Raspberry Pi TV server using TVheadend

I have a projector out in the theatre room, however, this same room does not have any coax run for TV reception. Nor does the projector have a tuner for Digital TV. Thus the idea for the RPi TV streamer! I could have easily gone to the local tech shop and purchased a tuner and ran some coax, but I already have an android device hooked up to the projector, why not try and stream TV to it locally in the house. My own IPTV service of sorts.

I do want to give a bit of a shout out to CWNE88, (Go follow him if you get a chance!) This is the guy that got me started streaming TV via the Raspberry Pi, however he concentrates a lot on multicast streaming and to be honest, most of us do not have the infrastructure to handle multicast traffic on our LAN. So I had to find an alternative option that actually worked. (dvblast works great…if you have suitable switches/routers to handle multicast) Anyhow, during my research, I stumbled across TVheadend. I learned pretty quickly that it could be installed on a Raspberry Pi and be used to stream tv via HTSP. (Home TV Streaming Protocol) HTSP is a TCP based protocol and works in a unicast type fashion without killing your home network.


This is the hardware you will require:

  • Raspberry Pi 3 B+ (This is what we tested with)
  • USB Extension Cables
  • Good quality 5v power supply for RPi
  • USB TV Tuner (We used Avermedia Volar Green HD @ $29ea)
  • Splitter (We used a 3-way splitter to really push the RPi3B+)
  • F-type adapters
  • USB to Ethernet Adapter (Optional)


Prerequisites

I am going to assume you know how to get Raspbian “Stretch” Lite onto your Raspberry Pi. If not check out the “Prerequisites” of this post here. It will walk you through, downloading the image, using Etcher to put the image onto an SD card, setting up the RPi via Raspi-config, and enabling SSH. Once you have completed those steps, come back here and continue.

The end state of the “Prerequisites” is to have access to your Raspberry Pi via SSH and have the command line up and in front of you.


For those confident on the RPi

For those of you who want to skip straight to the chase, the code below outlines all the commands issued to the RPi to install TVheadend. I will then take you step by step through these commands below:


Step 1: Update/Upgrade the Raspberry Pi

First things first, you need to ensure your Raspbian repositories are up to date. Run the Following commands:

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get upgrade
Select ‘Y’ and go get a coffee. This process can take 5-10 minutes.


Step 2: Install TVheadend server

Now that your Raspberry Pi is fully up to date, you need to run the following commands:

sudo apt-get install dirmngr

This command may not need to be run, however, for me, TVheadend would not install without it.

sudo apt-key adv --keyserver hkp://keyserver.ubuntu.com:80 --recv-keys 379CE192D401AB61

More info about installing the GPG keys can be found here.

echo "deb https://dl.bintray.com/mpmc/deb raspbianstretch stable-4.2" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/tvheadend.list

Again, more info on where to get the correct repo for the RPi ishere.
Check and make sure the correct one is used. This can update at times.

sudo apt-get update

In a nut-shell, we are telling ‘apt-get’ to grab any updates from the repository we added above. This will then allow us to install TVheadend because it now knows where to ‘grab’ it from.

sudo apt-get update

In a nut-shell, we are telling ‘apt-get’ to grab any updates from the repository we added above. This will then allow us to install TVheadend because it now knows where to ‘grab’ it from.

sudo apt-get install tvheadend

Select ‘Y’ and allow TVheadend to install. If you tried to run this command without doing the steps above, you would run into errors.

During the install, you will be asked to set an administrator username and password. Be sure to set this correctly and remember. You do not get two chances to enter the password. I learned this the hard way!

If for some reason, you did stuff up the username and password. Uninstall tvheadend with sudo apt-get purge tvheadend and sudo apt-get autoremove Then reinstall tvheadend again.


Step 3: Log into TVheadend

Now that your Raspberry Pi is fully up to date, you need to run the following commands:

Open up a web browser and enter the IP address of your Raspberry Pi. Also, use the port number ‘9981’. For example http://192.168.1.168:9981 (Your IP address for the RPi will be different.) Type ifconfig in the terminal screen to confirm.

When you first open Tvheadend, you will get the Wizard which will step you through setting up the tv tuners. Hopefully, you left them plugged in from the start. If not, plug them in and restart the Raspberry Pi. Go back into the web browser and log back into TVheadend.


Step 4: Configure TVheadend for streaming

The configuration for TVheadend settings is coming soon. Thanks for your patience…

I have no doubt, however, if you got this far, you will be able to bumble your way through the configuration. This was the easiest part. I then used VLC to watch the streams. You can get these links from inside Tvheadend.



Video: Example Hardware Configuration


Streaming and graphing real time data with the Raspberry Pi

So you have a fancy little sensor/contraption and its working great, the system is portable maybe even in a waterproof case or is mobile with no room for a display. However, how do you know the quality of your data or if the system is working without carrying a display or connecting up an SSH session? A black and white terminal impresses no one and is a terrible way to view trends in data.

