20 July 2014

How to Set Up an AdaFruit PiTFT for the Raspberry Pi

About 2 months ago I received my AdaFruit PiTFT through the post, possibly the most excited I've ever been to see my postman. I also ordered the 4 tactile buttons to go with it, adding to my geeky buzz.

Foolishly I thought it would be a quick "Plug n' Play" unit, expecting to get my console showing on the little 2.8" screen in seconds. Not quite. I should have read the install guide before ordering!

You see, the PiTFT isn't the easiest thing to get running. In fact, have a quick search on-line and you'll see a mass of forum messages going back and forth trying to get certain parts working. Some can't get their desktop to show up, some can't get the buttons working, others struggle with the backlight control - and so on and so on. It's a bit of a fiddly one to say the least!

After a few attempts and a lot of Googling, I've got mine working perfectly (update - "almost perfectly") - so I'm here to show you exactly what I did, step by step, so that you don't have to go through the same headache as me.

PiTFT Setup
My PiTFT...finally working!
Blogger Tricks

13 July 2014

Using Cron with RaspBMC

I've had a bit of a change around this weekend, shuffling the various boxes in my media TV unit and generally fiddling purely for the sake of it. One of the more interesting changes I made was to put my RaspBMC media centre Pi into the Short Crust case that was sent to me by PiSupply.com, along with the PiLITEr board I had in my bits box.

The Short Crust case has a tinted top panel which I thought would be excellent in conjunction with the LEDs glowing through from my PiLITEr board. My aim was to have the LEDs showing when RaspBMC was on, so that I knew from a distance that the Pi was powered up, and also just to look cool alongside my other media boxes.

All I needed to do was get it to run the script every time I powered up, but Cron wasn't as straight forward as it usually is, due to this being a RaspBMC build rather than the usual vanilla Raspbian image.

I got it to work though, and here's how...

Raspberry Pi Short Crust PiLITEr
My Short Crust with the PiLITEr lurking from inside

4 July 2014

Testing the RavPower Luster with the Raspberry Pi

A little while ago the folks over at RavPower sent me one of their Element power banks to review, which I used as part of a timelapse video - see the blog post here.

Now that power bank packed an almighty 10400mAh which is ideal for lengthy camera projects or similar. If you're looking for something slightly more 'mobile', their new 'Luster' power banks might be a better choice for you. However, my first question was "Can they run a Raspberry Pi" and if so, how long for?

Rather than do a flat test just running an idle Pi, I gave this test more of a real-life scenario using the camera module and some other parts attached drawing power. After all, most of us using a power bank are likely to be using it for something interesting.

Let's see how it got on...

WIN a RavPower Luster Power Bank!
The good people at RavPower have also given me a brand new Silver Luster power bank to give away as part of this review! Read on to see how you can win!

RAVpower torch
It looks like a torch for a reason...read on...

17 June 2014

The Short Crust Raspberry Pi Case from Pi-Supply.com

I'm always impressed when I see new innovations and products designed to solve those little everyday issues that pester us. From spaghetti measuring gadgets to swiss tool cards, I constantly envy those creative types that come up with all the new ideas.

This links nicely to today's product review - The Short Crust Raspberry Pi case from Pi-Supply.com - a very clever case aimed at the Pi media centre scene.

So, what has a spaghetti measure got to do with a case for the Raspberry Pi? Better read on my friend...

Short Crust for Raspberry Pi
The Short Crust - Smooth Operator

15 June 2014

The MyPiFi LED Board on Kickstarter

It was the late Whitney Houston that famously sang "I believe the children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way". Say what you will about her demise, the Bodyguard star had a good point there, and one very relevant to the Raspberry Pi scene. Teaching younger people basic computing will help to set them up for life and create a new generation of much needed 'techys'.

The problem is, a lot of the products released for the Pi are aimed at more advanced projects, kind of skipping those first steps that many of us go through when entering the world of electronics and programming. 

To give the little guys a fighting chance, Paul Brown has released a new simple beginners board aimed at people just starting out. It's called the MyPiFi LED Board and is currently available on Kickstarter.

Paul sent me an early version to review. Let's have a look at what he's come up with...

MiPiFi Board
Assembled MyPiFi Board

11 June 2014

Mount your Raspberry Pi on your TV with the PiCano VESA Case

So you've decided to paint your walls white, remove all but necessary furniture, fit hard flooring and install huge glass pane windows - yes, you're the minimalist 'Grand Designs' type! You like the clean, uncluttered and modern look. I get it, I dig it, I wish I could be less messy myself.

But what about your Raspberry Pi media centre? Do you really want another box under your super-flat TV cluttering your squeaky clean atmosphere, with all of its wires coming out of every angle? You really want to hide all of that...but how?

Well here's a solution, a real nice shiny metal one too - a PiCano case from Steve Royd Marker. This beautifully machined case secures your Pi to the back of your TV or Monitor, out of sight but fully connected.

Let's take a look...

The PiCano VESA case for the Raspberry Pi
The PiCano VESA case for the Raspberry Pi

5 June 2014

Illuminated Raspberry Pi Power Switch from Mausberry Circuits

Ask any Raspberry Pi owner what they would change about the design, and I'm sure a large number would mention the lack of a power switch. 

The board conveniently comes with a micro-USB connection for power, however this has to be manually connected and disconnected every time you use the device - in addition to properly shutting down to avoid SD corruption.

Whilst this isn't in any way a time consuming chore, it seems Pi users want an easier way to turn the board on and off. There's also some concerns about the durability of the MicroUSB socket.

With a clear problem statement, Mausberry Circuits created an illuminated power switch to resolve all of these issues. I received mine this week and thought it was worthy of a write up...

Raspberry Pi Illuminated Switch
You're drawn in by it, aren't you...

3 June 2014

The MicroUPS - An Uninterruptible Power Supply for the Raspberry Pi

After discovering Kickstarter last year, I've become a bit of a crowdfunding fanatic and have found loads of similar sites offering new and unusual products.

One of these is IndieGoGo which has been running since 2008. A few weeks ago I came across a project called MicroUPS, an Uninterruptible Power Supply case system for the Raspberry Pi and other similar boards.

I got in touch with one of the designers, Marek, and managed to arrange for an early prototype to be delivered for me to take a look at and share with my readers.

A week later, I received the bright 'acid green' case along with its fellow bits and bobs ready for me to assemble and try out. Let's take a look...

MicroUPS for Raspberry Pi
The MicroUPS