Linux Format

Build better Pi IoT devices

Arm yourself with the best Pi to date and build better Internet of Things devices with our essential getstarted guide.


The Raspberry Pi has changed how smart devices are designed and built forever. When the original Pi burst onto the scene in early 2012, the market for Single Board Computers (SBC) was an expensive and complex range of developmen­t devices aimed at profession­al users. Not only did the Raspberry Pi reduce the price for entry, down from $150 to $35, but it also reduced the knowledge needed to develop your own projects and devices, thanks to its use of GPL’d Linux.

The Pi Foundation didn’t rest on its laurels. The specificat­ions have been upgraded and tweaked. The first update brought an increase in RAM to 512MB. We have since seen more GPIO pins added, more USB ports, then an update to the CPU to incorporat­e a quad-core 64-bit processor and still more RAM.

The Pi Zero took a step back with just 512MB of RAM and a single-core CPU clocked at 1GHz, but it offered a far smaller and way cheaper Raspberry Pi that could be embedded into projects and forgotten about. The Pi Zero was used for camera projects such as trail cameras, sent into a low Earth orbit, and embedded into wearable technology. But what was missing was something that we wouldn’t appreciate until the Pi 3 came out in early 2016, and that was wireless connectivi­ty.

The new Pi Zero W was launched on February 28, and while it retains the CPU and RAM of its predecesso­r, it now comes with the same wireless package as the flagship Pi 3: WiFi 802.11n and Bluetooth 4.1 using a clever integrated aerial. This means that we now have a low-cost platform for creating Internet of Things (IoT) applicatio­ns, backed by a passionate community who have used many of the 12 million Pis sold since its launch to make great devices. Let’s look now at how we can make the most of this tiny board.

“What was missing we wouldn’t appreciate until the Pi 3 came out in early 2016.”

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