There is an answer and it is fantastically flexible. You turn your Raspberry PI into a wireless access point and web server. Then with a little HTML, JavaScript, JSON and the chart.js library, you have a clean and dynamic interface for your project.


The particular project in this example uses the following hardware:


When assembled and strapped to a buoy anchored in the swan river it is capable of logging and analysing the motion and frequency of waves. This data is collected as part of the research for Woodside’s River Lab run in partnership with UWA’s Oceans Institute. Here you can see the real-time data stream from the buoy in a lab environment.


The Sensor

The BNO055 sensor performs all of the internal calculation and compensation to output clean acceleration and heading information, however as a demonstration to students and visitors the data is hard to visualise when it must be copied and charted from a CSV file. To improve the accessibility of the data and increase its value this tutorial will utilise several scripting & markup languages and several key libraries:

  • Python
  • HTML

  • CSS
  • JavaScript


Configure the Raspberry Pi

To configure the Raspberry Pi and the website there are several steps. Keep in mind any existing configuration or modifications to a vanilla Raspbian Jessie install may have unforeseen ramifications to this tutorial. Thankfully for my fingers many of these steps are already well documented, the links below will take you to the tutorials I used for some of these steps.

  1. Install Apache Web Server
  2. Configure Raspberry Pi as an Access Point
  3. Modifying your python script
  4. Configuring your script to run on boot
  5. Writing a webpage with chart.js

Having configured your Raspberry Pi as a hot spot web server as per tutorials 1 & 2 above, you should be able to load your web page on a laptop or mobile phone connected to the access point according to the IP address you configured in the second tutorial. If you followed the tutorial verbatim this is 172.24.1.1 although in my application I configured my /etc/network/interfaces AND /etc/dnsmasq.conf files with the address 192.168.0.1 as that is common across other hardware we develop.


Modifying your python script

To improve the portability of our data and leverage existing data handling tools built into python and JavaScript we need to output our sensor data as a JSON file. It is a simple and human readable file format for structuring data reminiscent of a dictionary/list within many languages. Python has some built-in functions that make it easy to output a dictionary as a JSON file. In this example, we want to create one file that details the current sensor reading as well as the calibration state of the sensor.

Most importantly, our JSON data is written to the directory for our web server /var/www/html/whatever.JSON  This means our web server can share the file when it is requested by a client. Any JSON file can be placed and requested natively via http://192.168.0.1/whateverTheFileNameIs.JSON this is great for viewing configuration information and system states without the additional effort of writing and formatting a full web page.

JSON can be viewed directly in the browser with no html required. Great for checking system states

Running the script on boot allows for truly headless operation. Although some form of visual feedback that the code is running, such as flashing an LED, will save any head scratching should the Pi fail to boot or script fail. To run the script on boot we will be modifying the /etc/rc.local file again with another line.

 (sleep:10;python /whatever/the/file/path/is/script.py)& 

As all operations within the rc.local file are already executed with privileges you will not need to include sudo in the command. Full copies of the source code used in this example can be found here.

A word of caution. As you are writing & reading the same file concurrently your code must be tolerant of not being able to access the file on occasion.

Now we have everything configured on the raspberry pi and our data is streaming we can start to build our chart.js data interface.


Andrew Van Dam

An electronics expert based in Australia dedicated to creating great tools for the maker community.


A Brief History of the Raspberry Pi

Who would have thought a US$35 computer would change our lives so much. The Raspberry Pi foundation have changed the way we learn, teach and innovate by bringing a hardware platform which is cheap enough for the ‘average joe’ yet powerful enough to drive some of our most ambitious ideas. I have no doubt in my mind that I have left some info out here. Please feel free to leave a comment below to educate me a little bit! happy for input. I’ll keep updating this timeline as new releases come out. Thanks.



Some additional credits for the pics and info: Adafruit.com, Raspberry Pi Foundation, elinux.org

Who would have thought a US$35 computer would change our lives so much. The Raspberry Pi foundation have changed the way we learn, teach and innovate by bringing a hardware platform which is cheap enough for the ‘average joe’ yet powerful enough to drive some of our most ambitious ideas. I have no doubt in my mind that I have left some info out here. Please feel free to leave a comment below to educate me a little bit! happy for input. I’ll keep updating this timeline as new releases come out. Thanks.


The Alpha Boards

Announced in August 2011, the ‘Alpha’ boards were among the first revisions. The Board itself was of a large format for debugging, was populated with headers for GPIO, JTAG, DSI, CSI and switches for LED and I/O testing.


Raspberry Pi First Production Board

Announced in 29th February 2012, The first of the “credit-card” sized computers was released. The initial batch of 10,000 (All Model-B’s) which were manufactured in China.


Raspberry Pi Model B

The RPi full production board – Model B Rev 2.0 was announced in April 2012, first orders were not sent out until June 2012. Manufacturing and orders were made via RS and Farnell. This meant that higher volumes of units were produced and made available. September 2012 saw the announcement of Model B rev 2.0 also being manufactured by Sony.


