Raspberry Pi

Keys to getting the Pi working

The SD card

I just used the cheapest 4GB SD card I could find in Staples, a PNY one., which worked with no problems. Maybe I was just lucky – some people have reported difficulty with some makes. Consult the Verified Peripherals List on the wiki if you are in any doubt. If you’re still having trouble, make sure you’re installing the latest version of Debian because some are reported to be troublesome on “Squeeze” but fine on “Wheezy”.

The Operating System

There are a number of OS’s out there:

  • Debian “Squeeze” – obsolete, don’t use unless you like seeing kernel panics while trying to use ethernet and USB at the same time.
  • Raspbian “Wheeze” – This is the one to use at present (Aug 2012) as it is a vast improvement and comes with many bugfixes. Download from Raspberrypi.org.
  • Adafruits “Occidentailis v0.1″ – Essentially Raspbian with some extras, download from Adafruit.
  • Arch Linux – A simplified and “full control” version for expert players, Not tried this one, but if you want to, download from Raspberrypi.org.
  • QtonPi – Another one I haven’t tried, for Qt programmers wanting to develop embedded applications. Again, download from Rapberrypi.org.

There are probably many others too – I’ve heard of various ports of Android onto Pi but none seem to be ready for release just now.


Power Supply..

First of all, the power supply must absolutely, positively be 5v and regulated. Fortunately anything with a micro USB B connector will be, and any other connector wont fit!

Inadequate power supply is causing grief to many users. First of all the power pack must supply at least 750mA or your going to have problems. There are a lot of USB chargers out there rated at 500mA and these will not work. They might appear to work, but you’ll have all kind of strange problems.

I found the charger for my Amazon Kindle worked fine – its rated at 1A and gets barely warm in constant use. This was fortunate because I have a spare one and all the other 5v power packs I had were 500mA.

If you’re going to use a powered USB hub just get yourself a really beefy power pack like this one and save yourself a load of problems.

Powered USB Hub

The 2 USB ports on the Pi can only supply a tiny bit of power before the voltage drop in the fuses becomes a problem. So devices like wireless anything, flash drives, cup warmers etc need to be attached via a powered USB hub. This leads on to a second problem. When the power to the hub is on, and the power to the Pi is off, many hubs will “leak” power through the USB port back into the Pi. Since the Pi is capable of drawing lots of current, too much of this will blow the polyfuses leaving you with a repair problem. To avoid this there is a recommended method of connection (see illustration). that eliminates the problem by providing a better way for the hub to supply the current and eliminating the extra power pack.

Version 4 updated Nov. 15, 2013, 8:49 p.m.