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My First Play with Rasberry Pi

I received my first Rasberry Pi (the so called $35 computer) yesterday. I have projects planned for at least 4 of them. . The Rasberry Pi runs a stripped down version of Linux/Debian- in my case Raspian-Wheezy. I have very little experience with Linux/Debian but I have worked in Unix and Mac Terminal at a very basic level.

The Rasberry Pi came just as a PC board and a case. The R Pi has been tested with 32GB SD Cards but all I could purchase was a 16 GB SD Card- no problem I intend to get several more today. Each one will have the OS image and one of my special projects on it, so I can test with the one R Pi before I buy other Raspberry Pis- one for each project.

Raspberry Pi computer

Raspberry Pi computer

The first project is a Time of Arrival (TOA) Lightning Detector for my weather station and weather web site using the R Pi and some electronics built from a kit available from Blitzortung.org. Blitortung.org is a world-wide amateur community based lightning detection network. Data from each detector assists in the locating of lightning strikes, and puts the location on a map on a couple of web sites- www.blitzortung.org and http://nzapstrike.net.  I also have the information displayed on my own website at www.djolsen.com/KelsoWX. At the moment there are no detectors in Northern Australia, and Egon at Blitzortung will provide the kits at a very cheap price for any person wanting to set up a new detector in Australia. So if you are handy with a soldering iron- get one. You can use a windows computer rather than a R Pi if you want, but I will document the use of the R Pi with the TOA kit as I go, so others can copy. New Zealand has many Blitortung detection stations. Here is a screen capture of lightning detection for NZ.

Screen Shot 2013-04-22 at 6.55.03 AM

Other projects planned for Rasberry Pi at my QTH are-

  • AusPi TV- A complete SDCard image including OS can be downloaded here. More on this in a later blog post.
  • OpenSprinkler Pi- home irrigation controller using Google Calendar interface. Our home sprinkler system is all manual and needs a complete redesign.
  • Additional Weather Station inputs- measure of light precipitation using leaf moisture detector,  soil moisture, solar radiation, using sensors from Hobby Boards.

Some handy hints for beginning with Raspberry Pi

Check out raspberrypi.org

Be aware you need keyboard, mouse and a TV screen or similar- use low current keyboard and mouse (The latest Apple versions work great).

If you use a Mac like me, setting up your SD cards can be a chore. I used the terminal method as described in this wiki – I now see an application is available to do this job easily. Download it from here and copy it to your Applications folder. (MacOSX). Make sure your .img file is in a folder that has no spaces in its name and make sure you wait (a very long time) for the SD Card builder application to finish.

I’ll blog more about these projects in the very near future.

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Categories: Daily News, Home Brew
  1. Todd Caldwell
    September 2, 2013 at 7:23 am

    Using an RPi as a lightning detector station sounds like a good plan. I hope you’ll have time to document any progress you might make on this project.

    73’s de K5SLR

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