Raspberry Pi

My Slice of Pi

The Raspberry Pi (aka: RPi) is an ideal platform for use in ham radio. It’s computing capacity is sufficient to run most any applications needs by hams. It’s light weight, small size, and low power consumption make it ideal to carry in any go-bag, deploy at field day, to use as a payload on a balloon, and easily hide-away in a vehicle dashboard.

Just how small is this thing? Even in an optional case, an RPi is roughly the size of a deck of playing cards. A caveat being, it depends on the case you purchase for it. The cases that I like to use are very slim. However, even the bulkiest case that I’ve personally seen is about the size of two decks of playing cards.

Keep in mind that when you purchase an RPi, you have lots and lots of options. The RPi is simply the circuit board and components that you see below. Cases and accessories are completely separate. Depending on your need, you can spend as much or as little on components as you like.

A primary consideration that you should always make before purchasing components is a simple question: “What is the purpose of this Raspberry Pi?”. You really cannot expect an RPi to be your do all, end all of computer needs. If you are looking for something like that I would suggest going to Tiger Direct and buying an off-lease desktop computer for under $100. Side note, I purchased a desktop with Windows 7 Pro from them for $75.00, including a 2 year warranty even, but that is another story.

Once you get started with Raspberry Pi, you will find yourself with more than one. They are like Baofeng UV-5R’s in that way, hardly anyone has only one. You will find all kinds of uses for an RPi. A lot of CPU cycles and diskspace can be saved on your shack computer. And best of all, to a ham, they are quiet. No moving parts. Low power usage. Low RF noise.

The Raspberry Pi 2 Model B is the second generation Raspberry Pi; which is also the focus of this page. It replaced the original Raspberry Pi 1 Model B+ in February 2015.

RPiCompared to the Raspberry Pi 1 it has:

  • A 900MHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 CPU
  • 1GB RAM

Like the (Pi 1) Model B+, it also has:

  • 4 USB ports
  • 40 GPIO pins
  • Full HDMI port
  • Ethernet port
  • Combined 3.5mm audio jack and composite video
  • Camera interface (CSI)
  • Display interface (DSI)
  • Micro SD card slot
  • VideoCore IV 3D graphics core

Because it has an ARMv7 processor, it can run the full range of ARM GNU/Linux distributions, including Snappy Ubuntu Core, as well as Microsoft Windows 10 (command line functions only).

The primary operating system used on a RPi is linux. As such, there may be some learning curve needed by some operators. It is the goal of this page and these guides to decrease the angle of the slope of that curve. Lets alleviate most fears now…YES, there is a graphical user interface (aka: GUI); the look and feel of Windows. Most applications for linux do indeed have a GUI. There will be the need to learn a little bit of the linux command line, but not much. The important thing to remember is that linux, as an operating system, is significantly more stable, reliable, and forgiving than a Windows desktop.

The articles to follow will help you decide what kind of a project you want to take on. We will start with a base installation and then build up from there. It is my hope that you gain as much out of this as I have and continue to do. If there is something in particular that you would like to see, please, drop me a line using the comment page.