I just set up my brand new $35 Raspberry Pi single board computer. Here’s how I did it.

The fixin’s

All of the following are available via Amazon, most via Amazon Prime: - CanaKit Raspberry Pi Ultimate Starter Kit - Mini Wireless Keyboard/Touchpad - GertDuino - Arduino-like shield for Raspberry Pi - Arduino Screw-Terminal Shield - Male-Male Jumper Wires - Male-Female Jumper Wires - Female-Female Jumper Wires - I forgot to order these, and they’d have been really handy! - DS18B20 1-Wire Temperature Sensor (Preassembled/Waterproof) - SainSmart 1.8” TFT Color LCD Module

First boot!

Although the CanaKit SD card was preloaded with NOOBS, it was quite out of date. Downloading and installing the latest image is simple enough. Just follow the directions on the raspberrypi.org download page. NOOBS 1.3.4 was current as of this post.

While you’re waiting for the download to finish, charge the mini keyboard via USB. It does not connect via the included USB cable - that’s just for charging the included lithium battery. The USB dongle is stored in the keyboard’s battery compartment. Install it into one of the Pi’s USB ports. Install the CanaKit wifi dongle in the other USB port. Good news: both will work with minimal to no additional configuration!

Once the SD card is up to date, install it into the Pi’s SD card slot, connect the HDMI cable, and connect the power cord to the Pi. It will boot into NOOBS and prompt you to install a distro. I chose the 7 Jan 2014 release of Raspbian Wheezy, as it is likely the most mature distro available. The setup screens were very self-explanatory.

Once complete, reboot, and log in (user: pi, password: raspberry). Immediately run raspi-config and, at a minimum, change the default password. Type startx and let’er rip!

Wifi config

Within the graphical interface, there is a wifi configuration tool that will get you online. But, it will require reconfiguration every time you start the window manager. To get wifi connectivity without the hassle, and without the need to even start the GUI, issue sudo nano /etc/network/interfaces, make the file look like this, then sudo reboot:

auto lo

iface lo inet loopback
iface eth0 inet dhcp

allow-hotplug wlan0
iface wlan0 inet dhcp
    wpa-ssid "your_SSID"
    wpa-psk "your_password"

‘merica, dammit!

Pi is a UK-ish product, and as such, is defaulted to use UK keyboard mapping. There are a ton of how-tos on changing the default to English/US, but none of them worked for me. This did the trick. Issue sudo nano /etc/default/keyboard and change “gb” to “us”:



Just for good measure, do sudo dpkg-reconfigure keyboard-configuration, and follow the on screen directions. Then sudo reboot.

Update and install some software

Update existing software:

sudo apt-get update; sudo apt-get upgrade

Text editor (vim-gtk will allow the use of gvim):

sudo apt-get install vim vim-gtk

VNC server (if you want one - I’d rather ssh -Y):

sudo apt-get install tightvncserver
vncserver :1 -geometry 1280x640 -depth 24

Arduino IDE:

sudo apt-get install arduino

Serial Emulator:

sudo apt-get install minicom

HDMI Sound

I was about to pull my hair out trying to configure HDMI sound. Fortunately, I didn’t irreversibly edit too many files or install additional software before discovering that I just needed to turn the volume on the TV up… HDMI sound was already enabled by default!


Now that sound works, install pianobar and check out Pandora via the command line! However, don’t use the Wheezy repository (i.e., don’t apt-get). As of this post, the repository version was sorely out of date and could not connect. Instead, follow these very simple build instructions. Enjoy!

Steven Hickson’s PiAUISuite rocks!

Want to integrate YouTube playback? Voice command? Video playback? This guy put a ton of effort into creating some neat little hacks for the Raspberry Pi. I find it a bit difficult to sift through his blog, but he’s got writeups and YouTube videos for most of his projects: http://stevenhickson.blogspot.com. Check out the PiAUISuite on GitHub, as well: https://github.com/StevenHickson/PiAUISuite. I haven’t been able to get his Midori user scripts to work with YouTube, but the command line tools are very nice.

blog comments powered by Disqus


23 February 2014