Day Zero

It has arrived.

The Raspberry Pi Zero is a £4 computer with a 1Ghz single-core CPU, 512MB RAM, USB and HDMI connectivity plus 40-pin GPIO header for serial and I2C units. But to put that in context – to help you understand why I’m so excited – it’s more powerful than the first computer I had as a kid and it’s no bigger than a pack of Rizla.

ICYM my last post, I’m planning on using this little thing to build an alarm clock, something simple to ease me back into coding and give me a problem-solving project in the evenings. It’s not so much about having a need for an alarm clock, my phone is good enough, but planning the product, discovering the obstacles and overcoming them is my aim here.

The first obstacle

So…do I really want to build an alarm clock? The Pi Zero offers innumerable project possibilities and I’ve had a few ideas, such as

  • an alarm clock,
  • a VPN server,
  • a Wi-Fi booster,
  • a spy camera, and
  • an Amazon Dash-style button that doesn’t use Amazon.

Decisions, decisions

Planning, as ever, is key. Having looked into building the alarm clock, I’ve discovered that I’m going to need to learn some electronics to fit in all the features I’d like. Whilst that’s fun, I’m essentially reinventing the wheel and not necessarily encountering any new problems. But the final project in my list – a Dash button redundant of Amazon – does pose a few challenges to be solved. How will it work? Who will use it? Will there be one or multiple? Do we need products delivered or simply reminders to buy them?

Next steps

Given the versatility of the technology, I’m going to build the clock to get up to speed and bear the rest in mind. And at £4 each, I can always buy more…

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