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New Tech Tuesdays: Raspberry Pi Model B Upgrade Can Get You into the Holiday Spirit Tommy Cummings

New Tech Tuesdays

Join journalist Tommy Cummings for a weekly look at all things interesting, new, and noteworthy for design engineers.

Holiday lights show enthusiasts are upping their game, and a new Raspberry Pi upgrade can help.

In the US, Europe, and Asia, the common theme in some neighborhoods is elaborate light shows, sometimes with music. Worldwide, families load up in their vehicles, cruise neighborhoods, and tune into FM frequencies to see and hear how creative holiday-inspired residents can be.

In Laredo, Texas, an IT specialist named Tomas Rodriguez used Raspberry Pi boards to assemble tens of thousands of synchronized LEDs to celebrate Halloween and Christmas. His creations went viral and pulled in millions of views on social media. If tens of thousands of LEDs are too daunting for your own celebrations, you can find several other holiday lighting projects of different degrees of difficulty. These holiday DIY projects start with a single-board Raspberry Pi computer and typically include a network controller, circuit boards, and software to design the sequencing programs.

In this week's New Tech Tuesdays, we'll look at the upgrade Raspberry Pi 4 Model B with a re-engineered dual 4K display (yes, you can run two monitors at once) capability and up to 8GB of RAM.

What Can the Raspberry Pi Model B Do For Me?

The Pi 4 Model B retains the same physical shape and size as its predecessors, meaning it can be dropped into existing projects as an upgrade. Internally, the Pi 4 features an updated 64-bit quad-core processor running at 1.4GHz. The Pi 4 has the same set of 40 general-purpose input/output (GPIO) pins for working with your own or third-party hardware. It also includes a set of USB 2 and USB 3 ports and two micro-HDMI video outputs. USB-C powers the Pi 4, and 802.11ac Wi-Fi® and Gigabit 300mbps Ethernet provide connectivity.

The Pi 4 also works with Bluetooth® devices, which opens up keyboard and mouse options. It also includes a camera port and a display connector for integrated display, which are intended for DIY Internet of Things projects.

These are just a few features of the Raspberry Pi Model B. To view a full list of specifications, visit Mouser.com.

Does your Raspberry Pi 4 Model B need a case? DFRobot's FIT0776 Raspberry Pi Case consists of a metal case that's compatible with the device and even includes a cooling fan. The case shell allows easy access to all of the board’s peripherals so users can easily connect the camera, GPIO, mouse, keyboard, and display.

Using the Model B to Celebrate the Holidays

A few years ago, we assembled a project article using a Raspberry Pi Model B+ to create a musical lights display. You can also type “Raspberry Pi 4 Model B holiday lights projects” into your search engine of choice for an array of DIY guides. The Raspberry Pi Foundation doesn't list holiday lights in its list of projects, but it does have a Santa detector project. Does that count in keeping the holiday spirit?



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Tommy Cummings is a freelance writer/editor based in Texas. He's had a journalism career that has spanned more than 40 years. He contributes to Texas Monthly and Oklahoma Today magazines. He's also worked at The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, San Francisco Chronicle, and others. Tommy covered the dot-com boom in Silicon Valley and has been a digital content and audience engagement editor at news outlets. Tommy worked at Mouser Electronics from 2018 to 2021 as a technical content and product content specialist.


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