These are basic guide lines to consider while using your Raspberry Pi. By knowing some of the common gotchas, hopefully you won't repeat them yourself.
Let's start with an fairly obvious and easy one - don't get it wet. Be careful not spill liquids on the board. It won't magically spit out hairballs that turn into more Raspberry Pi's the next day. Sorry. It will most likely destroy the Raspberry Pi. Not what you want.
This is an oldy but a goody. As far as we know, it only affects Raspberry Pi Model 2B's, circa 2015. But if you are having your Raspberry Pi reset when exposed to the xenon flash from a camera, then it might be this. Makezine has a good write up on it here:
The fix is relatively simple - cover up the U16 component so the light can not reach it. The link above shows where to find U16. A more in depth nerdy write up was done by the Raspberry Pi Foundation and can be found here:
This row of header pins on the Raspberry Pi are its signature feature.
Connecting to these pins is an essential part of playing with the Raspberry Pi. However, accidentally "shorting" (directly connecting) these pins together can cause damage. This could happen when trying to connect wires, making measurements, etc.. Using something like a T-Cobbler with a ribbon cable can help make connections easier.
However, it is still easy to accidentally wire things incorrectly on the breadboard and end up shorting pins together.
- Connecting GND pins together is OK.
- Connecting 3.3V pins together is OK.
- Connecting 5V pins together is OK.
The Raspberry Pi is a 3.3V device. This means it can not tolerate 5V on any of its pins. Be very careful not to do this, especially since there are two pins that output 5V.
Those two 5V pins are often used to power externally attached hardware, which is fine. You will probably connect to and use these pins. Just make sure that 5V doesn't get connected directly to any of the other GPIO header pins. Same with 5V coming from anywhere else.
You power the Pi with 5V via the micro USB connector. So where does this 3.3V come from? It comes from an on board voltage regulator. Be careful not to short these 3.3V pins to ground.
Doing so will very quickly damage the voltage regulator. And since the brain uses that 3.3V, it pretty much kills the Pi.