Pi Day is here again! March 14th is the annual celebration of the mathematical constant π, observed by scientists and engineers – since 3, 1, and 4 are the first three significant digits of π. This day is also observed by tens of millions of hobbyists, makers, electronics and software engineers, automation engineers, and computer enthusiasts of all ages who use the popular Raspberry Pi micro PC in a wide array of computing applications.
The Raspberry Pi was first introduced in 2012 – eight years ago as a low-cost microcomputer, and it literally changed the world of computing forever! “Pi” stands for “Python interpreter” and “Raspberry” came about because its developers followed a tradition of naming computer products after fruits. The Raspberry name followed on the heels of such brands as Tangerine Computer Systems, Apricot Computers, Cherry Corporation, Papaya Studio, Acorn, Blackberry and, of course, Apple Computer. Back in 2012, Raspberry Pi creators recognized that computers were getting too complex and expensive for enthusiasts to learn, experiment, hack, and build microprocessor-powered solutions. The Raspberry Pi’s small size, very affordable price, and relatively powerful system resources allowed computer enthusiasts and professionals of all ages to create, experiment, hack, innovate, or learn programming using modern languages such as Python.
The Raspberry Pi excitement continues to grow. With a birthday falling on the quadrennial Leap Day – February 29th, in 2020, the Raspberry Pi 4 is now offered with an additional 1GB of RAM memory at no extra cost! Raspberry officials say that plummeting RAM chip prices allowed them to offer the Raspberry Pi 4 with 2GB RAM for the same old price of $35. They also promise that the special price will be permanent. The alternate 1GB model, also priced at $35, is expected to appeal mainly to organizations that already have a lineup of the lower-powered models in their products and solutions, and require compatibility with those existing units. Otherwise, there is no reason not to purchase the 2GB model at the same price point. The next level up 4GB version Rpi 4 costs $55. In my personal opinion, the 1GB model will eventually be phased-out as software and IoT applications progress, but only time will tell how long that will take. Today, the Raspberry Pi is a phenomenon – it is now the world’s third best-selling, general-purpose computer! By the end of last year, Raspberry Pi unit sales topped 30 million. A growing corps of fans has designed and continues to innovate creative projects as well as professional solutions incorporating all facets of computer programming and engineering.
At Contemporary Controls, we are huge proponents of open technologies and interoperability, and we are big fans of the Raspberry Pi. 3/14/2020 also happens to be the 2-year anniversary of the release of the original BASautomation HAT for Raspberry Pi – the BASpi. We created 2 models of the building automation-capable Raspberry Pi shield/HAT/bonnet/daughterboard/add-on board, or whatever you would like to call hardware attached on top, which only differ by the makeup of their outputs. By mating our BASpi board with the Rpi’s 40-pin GPIO header, leveraging industry-standard open technologies, and providing free software to be installed on its Linux OS, we provide an affordable BACnet-networked (industry standard communications protocol), Sedona-programmable (function block programming) controller with Ethernet and Wi-Fi connectivity, web-based configuration and REST API under the BASpi name. The BASpi boards are compatible with Raspbery Pi 3B, 3B+, and now the most powerful Raspbery Pi 4B. Of course, as always, programming, archiving and BASpi emulation tools are provided as a free download in the BAScontrol Toolset. The BASpi provides affordable control without restrictions to hobbyists and professionals alike in the open spirit of Raspberry Pi computing.
I vividly remember our president at Contemporary Controls – Mr. George Thomas saying “We should do something with Raspberry Pi” a few years ago, and all of the engineers immediately getting super excited. At Contemporary Controls, we design and manufacture an array of products from networking infrastructure with Ethernet, Cellular, Wi-Fi, EIA-485, to building automation programmable controllers and protocol-specific routers and gateways, and lately including products based on Raspberry Pi. From that moment on, in the past 2 years, we have developed 2x BASpi-IO HAT boards, we are gearing up to release our new BASpi-Edge cloud-connected BACnet controllers, a BASpi-Small Building Supervisor, and an application-ready Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3-powered automation platform which has had success in a few OEM applications already, and is ready and waiting to run your custom software solution! We even made our own industrial-grade micro PC which you will hear more about in coming blog articles. Today, on 3/14/2020 at 3:14pm, I wish you a happy Pi Day!