Raspberry Pi Model A

As of February 2013, the Model A was made available from distributors in Europe. The board had 256MB of RAM rather than the originally planned 128MB. The RPI foundation produced a small Beta batch of boards before handing over manufacturing to RS and Farnell. The Model A boards use an identical Rev 2.0 PCB but come with a different selection of components fitted.


Raspberry Pi Model B+

Announced on the 14th July 2014 The Model B+ was the first of the new layout. The B+ featured a new and faster processor, new VideoCore, 512MB RAM, Micro SD, 4 x USB slots, HDMI and many other upgrades.


Raspberry Pi Model A+

A few months after the release of the B+, the RPi foundation released a lower-cost variant labeled ‘A+’, At a new low price point of US$20 it was a smaller form and only a few components had been left out. But from an IoT perspective, it was still a very powerful unit for embedded hardware projects.


Raspberry Pi 2 Model B

Announced n 2nd February 2015. The RPi 2 Model B+ retained the same US$35 which was key to the continued success of the platform. The RPi 2 featured another upgrade to the CPU and an upgrade to 1GB of RAM. Other changes were also made.


Raspberry Pi Zero

The Raspberry Pi Zero was released in November 2015. The idea behind the Zero was a cheaper/smaller form factor that could be used to embed inside smaller projects. On 28th February 2017, the foundation then released the RPi Zer ‘W’ which had built-in wireless and Bluetooth.


Raspberry Pi 3 Model B

Another upgrade to the CPU (1.2Ghz 64-bit quad-core ARM Cortex-A53) was announced with a new release of the RPi 3 Model B on the 29th February 2016. Again the Raspberry Pi foundation achieved the same US$35 price point.


Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+

Announced in “Pi Day”, 14th March 2018. The Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ is an incremental improvement over the previous RPi 3 for the same US$35 price.


Some additional credits for the pics and info: Adafruit.com, Raspberry Pi Foundation, elinux.org


Get access to your PI ZERO W without a keyboard, mouse or monitor

So you purchased a Raspberry Pi ZERO Wireless and like me, did not realize that you would have no way to actually access the small form factor computer, because it does not have any standard USB ports. You actually require an OTG cable to attach any peripherals to the PI ZERO… well I have a pretty easy fix for you. It involves building the SD card using ETCHER (As seen here) or check out the links below. Adding a config file for the built-in wireless (Assuming you have a PI ZER W) and turning on SSH. If you can achieve this you will then have unobstructed access to your new PI ZERO wireless.


What do you need?

  • PI ZERO W
  • Micro USB cable for power
  • 2.1A Power supply



Step 1. Setup SD card and download your image.

Download Raspbian Stretch Lite and use Etcher to get the image on your SD card. Grab your copy of Raspbian from here. The prerequisite steps here will walk you through Etcher. We will run the ‘Lite’ version on the PI ZERO because it does not have the processing power of the RPI3. Also, there is no point loading the GUI if we do not intend to use it for that purpose.

Note: Once etcher is complete, you may need to unplug/plug your SD card back in. Etcher may unmount the drive for you when it is finished. Also if windows spit up some errors asking to format the drive. Do not do it!


Step 2. Add two files to the PI ZERO SD card to allow wifi and ssh to connect on power up

The first thing we need to do is create two files in the root of the SD card. When you plug the SD card back into your computer, look for the drive called “boot”. You need to create two files. Once called “ssh” and another called “wpa_supplicant.conf” Please note that the file called ‘ssh’ has no file extension, and wpa_supplicant.conf has a file extension of ‘.conf’

The ‘ssh’ file can remain blank, we do not need to add any config to it. This will simply enable SSH on the PI ZERO. However the ‘wpa_supplicant.conf’ file will require us to copy and paste this config onto it.


Step 3. Put the SD card into your PI ZERO and power it up

Put the SD card into the PI ZERO and power up the PI. It will take approx 30sec to a minute for it to power up, get wifi connectivity, grab a DHCP address from your router and enable the SSH service. The problem we have now, however, is that we do not know the IP address of the PI ZERO for us to SSH into.

To find the IP address of the PI ZERO, we are now going to use ‘ANGRY IP’ Scanner on our local computer. You can see a run-down of how to find your RPI IP address here also.

If you don’t want to check out the link above. Then Go download angry IP and run it up. It is pretty easy to use and will ping every active device on your network to tell you if it is UP or DOWN. The hardest part is identifying the correct Pi on the network. If you are like me, you may have more than one.


Step 4. Now that we know the IP address of our PI ZERO, lets try SSH into it.

Open up ‘Putty’ and enter the IP address into the required field. Make sure the SSH radio button is selected. Generally, port 22 is suitable for SSH. (This is the default port.) Then click ‘Open’ at the bottom.

