on 8 December 2013
This is the best Raspberry Pi book I have seen. It seems designed for a 'young adult' audience and is probably intended to educate, but it manages to do this in such a fun way that 'entertaining' probably describes it best.
The book is structured around a series of 'badges' that readers can collect, with badges for mastering visual programming (scratch) and audio programming (sonic PI) as well as more traditional approaches (Python). there is also a badge for mastering Minecraft (an addictive game in itself) in which you learn to control and build minecraft artefacts, such as a magical diamond transporter, by writing code in python. The badges can be downloaded from the Wiley (publisher) website and printed out for children.
As if all this wasn't enough, the book also contains a series of great projects which can teach you how to control the external 'GPIO' interface and make lights flash and motors turn. The Wiley website has a series of videos that can talk you through these in case the book does not have enough detail.
In summary, if you have a child and are interested in the raspberry Pi then buy this book. If you do not have a child available buy the book anyway.
My kids are now 18 and 17 and like many got their Pi's a few years ago at around 16, but after an initial burst of enthusiasm their Pi's sat languishing in the corner of their rooms. Trouble is they both did ICT GSCE & A Level (which is Microsoft Office and web design) rather than a Computer Science GCSE (which includes Python programming and the Pi), despite their secondary school having beacon status for computing. GSCE's in Computing are only just coming in this academic year (2013-2014) for most schools, so any 11 to 13 year old today will have a much better chance being offered the choice of 'Computing' when choosing their GCSE courses in a few years time. For my kids the Pi came a bit too late as at 15 to 18 they were fully engaged in their GCSEs & A Levels and had little free time to do extra curricular activities like learn to programme the Pi, despite IT being a main subject for their study.
That's where this 244 page paperback book scores: its presentation is easy and more importantly engaging for younger kids from 11 to 15 (and their parents). Some projects do require extra electronics but they are freely available online and not expensive - and with LEDs and the like they add a bit of glamour to the dull but worthy Pi. This book is also ideal for techie parents who can encourage and help younger secondary school kids to learn how to program the Pi, and you could work on the projects together with older Primary school kids. Next year my daughter goes to university to study computing and business studies and she has already been sent a Pi and told how to download Python for programming, so she chose this book to get a feel for using the Pi beforehand (as she's never done any programming despite being proficient at building websites). She found the book interesting, very helpful and easy to follow as would be expected, but more importantly didn't feel she was too old for it. Her and her brother had a busy few weeks in the holidays rediscovering their Pi's and enjoyed buying bespoke cases for them (my retro loving son chose wood and my daughter chose clear Perspex with fret-cut Pi logo) - they may not use the Pi's all the time but do consider the Pi cool. As my son's dyslexic he tends to work with his sister when books are involved (they often take their Pi's to grandma's and play with it on her old telly) - so he wasn't so good at some projects like writing the Pi text based adventure game and he appreciated his sisters help. As well as programming and graphics, the book covers basic electronics as well. For projects 7 to 9 you will need headphones (project 7) and wires, LEDs, resistors and the like, all easily obtainable on-line (projects 8 & 9).
So this book's ideal for pre-year 10 secondary schoolkids and their parents who will have the option of GCSE Computing in the future, but don't overlook it as a simple intro for older kids who have a Pi lying about but have lost the initial enthusiasm and need their interest kick-started again - the final project the 'digital JukeBox' involves extra boards and stuff and is quite challenging in a fun way. Author Carrie Anne is a full-time teacher who's been active on the Government's Computing expert panel which reviews the new Computing curriculum in the UK and she's won Talk Talk's London Digital Hero award. In November 2013 raspberryPi.org describe her book as "hands down the best Raspberry Pi book for young people we've seen yet". So 5*. As coding and a computing GCSE may not be for every schoolchild, this is a good introduction to test the water.
