Hi Dad —
The Raspberry Pi as you might have guessed already is a full computer on a tiny board, with USB ports, an ethernet connection, a built in wifi radio and hardware access ports as well. Many experimenters use them for various things. They run a version of linux as well.
My current use for one is as a Radio Packet Node. There are several pieces of software that run nodes, and we are sing G8BPQ software to run ours.
A NODE is a visible digital connection via a radio frequency, allowing others to connect to the node. In general a node can do at least the following: Hear and read back the stations it hears, pass message traffic from node to node, either keyboard-to-keyboard, or through the use of “mail boxes” or “BBSes”.
I am running a BBS, or bulletin board service, that connects to about 8 other stations world wide, through HF radio, VHF radio and the Internet. We pass regular bulletins for Ham Radio operations, message traffic and personal email from Ham to Ham.
My system consists of an ICOM IC735 HF radio on 14.105 Mhz (we call that the 105Net) using packet radio signals at 300 baud. The VHF side is 145.010 Mhz, running at 1200 baud. I have several antennas at the house and this network is up 24/7. (We are still wrking on emergency power requirements, and will install a UPS system to keep wifi and radios up during power outages, charged with solar we hope, this year).
There are literally a couple of hundred Ham programs you could use under Linux. Some work well, some are fidgety, but there are even a couple of distros designed specifically for linux use and could be placed on Pi computers. In the end, Amateur Radio is all about experimenting!
Hope this answers some of your question.