Have Some Pi
By Jon Robertson (KD4IBD)
A few months before the Dayton Hamvention this year, I began to hear talk on D-STAR about the Raspberry Pi. Hams were using it in place of their home computers and laptops to operate their DVAP Dongles and D-STAR hot spots. I kept hearing more hams talking on their DVAP’s through their Raspberry Pi’s. So I wondered, “What in the world is this Raspberry Pi?”
So I began to research what this new technology was. I found out it is a deck-of-cards-sized Linux computer priced at only $35. It boots up from an SD card that must be specially pre-loaded with its operating system. Plug a keyboard, mouse, monitor (or TV), and an Ethernet cable into it and power it up with 5 volts from a USB power source and you could be (slowly) browsing the Internet in no time.
After learning more about it at the Hamvention and doing more research on the Internet I was ready for one of my own. I wanted to operate my DVAP without having to carry a laptop. So I ordered the Raspberry Pi board, clear plastic case, Wireless N Wi-Fi Dongle, and a 5 volt wall “wart” USB power supply (basically a cell phone charger) from http://www.mcmelectronics.com.
Before my order came in the mail I followed the instructions found at this link:http://elinux.org/RPi_Easy_SD_
When my package from MCM came I was a little nervous about how to make it all work. But I cautiously proceeded to assemble and boot it up for the first time. To my great surprise it worked! There were some setup steps to work through here. Next I carefully followed Robin’s (AA4RC) instructions to install the DVAPTool version 1.04 software. And again it all worked fine the first time.
This setup is a full Graphical User Interface version or GUI (pronounced “gooey”) meaning you need your mouse, keyboard, and monitor to operate it. After finishing the GUI version, I prepared another SD card that boots up “Hands Free,” links to Wi-Fi, and starts up the DVAPTool software. You don’t need a keyboard, mouse, or monitor to operate your DVAP after your initial setup. The “Hands Free” version is here. Follow the instructions in the PDF document to configure.
My experience with the Raspberry Pi so far has been fun and educational. I would encourage other hams and experimenters to get one too!