My Pi has finally arrived!
For the unitiated (or the tiny handful of people in the world who aren’t eagerly awaiting it’s arrival), the Pi in this case is not a greek letter or a tasty snack, but a £30 Raspberry Pi computer.
I first heard of these through twitter in the later summer of 2011. It was billed as a cheap, almost disposable computer that the folks at Raspberry Pi wanted every school kid in the land to own. Modern PCs are still quite fragile, espescially if you’re encouraging kids (or anyone else for that matter) to go beyond Facebook and Office and actually see what makes a computer tick.
For £30 you get a bare computer on a board that runs Linux.
Not especially exciting as it stands, but the videos of this little beast playing HD videos and Quake III soon came out and evyone one I work with wanted one.
After a number of delays, the RasPi went on sale on February 29th, 2012 at 6am. Farnell and RS components were the resellers and their websites were soon hit by a massive DDOS attack from wannabe Pi owners. I tried logging on to both sites at the 6am launch time, but it wasn’t until 11:30 that I managed to place an order
Anyway, the order was in and the confirmation e-mail recieved with the due date in March. Great!
Several e-mails later, with more distant dates then arrived due to the huge amounts of orders and a couple of technical hitches. But finally, in May the long awaited e-mail arrived – Your Pi has been dispatched. Happy Days.
Well, it did arrive as promised. A small jiffy bag containing a box the size of a pack of playing cards. Unfortunately, this arrive last friday (May day weekend) and I was away all weekend. Bugger. After a few days playing happy families, it was time to fire up the Pi!
This is where some planning may have been useful on my part.
First problem. Can’t find a keyboard. Easily solved by a few hours of rumaging, but not the best start.
Next problem was the memory card. My camera uses CF cards, and not SD cards. One of the wife’s cards was suitably appropriated for the task…
The next problem was a biggie. The display.
My PC monitors don’t have HDMI or Composite inputs. But our TV does. No problem. The TV is no where near where a network cable is, so the Pi could be powered up, but not attached to the internet. Wireless was out of the question ‘cos the wireless card I found in a drawer wasn’t recognised, and I would need to go online to get drivers (if they existed)…
Next, I dug out my old media converter (an old Adaptec USB jobbie) which had been gathering dust for a couple of years. Another long rummaging session produced the various leads. Plugged in, Windows says hello, where the drivers. A wasted evening then followed trying (unsuccessfully) to source Windows 7 drivers.
And this is where we get to where I am now. I have the RasPi running (sat carefully on the floor). The composite video out feeds into an old camcorder. The camcorder feeds via USB into my PC. VLC player then displays the image! The image quality is truly awful (the camcorder is actually broken, and I don’t think it likes the input from the RasPi), but I can see the little beasty boot off of the SD card and log in. Happy Days!
I’m writing this as I download the Debian-xbmc-24-04-2012 image from the helpful people on the forum (thanks Liam for providing this!). With a bit of luck, I’ll get XBMC running tonight.