Raspberry machines

I’m writing this on a Raspberry Pi. It has a 2.5 inch screen  and my keyboard is some kind of cheap tiny wireless thing with a track pad that more closely resembles a game controller than a keyboard. Please forgive my brevity or typos. In addition to composing on a small screen, Chromium has a minimum width which makes seeing this editor a bit tricky. Here’s what the whole thing looks like on a 13″ Macbook for scale:

On Saturday Keya and I went for breakfast at a place that happened to be near Microcenter, an electronics retailer. We made the poor life decision to drop in since neither of us had been there in ages. We played with keyboards, security stuff, and IOT things, but what really grabbed their attention was the section with all the Raspberry Pi’s and Arduino projects. Keya got a nifty Raspberry Pi Zero W project and some capacitive thread (for wearable electronics). I walked out with a Pi 3 and a Pi Zero radio project as well as some accessories. We also stocked up on micro SD cards.

The Pirate Radio was the first project I put together. It’s not to difficult and ended up being a delightful airplay speaker when it was all said and done. It is the first “radio” Keya and I have attempted that actually worked (third time is the charm?). It uses a pHAT BEAT addon and a Raspberry Pi Zero W to make the magic happen. I also followed a super simple tutorial to get it done. The only hitch was due to localization settings. Once I switched to the proper keyboard layout and language, everything worked like a charm. Here’s the result:

Once I was feeling confident, I decided to go for putting together the tiny computer with the tiny screen I was imagining. It turned out to be a bit more difficult. The mouse I was trying to use turned out to not work at all. Updating the packages bricked the machine so I had to reflash the operating system a few times.

Learning how to navigate a small screen was an interesting challenge. Pro tip: Use alt + click anywhere on a window to drag it around. This is necessary for windows that have minimum heights and widths. They cannot be scrolled. Once I got the hang of window manipulation, further adjustments were straightforward. I ensmallen the font size and made the menu bar smaller via the appearance settings.

So far I’m loving this thing. What will I use it for? No idea, but it fits rather nicely in any bag and can be powered via my USB batteries. I think my next project might be to make it a local git server or a web server. I also saw something about a VPN or a network ad blocker. Maybe even a robot butler? The cloud is the limit! I ordered a few more thingies to attempt another project or two and if successful, I’ll post the results.

If you have made anything nifty like this or have project ideas, drop them in the comments! If you haven’t and want to, say so in the comments! If you hate these things and don’t understand why anyone bothers with them, let me know in the comments!

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