Raspberry Pi for kids computer?

Has anyone experimented with using a RPi for a lightweight computer? Really, my kids only need web access (age 6) and the idea of a super cheap computer is highly appealing for obvious reasons.

Just a head’s up on the Pi, there is a loooong waiting list to get one. My order with Allied sat for four months before I finally gave up and cancelled it. They simply can’t keep up with demand. I’ve heard success stories from ordering off eBay.

From what I understand of it, it’s really for teaching computer architecture, and also for school districts that just can’t afford computers otherwise.

I’m happy to be corrected, but I really doubt it’s all that good as a web machine for kids who aren’t hackers.

How about a Chromebook instead? Much more expensive, but at least it’s a complete working machine.

It’s got an oldish, slow ARM single-core chip as a processor. I’m not sure that’s sufficient for the modern internet.

The reason I ask is I saw that Scott Hanselman mentioned he was using one for his kids’ primary computer.

Looks like he has put in a huge amount of work in making a kids’ computer out of the bare pi board. Look, a custom controller with arduino and everything. Probably a bunch of custom code too. Wouldn’t be surprised if the components cost as much as 10 Pi boards from those photos, and if the time investment cost ten times that in hourly wage equivalents…

But sure, if you want to put in the effort to make your own custom hardware as a hobbyist sort of activity, why not – it would probably be fun, or at least educational. I assumed you wanted something that was pretty much kid-friendly in itself, without a whole lot of extra work required.

It seems like this is exactly the kind of thing a chromebook is good for. Some other nice things it offers are since it’s all cloud-based, you don’t have to worry too much about something happening to (spilling on, etc) the hardware, and Google does seem to have some parental controls on a per-account basis, if that’s important to you.

Miramon - that custom stuff he did is for his arcade/MAME machine not the kid computer from what I can tell. He just mentioned it in passing and showed the lego case for it.

Chromebooks (or the desktop one) are something I was considering as well. However, I might be able to piece a computer together from parts - I just don’t know how well Win 7 (or 8) would run on some of my older motherboards in storage. I think the fastest unused PC is an Athlon 64 of some variety.

I have two Raspberry Pis and they are fantastic devices but they aren’t a good match for your use case. They are super cheap and powerful dev boards for embedded systems and the GPU in them makes them pretty good media players for the price, but the processor in them is pretty anemic when it comes to general purpose computing.

If you’re willing to use a Pi why would it matter if Windows 7 or 8 ran well on your old motherboards? An Athlon 64 running XP or Linux and Chrome would give you a much better web experience than a Pi would, especially when you’re talking about kids sites where Flash is still relatively common (there is absolutely no Flash support on the Pi since Adobe abandoned all ARM development for the Flash player… you can dick around with gnash (an open source Flash clone) but good luck with that).

Ours has seen some use by the kids (13 and 10). They learned a lot installing Linux on it, and have done some very basic programming and occasional surfing.

But mainly they enjoy building robot shaped casings out of lego for it.

The R-Pi is for using to learn about computering, not for using for regular computer-using purposes.

I keep meaning to pick one up, but somehow it always slides down the priorities. They have a kind of ‘portal’ now, for getting games and programs from to use on it:

Thread arise… Anyone here have the Rasberry Pi 3+ ? I’m having some curious power issues. IE, when I have one or no controllers plugged in, if I run my finger along the USB ports I get a hot zap, like an electrical tingle that’s a small bit painful, like it was very hot, but not gradual-computer-heat-hot, more like zappy hot.

Curiously, if the power is pulled out and only the HDMI is plugged in, it still occurs for a little bit. If I pull the HDMI cable out, and run my finger over the exposed plug, I get the same feeling.

When multiple USB plugs are in, and I jam my fingers around the cracks, I don’t really feel it. Maybe because all the plugs block the ‘current’ (though putting in two or three plugs, and touching the third-fourth, does not cause the zap, maybe all the current is diverting to the right places?)

So, questions…

a) HDMI cables carry current? Should I feel the zap at the end like that, is my cable faulty?
b) should the PI be carrying a zap all the way to the USB ports to the point where I feel it from the outside the case? Is this normal PI electrical conductivity?
c) is this zap going to burn something if it’s pressed up against fabric, ie, sofa, cushion…
d) my supplier is happy to return and exchange, but I’d rather not if it’s 1-normal 2-the cable rather than the pi… what’s the course of action here?

My Pi does none of this. It sounds very unsafe.

My first thought is it’s leakage from the power supply. Try replacing that.

Send it back and get a replacement.

Yeah, I think it is leakage, but I’m pretty certain now it is through the tv via the HDMI cable, as the tips of those zap me when unplugged from the Pi, but still to the TV. I’m puzzled though; The house is grounded at the mains; the surge protector is lit up as active, suggesting it too is plugged to a grounded socket (right?), and the tv itself is a three prong grounded plug.

Is the television itself possible of doing funny things? It is a 6 yr old LCD screen, as cheap as they come.

To answer your earlier question, HDMI cables do carry current, but normally not enough that you would notice it like that.

If you can unplug the HDMI cable from the Pi and the ports on the Pi no longer shock you, then you’re probably right about the TV/HDMI being the cause. I don’t know much about electrical engineering, but any further troubleshooting could be dangerous. You may want to get an expert to check it out.

This is due to capacitors on the Pi holding charge, and nothing to do with the HDMI. Your Pi definitely has a short if you are getting a shock (the feeling you get when touching the USB ports) and should NOT be used. That is a fire hazard and shock hazard. The only reason it doesn’t hurt more is the voltage has been stepped down. (And I AM an electrical engineer! :))

Ok, but I have two HDMI cables running from the TV, one to the pi, one to the Roku. Tonight, with the pi unplugged, I turned the TV on and unplugged the Roku, and touched the hdmi end, and got the same zappy tingle. So I have to think the pi isn’t it, right? So then… is it my sockets, my surge protector? Or the TV. Tomorrow I’m going to test the pi on a monitor in the other room. But more concerning is if my electrics in the house are screwy… But given I’ve had an electrician replace one outlet on another circuit, and check another on this (TV and pi) circuit for faults in the last year, somehow I doubt it’s my wiring. Hence… All that’s left is my TV. Could it be leaking power?

Wow. Good test- it certainly could. Likely there is a stray wire/connector touching the shielding on the HDMI connector on your TV itself. When you touch it you complete a circuit to ground and feel a shock.