Saturday, 16 February 2013

Raspberry Pi

A couple of weeks back I saw this  article and decided that, at that price point, a Raspberry Pi Model A was something that I could now justifiably buy as something just to tinker with. A hobby system that I can play around with. I also justified it by telling myself that I could use it for learning to code Python on, whether that ever happens I don't know but I'd like to have a go at it some time. 

With my Pi being something of an impulse purchase, I didn't really spend the time to research what the differences were between the Model A and the older Model B. The main differences are that the Model A lacks the onboard 10/100 ethernet port and also only has a single USB port. No problem I thought, I can just use my USB hub and use my Linksys wifi dongle. Another thing that differentiates the Model A and B is the that the Model A draws less power. Even so, I've got mine running from a micro USB power supply that came with my Kindle. It's recommended that the Pi should be provided at least 1A from the power supply. The Kindle PSU that I had available is only rated for 0.85A output but, even so, seems to provide adequate juice. Perhaps that's down to the reduced power consumption of the Model A version.

My Pi is currently running Raspian, an ARM version of Debian that is optimised for the system. It seemed nippy enough when I had it connected to my TV but I've since decided that the best way to run it by using SSH to log into it remotely and use the command line. 

My Pi in its case with exciting robot USB hub.
As far as a use for the Pi, I had toyed with the idea of running a blog from it but running Apache on it made it really rather slow. Perhaps the updated Model B version with its 512MB of RAM would cope better. I might try nginx in the future but so far I've not had time to investigate it. For the time being I've settle on using to scrape the BBC Iplayer site and download radio and video using Get-Iplayer before converting the formats into something more useable and adding them to a Samba share on my home network. I'll put up a post in the near future about how I've done this. I've found it useful so far, there are lots of radio shows that I like on the BBC and I often forget to listen to them. This way it's automated and I can just pick up the episodes and listen to them when my schedule allows. Why yes, of course I delete them once I'm done with them!

I've got a few other ideas for something to do with the Pi in the future, perhaps I'll build a weather station with it. I quite fancy having a go at that and it's something that I think my kids might be interested in. I'm also tempted to get a second unit, perhaps I'll go for the Model B next time. 

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