note I got my Raspberry Pi in the form of a kit (many of which are available online) that came with several pieces of extra equipment including diodes, resistors, etc.  Most of what you need for the clock is contained within that kit.  
The fourth chapter covers robotics, one of my favorite aspects of having a Raspberry Pi.  The projects in this chapter definitely require you to purchase extra equipment including the special Raspberry Pi camera.  Three separate projects are created and then these three are combined together to make a robot.  Lots of scripting in Python is required to make each part of the robot work.
The next chapter is about image processing and some of the amazing things that can be done with the camera and your Raspberry Pi.  The OpenCV image processing software is used to let you manipulate pictures that you capture with the camera.  You also learn how to take time-lapsed pictures and how to set-up a Twitter controlled camera.
Chapter six dives into software algorithms that can help with the image processing.  Details are given on how to set-up facial recognition and even object tracking.  So your Raspberry Pi can be set-up to be a surveillance camera of sorts.  How cool is that?!! All of this takes patience and determination but is achievable with the details provided in the book.
The book ends with some tips for using the Raspberry Pi as well as help with common problems that can occur.  Resources for more advanced projects are listed and author provides his email address so that you can tell him of any Raspberry Pi problems you may have.
This is a very interesting book and is great for someone who has completed a couple of projects from the Raspberry Pi website.  Many hours of enjoyment and learning can be had from following the projects provided in this book.