Custom Pi Case and Basic Circuits

Custom 5 1/4 Floppy Pi Housing (w/basawood floor).

Custom 5 1/4 Floppy Pi Housing (Front).

Basic LED circuit for my 3yo.

3 LED circuit for my 3yo.

Breadboard mounted in my Custom 5 1/4 Floppy Pi Housing.

Breadboard mounted in my Custom 5 1/4 Floppy Pi Housing (Top).

Raspberry Pi Setup

What is the Raspberry Pi?

The Raspberry Pi is a cheap computer designed by the Raspberry Pi Foundation (UK registered charity) to help kids build knowledge and experience in the computer Science, engineering and programming fields. Read more here: and here )>.


My Raspberry Pi Setup

The Raspberry Pi is a very forgiving device to get started on, first you plug in your power (mine was a USB cable), SD card. keyboard, mouse, monitor (HDMI) and turn it on. My SD card was empty and nothing booted so i..

  • Downloaded NOOBS (Off-line Installer:)
  • Installed SD Card Formatting Tool:
  • Performed an overwrite Format on my SD card.
  • Copied the contents of to the Pi.
  • Booted the pi (with hdmi, kbrd and mouse plugged in).

Basic Commands

How to safely shutdown the OS.

    sudo halt

How to update all os packages

    sudo rpi-update (Sorry I had “dpi-update” before)
    sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade

Setting up a FTP server (so you can upload files to the Pi from another PC).

    sudo apt-get install proftpd
    Restart the FTP Service:
    sudo service proftpd restart

Networking Setup

I had issues with a raspberry Pi that was already on my network (a Pi driven 24/7 webcam that was built by the awesome Brisbane Storm Chasers, my camera uploads images to the weather cam network for my twitter feed.

How to change the Pi’s name:

    sudo hotname SiPi01

Change the Pi’s name permanently:

    sudo nano /etc/hostname
    sudo nano hosts

    tip: change to SiPi01

Check network Interfaces:

    cat /etc/network/interfaces

How to check the network connection:



    sudo reboot

I also wanted my ADSL router to give the SiPo01 the same IP every time. so I followed this guide to set a Static IP.

    This ended up being my config.

Keyboard Setup

I noticed my keyboard setup was set to UK and # symbols were not working. This allowed me to reset the keyboard to whatever region I wanted.

sudo dpkg-reconfigure keyboard-configuration
sudo reboot
sudo raspi-config

Sound Stuff

Enabling audio on the 3.5mm audio jack (not HTML sound).

I followed this guide:

    How to install an easy mp3 player called mpg321:

      Quick Summary:
      sudo apt-get install mpg321

    How to Play a MP3 file.

      sudo mpg321 -g 50 RogerWaters-FletcherMemorialHome.mp3

    How to turn the volume up:

      alias volu='sudo amixer set PCM -- $[$[amixer get PCM|grep -o [0-9]*$|sed 's/%//')+10]%'

    How to set command line aliases to type the stuff above for your when you type “volup.”

      sudo nano ~/.bash_aliases

      Add the following lines:

      # increase volume by 5%
      alias volup='sudo amixer set PCM -- $[$(amixer get PCM|grep -o [0-9]*%|sed 's/%//')+5]%'

      # decrease volume by 5%
      alias voldown='sudo amixer set PCM -- $[$(amixer get PCM|grep -o [0-9]*%|sed 's/%//')-5]%'

      Now you can type “volup” and “voldown” to change the volume.

First BASH Script

Make a folder for scripts to live in.

    mkdir /usr/bin/simon

Change to the new scripts folder.

    cd /usr/bin/simon

Make a script file.

    sudo nano testScript001

Make the script file executable.

    bash -x testScript001
    First Script Contents

      I wont bore you with details line by line but the script outputs a few system variables, tests the internet connection, downloads a file the exits.


      printf "Hello, $USER\n"

      OS_TYPE=$(uname -o)
      printf "OS Type: $OS_TYPE\n"

      OS_VER=$(uname -r)
      printf "OS Version: $OS_VER\n"

      CPU_TYPE=$(uname -m)
      printf "CPU TYPE: $CPU_TYPE\n"

      _IP=$(hostname -I) || true
      if [ "$_IP" ]; then
      printf "IP: $_IP\n"

      printf "BASH Version: $BASH_VERSION\n"

      printf "Today's date: $DATE\n"

      echo "Pi Updtime:"
      printf "\n"

      printf "Testing Internet Connection (\n\n"
      # ping -q -t 10 -w1 -c1
      wget -q --tries=2 --timeout=20
      if [[ $? -eq 0 ]]; then
      printf "Internet appears online.\n\n"

      if [ -f $TMP_FILE ]
      echo "Deleting old temp files.."
      sudo rm ./simple_text_file.txt
      printf "Downloading file from the internet.\n"
      sudo wget
      if [ -f $TMP_FILE ]
      printf "File downloaded ok.\n"

      printf "Internet appears offline, unable to download files."

      printf "Goodbye\n\n"

    All you do to run the script is type the following.

