First run with the Raspberry Pi

High demand!Like many others my little Pi turned up on the doorstep in a little cardboard box. As expected there wasn’t much in the box apart from a sort of ‘Welcome Note’ and directions for downloading the OS. Needless to say it took longer to download the OS than it did to write it to the SD card. So all connected up to the keyboard, mouse, screen and ethernet and away we go. Power on.

The first boot took a little while longer than expected but I expect it was creating bits and bobs all over the place. This was confirmed as subsequent boots to the command line, or rather to the login part of the command line took considerably less time. Login details are simple enough with the user name as Pi and the password as Raspberry. Something that you may want to change later on.

Once you’re into the command line it could seem a little confusing as to what to do next. Especially if you are used to a nice looking GUI with a mouse etc. Have no fear as a simple “startx” without the quotes fires up the window manager (LXDE – Lightweight desktop environment).

One thing I like to do is to run “sudo apt-get update” from the LX terminal just to make sure everything is up to date before we get started. The other thing that may be useful is to install synaptic package manager with “sudo apt-get install synaptic”. Again from the terminal window.

Time was running out for me at this point so I thought I’d have a quick look at Xastir (APRS application) to see if it would work. After a bit of a turned up face at the look of the interface I confirmed that it works as easily as it would on any platform. A bit of configuring and you’re away. I didn’t connect up the radio then as it’ll need a sound modem like the AGWPE for windows. That’ll be the next step.

One thing I hadn’t noticed is that there is no on board clock and the Pi get the time either by you setting it in the command line or through the ethernet. This could mean that if applications like WSPR can run on it then an external clock is going to be needed or a permanent connection to the ethernet.

So first impressions are done with and I have to say that it does struggle a bit if you ask it to do too much at once but that’s more to do with managing your own expectations but this is going to be a very interesting little gizmo to keep an eye on for ham radio

Alex Hill, G7KSE, is a regular contributor to and writes from Cumbria, UK. Contact him at [email protected].

7 Responses to “First run with the Raspberry Pi”

  • scruss VA3PID:

    An RTC would have been an expensive add-on, but doubtless we’ll see some boards soon that hook into the GPIO headers to provide additional features. I’m enjoying mine, but the connectors are a bit of a pain, being spread out on all sides of the board. It’s not very tidy once you’ve got more than a few connectors on.

    Nice little board, but it does draw considerably more power than most of the µC boards. The enclosure gets faintly warm.

  • You’re right a RTC would just have added more to the cost. then someone else would want something else and before you know it we’ve got another netbook…etc.

    Hopefully it will be as useful as the Arduino with bits and bobs that get released. The MSF clock that I hacked together for the Arduino sounds like it could be adapted without too much trouble if you’re good at programming.

    I keep thinking of ideas but realistically I should finish off a few of the unfinished projects/not quite working projects first.

  • W0FMS:

    By the time those show up on this side of the pond they will REALLY be obsolete. But I’ll get one to play with probably anyway…

    Fred W0FMS

  • Very frustrating if you’re after one Fred. Its very odd that companies can’t just ship worldwide regardless. I suppose there must be a reason and I can only guess its a red tape issue rather than world domination. I’m sure there will be cloned versions popping up shortly which will undermine potential sales.

    I put an order in around an hour after the site opened and I think its been a couple of months since the first shipment were made so it goes to show you how popular they are.

  • Tom. Kb3hg:

    I’m with Fred, looks to be real interesting. It could be a real learning experience. Something new to play with.

  • Charlie. wx4cb:

    I just recently got mine, and have a working AX25 stack going with an rs232 connection to a pk232. one of these days ill upload the 4g sdcard image to my webserver after i’ve tweaked it a ltitle bit…

    havent tried the soundmodem side yet though, im wondering if it has the grunt for it.

  • There seems to be a lot of ‘tinkering’ needed to get things working nicely but what I have noticed that if you go for the nice looking gui’s then the board looks like it’s going to start sweating and panting like a hot dog!

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