Headless Pi Zero

March 5, 2018

Pi Zero‘s are even cheaper versions of the Raspberry Pi. The price you pay is that they’re harder to connect to since all the ports are small (micro-USB’s and mini-HDMI’s), so you need adapters to connect to keyboards, mice, and monitors. However, if you have the wireless version (Pi Zero W) you can set it up to automatically connect to the WiFi network, and work on it through there using the command line. This is a brief summary of how to do this (it’s called a “headless” setup) based on Taron Foxworth’s instructions. It should work for the full Raspberry Pi as well.

Set up the Operating System

You can install the Raspbian Stretch (or Raspbian Lite which does not include the desktop GUI that you will not use) on a SD card (I used 8 or 16 Gb cards).

  • Download Raspbian.
  • SD Card Formatter to format the SD Card. It’s pretty quick, just follow the instructions.
  • Etcher: to install the operating system on the SD Card

Set up automatic connection to WiFi

You may have to remove and reinsert the SD Card to get it to show up on the file system, but once you have you can set it up to automatically connect to WiFi by:

  • Go into the /boot partition (it usually shows up as the base of the SD Card on your file manager) and create a file named “ssh”.
  • Create a text file called “wpa_supplicant.conf” in the /boot folder, and put the following into it, assuming that the wifi router you’re connecting to is called “myWifi” and the password is “myPassword”.
  • country=US
    ctrl_interface=DIR=/var/run/wpa_supplicant GROUP=netdev
    update_config=1
    
    network={
     ssid="myWifi"
     scan_ssid=1
     psk="myPassword"
     key_mgmt=WPA-PSK
    }
    

Now put the SD Card into the Pi and plug in the power.

Find the IP address

First you have to find the Pi on the local network. On Windows I use Cygwin to get something that looks and acts a bit like a unix terminal (on Mac you can use Terminal, or any shell window on Linux).

To find the ip address of your local network use:

on Windows:

> ipconfig

look for the “IPv4 Address”.

Mac (and Linux?)

> ifconfig

look under “en1:”

Connecting

To connect you use ssh on the command line (Mac or Linux) or something like Putty

Static IP

Without a static IP address it is possible that the Pi’s IP address will change occasionally. I followed the instructions on Circuit Basics and MODMYPI, but basically you have to:

  • Identify your network information:
    • Find your Gateway:
    • > route -ne
      
    • Find your Domain Server:
    • > cat /etc/resolv.conf
      
  • Add the information to the end of your /etc/dhcpcd.conf file (here the wlan0 means you’re doing this to the wireless interface (WiFi) and the static ip is 10.0.0.99, the static router the gateway ip you found above, and the domain_name_servers takes the domain server ip):
  • interface wlan0
    static ip_address=10.0.0.99
    static routers=10.0.0.1
    static domain_name_servers=75.75.75.75
    
  • Now reboot and you should be able to ssh or sftp into the new static IP.

A Web Server

Adding a webserver (apache with php) is pretty easy as well, just run the commands (from the Raspberry Pi Foundation)

Apache web server:

sudo apt-get install apache2 -y

PHP for server-side scripting

sudo apt-get install php libapache2-mod-php -y

Now your can find the webpage by going to the ip address (e.g. http://10.0.0.1).

The actual file that you’re seeing is located on the Pi at:

/var/www/html/index.html

You will probably need to change the ownership of the file in order to edit it by running:

> sudo chown pi: index.html

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2018. Headless Pi Zero, Retrieved April 22nd, 2018, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Arduino for Beginners

July 22, 2014

Arduino UNO connected to a breadboard from the starter kit.

Arduino UNO connected to a breadboard from the starter kit.

I’ve been avoiding working with the Arduino microcontrollers because I’d prefer to be able to program in Python with the Raspberry Pi (for example). However, since the 3d printer we just built this summer uses an Arduino for a brain, I broke down and picked up the Arduino Starter Kit (via Adafruit).

The Arduino Projects Book is an excellent resource for the beginner.

The Arduino Projects Book is an excellent resource for the beginner.

What I liked most about the Starter Kit most is the Arduino Projects Book that comes with it. It’s a wonderful introduction to circuits, electronics, circuit diagrams, and microcontrollers at the beginners level. If I offer an Arduino elective, I’ll use it as a textbook. Indeed, I’ll probably use bits of it as a reference when I teach circuits in middle school and Advanced Physics.

As for the programming, the basics, at least, are pretty straightforward. I got a blinking LED controlled by a switch input up an running pretty quickly. The code requires two loops, one to set up the inputs and the output, and a loop for the program to follow. The code below has a blinking light that’s controlled via pin 4, but changes to a solid light when the switch is pressed (the input for the switch is pin 2). The wiring for the circuit is shown in the picture at the top of the page.

blink_circuit

int switchOn = 0;

void setup(){
  pinMode(2, INPUT);
  pinMode(4, OUTPUT);
}

void loop(){
  switchOn = digitalRead(2);
  
  if (switchOn == HIGH) {
    digitalWrite(4, HIGH);
  } else {
    digitalWrite(4, LOW);
    delay(500);
    digitalWrite(4, HIGH);
    delay(200); 
  }
  
}

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2014. Arduino for Beginners, Retrieved April 22nd, 2018, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Creative Commons License
Montessori Muddle by Montessori Muddle is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.