Thursday, January 31, 2013

Web connected outlet - part 3

Loading up the Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi, out of the box, doesn't do anything.  You need to hook up a monitor, a keyboard, a power supply, an Ethernet cable and you need an SD card loaded with the operating system to make it work.

The instructions at are well written so that's a good place to start. I went to the website and downloaded the latest release of the Raspbian operating system - it's a performance tuned version of Debian Linux for the RPi.  There are several OSes that you can download, but I'm most familiar with Debian and I know it installs easily and works great so I used that one.

I burned the SD card using a little USB/SD adapter and the command line interface on my Mac  (solid instructions also on the website.)  I powered it up, ran through the handy configuration tool.  Part of this configuration provides the ability to turn on SSH. Once I did that, I was able to unplug the keyboard, mouse and HDMI cables and connect to it using SSH, "headless", from my Mac.

Then I did some googling for software to run the GPIO ports - preferably something that I could connect to a web interface.  I found the perfect solution: WebIOPi.  It's basically software that provides a web interface to the GPIO ports.  Exactly what I was looking for!  It's free, but there's a link where you can donate to help support the effort (donate!)

Using the instructions on the  site, I loaded the software.  It took maybe 10 minutes.  The instructions were top notch - there's even a video how-to. When I fired up the web interface, bob's yer uncle, it worked great the first time.  Using a multimeter I monitored the voltage of the GPIO pins as I flipped them on and off using the web interface. I wasted about ten minutes playing with it - hypnotic, really...

Next: wiring it up and testing

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