02 August 2015

No Pibow Coupé For Me (For Now)

I talked to the reseller here and got $20 quote for a Pibow Coupé Flotilla case for my new Raspberry Pi 2. For the benefit of those who are not familiar with this case, below is a picture to let you understand why it got me into this dilemma:
from modmypi.com

Super slim and slick right?

Anyhow, good thing we were busy at work since it's the end of quarter and it was all bout getting sales booked so I didn't have time to meet up with the reseller and buy the case. But then I was itching to get my Pi out of the generic clear or frosted case I got from Element14 Singapore which resembled a soap case.
Looks like I got the soap dish from the shower and stuck it on the back of the Motorola Bionic Lapdock

Well, I hated that and I felt it wasn't time for me to fork out yet another $20 in the name of geeking out. Thus, I decided to turn this into a case:

I bought 4 or 5 of these from my last trip to Hongkong - just had to spend the loose HK$ change which I couldn't change back to S$ anyway. That one last empty box I found in a corner of my office desk drawer.

With the help of a sharpie to mark the cut outs, a utility knife and X-acto knife from Daiso, I ended up with this:

Sitting beside a 1" 3M clear tape, we can better appreciate how thin the case ended up:


I'd say not bad for a first foray into case modding!

And for the more substantial updates:
  • I've solved the issue with the RTL8192cu WiFi dongle (the same one that Adafruit sells). I followed the steps from Adafruit and added a line to disable power management and USB auto-halt for the dongle. Very decent download and upload speeds now! In the terminal:
echo "options 8192cu rtw_power_mgnt=0 rtw_enusbss=0" | sudo tee --append /etc/modprobe.d/8192cu.conf

  • I'm now using Ubuntu MATE with modest overclock at 800MHz (the Pi 2 runs its quadcore @700MHz) without sdram and core freq changes. Anything higher than 800MHz and with sdram and core freq changes, the power supply from the Motorola Bionic Lapdock won't be sufficient to power the Pi and the WiFi dongle which I ended up sticking to the Pi's main board - no longer the lapdock's 2 USB ports.
  • Bought licenses for the MPEG-2 and WVC1 codecs from RaspberyPi.org
All in all, it's a nifty little machine that has delighted me and I can't wait to tote it off somewhere as a proud owner of "Monster". It's a great blogging / writing equipment :)

Although now I have doubts on it being a good idea to give my 16 year nephew a Raspberry Pi. I don't think he'll like the idea of turning the HDMI TV in his and his brother's room into a slow computer that cannot even run their favorite video games. They're a generation of kids who got the best and wouldn't get impressed easily.

I was like: "A credit-card size computer! Wow!" 
They would be more like: "So what? I got a PS 4 and iPad and a smartphone that can run Youtube without issues." 

30 July 2015

Raspberry Pi Lap(dock)top

Mechanical links work to splice USB cables without soldering and I have a Raspberry Pi Laptop

The initial process took about 2 hours and it includes:

  • shaving the extra plastic material in the cables and adapters
  • actual splicing (without soldering)
  • micro SD card installation of Raspbian
  • 1st boot up
Additional tinkering on the config file to get the Atrix's speakers, resolution, RTl8192cu WiFi dongle, and the correct system locale and keyboard layout work ate up another 1.5 hours or so. I was watching a drama via live streaming on my other laptop so I guess my concentration wasn't that great.

At any rate, here's my new baby - I named him "monster" (M):
Monster says "hi!"

 Raspbian installing. I had downloaded the entire 750MB+ .zip before hand to the download is not included in the count. The installation on the micro SD card rounded up at 15 minutes or so - while I changed my beds linens to fresh ones.

 My handy "cabling work". I didn't have any electrical tape so masking tape should do for now.


Here's the mess at the back. The HDMI extender (30 cm) hasn't arrived yet from Hongkong so I'm connecting the Pi's regular sized HDMI to the Atrix's mini HDMI with an adapter that also functions as propping tool

Issues:
  • Raspberry Pi 2 on Raspbian is not fast enough for me. Either I had unrealistic expectations from the reviews I read before hand or the micro SD card I purchased wasn't really a class 10, but a lower rated one.
  • Adafruit RTl8192cu was super slow - 50kbps in the terminal when I install via apt-get. But it's an 802.11n rated WiFi dongle. According to the forums, it's most likely a power management issue - this particular WiFi dongle is very sensitive that it won't go on max performance with sketchy power source.
  • Hence, slow browsing and no impossible Youtube even with the Chromium + PeppaFlash workaround
  • So it goes back to the first issue of slowness. I did manage to install Libre Office from the Pi Store. The download and install took a lot of time but once installed, launching the word processor app took only 9 seconds and the typing experience was alright - I can probably use this for writing.

I must say though, I'm loving this project. Looking forward to a better case for my Pi. I'm torn between just getting a Pibow Coupé Flotilla since I've already found a local reseller or if should just hack some plastic thing I can get my hands on make the slimmest profile Pi unit I can envision.

I'm also undecided on whether I'll end up sticking the Pi on the back of the lapdock by velcro or if I should let it sit on that phone tray at the back, like it does at the monent, while I wait for the short HDMI cable I ordered.

28 July 2015

Today Is the Day!

July 28, 2015 : which day could be more exciting than this one?

A Raspberry Pi 2 of my own is on its way :

And the Motorola Atrix Lapdock is also joining in the fun:

Only a few more components missing to complete my Raspberry Pi "Laptop":
  • 16 GB Strontium Class 10 micro SD card I got from a deal - I have to collect this little guy from the physical store in the city center one of these days
  • HDMI extender (30 CM) - which should arrive from Hongkong - I'm not counting on it to get into my hands before I leave this island for a vacation
Oh, and the fun actually started yesterday when I got this in my mailbox:



Lovely, just lovely!!