09 January 2014

Raspberry Pi: A Showcase For Hams

After my last experiences with the Raspberry Pi it was clear that you have to adapt reality to your computing environment. So I looked for projects which seemed to be in the computing price class of this system. When looking through my projects to come list I found a waterfall and fft software for the Arduino. Of course this needs a display for the Arduino and the desired LCD-Screen had only 128x128 pixels. But it would be a starter.

Lange Gespraeche © 2014 by Joachim Lehrer
When searching for the display I stumbled over the site of Watterott, one of the leading stores for DIY electronic equipment for the nerd. The offerings of the shop are tremendous and you have to take your time to find the things you want.

That's when I stumbled over a new product, which seemed to be the right size of the planned waterfall project.

But, it was planned for middle of January. So I ordered the little screen for the Arduino and the predecessor of the RasPi screen which has a RPi-Shield-Bridge with a complete ATmega328 with Arduino bootloader, so you can use it to use your own shields. (You never know.)

Raspbery Pi, RPI-Bridge-Shield and 2.8" color LCD
Sometimes I should read what I buy: It was not only a 2,8" color LCD. It had also a touch display. So you get more as what you see.

Construction was really easy and straight forward. I just had to solder a few pins and stacked it together. But it was not really Plug-And-Play, at least not for me. 

Normally I avoid reading manuals and lengthy instructions with lot of pictures explaining the obvious. Before buying I saw that the additional material was collected in a Wiki and on GitHub. GitHub needs some knowledge how to use it, but when you understood the system it is easy to use and you can install for example the software directly on your system. Part of the system is also a revision system, so that you can find the latest developments.

When I was ready with soldering, I powered the Raspberry and got stuck. The kernel needed a new module and the easiest way would be, so the developer wrote, to install a new kernel. This kernel was ready to download, but I don't want no new kernel. I wanted to keep my system with all its extensions as it was. So I had to take a more complicated route to patch the kernel. But everything was well documented and after some reboots I was nearly ready to start the system with the new display.

Uuups, I had forgotten  to update/upgrade the system - no problem - nearly no problem - a problem: My new installed module was gone. After some reading I found out that you shouldn't do it in this way. So I had to reinstall the system incl. the modules. That took some time.

In the meantime - you remember the RasPi is really not the fastest computer in the world - I read in the blog of the software developer and forgot to look at the dates of his blog entries. 

At the end I got mixed up with problems already solved, future developments and actual instructions. So when I wanted to start  the driver of the shields I had about 5-7 different instructions which didn't work, for I mixed them up. So I shut the system down started new and shouted into the direction north, where Mr. Watterott himself heard and answered my call so fast, that I first didn't think that it was already an answer. There were a lot of eMails going to and fro until we or better Mr. Watterott found the solution. It was a mix of different start parameters which had to be sorted out. I had a bad conscience for binding this guy all the time with strange problems. Anyway this kind of customer support is outstanding. Well done!

I was surprised to see my satellite prediction program running and displayed without any reading problems from my side. And don't forget: In the background was always my Reverse Beacon Software running.

So I ask: Who has two monitors running on a Raspberry Pi? Me!

So next will be ... wait and see.

Stay Tuned!