Update February 2015: This first edition book's projects are based on the old style 26 pin PIO Raspberry Pi rather than the new Mark 2 (that has an extended 40 pin in/out PIO), but the Mk2 board and its GPIO is 100% compatible with the old style Model B+ and A+ boards (the first 26 pins are identical to the Model A and Model B boards to provide full backward compatibility across all boards). So this book is also fine for the latest 6x faster Raspberry Pi mk2. There is now a second edition of this book 'Adventures in Raspberry Pi' that has been updated for the newer 40 pin PIO Raspberry Pi Mk2.
on 8 December 2013
This book has been eagerly anticipated by followers of the Raspberry Pi, and like many I was very excited to see it in the flesh. The author (Carrie Anne Philbin) is a well-known figure in the Raspberry Pi and UK education communities, and her book fills an important gap. Despite the fact the Raspberry Pi was created to help children gain an introduction to computer science, there have been very few books published specifically targeted at young people with no prior experience.
The approach of the book is to introduce fun mini-projects or activities while teaching proper computing concepts and principles along the way. Doing this allows children to learn in an engaging and fun way. Most chapters are relatively independent, which offers a lot of flexibility in terms of how children approach the book. The target age range is 11-15 year olds, and the full color illustrations throughout the book are fun but not too childish to alienate kids at the upper end of this. Carrie Anne uses non-threatening, easy to understand language throughout, yet manages to avoid talking down to her audience. Importantly, she manages to introduce and start to explain an impressive number of computing concepts throughout the book
Carrie Anne has done an excellent job of selecting fun and exciting projects. The book starts with activities using Scratch, leading to Python, some activities using GPIO, and culminating in a larger activity to create an MP3 Jukebox using the Pi. It's certainly far from a regurgitation of information available elsewhere. The book leads the reader through the core part of each project, but almost every project is open-ended enough that an interested reader can use what they've learnt to expand it far beyond what is described. Anybody who has tried to plan kids programming activities themselves will recognise how much work it can be to come up with interesting projects and the documentation to go with them, and what a valuable contribution this is. The structure of the book means that no one subject is covered in extreme depth, but Carrie Anne provides plenty of pointers after each project for where to go to learn more if you're interested in continuing your studies.
In conclusion, I'd highly recommend this book to any young person with an interest in the Raspberry Pi or a parent looking to introduce the Pi to their child.
on 1 November 2014
I am so pleased with this book, which I purchased as a guide to get me into the Raspberry Pi and to provide resources for a co-curricular computing activity in my school. I have been working through the book since the summer and have found it so clear, with everything explained in sufficient detail for me to get started, before moving on to related activities in class. So far, the students and I have followed instructions from the book to set up the Pi, run Scratch and Python, program Minecraft, connect LEDs to the GPIO ports and made them blink. Next, I need to work out how to use Sonic Pi in class. When I have been dealing with one student, others have picked up the book and followed the instructions on their Pi, leading to memorable events, such as one student logged in to another student's Minecraft world, watching huge cubes of lava materialising in response to instructions written in Python. The book primarily describes the Model B, Rev 2 board, where I have also purchased B+ boards, which have 40 pins on the GPIO port, rather than 26. This is not a problem since the first 26 pins are in common, but some web searching is needed to obtain the additional up-to-date information that is not in the book when you come to the section about GPIO. Some of the software, for example Minecraft, also now comes pre-installed on the newer NOOBS release, so it does not need to be installed and the version of Sonic Pi on the newer version of NOOBS is version 2, rather than version 1 described in the book, so some of the instructions are slightly different. However, the help files on Sonic Pi are excellent and the Raspberry Pi community is active, with good web resources available at the click of a mouse. The Raspberry Pi is such a fantastic resource for secondary school computer science teaching and this book is an excellent introduction, particularly for the model B, but also for the B+, if you are prepared to do a little bit of additional research.
This is a book that can be used from the first setup of Raspberry Pi, and then on to explore some projects to give you a taste of exactly what kind of things you can achieve with your Raspberry Pi. Our daughter is much younger than the marketed age group of 11 and up, but we got this book to be used in conjunction with a parent assisting her. At almost six, she is inquisitive about all the work that goes in to the running of a computer, and the RPi seems to have gone down fantastically well.
As we were dealing with a younger child, we skipped straight to the section of the book that explores Scratch, flying past the chapter on Linux administration. This meant that she could get straight into the first part about visual programming, dragging blocks of functionalities together to create an animation or game.