    • sudo ./testScript001

Setting the script to run every 15 minutes

    sudo nano /etc/crontab

    Add the following line at the end of crontab to run the script every 15 minutes:

      # */15 * * * * root /usr/bin/simon/testScript001

Misc Commands

Viewing the startup script (that executes after each user logs in)

    sudo apt-get install mpg321

Installing a Webcam Driver

    sudo apt-get install fswebcam

      Capturing a Webcam Image:
      /usr/bin/fswebcam -r 960x720 -d /dev/video0 /home/pi/webcam.jpg

Quest to learn to build and program electronics

I have decided to create another blog category on my personal blog to throw information and progress while expanding one of my earliest childhood interests “electronics”. Like many other kids I looked at electronic XMAS toys and wondered how they really worked inside. This resulted in me grabbing the nearest screwdriver (pointy knife) and opening the toy with much vigour and excitement. Often I would break something and I would forgot what order to reassemble it in and the toys would never be the same again (remote control semitrailer and electronic battle ship game comes to mind, sorry mum). But one the toys was opened my mind went nuts, I could see batteries, motors, lights, fans, wires and funny coloured bits (resistors and capacitors) power thingies etc.

When I was a child I remember my grandads sheds (he had a few as he moved house every 6 years or so), sometimes my granddad was in his shed fixing something (mower blades or tools). He always had neatly arranged tools and boxes of stuff and jars with nuts and bolts. I had a great time playing in his sheds and searching for things to do and play with. I want to pass on my fascination of electronics and programming to my kids in a similar environment to my grandads shed and also automate my home and make some cool gadgets along the way.

Part of my quest to learn electronics (for real) was triggered by my desire to fill my 3yo son’s (and soon to be 2nd child) minds with knowledge, wonder and a more than basic knowledge in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths), electronics can help teach a fair bit of this as well and hands on experience. Also learning electronics is a kind of stress reducer, work/home demands are always changing but electrical knowledge all but stays constant (apart from miniaturization of components).

I find it quicker to do date calculations in code in excel so I am sure I will be able to program the electronics with ease but I have no doubt it will be an uphill battle teaching this old dog all the ins and outs of electronics (the right way). I will be hitting google a fair bit when it comes to searching for information and schematics and I would lie to share that with kids and older tinkerers.


With a second child on the way I need a non-time consuming hobby to use to distract my 3yo when bubby 2 and mummy need a rest and to read up on in the small hours when I am putting baby to sleep.

Learning Goals:

  • Learn basic Electronics (components and theory).
  • Learn to program a Raspberry Pi
  • Create and control basic electronic circuits, read sensors, move mechanical objects and talk to the internet.
  • Learn to scale down code and hardware to the Arduino‎ platform.
  • Fix household items.

Physical Goals:

  • Create a battery powered Arduino circuit to install in the greenhouse to auto mist in hot weather from tank water). Report on temperature, and humidity.
  • Create a 100% automatic weather station that uploads details about temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, wind speed, smoke detectors, wind gusts, dew point, solar exposure, cloud cover, rainfall, soil moisture etc (how: many cheap sensors and custom circuits).
  • Create a battery powered automatically arming home security system with cameras, sensors (pressure, line of sight intrusion detection, magnetic car detection in the driveway, sonic, movement, infrared etc), sms and email alerts with offsite image backup.
  • Home automation (air conditioner on/off, watering system, wild bird seed deployment, rain cover, water tank level reporting, smoke detector (inside and out) remote bushfire protection (recycling roof sprays) etc) (how: many cheap sensors and custom circuits).
  • Remote control grey-water diverted from the shower (how: waterproof remote and 80mm solenoid to divert flow).
  • Auto detect and count bird species at the bird feeder (how: webcam and image processing).

  • Automatic home brew temp system for my dad.
  • Weather cam for my mum.
  • Fun kids projects, remote control robots.


Setting up for a Raspberry Pi and or Arduino is about $100 each, much less than gold clubs.
Raspberry Pi Board.


Choices of Arduino boards and bits.


Sensors are dirt cheap on ebay (about $3 each) and are often compatible with the Raspberry Pi and Arduino boards.


I already have a Raspberry pi and Arduino and have started my quest, watch this space.