Saturday, 12 May 2012

Raspberry Pi

I finally got my hands on a Pi on Thursday, 10/05/12. Sadly (for me) I had already promised the first Pi we received to my 10 year old son, so I had to hand it over. I'd been following the Pi since it's first appearance on the BBC website. I'd got my son interested and had promised him one for Christmas last year. Sadly due to various delays they weren't available anything like early enough for Christmas so he got an IOU and the aforementioned promise that the first Raspberry Pi I got hold of would be his.

Fortunately for me, while he's quite techy, he's not as techy as me so I've been able to play around with it a fair bit over the last couple of days. I've been darting in and out of his bedroom with different SD cards and scribbled notes like a madman! After getting Debian up and running (simplicity itself, just download and follow the instructions on the website) we wanted to get Quake 3 running. I found some very useful instructions here and soon had everything downloaded and copied across. Sadly loading up the game would cause the Pi to freeze up.

We tried various combinations of USB hubs, mice, keyboards, even a different SD card, but to no avail. I decided to move onto trying something else and got busy with OpenELEC! I've been using XBMC in various forms for about a year and a half now and fully intend to have at least one (if not several once they become easier to get hold of) Raspberry Pi dedicated to running XBMC. I was hoping the process of setting it up would be as easy as that for Debian, but no joy. I would have to download the sources and compile it myself!

Fortunately some great instructions were available here on the OpenELEC website to get me going. I grabbed a spare laptop (no DVD drive or battery, hence why it's a spare!) and installed Ubuntu 12.04 as I would need a flavour of Linux on hand to compile and didn't want to tie up my own laptop (also running Ubuntu 12.04) all day. I then ran through the instructions and left it to build. And build. And build.

And build.

Finally about 4pm it finished (I had started at around 9am) and I then used the second part of the instructions to get it onto an SD card. Booted up the Pi with the new SD card and it all looked great! Sadly it was frozen, more problems!

It was about this time when I decided that maybe the PSU I had purchased was no good. It was a plug with a USB port that is *supposed* to provide 5v at 1000Ma. So I pulled the USB cable from the bottom and shoved it into the next nearest thing... the front of my son's XBox 360! Pi booted up and worked like a charm, lovely!

(For reference, the 360 doesn't even need to be switched on for this!)

I've still run into a few power-related issues, so I don't think this is a permanent solution and am on the look out for a powered USB hub or two now. Still, it was fun to get these things set up and I've definitely learnt a few new things. Just wondering what I'm going to do next...

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