Saturday, October 20, 2012

Raspberry Pi As Torture

The Raspberry Pi is a $35 computer. It's great. Just hook it up to your TV and some junk laying around the house and boom, you've got a computer.

If you want a cheap media computer, uh, well... what's your time worth?

I've got several years' worth of junk in my junk box. So, I rifled through it to find junk to plug into it.
  • I've got a TV with an open HDMI port.
  • And do I have a USB mouse? Yeah, but it's an optical mouse...
  • And do I have a keyboard? Several. Any of them USB? Uh, no.
  • But I've got two USB hubs, a big white one and little black one. 
There's one critical point that you might overlook like I did. Just because your junk box has a bit of kit in that list doesn't mean it has the right bit of kit. 
The Raspberry Pi has a thing about power. If you plug something really power-hungry into its USB, the board won't work. You fix that by plugging a USB hub into the Raspberry Pi then plugging your stuff into the hub.

Mindful of this, I used the big white USB hub. Mistake. You'd think that a USB hub is as vanilla device as imaginable. It is not as far as the Raspberry Pi is concerned. ERGO, when you decide to set up your Raspberry Pi, verify each of the items above to make sure they are verified to work with it.

I discovered this when I couldn't get the Wifi dongle to work and went googling for device drivers. Didn't find them, but I did find a list of approved USB hubs. What? Turns out the little black USB hub is confirmed to work with the Raspberry Pi and the big white USB is confirmed to cause trouble. I swapped in the little black hub and it seemed to work a little better, but I suppose by this time my expectations had been downgraded significantly.

Ergo, when you start hooking up things to your Raspberry Pi, check to see they have been confirmed to work with it. Here's a link where you can check. Check first. It will save time & pain.

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