3 AM? Can’t Sleep? Go fiddle with stuff

It was one of those nights. I managed to pick up a horrible cold, and whenever anything interferes with my breathing I wake up with horrible panic attacks and can’t get back to sleep, which is what happend at 3 this morning. So I started fiddling with the Raspberry Pi.

Neat little gadget, the RPi. I have two or three of the little stinkers now. One is sort of a development system with a breadboard attached, and the other is, hopefully, going to end up in an actually useful device.

I wanted to have a separate display for it so I wouldn’t have to pull the monitor off my other computer all the time, so I picked up a couple of 7 inch touch screens for the RPi,

one with a tilt case that’s my development/testing system. These touchscreens are fairly inexpensive, about $70, and you can get smaller ones with lower resolution for considerably less. The 7 inch is big enough that I can easily read text.

Installing the screen is about as simple as it gets. On the model shown above a ribbon cable connects from the screen to the RPi, and two short jumpers go from the screen to the GPIO header on the Pi.

If you’re running the Raspberian (spelling?) version of Linux that a lot of versions of the RPi come with, and you have the latest updates to the OS installed, it should recognize the screen when it boots and begin using it without any intervention on your part.

The other RPi that I’m using as a development and testing system has the same IMG_0261touchscreen but in a slightly different configuration, and I stuck it in a nice tilt case I picked up off Amazon. The RPi itself fits into the case along with the screen making it a neat, tidy package. The case give full access to the I/O ports and the GPIL header. I added a Microsoft wireless keyboard and a mouse. The RPi 3 has WiFi on board so you don’t need a hard wired network connection any longer. You can see a small breadboard immediately to the left of the display. That’s attached to the RPi GPIO header  by a ribbon cable. There’s a larger breadboard to the left of that. To give you an idea of the size of the RPi 3 I put one on the keyboard.

So, what in the world am I doing with it? Well, fiddling, mostly. As you might guess from the presence of the breadboards I’m experimenting and learning how to control external devices with the RPi. I have a box full of LEDs, digital displays, switches, relays, a wide variety of sensors that I’m learning to use with it. Great fun.

Eventually I’m hoping to build a remote weather station mounted on the roof that feeds weather conditions to the house network that I can monitor either with another RPi or one of the house computers.

My long range goal is to rig up a RPi as the control system for a stand alone PSK31 QRP transceiver. I want something not much bigger than a tablet computer that is a complete PSK mode transceiver, running off a battery. Just add an antenna and you’re on the air.

Don’t know how far I’ll get with either of the projects, but it’s fun fiddling with them.

Besides, not much to do at 3 AM around here.

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