The New Cheapest Computer In The World – $5

Last week, the $9 C.H.I.P lost the title of the cheapest computer to the Raspberry Pi Zero, the new cheapest computer in the world. It retails for only $5

Source: The New Cheapest Computer In The World – $5


The New Cheapest Computer In The World – $5

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Some months ago, you might have previously read about the $9 C.H.I.P, world’s cheapest computer, that was made by a company called Next Thing. Well, last week, C.H.I.P lost that title to the Raspberry Pi Zero, the new cheapest computer in the world.

raspberry pi zero - 9g
Source: Raspberry Pi Foundation.

Last week, the latest issue of a computer magazine known as The MagPi was released, and as a world’s first, this magazine comes with a free pc—literally stuck to the cover. It is the latest Raspberry Pi release, weighing only 9 grams, known as Pi Zero. It also goes on sale world wide for only $5.

Pi Zero is a tiny gadget and contains the first generation Raspberry Pi’s BCM2835 chip, safely overclocked to 1GHz. Pi Zero packs the same GPU as the regular Raspberry Pi, and comes with 512MB RAM. It runs Linux, and runs all the applications and programs any other Pi will—including Python, Sonic Pi, Java, an internet browser, and way more. You can run a media center, use if for teaching programming, or embed it in a project—and it fits in your palm! The specs of the previous record holder, the CHIP were also similar: It had a 1GHz Allwinner R8 Cortex A8 processor with a built-in Mali400 GPU, 512MB of RAM and 4GB of flash storage [missing in the Pi Zero]. It additionally encompasses a micro USB port, composite headphone/mic port, Wifi and  Bluetooth [also not present natively in the Pi Zero].

How to get the cheapest computer?

Raspberry Pi Zero with a Dollar
Source: Raspberry Pi Foundation

USA: The December issue of The MagPi shall be out soon in Barnes & Noble.

UK: The MagPi may be found in  TescoSainsbury’s, and WHSmith, it costs £6 and comes with the Pi Zero for free.

Rest of the world: You can purchase the magazine on-line from the Raspberry Pi swag store or order a subscription. Alternatively, the Pi Zero itself is available for purchase from the usual distributors—element14 and RS Components—in addition to the swag store and others.

So, is it a complete PC?

First, have a look at Raspberry Pi Zero, compared to a Micro SD card:

Pi Zero with a Micro SD card
Source: Raspberry Pi Foundation

The answer is no, you can say it’s the CPU. You will need the following to be able to run it as a complete system [just like the CHIP, though it didn’t require the Micro SD because of built in flash storage]

  • An HDMI enabled monitor
  • Mini HDMI to HDMI adapter or cable
  • A Micro SD card loaded with NOOBS or Raspbian
  • Micro USB adapter
  • Micro USB power cable
  • USB mouse & keyboard

Alternatively, you may prepare your Micro SD card utilizing a regular Raspberry Pi, set your code to run on boot, stick your card into the Zero, and as soon as it has power, your program will run. A good way to deploy code to an embedded project.

You can even connect to the Zero through VNC or SSH over wired or Wi-Fi connection and control it from another pc.

#PiZero projects

You can do countless projects with the Pi Zero. The sky is the limit. Actually, that may not be true. People like Dave Akerman, have sent the Pi’s out of the sky as well. Anyways, most projects which have been carried out with a Raspberry Pi could be performed with a Zero (some requiring the GPIO pin header), however what other projects can be done with the Zero that make use of its compact and discreet form factor? Here are some ideas from the Raspberry Pi Foundation. Visit them for more details.

  • Wearables: Zero tech glove
PiZero on a glove
Source: Raspberry Pi Foundation
  • Paintables: Zero conductive paint circuits
Painting Cicruits - PiZero
Source: Raspberry Pi Foundation
  • Drive-ables: Zero robot
PiZero Car
Source: Raspberry Pi Foundation

Add-ons for the Zero?

PIZero with an addon
Source: Raspberry Pi Foundation

There aren’t any out yet, as it is a brand new model, however the Raspberry Pi community  is a speedy and agile one. Although present add-on boards and HATs should work with the Zero (with a pin header soldered on), we are certain to see some expansion (or reduction, if you like) in the range of accessories out there—maybe a Zero-sized HAT-like standard will come up and we may see a bunch of new and exciting miniature add-on boards, such as LED boards and motor controllers perfectly sitting aboard the Zero with the mounting holes in the corners. Let’s wait and see what happens!

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Graphene Could Massively Improve Thermal Imaging

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Night-vision windshields on automobiles may someday be possible with advanced thermal imaging technology based on flexible, transparent, atomically thin sheets of carbon, researchers say.

Thermal imaging lets people see the invisible infrared rays that objects shed as heat. Thermal imaging devices have helped soldiers, police, firefighters and others see in the dark and in smoky conditions so they can better do their jobs.

At present, many thermal imaging units need cooling systems to filter out background heat to be able to create useful images. However, these cooling systems complicate the design of the devices, increasing their price and bulkiness.

Now researchers have developed a new thermal imaging system based on sheets of graphene, which are each made from a single layer of carbon atoms organized in a honeycomb pattern. Graphene is extraordinarily strong—about 200 times stronger than steel by weight—and extremely electrically conductive.

The center of the device is a square patch of graphene mixed with microscopic silicon devices (MEMS). This square patch serves as the thermal sensor, converting thermal signals into electrical signals.

“Graphene isn’t only great for transistors and nice for reinforcing structural materials, but it’s also one of the best possible materials we know for infrared detection,” stated study co-author Tomás Palacios, an electrical engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Instead of utilizing a cooling system, the researchers isolated the thermal sensor from the remainder of the system. They did this by using strips of graphene to suspend the thermal sensor in the open air, where it could detect incoming heat. These strips also convey electrical signals from the thermal sensor to the rest of the machine.

SEE ALSO: Graphene Converts Heat Into Electrical Energy

The scientists discovered that their device could make out the heat signature of a human hand at room temperature without needing cooling fluids, often called refrigerants. The researchers suggest their findings could in the future result in flexible, transparent, low-cost thermal imaging systems.

Graphene as a thermal sensor
Scientists created a thermal sensor out of thin sheets of graphene.
Source: American Chemical Society

“The benefit of significantly reducing the price and increasing the performance of infrared imagers is that now you can start introducing these cameras in many new places,” Palacios informed Live Science. “For instance, in the future, we can have infrared detectors built-in in every cellphone and every laptop. That means that in the future, you can control them just by waving your hand in front of them.”

Although computers nowadays can use regular cameras to recognize gestures, “it takes a lot of computing power to identify where your hands are and how they are moving,” Palacios stated. “By utilizing an infrared sensor, imaging of the body is simplified, since it’s very easy for thermal imaging to identify the contours of the human body with respect to backgrounds, which tend to be at a lower temperature.”

Thin, flexible, clear thermal imaging systems “may be integrated into the windshields of automobiles,” suggested Palacios, “You’ll be able to view night-vision systems in real time with out blocking a driver’s regular view of the street.”

The scientists detailed their findings online Oct. 15 in the journal Nano Letters.



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