So long as the PI ZERO has wifi connectivity you should now be able to SSH into your PI. I would now start to update the build/packages and also look at changing the hostname so that it can be identified easier on the network.



How to setup OpenVPN on a RaspberryPi

Just last week I was setting up IP cameras at home and connecting the irrigation controller to the network and I was opening my network up to the internet WAY too much. (I was port forwarding all kinds of ports.) So to mitigate opening up to the internet so much I decided to set up a VPN tunnel that I could easily connect to which would allow me access to my local network. In a nutshell, instead of opening numerous ports on my router for every device I wanted remote access from, I opened up 1  singular port for the VPN and used OpenVPN software on my phone to connect back. Once connected it behaves as if I was at home and connected locally.

This post will go through the basics of setting up a simple VPN server on a cheap raspberry pi. This example uses the older RPi 2, which is more than sufficient for accessing a few IP cameras and other devices remotely.


The Hardware you will need to gather

  • RPi 2 or 3.
  • Ethernet cable
  • HDMI Cable

  • Keyboard/Mouse
  • 8Gb SD Card


The Software titles you may want to download


PREREQUISITE SETUP - Because we need to get ourselves ready!

The first step is to prepare the SD card for the PI. A 4 or 8Gb SD card will be suitable for the PiVPN installation.

You will first need to download the latest Raspian Lite image (We do not require the GUI for PiVPN) and a copy of Etcher. Etcher will allow you to install and prepare your SD card. It is super easy to use.

Select Image > Select SD card (Make sure you select Correct Drive) > Click Flash.

  1. Select your copy of Raspbian Lite

2. Select the correct drive you want to install the image on. Be sure it is the correct drive as all data will be formatted first.

3. Select Flash – You may get a windows prompt to elevate permissions to administrator.

4. Assuming no errors were found, you can now take the SD card and insert it into the Pi.

How to setup SSH for remote access from our PC

We have chosen to run the Lite version of Raspbian because we do not require the additional overheads of the GUI. The VPN server will sit hidden away and we will connect to is via SSH if we need to. The problem is that SSH is not enabled by default. Thus we require the HDMI cable, a monitor and keyboard to change this first.

Insert the SD card we just made into the Pi and connect the HDMI cable to your monitor. We now need to power up the Pi. You should see the Pi initialize and on first run it may reboot once. The first thing you will have to do is log into the Pi. The default login is:

  • Username: pi
  • Password: raspberry

Viewing the Pi via the HDMI cable and using the connected keyboard and mouse in a PITA, This is why we are setting up SSH, so we can go back to our computer and do all the configuration from the comfort of our home PC.

At this stage we need to enable SSH. To do this type:

Sudo raspi-config

  1. Select “P2 SSH”

2. Select “YES” to enable SSH

3. You will get a confirmation saying SSH is enabled. From this point. All our configuration will be done via Putty. Putty is a SSH/Telnet Client that allows us to connect to the Pi via the SSH protocol. This is common for accessing linux machines. You can get Putty here: http://www.putty.org/

How to find the IP address of our Pi so that we can SSH to it

You should still be logged into the Pi, go back to the command line and type:

ifconfig

We need this IP address so that we can log into the Pi via SSH. Look for eth0 and browse across until you see ‘inet’ This is the IP address we require. In this case the Pi IP address is: 192.168.1.154 – Write this down or remember it.

Open Putty and SSH into the Pi

Enter the IP address of the Pi from the ‘ifconfig’ command. Then Click OPEN. You may be asked to accept some authentication keys. You only need to do this once. You will now be greeted with a similar login screen to previous.

Login as per usual.

Username: pi

Password: raspberry

If you find that some of your keyboard strokes are not the same as mine, you may need to go back into Raspi-Config and change the localization settings or Keyboard options. It also can not hurt to Extend the size of the file system. This will allow the Raspbian build to utilize the full size of the SD card.


PiVPN INSTALL - Now that we are setup, it's time to install and setup!

Now to installing PiVPN. If you are looking at installing PiVPN, then you have probably already been to the website. I just want to make mention that installing software like this could be dangerous if it is not from a trusted source. Basically we are telling the pi to run a heap of commands that are located on the internet. Be sure to check the source first to ensure it is reputable.

The command we are going to run is:

curl -L https://install.pivpn.io | bash

If you have not run an “apt-get” update today the first thing that the software will do is run this for you. This ensures all packages are up to date before installing. After the install process you will see the following configuration screens:

  1. This will install OpenVPN

2. At this stage you should be thinking about making the address the Pi was given static. Or logging into your router and “binding” the DCHP address it was given to the MAC address of the Pi. This will allow the Pi to hold the lease and never change.

3. This will change the address. Remembering when it commits the change, your SSH session will drop and you will have to re-establish the session on the new IP address. For now I am going to leave it as 192.168.1.154 as I have bound that IP to the MAC of the Pi on my router.

