Not All Raspberry Pi’s Are Created Equal

A Stack of PiBy Jon Robertson (KD4IBD)
A Word to the Wise Raspberry Pi Purchaser

Not all Raspberry Pi’s are created equal! 

I have two Raspberry Pi’s that were made in the UK by element 14. These two units I purchased from MCM Electronics. Both of them have been very versatile and have performed well and booted up with every SD card image that I have tried on them.

My third Raspberry Pi was made in China (imagine that) by RS Components a company which has roots in the UK and quite a rich history as well. This third unit has performed well for me with MOST of the SD card images that I use but it WILL NOT boot one of the images that my other two Pi’s have no problem with. I haven’t found any other differences but no matter what I have tried I could not get that particular SD card image to boot up on the RS Raspberry Pi. (It’s the image marked number 1 below).

My observations are not scientific proof that the units are in any way different from each other but in my experience the two UK models do behave differently from the Chinese model in that one instance that I have described. So be aware that you may find similar results using different SD card images in your Raspberry Pi.

 

PiCaseI use the Raspberry Pi primarily for Ham Radio purposes to operate my DVAP Dongle to access D-STAR with a D-STAR handheld radio. I use one of my Raspberry Pi’s as a “Hands Free pocket version” because of its bare bones minimal size. It has only a battery pack and the DVAP Dongle connected to it. It has no monitor, mouse, or keyboard attached. It is programmed to boot up totally “Hands Free” and connect to my Verizon phone Wi-Fi hotspot automatically.

I have another Raspberry Pi set up in a box, sort of a “suitcase nuke version” with a 7 inch TV monitor and a tiny keyboard and track pad. With this one I can actually see on the screen what’s going on and control it with the keyboard and track pad.

XMBC_Media_Center

XBMC Media Center

With my third Raspberry Pi (the one from China) I am running XBMC and using it as a Media Center hooked to my TV in my living room. Since this application is not Ham Radio related I will not go into much about that here. I will only say that you can find information about Raspbmc (http://www.raspbmc.com/) and to configure it I would recommend this YouTube video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ITl00InGqNY). Have fun with that.

Below are the SD card images that I have used and recommend for operating a DVAP Dongle on a Raspberry Pi:

1. “Hands Free” DVAP with Halt and Reboot commands through your radio and VNC control(https://www.dropbox.com/sh/qrjoas94sycxn1z/N0wKSBGoDI).  Great documentation included. Special thanks to Ed KB6THO, Brian WA6JFK, Bob W6KD and of course obviously Robin AA4RC.

2. Build your own image card following these instructions (http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/DVAPDongle/files/DVAP%20for%20Rasberry%20Pi%20Autostart) from W2SWR. It’s the basic AA4RC version configured with Auto Start. You may have to be a member of the Yahoo Group DVAP Dongle to download the instructions in the Files section.

3. The NJ6N version instructions (http://nj6n.com/dstar/dvap_installer.html). If you have a monitor plugged into your Pi while running this version you won’t see the DVAPTool software running. It runs in the background but is not visible on the screen.

Note: These SD card images are configured to use only the DPLUS Gateways and Reflectors and they do not use the DExtra protocol used by the xReflector system. I have not experimented with any of the ircDDB configured images. 

In order to get one of these images onto an SD card there is special software Win32 Disk Imager(http://sourceforge.net/projects/win32diskimager/) that you must use. The documentation connected with the image number 1 above does explain the steps to follow to get an image onto an SD card.

I hope this information that I have learned is helpful to other Raspberry Pi users and enthusiasts. That is my purpose for sharing it with you. Good luck experimenting and please share your results too.