My Raspberry Pi comes to life

16 06 2012

Like most of the rest of the world’s IT population, I got excited about the Pi & ordered one.

It has arrived & I have had a little bit of time to play with it & I am pretty impressed.

BUILD A CASE

The first thing to do was a case, I didnt want to short it out on anything & it just felt too fragile & vulnerable naked

I printed this one (http://www.raspberrypi.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=40&t=6500) on some card (manila folder) & folded it up

 

A larger selection can be found here: http://elinux.org/RPi_Cases

PREPARE A DISTRO

Next we need a Distro:

http://elinux.org/RaspberryPiBoardDistributions

For each image, just use dd in Linux **Be Careful – make sure you have the right device to write the image to. This would be the SD card, not your hard drive !!

dd if=.img of=/dev/sdb

I have been primarily playing with the Debian Squeeze distro

http://downloads.raspberrypi.org/images/debian/6/debian6-19-04-2012/debian6-19-04-2012.zip
User: pi / raspberry

Raspbian is based on Debian Wheezy, which is newer than Squeeze

http://www.raspbian.org/
User: root / raspbian

The developing Raspbmc (XBMC) looks very promising – I have watched a couple of movies with it, with no performance issues

http://wiki.xbmc.org/index.php?title=Raspbmc

http://www.raspbmc.com/2012/05/raspbmc-is-now-in-beta/

http://download.raspbmc.com/downloads/bin/ramdistribution/installer-testing.img.gz

Note: you need at least a 2GB SD card. Raspbmc will use the full size of your card.

**First boot needs internet (ethernet cable/ dhcp) – the installer prepares the sdcard, then raspbmc is downloaded & setup at first boot.

TIME FOR POWER

The Pi runs on 5v, connected via Micro USB http://elinux.org/RPi_Hardware_Basic_Setup#Power_Supply – which can be supplied by pretty much any phone charger / USB port these days. The only recommendation provided by the vendor is choose a supply that will provide 5v and ~700mA. They will apparently run “stable” on any voltage between  4.75 and 5.25 volts.

Many people have been using the iPhone / iPad chargers without any issues (me included). But as an experiment, I decided to see what they were putting out. The Pi has two test ports TP1 & TP2 – these are to check the voltage being supplied to the board. There are mutterings about voltages under 5volt providing unexpected behavior on some boards.

I found that my white iPhone/iPod power supply (Rated @ 5V 1A dropped to about 4.8v when the Pi is running with HDMI, SD Card & USB WiFi Dongle.

Apple (A1205) Drops to about 4.8V under load

My HTC charger (Rated @ 5V 1A)performed about the same – around 4.8v under load

HTC (TC P300) Drops to around 4.8V under load

Another generic branded “Switching power supply” that was also rated @ 5V 1A showed the same voltage drop to around 4.8V under load.

Enter the Samsung Galaxy Tab 5V 2A charger, this bad boy kept me running at 5V under load.

Samsung (ETA-P10X) Keeps pushing 5V under load

The general consensus is that a 5V 1A phone charger should be fine, but if you are planning on plugging things into the USB port (WiFi / Storage etc) then you would be probably best off getting a higher rated PSU. I am going to check out Jaycar for a regulated 5V 2A supply next. Your results may vary, I didnt experience any strange issues or performance problems when running of any of the listed PSUs – but possibly got more interface drops on the USB WiFi adapter (thats a subject for another blog post).

On the subject of power – having such a tiny / portable device is much more useful when you can take it with you away from a power point. From our local Aldi store, I picked up a “Tevion MPP 7400” This is a portable 7400mAh Li-Po Battery Pack. This little guy has two USB ports on it & will apparently provide up to 2.1A on one, or 1A each with both in use. Its primarily aimed at charging a smartphone on the go, but it works beautifully as a portable power supply for the Pi. I have not tested how long it will keep the Pi running, but I was playing on it for several hours without the pack dropping an LED on the power meter.

Battery Pack – providing 4.78V under load – just within the allowable range – so far no problems, but we will see how it goes.

Well, that’s it for now, my Pi lives and breathes (as much as a piece of electronic equipment can) – time to try out some more distros & “projects” with it.

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2 responses

16 06 2012
Druid

nicely written . I’ll be back here to see more of your writing !

23 10 2012
mike

I so have to get a case already, or print one out like you did 🙂

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