4. Indicating that you could get IP conflicts if you dont either bind your IP to MAC or exclude that IP from DHCP.

5. This screen is asking you to choose a user to hold your ovpn configs.

6. If you had other users setup then you would be able to select them here. It is generally good practice to Change the users away from the default username and password. For now we will stick with the default.

7. Because this is our only open facing port, we really should keep all software up to date including security patches. Why not do this automatically? Unless you have some configs that you don’t want messed with. Automatic patches can have a tendency to mess with the compatibility of software at times.

8. As per the last screen. Do it! or make sure you keep on top of it manually.

9. UDP will suffice unless you have any additional configs that require TCP.

10. If you don’t want anyone sniffing your VPN out on the default port, feel free to change this default port. However be sure to port forward the new one on your router so that the VPN can be accessed from outside your network. Also remember this port for any config changes that may need to be made.

11. A second confirmation.

12. Choose the encryption type for your server. 2048bit encryption will suffice in most instances.

13. The This screen if indicating the types of keys that will now be generated.

14. Because the Pi has very little processing power it can take 30-45 minutes for it to create the 2048 bit certificate/key. Go get a coffee! If you had of chose 4096 encryption then you would get the option to download some assistance files from the internet. Otherwise generating a 4096bit key on a Pi would take a VERY long time.

15. This screen allows you to set your WAN IP address or set a DDNS account. These can be changed after the fact via the config files however because we have a static address at home, I can leave it as the WAN IP. (I have blanked out some of the IP on purpose.)

16. Here we can set the DNS for our VPN, if you are unsure, just set it to the Google DNS address. (8.8.8.8 Primary, 8.8.4.4 Alternate)

18. Everyone loves a good reboot! No time like the present.

19. Just in case you were not sure from the previous screen. Remembering that your SSH session will drop during the reboot. Simply Re-connect to the same IP address after a few minutes.

At this stage it can’t hurt to upgrade the Raspbian image. Run this command:

Sudo apt-get upgrade

This is one of those administration tasks that should be done regularly to keep the Pi image in good working order. Unless obviously you are against keeping software up to date, or you have something specific happening in which you cannot afford for it to be affected by updates.


CREATE A USER - This is how we add clients/ Users to OpenVPN

We now need to configure the server to accept connections from the client devices or computers. To do this we setup a client openvpn configuration file. (.opvn file to be exact) This client file is loaded onto the device that wants to connect to the VPN tunnel. It stores the config and encryption keys to access the VPN.

  1. If you run the command:

pivpn help

You will be greeted with the list of commands that we can now run on the Pi to configure the clients and do other administration tasks.

2. Run the command:

pivpn add

This will start the process of creating a client configuration file. You will need to set a password at this point. Ensure you do not forget it, as you will be required to add it on the Client VPN software when we try to connect.

3. That is it for creating the .opvn client config file. It can now be found as indicated at: /home/pi/ovpns


MOVING THE CLIENT CONFIG - we need to move this config file to our device

In this example we are going to move the configuration file to a windows PC that we want to be able to access the VPN and the local network. We must now use some of the additional software to move or grab this config we just created. In this case we decided to use Filezilla as the Pi image already has SFTP enabled by default.

  1. Open Filezilla FTP client. The configuration details that you need to enter in the top for “Quickconnect” are:

Host: 192.168.1.154 (or put sftp:// it will do this automatically when we select port 22 later)

Username: Pi

Password: raspberry

Port: 22 (SFTP default port)

2. When you hit “Quickconnect” you should see a successful directory listing in the right hand navigation pane. Navigate your way to the ovpns folder (Located in the Home directory, if for some reason it did not default to that) Then identify the client1.ovpn config file that was created earlier. Download this file to your desktop by clicking on it and dragging it to the left pane. Ensure you identify the area you are dragging it to as that is your local computer.


CLIENT CONFIG - We need to setup our client now using that file!

We now have a copy of the OpenVPN config file transferred to our client computer. We will need to go ahead and install the OpenVPN client software located here: https://openvpn.net/index.php/open-source/downloads.html

Step through the standard hoops for installing a windows application.

  1. After the OpenVPN software has been installed the Client1.opvn config file needs to be copied to the OpenVPN config folder located here: C:\Program Files\OpenVPN\config (For Windows)

2. Run the OpenVPN software. Most likely is will open to your taskbar.

3. Right-Click the icon in the task bar and select “Connect”

Enter your password that we set when we added the client to the Pi VPN server.

4. Once connected you should see the OpenVPN client taskbar icon turn green and the status screen should look like the above.

The VPN server should have setup your routing tables now so that you can access anything inside your local network automatically.

Give it a shot, shoot a ping through to your local router.

What you may also notice is that the VPN tunnel has been assigned a 10.0.8.# address. The VPN server runs its own network for the tunnel with its own DHCP. When another client connects they are allocated another address on this same range. The server looks after the bridging of this network to your own local network.