The layout of the book is simple and clear, with really well-presented diagrams to help you on your way. Child or not, you can definitely pick up this book and expect to find some interesting projects to aim for. It does not come across as patronising, and this is crucial if you are an adult who wants to explore the raspberry Pi in more detail too. It is also ideal for beginners as a whole. this is because it doesn't presume that you already have any existing knowledge to hand about the programming and set-up of the Raspberry Pi.
Overall, a really great book that could appeal to quite a widespread audience. I highly recommend it.
on 11 January 2014
I bought my son (age 10) this book after we bought him a Raspberry Pi for Christmas, since he is interested in learning to write his own games.
This book has proved to be perfect! It takes you through the setup etc. like many other books do - but the great thing about this book is that the 'adventures' (sort of mini-projects) are aimed at children and are things that my son actually wanted to try.
Within about an hour he (with some help from me) had created an animation with a little character that he could control with the arrow keys, and make it 'go through a portal into a cave'.
My son went from being slightly daunted by his Raspberry Pi, to saying it was his best present ever - and he can't wait to do more adventures from this book.
Worth every penny :-)
on 26 December 2013
At 37 I'm not really the target audience for "Adventures in Raspberry Pi" and if I'm honest I got the book because I'd been told there was a reference to my blog in it, so confession over, I can honestly say "I loved this book".
The introductions to the Pi and getting started chapters are really informative and pitched at the right level and seem to give the right level of detail including the basics around navigating the Pi's default operating system including using the command line, installing apps and using the desktop.
I liked the way the projects guide you through from creating your first scratch program, programming Minecraft with python and using the GPIO to control electronics and connect to the 'real world'; each project leads on from the next, allowing the reader to achieve something along the way.
Throughout the book there are pull-outs called "Digging into the code", which describe in depth some of the more complex bits of the code, allowing those who are interested to know more but not confusing those who are still learning.
Something else I liked, which doesn't seem to be advertised, is the videos which go alongside the projects in the book, its a really great feature and I think people would find them really helpful.
From my perspective this is the best book out for getting young people started with and getting the most from their raspberry pi.
on 15 October 2014
This is an excellent introduction to the world of Pi. With this in hand, you will soon have your pi up and running. Not only that, but you (or your child) will be programming in Scratch and Python. Not only that, but they will also learn how to program the free Minecraft app, which has got to be about the best way of teaching a child to code.
There are other projects, too, but we haven't got past Minecraft yet. I say we, because our daughter is younger than the targetted age group of 11-16, so I give her a hand and make sure she doesn't get put off when it gets complicated.
Once you have this book, you will probably want to get other books which go into more detail on Scratch etc, but this is an excellent starting point. And when she does outgrow it, I can turn the Pi into a Mame console.
on 4 January 2015
Bought for computer mad 12 year old who last year got a Raspberry Pi for Christmas. Lots of fun projects- goes hand in glove with an off the shelf accessory kit made for the projects in this book, which can be picked up for around £14. Definitely a good buy for older kids/teens getting into learning about programming.
on 17 April 2014
I'll own up - I got this book for me to use, a 33 year old fella with no experience in programming at all. I bought a Raspberry Pi as soon as they were available with honest intentions to teach myself some basic coding, but the thing has been sitting in its box for well over a year and I've not managed anything more flamboyant than downloading and installing XMBC, a free-source media playing programme with it's own operating system.
However, I have read a few of the chapters of this excellent book, and flicked through all the others, and I can confirm that it really does as expected - teaches you the basics, with the focus on kid-friendly creative projects like creating sprites basic games, animation and the like.The projects are aimed at ages 8-12 I'd guess, so if you are looking for more complex challenges or a guide on how to turn the Pi in to a networked DLNA media server (my eventual, longed-for goal!) then perhaps you need to look elsewhere. The lessons are each simply taught, with step-by-step guides for each along with screen-grabs, and references to other sections of the book where appropriate so you don't have to go hunting when you think "now, how was that done...?". The other benefit is the format - being a book rather than an on-line guide or video, you don't need a separate screen to read from while you're coding. A simple thing but so often over-looked nowadays!
The basic core concepts behind the book are fundamental to getting the most out of your Pi, and whether you're buying this for a youngster or as an early step in to the possibilities of Pi, it's a worthy purchase.