This post builds on the RPi Zero W Cloudlog installation that I did in December with a RPi 3 that was destined to be used in the shack for something. I have long used a laptop to do most of the heavy lifting but have moved most of the clever stuff on to individual machines. The line up is growing but is a bit all over the place. I have….
- A RPi3 as a VHF SatNOGS station that runs nicely but needs a proper home (antenna ia indoors and a lash up)
- A RPi3 as a UHF SatNOGS station that is subject to loads of noise at the moment which needs a cure. It also needs a better home
- A RPi2 as a Flight Radar receiver
A spare RPi3 that was used as a media player in the lounge. Now redundant really as tech has moved on. This needed a new function. So I thought I would bring it into service as a shack server. Trouble is I have no expereince of servers and even the word makes me quiver. I tend to smile, nod politely (It’s a British thing) then retreat carefully to avoid uncomfortable conversation. Anyway it’s time to take the plunge a bit further. I have after all mastered the Cloudlog thing.
Normally I would run straight to Rasbian, but this time I made a detour through to DietPi. It’s a lightweight distribution that supports a few bits of software that are simple to install and configure. Perfect for the lazy, like me. The game is pretty much the same s every Raspberry Pi installation. Find a suitable SD card, burn the image to it and start the machine up. For this the recommendation is to hook up a screen and keyboard for the first bit until it’s all running then you can use SSH or whichever is your preferred method for getting into the machine once it is up and running.
Well Cloudlog for a start. That needed the webserver reinstalling. Guess what? DietPi had one. check the box and that gets installed. Then it was a simple fact of getting Cloudlog reinstalled. Job done and it took a lot less time this go. (need to find a log for this).
Next up was Pi-hole. I’m ok with a bit of advertising, people have got to make a living I suppose but I feel like I’m swimming in a sea of bollocks (figuratively of course, I couldn’t really visualise this literally and don’t want too). Pi-hole claims to reduce the adverts to a more normal level and stops my browser looking like a version of the $1m dollar website (if you can remember that). Something has got to change. Installation was again more simple that you might imagine. Check the box and let the installer do its thing. As I had no idea what I was doing I used the default installation but made the error of not pointing my DNS server to the installation in my router settings. Don’t forget to do that otherwise it won’t do a thing.
There is a nice dashboard that gets filled with clever stuff. Bottom line is that there are already fewer ads on all my devices. Ace!
So what happens now?
Not much really. If you would like to have a go with a really lightweight distro for your raspberry pi (or other sbc – they support all sorts) then give it a go. The easy installation of software make a big difference for dullards like me and avoids time wasting.
I have thought about plugin in a RTL-SDR as a server but don’t really have a need at the moment. Perhaps something for the PiKon telescope now that I have got the lens. We’ll see how the thing goes. One thing I would like is a really simlpe website that does one thing on a button press, but that is a whole new game and perhaps another post.
I’m going to start planning my SOTA activations now
One thing to consider. Your other Pies are running apps that produce only ephemeral data (i.e. if they get lost, no big deal). This one is different: you (presumably) don’t want to lose your cloudlog QSOs. That means, you need to include backups of some sort.
The Pi’s SD card is good for only a (high but) limited number of read-write cycles. It would be worth either: connecting an external hard disk to a USB port and storing the log on that, or setting up some form of automatic backup of the Pi to the hard disk.
PS, I use a lot of Pies in the shack and use a utility called rsnapshot to back them all up to another server (not Pi based in my case case, but could be). Worth a look and easy to setup.
I totally agree with you. Pi’s are great but the weak link can be easy to root out. I’ve hooked up some external storage so that should sort that.