Review: Raspberry Pi A+

Tinkering with the Raspberry Pi A+

Posted 08 Dec 2014 by 

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Raspberry Pi model A+
Image credits : 

Photo by Luis Ibanez

The Raspberry Pi team is on fire (in a good way), making new Raspberry Pi models faster than we can review them.

Eben Upton, Raspberry Pi Founder and CEO of Raspberry Pi's engineering team, recently announced the new Raspberry Pi A+ model.

Picture of the Raspberry Pi model A+

Raspberry Pi A+ box.

Back of the Raspberry Pi A+ box, with list of specifications.

Raspberry Pi A+ versus Raspberry Pi B+

I recently reviewed the Raspberry Pi model B+. Let's compare them side by side, literally.

Side by side picture of Raspberry Pi B+ and A+

What is different:

Specifications B+ A+
RAM Memory 512MB 256Mb
USB Ports 4 1
Ethernet Ports 1 0
Width 3 1/2" (85 mm) 2 1/2" (65 mm)
Price $35 $20

What remains the same:

  • Broadcom BCM2835 processor 700Mhz
    • 700 MHz Low Power ARM1176JZ-F Applications Processor
    • Dual Core VideoCore IV® Multimedia Co-Processor
  • 40pin extended GPIO
  • Full size HDMI
  • Micro SD slot
  • Display port
  • Camera port
  • Integrated audio and video composite jack
  • Micro USB power connector
  • Height: 2 1/4" (56 mm)
  • Power consumption 600mA

I ordered mine from MCM Electronics. It is also availabe from AdaFruit.

The A+ is ideal for driving stand alone projects, especially the ones that can get away with using a USB mini WiFi connector to get into the network and drive devices through the GPIO ports. Curiously, the A+ boards turns out to be great for running Coder, since we just need to connect to it:

  • The micro SD card with Coder installed in it
  • The USB mini-WiFi 
  • Power it through the USB cable

Setting up the Raspberry PI A+ to run Coder

Micro SD card with Coder in Raspberry Pi A+.

Powering up the Raspberry Pi A+ board

I set up the same SD card for Coder recently, and it was no problem to use a laptop in the same wireless network to connect to Coder out-of-the-box.

Using Coder in the Raspberry Pi A+.

Inspecting Space Rocks project in Raspberry Pi A+.

You can, of course, just login the Raspberry Pi A+ board, using SSH; in this case, remembering the the "pi" user got its password reset during the configuration of Coder. Here is the login session from a Chromebook and a peek at the CPU specifications. 

Connecting to Raspberry Pi A+ via SSH from a Laptop.

Conclusion

Overall, the new Raspberry Pi A+ is a great board. It has an unbeatable price of $20, which makes it an ideal device for experimental projects. It is remarkable that the Raspberry Pi team has beaten its own 2011 goal of making an ARM GNU/Linux box for $25 and has managed to get $5 below that goal!

The timing is just right to include it on your holidays shopping list and spread Raspberry Pi happiness all around.

8 Comments

jezra

Hopefully the next SoC from the Raspberry Pi foundation will be Open Source and won't require proprietary binaries in order to run.

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Don Watkins

Great article Louis! I love the Raspberry Pi. So many projects for them. Just bought a Raspberry Pi B+ for my nieces. Glad to know about the A+

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Don Watkins

Great article Louis! I love the Raspberry Pi. So many projects for them. Just bought a Raspberry Pi B+ for my nieces. Glad to know about the A+

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John Mainwaring

I believe the power consumption of the A+ is considerably less than the B+. Reducing the number of support chips saves power as well as space. I seem to recall that the A+ only draws about 200 mA if you don't need WiFi, which makes it particularly suited to battery powered projects

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hassanour

Nice article, very helpful. I have RB Pi A+. Now we are working on an app with the RB Pi OS.

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Bob

Hi...Nice innovation....wonderful device....i want to know if the cost include the other accessories of the piece. which include; power connector, micro sd, bluetooth device. etc...pls gimme info on these. thanks.

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Luis Ibanez

Bob,

Very good question. The answer is no, the $35 price only includes the board itself. We typically would have to include

1) SD card for $10 to $14 - you could use an SD card from a camera
2) Monitor (you could connect to any monitor or TV that has an HDMI input)
3) Keyboard $10-$20
4) USB power supply with microUSB connector - commonly used for phones ~ $8
5) Wifi dongle $12

The designers of the Raspberry Pi aimed to make possible for us to reuse many of this components from other devices. (just like in the times of the Commodore 64 in the 1980's). E.g use the power supply of your phone, use your home TV as monitor, borrow a keyboard and mouse from a desktop... and so on.

A good alternative, is to look at the beginner's kits, for example this one at AdaFruit:
https://www.adafruit.com/products/2125

where all the pieces come conveniently together for about $100,
that is a pretty good deal in my humble opinion.

(note that you would still need to get a monitor, or any TV with an HDMI input).

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Rolly Estomaguio

I am trying to replace the RPi Rev. B which I'm using for my Robotics project with an RPi A+. Unfortunately, the A+ won't complete the booting process. It endlessly searching for internet connection or DHCP on Ethernet. Tried the ESC key to bypass the process but no effect. I am using a wireless keyboard and use the lone USB port for the 2.4GHz receiver. I tried the same RISCOS SD card with the RPi 2 that I have and it works seamlessly without any problem. I hope somebody out there can provide some light on this issue.

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Luis Ibáñez works as Senior Software Engineer at Google Inc in New York city. Opinions expressed in this site are his own.You can find him in github at:  http://www.github.com/luisibanezand in twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/luisibanezHe previously worked as a Technical Leader at Kitware Inc., and Director of Open