Raspberry Pi for astroparticles

Raspberry Pi 4B, a cheap-ish single board computer (SBC), is a capable machine to run many of the programs used in research in astroparticle physics and high-energy physics.
I tested several programs and after some time and some tweaking they all worked just fine. Even tough, it is not a powerful machine, it can be used as an initial step to introducing the tools to undergraduate students (or high school students) without the necessity of changing OS or to reconfigure their laptops.
Another feature is the possibility to use the GPIO interface in such a way to use the RPi to interact with custom circuits.

The power consumption when idle is around 2 Watts (mainly the fan) and under heavy CPU usage is around 8 Watts.


Recently I bought a Raspberry Pi 4B (model of 8 Gb of RAM) from aliexpress. My initial idea was to try to use it for running programs for days. However, I didn’t know if the programs can run in such SBC. Raspberry Pi uses CPUs with ARM architecture meaning that programs intended for the X86 architecture cannot run. So, there were the risk to have a mini-machine useless for my idea.

Programs and software

I use RaspiOS which is a Linux distribution derived from Debian Buster Linux that include a Raspberry Pi desktop. (Download). The nice feature is one can update RPi firmware besides other things.

I managed to overclock the ARM cpus from 1.5 GHz to 2.0 GHz without overheating. The staring-pack included a case with heat sinks and fan good enough to avoid overheating.

Preparing the system for the intended software was easy. Everything is in the Debian/Rpi repositories. They all get installed by executing:

sudo apt install gcc gfortran libx11-dev 
sudo python3 python3-pandas python3-scipy python3-numpy python3-matplotlib

These packages are basic for any compiling needed for installing the following programs.

The tested software:

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