A little treat when ordering the latest Raspberry Pi was to add a camera module to it, at a price of £7 for the Noir (Not French, just meaning No Infrared filter) it was easy to justify getting even if there was not a set purpose to it.
For the price the Pi Noir camera was generous on the specs, with a 2592 x 1944, 5 Megapixel sensor it seemed capable of capturing high detail images. However, the 5Mp tagline applies to still images only, with video capped at a still respectful 1920 x 1080p.
The difference between the Noir and standard camera module is the lack of an IR filter on the lens, resulting in some washed out colours in daylight but still acceptable in a surveillance capacity, but has the ability to capture images in darkness with help of separate Infrared lighting.
Using the camera module on the Pi is pretty straight forward, connecting is done via a ribbon cable plugged into a dedicated port on the Pi board.
With the cooler outdoor temperatures, a bug in my original code for the temperature display has cropped up:
The DS18B20 returns temperatures with up to three decimal places, with the decimal point omitted, therefore a temperature of 10oC would be shown as 10000 by the sensor. To deal with this and for the display to show the temp to one decimal, I used this code:
About fifteen years ago I did Electronics as a course in college, and at the time my younger self didn’t fall in love with the topic, set down to a culmination of issues.
Now with time at hand and a rejuvenation I felt when getting to grips with the Raspberry Pi I thought it time to get involved again. I must stress that this time these are baby steps, and the Raspberry Pi helps me as it does most of the work for you, with any electronics added considered to be more of a peripheral rather than a self-sustained product.
Nothing grand to start with, but as a first project I thought to combine a 20×4 LCD display with two DS18B20 temperature sensors to monitor indoor and outdoor temperatures. This would replace a cheap display I had been using but was sceptical on its accuracy.
Getting the basics right involved making the device blend in to the current setup without the usual mass of wires protrude. From the last round of the seam ably endless cable management war I used a shoebox base as a stand for the webserver and network switch, with the box hiding the various power bricks and extra cable, with most coming from the Xbox 360. Still having the shoebox lid I thought it would be good to use as a modular part to house the Pi and display.
I’m between jobs at the moment, so to give my idle hands something to do I have started looking at using electronics with the Raspberry Pi.
To begin the journey, I decided to power a LCD text display, using this excellent Arduino article as a guide. As I was starting out I purchased everything needed in one order from RS Components, however they didn’t stock any displays with a HDD44780 controller.
Research revealed that a display with a ST7066U controller is compatible with being Pi powered. But be aware that although they have the same number of pins at 16, the layout may be different. I found out the hard way!
As this was the first time I connected the jumpers one at a time, and connecting the pins I thought would light the backlight, instead caused one of the chips on the LCD to get hot to the touch. Luckily I found that out quickly enough to avoid any permanent damage. Also, thanks to ordering from RS each component has a datasheet available, and so was able to connect up the correct pins.
Lesson learned, establish the correct pin out on components before connecting up, other than that a ST7066U controlled LCD display can be controlled by a Pi the same as a HDD44780 controller.
As requested, this is a guide to taking a Raspberry Pi and turning it into an always on Torrent box, complete and self-sufficient with its own mass storage meaning it needs no help from other computers. Also, as the Pi consumes such little power compared to a full desktop PC, money can be saved by using the Pi for overnight transfers while other computers can remain off.
For this project I recommend a RPi 2, as its powerful enough to perform the transfers up to its maximum 100Mbps network speed, and is a cheaper choice since the RPi 3 superseded it last year. To get started, you need the following hardware:
Raspberry Pi 2 board.
Micro USB wall adaptor – Needs to be capable of 2Amp output.
Micro SD card – Minimum of 8GB, class 6 or above, plus SD adaptor for connecting to a PC.
USB Portable Hard drive – USB powered is preferred, I use a Toshiba Canvio Basics 1TB.
Ethernet Cable – And spare port on the modem/router for internet connection.
A PC – On the same network as the Pi for connection and configuring.
The Pi was designed to as low cost as possible to the user, so apart from the Pi board you may already have everything to run a Pi, and if not these are cheap and easily available online.
During my migration from Windows Server 2003 to Server 2012, I encountered an issue with Kodi on Raspberry Pi and how it connects to the Win 2012 file share. When accessing the server with a Samba file share instead of a prompt for credentials the error message “Operation not permitted” is displayed.
Kodi allows the manual adding of network locations but does not support adding the credentials that are needed to access the location.
Therefore a bit of tweaking is needed to get access to Windows 2012 shares on Kodi.
A great feature of the Raspberry Pi is that it can be fully used as a headless unit, meaning it does not need a monitor, keyboard or any other input device connected. This is great when running it as a server or for automated processes that require the unit to be tucked away.
What is annoying is that setting up the Pi for the first time may need those input devices to be able to configure the network and install applications. Thankfully there is a way to connect to a headless Pi from the start, with it only needing power and Ethernet connection.
The arrival of the Raspberry Pi 2 meant the B+ previously used as a server was now ready for a new purpose. These little machines make great media players and is easy to setup so this would be its new role.
However, this Pi would be in my parents’ home, and miles away from where my videos are stored. I didn’t want to add a hard drive locally as syncing the library would be an issue. But thanks to the fibre internet connection on the server side I could upload at 10Mbps, enough to stream media across the net.
Therefore, the plan is to use an install of OSMC and add a VPN connection to my home server that starts when the Pi starts to make the operation seamless.
The Raspberry Pi Foundation has brought a new model of the Pi to the table, so with the same low price it was easy to add to my Pi family.
For those not yet familiar with the RPi 2, it keeps the small and simple form factor of its predecessors, but gives performance upgrades in the form of an 800mhz quad core processor, with overclocking options still available, and combined it with a whole Gigabyte of RAM. These upgrades, on paper at least sound that it could make the Pi into a useable desktop machine, with less freezing during full CPU load that was easy to achieve previously.