RPi Hardware Basic Setup

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Back to the R-Pi Hub, or back to RPi Beginners.

Typical Hardware You Will Need

While the RPi can be used without any additional hardware (except perhaps a power supply of some kind), it won't be much use as a general computer. As with any normal PC, it is likely you will need some additional hardware.

The following are more or less essential:

  • Raspberry Pi board
  • Prepared Operating System SD Card
  • USB keyboard
  • Display (with HDMI, DVI, Composite or SCART input)
  • Power Supply
  • Cables

Highly suggested extras include:

  • USB mouse
  • Powered USB Hub
  • Case

To connect to the Internet, you may use a USB WiFi adaptor (Model A/B) or a Ethernet/LAN cable (Model B).

Prepared Operating System SD Card

As the RPi has no internal storage or built-in operating system it requires an SD-Card that is set up to boot the RPi.

You can create your own by preparing your own on any suitable SD card you have. Be sure to backup any existing data on the card.

Preloaded SD cards will be available from the RPi Shop.

More detailed information see RPi Distributions section.

Keyboard & Mouse

Most standard USB keyboards and mice will work with the RPi. Wireless keyboard/mice should also function, and only require a single USB port for an RF dongle. In order to use a Bluetooth keyboard or mouse you would need to use a Bluetooth dongle, which again uses a single port. In all cases support will depend on the distribution of linux you use and the device itself.

Remember that the Model A has a single USB port and the Model B only has two (typically a keyboard and mouse will use a USB port each) - see USB Hub below.

More detailed information see RPi Verified Peripherals section.


There are two main connection options for the RPi display, Composite and HDMI.

Modern HD TVs or LCD Monitors can be connected using HDMI or DVI-D (via an inexpensive adaptor) and will provide high definition images. A male version 1.3 or 1.4 HDMI cable is preferable.

Most older TVs can be connected using Composite input (or SCART via a simple adaptor). You will need a composite cable (yellow-to-yellow) or a composite to SCART connector. When using composite video, audio is available from a 3.5mm (1/8 inch) socket. Audio may be sent to headphones, to an amplifier or to your TV/monitor. When sending audio to a TV/monitor, you will need a cable which adapts from 3.5mm to double (red and white) RCA connectors.

Note: There is no VGA output available, so older CRT/LCD monitors may not work.

Using an HDMI to DVI-D (digital) adaptor and then a DVI to VGA adapter won't work. HDMI does not supply the DVI-A (analogue) needed to convert to VGA. Therefore converting an HDMI or DVI-D source to VGA (or component) needs an active converter. (It can work out cheaper to buy a new monitor.)

The lack of VGA has been acknowledged as a priority issue. In a Q/A with Slashdot Eben said that straight off the back of the launch they plan to be looking down three avenues to provide some form of add-on.

More detailed information see Rpi Screens section.

Power Supply

The unit uses a Micro USB connection to power itself (only the power pins are connected - so it will not transfer data over this connection). You can use a range of power sources (assuming they are able to provide enough current ~700mA):

  • USB Mobile-Phone/Tablet Charger (mains or car)
  • Computer USB Port or powered USB hub (will depend on power output)
  • Special wall warts with USB ports
  • Mobile Phone Backup Battery (will depend on power output) (in theory - needs confirmation)

As a general rule any 5V charger with a MicroUSB should do the job, but beware cheap knock-offs!

Suitable mains adaptors will be available from the RPi Shop and are recommended if you are unsure what to use. If you are instead using a USB port to provide power, you'll need a USB A 'male' to USB micro 'male' cable - these are often shipped as data cables with MP3 players.

More detailed information about the RPi power requirements are in the RPi Hardware - Power section.


You will probably need a number of cables in order to connect your RPi up.

  1. Micro USB Power Cable (see above).
  2. HDMI or Composite cable, plus adaptor for DVI or SCART if required, to connect your Raspberry to the Display/Monitor/TV of your choice.
  3. Ethernet/LAN Cable (if connecting the Model B to a LAN network or router).


In order to connect additional devices to the RPi, you may want to obtain a USB Hub, which will allow multiple devices to be used.

It is recommended that a powered hub is used - this will provide any additional power to the devices without affecting the RPi itself (see RPi Hardware - Power section).


Since the RPi is supplied without a case, it will be important to ensure that you do not use it in places where it will come into contact with conductive metal or liquids, unless suitably protected. Some form of case should be considered, and there is a Rpi case thread on the forum.

More detailed information see Rpi Cases section.

Additional Peripherals

You may decide you want to use various other devices with your RPi, such as Flash Drives/Portable Hard Drives, WiFi adaptors (support will vary), Speakers etc.

More detailed information see RPi Verified Peripherals section.

Expansion & Low Level Peripherals

If you plan on making use of the low level interfaces available on the RPi, then ensure you have suitable header pins for the GPIO (and if required JTAG) suitable for your needs.

Also if you have a particular low-level project in mind, then ensure you design in suitable protection circuits to keep your RPi safe (details will be made available within the RPi Projects, Guides & Tutorials section).

More detailed information see Rpi Low-level Peripherals section.

Connecting Together

A diagram denoting the places of the different components on the Rpi, made by Paul Beech. Click to enlarge.

You can use the diagram to connect everything together, or use the following instructions:

  1. Plug the preloaded SD Card into the Pi.
  2. Plug the USB keyboard and mouse into the Pi, perhaps via a USB Hub. Connect the Hub to power, if necessary.
  3. Plug the video cable into the screen (TV) and into the Pi.
  4. Plug your extras into the Pi (USB WiFi, Ethernet cable, hard drive etc.). This is where you may really need a USB Hub.
  5. Ensure that your USB Hub (if any) and screen are working.
  6. Plug the power source into the mains socket.
  7. With your screen on, plug the other end of the power source into the Pi.
  8. The Pi should boot up and display messages on the screen.

It is always recommended to connect the MicroUSB Power to the unit last (while most connections can be made live, it is best practice to connect items such as displays/h/w pin connections with the power turned off).

The RPi may take a long time to boot when powered-on for the first time, so be patient!

External Links

For a verbose guide aimed at absolute beginners, see Peripherals You'll Need and Getting Started in h2g2's 'Introducing the Raspberry Pi'.