Raspberry Pis have taken the maker and geek world by storm! Little, inexpensive computers that can do so many great things? Yeah that has a lot of possibilities within the library! Join Dan and discover a project he’s working on that involves a Raspberry Pi.
Outline for what I’ve done for a digital shelf talker unit powered by Raspberry Pi.
- Raspberry Pi Model B – uses a MicroSD and has four USB ports
- Using a kit I found on Amazon. Links in the shownotes
- The great thing about this kit isn’t just the case and plugs but also the WiFi plug. That’s what you really need for a project like this.
- Screenly OSE
- Managed through web browser
- Displays slides, MP4s, and websites as a digital signage solution
- Easier to use and set up than Xibo. I love it!
- OSE is the FOSS edition, there is a paid solution with more spiffs – check it out
- Using the custom image found on Screenly OSEs website, I flashed that to the SD card using Win32DiskImager – an open source app that is excellent for this
- The Screenly OSE custom image is just Raspbian with Screenly OSE pre-installed. Save yourself some time, just use it.
- Flash that to the SD card, pop the card in your Raspberry Pi, hook everything up, and plug it in!
- Plug into a live ethernet jack that allows access to the Internet. You’ll need that to get things going.
- It’ll start up and go right into a demo display with a video. Let that play through and then hit CTRL ALT F1 to get to a login prompt.
- The login is the default for Raspberry Pi and Raspbian, the user is pi and the password is raspberry – all lower case.
- So the tricky part isn’t getting Screenly OSE to work it’s getting the Pi to automatically connect to WiFi. Over ethernet it’s great! Wifi needs a little tweaking
- To do this, we need to install a better network manager. It’s spelled wicd, but to keep it straight in my head I call it “wicked” which will make more sense in a few moments.
- Getting wicd installed is pretty easy. I’ll have this info listed in the show notes, so don’t feel like you have to write things down furiously.
- Type sudo apt-get update and then sudo apt-get install wicd-curses. So I call the network manager wicked and the whole thing is wicked curses, see?
- sudo wicd-curses
- You’ll get a pretty simple interface to set up your wifi connection, link to more information in the show notes but I bet you’ll figure it out pretty quickly
- Set up your wifi access (choose it, password if needed, etc) and make sure you set it up to connect automatically!
- After that, hit F10 to save the setup and then SHIFT C to connect. If you did it all correctly, the wifi connects up! BRILLIANT!
- Oh except for the fact that it won’t do this automatically upon boot, not yet
- Okay so the trick is that we need to get the wicd service to start automatically. To do that, we need to edit the /etc/profile file to start the service on login.
- When Screenly OSE starts, it logs in. Whenever someone logs in, /etc/profile is invoked
- So let’s cd /etc and, just to be safe, make a copy with sudo cp profile profile.bak, then sudo nano profile
- To start the service, add
service wicd start to the end of that profile
- CTRL X and save
- Moment of truth time. Disconnect your ethernet cable and reboot the Pi
- When Screenly OSE comes up, it may or may not show you the IP for the Pi. Sometimes it doesn’t get the wifi connection in time to display it. To verify your wifi connection, do the CTRL ALT F1 and login again.
- type ifconfig and you should see an IP under WLAN0. There you go! Pop that into a web browser on your network and you can manage Screenly OSE!
- You can set up a persistent IP if you want. Me, I prefer to just set it up as a DHCP reservation at the router.
- My preferred Raspberry Pi kit – comes with everything you need except a keyboard, mouse, and monitor!
- Screenly OSE – Digital signage made simple and powered by Pi.
- Win32DiskImage – A FOSS solution for writing disk images to SD cards.
- WiFi on a Raspberry Pi: A Simple Guide – Great resource that helped me along.
- Easy Wireless Configuration for a Raspberry Pi – Another excellent resource that answered a bunch of questions.