PiFrame - Surfboard

The idea behind this was to create an aesthetically pleasing frame for an old screen that I had lying around. No chance was I going to create a standard boring square frame and hang this on the wall. It has been done before…. A few weeks prior to making the surfboard frame I had seen a really nice piece of static wall art with a massive photo framed into a board. It looked unreal and was the inspiration for this surfboard PiFrame.


Parts List

  • Suitable wooden panel approx 18-20mm thick. (I used 1800x600 Panel, 18mm thick)
  • An old LCD monitor (Preferably with buttons including power on the bottom or back. not on the front.)
  • A Solid wall mount (I used a small VESA mount extendable arm - yes it holds the weight fine....)
  • RPI2 with Raspbian installed.
  • 5v PSU - (I used good quality Meanwell enclosed PSU)
  • HDMI cable
  • USB wifi module
  • 240v IEC cable - Y cable with two inputs.


The Frame

For the Initial board I decided to use the workshop CNC router to speed up the process. The first thing we did was decide upon the shape for the board. The classic thruster shape seemed like the best choice as we could scale it down to fit the 1800×600 wooden panel easily. After drawing up the basic board shape in solid works I moved the drawing over to Aspire. We use Aspire to create our tool paths for the CNC. We then measured the outer edges of the monitor without compensation. The LCD monitor needed to press fit nicely into the wooden panel.

Cutting out the basic template is pretty quick and easy with the CNC router. After we have the basic frame, a quick sand all over using 80grit and 120 grit sandpaper…..then some wet and dry. A base coat of blue paint was applied and a light wash of white. Another quick sand to give it the ‘weathered’ look and a coat of clear varnish has the frame ready to seat the LCD monitor and electronics.


The Hardware

The cut-out for the LCD into the frame was just about perfect and the monitor pressed in nicely, at this stage we didn’t really even need to secure it to the screen as it was a very nice fit. (You may want to affix the frame to the monitor!) Mounting of the hobby enclosure was through 4 x self tapping screws. Just make sure you do not punch through the front of the frame. The electronics hobby box was a bit of a mash together as you can tell, but if you spend a bit more time on it, im sure you can mount everything a bit nicer than what I have.

For the wall mount we decided that the most flexible option was the LCD monitor swing arm. You need to be careful with the weight on these things, however after a bit of experimenting we found that the short arm was perfect and stable enough to hold the weight of the LCD, the frame and the electronics.


The Software

  • Raspbian OS on RPi
  • Sign Up for an account at DAKboard.com (This is a BETA web configuration I used to display items in the frame)
  • Install Chromium web browser on the PI. (A perfect browser for Kiosk mode - see Dakboard.com for install)

I stumbled accross a little web site that specialises in turning a monitor into a useful device that is actually asthetically pleasing. It involves setting up an account and setting the Pi’s web browser to kiosk mode and loading the page in full screen. Once loaded it can show data such as, Date, Time, Weather, iCal calendar entries and link to dropbox or flikr to display HD background photos. Not a bad setup, but i stress that it is in BETA and has a few bugs. I believe there are other project floating about that can do similar. (Post them in the comments, I’m keen to explore other possibilities.)


What Next?

Let me know if you want a detailed article on all the installation steps including step-by-step install of the software. Please comment below.


Raspberry Pi HAT design files

I have embarked on a journey to create a Raspberry Pi HAT for a little project of mine and I wanted to share a couple of things that I think may help you speed up your development time in the future. As of 11/5/16 I have tested out the DXF importing it into KiCad and using as the edge cut profile. The blank PCB’s test HATS we had made up fit nicely on the RPi2. As I push further on this journey I’ll continue to post any design files that I feel could help you with future iterations.

I can confirm that this fits onto the rPi3 also.


RPi HAT Files



How to find your Raspberry Pi IP Address

Finding the IP address of a freshly imaged Raspberry Pi can sometimes be a PITA. Especially if you do not have access to a spare HDMI cable, monitor, mouse and keyboard. In this article we will cover off on a few methods to identify your Raspberry Pi IP address on your network. As with all things there are many ways to achieve this however I have listed a few of the non complex methods here.


Assumptions

  • DHCP is enabled on your router
  • Your Raspberry Pi is plugged in via Ethernet
  • Your Pi is powered up.


Finding your RPi IP address

Sometimes finding your Raspberry Pi IP address can be a pain in the bum depending on how your network is setup and the resources you have available. Finding the IP can be achieved in a few different ways.

The first method may be to connect a monitor/keyboard/mouse to the Pi and get it to boot into the GUI. However we do not always have a HDMI cable, keyboard and mouse handy. The second method could be to connect to the Pi in its “headless” state using a third party application. Failing the above methods, you could also log into your router and check your ARP table. However each router is different and results can sometimes be confusing. I would have to say that using the third party apps is the easiest method.


Third Party App: AngryIP (My personal Favourite!)

Navigate your way to: http://angryip.org/download/ and download the AngryIP software applicable for your operating system. Install the software as per every other application you have and run.

