Raspberry Pi: Not so easy to bake
I finally got around to purchasing a Raspberry Pi. I’m sure everyone’s already read enough about how great it is, if not just google it. My main interest in it is for a low power Linux server and XBMC device. Currently, I’m running a Intel Core Duo system as my Linux server/NAS/HTPC. But it is loud and power hungry, so I wanted to replace it with something quieter. Thus, the Pi comes in to play.
In addition to the Pi, I bought a VESA mount case to put it in. While this mount seems like a good idea, I found it to be a bit poorly executed. To start with, the parts come in a simple plastic bag with no protection for the acrylic pieces from the screws. While the pieces did have a protective material over it, the screws managed to scratch off little bits of it, plus removing those protective pieces was a huge pain. The next problem is that there were no directions included. Yes, I know the Pi is popular with the hacker/maker crowd, but don’t forget who the target really is. And even if it’s very simple, there ought to be some guide to follow. The final problem is the screws for the motherboard holders. These were incredibly difficult to screw in, and I still don’t think they are fully in. As a result there is a loose fit on the motherboard, and if I push in a plug without bracing the other side, it will slide right out. With the new Pi models having two mounting holes, perhaps there will be a new version of this case that uses those for a more secure hold. I know I seem overly critical, but other than these fixable problems, it is not a bad case. It fit perfectly on the back of my 23” computer monitor. I’ve seen some people requesting a 200mm spaced mount as is common on HDTVs, which wouldn’t be a bad option. Another idea I’ve had is to create a 200mm version that could hold multiple Pis. anyway, that’s just some food for thought.
Now back to the Pi, itself. I intended to reuse as many parts as I could. So I found a USB phone charger that fit the power requirements and an old SDHC card from a camera. The power adapter seems to be working fine, but I eventually came to the conclusion that the SDHC card wasn’t working. I first tried writing the Raspian image on to the card using the camera to mount the card in OS X. but after booting it was all messed up and I figured something had gone wrong. So I borrowed one of the multiple card readers and tried again, with the same result. Then I switched to Windows, and it was a little better. I was able to boot up and log in. I even got a few things configured (static IP, IPv6, and SSH). But when I tried to run
apt-get update, it gacked. After some digging on various forums, all signs seemed to point to a bad SD card, so I broke down and ordered a new one that was in the confirmed compatible list. I then put the card back in the camera, reformatted it, took a few pictures of the cat, and it seems to be working fine. A few days later, I received the new card in the mail. Wrote the same image to it just as before, and it booted up perfectly and
apt-get update worked fine (albeit a bit slowly). So I guess the lesson in this long winded tail is to be sure your SD card is listed as working with the Pi.
Now it’s time to get everything configured and working.