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Cymons Games

Raspberry Pi, the famously cheap computer designed for teaching programming to kids inspired by the same sources that inspired Cymon’s Games. An ARM GNU/Linux box for $25!

Only it’s not really $25 and you didn’t believe that it was, did you? First of all that figure is outdated (they should really update their website’s banner text). Secondly, the assumption is that you’ve got most of the stuff that you need to get it running just lying around, so it ships with absolutely none of those “common” components. But what if (like me) you don’t have a room full of last seasons left overs that you can pick parts off of? Turns out you can actually get started with a minimum viable computer for less than $100 and it’ll be the cutest little desktop computer you’ve ever seen.

$100 rPi (with case)

A few ground rules I set for myself when building this. First of all, all shipping will be calculated from the United States and vendors will be chosen accordingly. Secondly, I’m going to avoid where possible special deals like clearances and other “tricks” except one, which is the next rule. I’m going to assume you’ve got Amazon Prime to save shipping. If you’re a student it’s free. If you’re not then sign up for a free month and plan to buy a lot of stuff in that month. Finally, since readers of this blog are more into programming I’m going to avoid options that involve any wiring or soldering.

With that out of the way here’s the shopping list:

From Element 14:

Raspberry Pi – $35

5v Power Supply – $6.99

S/H – 8.03

From Amazon:

8GB SD Card – $6.99

Wireless mini keyboard/touchpad – $18.99

RCA Adapter – $2.44

12v power supply – $5.79

From Newegg (no shipping cost this item):

HiDef Car Monitor (at least 640×480 resolution) – $21.95

Grand total – $99.13

There we go, a minimum viable rPi computer for under $100. There’s no case, the keyboard is causing me trouble already, and you’ll need a wired connection, but it works and it’s really cool. If you don’t have a wired connection you’ll need to add $9.99 and get a wireless network adapter. Once you get that wireless adapter all your available USB ports will be filled up so you’re going to want to get a USB hub. I’m a fan of this 7 port one, if you don’t mind waiting for overseas shipping.

Another change you may want to make is to search second hand stores for a monitor and get a cheap HDMI to DVI cable then skip the 12v power supply, RCA adapter, and car monitor. The output would be less portable but more readable and if you can find one for less than $30.18 your alternate output will actually save you money.

As for the case I recommend taking the box your rPi came in, line it with the static bag, and cut holes for the connections. Sure, it’s ghetto but trust me, in a very short time you’ll out grow any case you buy and you’ll have a better idea real quick. That’s just the nature of this project. But if you still want a nice 3D printed case… I might be able to help you with that one day soon.

You may ask why I’m making this post here. Simply because in the next phase of Cymon’s Games I am planning on supporting programs for the Raspberry Pi. This means Cymon’s Games is going to host Python and Java programs as well. I hope you’d like to participate. I wrote this specifically to avoid any wire cutting or soldering so you can go and invest in your own Raspberry Pi and get hacking. And if you do make (or have) a pi feel free to brag about your configuration and how much you saved.

5 Responses to “Making Raspberry Pi from scratch”

  1. oldlaptop

    I ordered an RPi from Newark shortly after they removed the one-per-customer limitation (figuring that meant they actually had enough capacity to service an order by then). Since then I’ve run it connected to a cheap HDMI TV I came into recently when a relative didn’t want it anymore, with one of these fairly nice keyboard/touchpad units:

    Don’t know if I can wholeheartedly recommend that keyboard, it’s a little flimsy for the price (but works quite well). Storage is a Transcend 16GB SD card (off Amazon:, power supply is a cheap Motorola cell phone charger (also off Amazon:, case is Lego. More recently I’ve purchased a cheap 2.5” IDE hard drive enclosure off Newegg ( and slapped an old 20GB laptop drive I had lying around (what, doesn’t everyone keep decade-old computer parts in the junk drawer?!) into it for extra (heavily writable) storage (connected through a powered USB hub I also had laying around). All together a little under $100 if you consider that I came into the TV for free and had the HDD, USB hub, and legos just laying around.

  2. Joe

    I actually am planning on using that exact keyboard since the original one just isn’t working now. Literally. Kaput. But I bought mine at walmart and it was about $10 cheaper than at Amazon. Not entirely happy hearing your report about it, but here’s hoping I can, I don’t know, beat the odds or something.

  3. Joe

    Here’s a great video about the first time experience.

  4. Joe Larson

    One more great resource:

    Someone else suggested qt creator (sudo apt-get install qtcreator). I’ll be trying them both out.

  5. oldlaptop

    The best way to code in C on an RPi may be to do it the old fashioned way, with a console text editor and running the compiler either manually or with a Makefile (these days maybe with CMake). The two ‘standard’ editors in the Linux world (vim and emacs) both can even act kinda-sorta like an IDE (unfortunately, nano (which is the easier one to figure out) can’t, although it does give you syntax highlighting).

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