This piece of software is super simple, input the IP range you wish to scan. eg 192.168.0.0 – 192.168.1.255 (You could probably shorten this if you know what your DHCP range is set to – Will save time sifting through 255 results)

Then click “Start”. The app will search through the whole range and display hostnames in the third column. You will be looking for something similar to the image below.


Third Party App: Adafruit Pi Finder

Download the Adafruit Pi Finder application via the github page: https://github.com/adafruit/Adafruit-Pi-Finder (Remember to select the correct version for your Windows operating system.)

Download, and unzip the directory to a familiar location on your PC. Look for the Pi Finder.exe file and run it.

Once Pi Finder is running, simply click “Find My Pi” and it will carry out a search for any Raspberry Pi’s on your network. Once complete, you will be able to see the IP address of your Pi and even access an SSH terminal direct from the app. However if like me you are not yet familiar with all the commands you can use this IP in Notepad++ to create a visual link into your Pi.


What Next?

  • Configure Network configuration files
  • Enable/Setup WiFi connection


Edit files on your Raspberry Pi the easy way

For us Linux “late-adopters” it can be a daunting task of carrying out a routine file transfer to our Raspberry Pi from our Windows PC. However, the learning curve is not so great. There are plenty of easy tools for achieving this feat. If you have not been introduced to Notepad++ then we will give you a quick introduction. We will also educate you on a small plugin inside of Notepad++ that allows you to run a lightweight FTP client. This client is really only suitable for your scripting files or editing configuration files but you will learn the basics of how FTP works and then have the skills to upgrade to a more robust FTP client for moving other files onto the Raspberry Pi.


Prerequisites

  • Install Notepad++ on your windows PC. https://notepad-plus-plus.org/
  • Download Putty. Link Below
  • Ensure your Raspberry Pi is plugged into your network via Ethernet (cat5)
  • Power up your Pi
  • Ensure your LAN has DHCP enabled...most routers will have this set as default.


Finding your RPi IP address

If you already have your raspberry pi on the network and you know its IP address then that is half the battle. Alternatively, if you have just finished installing Raspbian and you are not sure what to do from here then do not panic!! Check this article to find your IP address. https://dirtyoptics.com/find-raspberry-pi-ip-address/


Method 1: Notepad++ (My Favourite!)

Navigate your way to https://notepad-plus-plus.org/ and download the latest release for Notepad++. Install as per any other windows application and run it up. You will notice it looks very similar to the generic windows text editor however it does allow for some syntax highlighting. A handy little editor also if you are just starting to dive into Python and other coding languages.

Once Notepad++ is open, navigate to: Plugins / NppFTP / Show NppFTP Window. (If you do not see NppFTP you may need to go to the plugin manager and install it)

Once you have the NppFTP window open you will need to create an SFTP profile for your RPI. Please note that when SSH is enabled on your Pi it also opens up port 22 for you to utilize SFTP over the SSH connection. (Well that’s my understanding anyhow!).

  • Insert Pi IP
  • Port 22
  • Select SFTP
  • Username: pi (If left as default)
  • Password: raspberry (If left as default)

After you have set it up, click close/save. Find and click the connect button in the NppFTP window and connect to the profile you just set up. After a few seconds, you should be able to view a “windows like” file tree of your Pi. You can also double-click on any text file and edit directly in the Notepad ++ editor. When you click “save” it will automatically upload that file back to the Pi. Particularly useful when editing Python code and you want to run directly on the Pi. This can be dangerous at times if updating important configuration docs. Ensure you back them up first.


Method 2: Using SSH/Terminal and 'Nano' Editor

If you are feeling adventurous, and want to use SSH to edit configuration files then strap yourself in. For the ‘un-initiated’, Linux commands differ heavily from the standard Win DOS commands. You will notice some similarities but for the most part, it’s a bit of a learning curve. We are not going to cover absolutely everything here but the basics for editing files whilst you are in a terminal session. (Accessing you Pi directly)

The first thing you will want to ensure is that your RPI is powered up, Plugged into your network and you know the IP address. Assuming you have installed Raspbian onto your Micro SD and inserted the SD card prior to powering up we can then begin to access the Pi via SSH. (SSH = Secure SHell). This is pretty much a standard way of accessing your Raspberry Pi if you do not have a monitor available. SSH is enabled by default as part of the Raspbian build.

You will now be required to download and open a small terminal program called ‘Putty’ (There are other, but this is the most popular) http://www.chiark.greenend.org.uk/~sgtatham/putty/download.html run the putty.exe from your PC and input the following information.

  • Hostname/IP Addres - Insert your RPI IP
  • Port 22
  • Select SSH

Now that you have logged into your Raspberry Pi via SSH its time to start Nano. Nano is a Linux command line text editor. It is pretty simple to get running and use. It can be run in two different ways.

sudo nano

This will create a blank text entry. The correct syntax to follow is:

sudo nano /path/to/filename

If you use a path that is not valid or it cannot find the file you want to edit, then a blank entry will be created.

