Sunday, June 29, 2014

APpy, APpy, APpy

After getting the Raspberry Pi to talk to the internet the other night and before going to bed, I decided to check some software out to see if any new versions were out - things like JMRI for the club PC, browsers and such. As you do, I also checked for anything new for the Raspberry PI - you guessed it - a new version of Raspbian was out. So I started the downloads of the new NOOBS 1.3.8 and just because, the full Raspian (Debian Wheezy) that was also released on the 20th of June. Then I hit the sack happy with my progress that night.

The front of the Raspberry Pi board

So on Saturday night I decided to do more playing on the Pi - nothing much on TV and I'm sort of past the let's go out and party just because it's Saturday (does that me me old?  Yup - and I don't care!). So the Pi was plugged into the wall socket and away I went.

The back of the Raspberry Pi board

First order of business was to grab an SD Card of 4 GB capacity and get it ready to use the new version of the operating system. I used the “SD Formatter 4.0 for SD/SDHC/SDXC” program available at:      to get the SD Card ready.

This is the case that came with my Starter Kit

So I then followed the instructions from the Raspberry mob at:     to format the SD Card and to install “NOOBS” on the SD Card, and NO it has nothing to do with BOOBS! This NOOBS thing is a sort of boot loader that installs the operating system you want onto the SD card once it is on your Raspberry Pi itself and has no mammary glands involved with it (damn shame...). NOOBS actually stands for New Out Of Box Software. I chose to use the “Raspbian” operating system when it asked.

The SD Card in the Starter Kit had NOOBS on it ready to roll

So we now skip to where we have followed the Raspberry instructions and now have the Raspbian operating system installed on the Pi via our NOOBS process. We have also set our locale and other minor settings and the thing now boots up and you can actually login to it. To test that the beast was working I plugged in my ethernet cable and fired up a web browser and hit the internet. I then pulled out the ethernet cable and plugged in the USB Wireless Dongle and configured it via the WiFi Config tool sitting on the desktop of my Pi. It then able to talk to my phone and hence to the internet – all good as per the other evening in fact.

Nano sized USB Wireless Dongle

I'll digress here for a tad. Now there are many places to buy your Raspberry Pi and the bits and pieces for it. I'll mention in this blog where I got mine from, but don't let that be your bible of where to get things - always suss out the competition, as you can save money sometimes and location or service may suit you better with other places of supply. Now I got my Pi from a place called Element 14 on the internet. I purchased the Model B Raspberry Pi which was available in a "Starter Kit" for $71.50. This got my an SD card, Power supply, the Pi and a case for it. The basic Pi is $41.80 and you could source the other bits yourself or may even have some at home - I know I have SD Cards all over the place with my cameras and such. Anyway, that's how I got my Pi.

My Zipp & Port USB Powered Hub

While I was at it I decided to buy, from the same supplier, a HDMI to VGA convertor cable so that I could use my old monitors to watch my Pi on. If you have a new monitor or TV, then you would have HDMI sockets on them and would only need a simple HDMI cable to connect your Pi. But I don't and went the slightly more expensive way and got my convertor - a "PiView" at just over 40 bucks, which of course is made to work with the Pi. The other items I needed were a powered USB Hub and a USB Wi-Fi Dongle. I got the Hub from Big W - it was a "Zipp USB 7 Port Hub" and was $16 and the dongle I got from Jaycar - it was an "N150 Nano USB 2.0 Wireless Network Adaptor" and was 19 dollars and 95 cents. There was nothing else I really needed, as I already had a spare USB Keyboard and USB Mouse kicking around the house.

HDMI to VGA Convertor Cable - "PiView"

OK, back to the actual build of my Pi system. A very handy piece of software to install next was of course some remote access software. This way we do not need to have a monitor, keyboard or mouse attached to the Raspberry Pi – we can remote control it from other PC’s. Again I have followed the Raspberry instructions and used “TightVNC” software. I have then gone and set it up to auto start every time the machine is turned on. I have to admit I also got some help from this website for this install:

With this TightVNC installed, I was able to install the client part of the software on my PC and remote control the Pi. I no longer needed the monitor on the Pi turned on while doing the rest of my work on the Pi. Now, I had already used this next site, and probably most in the club had bypassed the articles in Semaphore – I am talking of the Raspberry Pi based articles that Greg B in the club has done. He is currently the Raspberry Pi guru for me. So his main article that was in Semaphore is available from his blog and I have been following it with minor changes here and there to suit my hardware I am using:

Picture of my PC screen remoted into my Raspberry Pi with TightVNC

As mentioned earlier, the Pi by default was able to connect to the internet with my purchased dongle (via my house wi-fi). My next step was getting this WeeFee gadget to work as an Access Point. Because the WiFi Dongle I bought was not quite a bog standard AP driver that the Pi could use, I had problems. From research on the web and the use of commands found out there, I was able to deduce that the Jaycar USB Wi-Fi Dongle had a RealTek RTL8188 chip in it. But with the help of this bloke and his website, I was able to get my gadget to act as an AP:     He has written a very good article and a script on how to do it and it worked marvelously.

So by the end of the evening, I was able to connect my iPhone and Tablet to my Raspberry Pi via Wi-Fi. This was a decidedly good result and I was able to then go to bed before midnight - APpy.

Next job will be to setup the bits to then be able to install and use JMRI on my Raspberry Pi. First up will be to put my NCE USB board into a box to keep it tidy and safe. So bye till next time. Here is that NCE USB board:

No comments:

Post a Comment