Archive for December 27th, 2012

Raspberry Pi Diary : December 27, 2012

Late Night Hacking

Since my wife decided to spend the evening cleaning out the bedroom closet, using the bed as buffer space for old clothes and other detritus, I HAD TO stay up and play with my RPi some more.   Since I have guests sleeping in my office, I set about doing some remote hacking from upstairs.

I moved a few steps closer to making the PI more useful:raspberry_pi

  • Without any additional configuration, I used SSH to login to the Pi from my upstairs desk.  Most excellent that no additional messing about was necessary
  • Used apt-get to update the distro and installed PHP5, Apache, vsftpd and a few other tidbits.  Started playing with building content – totally standard Apache configuration.  Again, the CL tools are easier to use than the utilities included in Raspian.
  • Discovered that I can’t address the RPi using local DNS (.local addresses), but both the Ethernet and WiFi interfaces (10.0.0.x) serve just fine.   Tried pinging a variety of clients using the .local syntax.  Some resolve, some don’t.  Need to grok this issue in fullness.

 What to do Next?

So, I have a very cute and reasonably powerful ARM-based system to play with.  I don’t want it to just sit on the shelf next to my MIPS-based ShivaPlug, so I am mulling over some real-world applications for it:

  • Use it as a caching/loop storage server for IP cameras I originally installed to watch our puppies from Hawaii
  • Build a home-brewed smart thermostat – think Nest with wires hanging out
  • Experiment with Lua (very doable, even if the RPi community is focused on Python), among other things to diddle the bits on the GPIO port
  • Use it to learn Python 😉
  • Employ the RPi to teach my younger daughter about embedded systems, web programming, etc.

Other suggestions welcome!

Incidentally, I backed Karl Lattimer’s HotPi project on Kickstarter.  I plan to have fun with the HotPi daughterboard once it arrives – it’ll help with the Nest clone project.

RaspberryPi.local – Avahi Daemon!

Without even meaning to, I tripped over a useful blog post by Matt Richardson – 10 Tips for New Raspberry Pi Owners.  To enable local DNS-style naming of my RPi (raspberrypi.local), I needed to install the Avahi Daemon.   Impressive dependency set – bless apt-get.  Worked immediately.

Raspberry Pi Diary : December 26, 2012

Gosh, my last post to this blog was back in April 2011.  Well, here goes.

I received a Raspberry Pi (B) as a holiday gift, along with a case and a wireless nub.  I had commented in the media on several occasions about the RPi phenom, but had never laid hands on actual kit until this week.Image

Well, I downloaded the Raspian image and rolled up my sleeves.

  • Burned Raspian on an SD card using my MacPook Pro – don’t bother with the graphical UI – dd works just fine.  Set bs=2m for better performance.
  • Hooked the cute little card up to my giant monitor using HDMI, inserted the SD card,  plugged in an old IBM USB keyboard/hub, ran a short CAT5 cable to the nearest Ethernet switch, and connected a borrowed Nexus charger/power supply.  And . . . nothing.  No boot msgs, no diagnostics.  Bubkes.
  • A little research revealed that the SD card (Sandisk Ultra 8 GB) I used was marginal, at least for the RPi (works great in cameras).    Bought a handful of alternate cards (after consulting  Gotta love post-holiday sales. The next one I tried, a PNY 4 GB Class 6, worked fine – gave the rest of the cards to my kids for use in Xmas presents.
  • The RPi booted right up, albeit slower than I would have liked (700 MHz ARM).  Nice clean Debian distro, familiar in some ways, alien in others.  Awkward config utility – need to go back and reconfigure a few key items
  • Discarded the IBM keyboard (too much key bounce) in favor of an ancient Compaq I dug out of the garage.  Added an equally antediluvian MS mouse.
  • Having run out of USB slots, I dug out a nice little powered 7 position USB hub.  Moved the KB and mouse over, jettisoned the Nexus charger, and now draw power from the hub (up to 2A).
  • Stuffed a wireless nub in the now-available RPi USB slot.  Rebooted, ran the wireless config util and voila – everything just works.  Only issue – both the wireless and Ethernet interfaces present the same MAC address to my router.  Hmmm.

More later.