If you wanted to edit the Raspberry Pi config file, then the command would look like:

Now that you have accessed the config file with nano, you can go through and make your changes. Use the arrow keys to navigate through the text file, and the usual backspace/enter to move things around.

It would be wise to make a backup file of this configuration first.

Once complete, hit CTRL-X to exit, then Y to save. It will overwrite the old file with your new one.



What Next?

  • Download and try winSCP to transfer images and larger files.
  • Setup an FTP server on the Raspberry Pi.
  • Utilise a standalone FTP client to connect to the Raspberry Pi. (Filezilla/cuteFTp etc etc)


32 x 32 LED Matrix setup on RPI2

After building a few LED matrices from LED strip lighting and soldering a ton of connections, I decided to give these pre-fabricated LED matrix modules a shot. After a bit of research it turns out that using only a Raspberry Pi and a fully functional Library from the Legend Henner Zeller, you can accomplish just about anything. The cheap Chinese panels that we sourced are fitted with a HUB75 connector which is easily interfaced with a breadboard and some jumper wires or using the opensource Active-3 board, again designed by Henner. His library can be found here: Rpi-RGB-LED-Matrix Library – https://github.com/hzeller/rpi-rgb-led-matrix


Bill of Materials (BOM)

  • LED Matrix: http://www.aliexpress.com/store/1239156 (P5 32x32 modules with Hub75 are a good starting point.)
  • A Raspberry Pi 2 or 3
  • A breadboard and T-Cobbler RPI 40 pin Breakout (Just to make life easier! You can grab these from Adafruit.)
  • Alternatively build an Active-3 adapter for easier chaining of Matrix Panels. (See hzeller github page for more details.)
  • Some Jumper Wires
  • A sense of adventure.....


Code

Assuming you are semi-proficient with Linux and have installed Raspbian than you can follow along here. Otherwise you first need to setup your RPI and access the terminal/SSH interface. The guide here will get you up and with the “NOOBS” installation for your pi.

Install Henner Zeller’s LED Matrix library onto your Pi:

sudo wget https://github.com/hzeller/rpi-rgb-led-matrix/archive/master.zip

Unzip the Archive:

sudo unzip master.zip

Once unzip completes you should then be able to view the directory and it’s contents:

cd rpi-rgb-led-matrix-master/

You then need to compile the library by running the command:

sudo make

Once compiled, you can run the following command, this will give you an output of all the available switches:

sudo ./led-matrix

This command will output the following for your reference:

$ sudo ./led-matrix
Expected required option -D <demo>
usage: ./led-matrix <options> -D <demo-nr> [optional parameter]
Options:
        -r <rows>     : Panel rows. '16' for 16x32 (1:8 multiplexing),
                        '32' for 32x32 (1:16), '8' for 1:4 multiplexing; Default: 32
        -P <parallel> : For Plus-models or RPi2: parallel chains. 1..3. Default: 1
        -c <chained>  : Daisy-chained boards. Default: 1.
        -L            : 'Large' display, composed out of 4 times 32x32
        -p <pwm-bits> : Bits used for PWM. Something between 1..11
        -l            : Don't do luminance correction (CIE1931)
        -D <demo-nr>  : Always needs to be set
        -d            : run as daemon. Use this when starting in
                        /etc/init.d, but also when running without
                        terminal (e.g. cron).
        -t <seconds>  : Run for these number of seconds, then exit.
                        (if neither -d nor -t are supplied, waits for <RETURN>)
        -b <brightnes>: Sets brightness percent. Default: 100.
        -R <rotation> : Sets the rotation of matrix. Allowed: 0, 90, 180, 270. Default: 0.
Demos, choosen with -D
        0  - some rotating square
        1  - forward scrolling an image (-m <scroll-ms>)
        2  - backward scrolling an image (-m <scroll-ms>)
        3  - test image: a square
        4  - Pulsing color
        5  - Grayscale Block
        6  - Abelian sandpile model (-m <time-step-ms>)
        7  - Conway's game of life (-m <time-step-ms>)
        8  - Langton's ant (-m <time-step-ms>)
        9  - Volume bars (-m <time-step-ms>)
        10 - Evolution of color (-m <time-step-ms>)
        11 - Brightness pulse generator
Example:
        ./led-matrix -t 10 -D 1 runtext.ppm
Scrolls the runtext for 10 seconds

Now its time to get some output onto the panel. If you are running a singular 32×32 panel, you should be able to run the example without issue.

sudo ./led-matrix -t 10 -D 1 runtext.ppm

If your panel is connected correctly and powered up you should see a scrolling image pass through the panel. With the example above it will only last 10 seconds. You can now begin to experiment with the above switches to see what output you can achieve.


Advanced

  • Output RPI GUI to Matrix Panels (Coming Soon!)
  • Output Twitter msg to Matrix Panels (Coming Soon!)
  • Use Pixelpusher Protocol on Matrix (Coming Soon!)


Media