raspberry pi

The Raspberry Pi 4 needs a fan, here's why and how you can add one

The Raspberry Pi Foundation's Pi 4 announcement blog post touted the Pi 4 as providing "PC-like level of performance for most users". The Foundation even offers a Raspberry Pi 4 Desktop Kit.

The desktop kit includes the official Raspberry Pi 4 case, which is an enclosed plastic box with nothing in the way of ventilation.

I have been using Pis for various projects since their introduction in 2012, and for many models, including the tiny Pi Zero and various A+ revisions, you didn't even need a fan or heatsink to avoid CPU throttling. And thermal images or point measurements using an IR thermometer usually showed the SoC putting out the most heat. As long as there was at least a little space for natural convection (that is, with no fan), you could do almost anything with a Pi and not have to worry about heat.

Raspberry Pi microSD card performance comparison - 2019

Raspberry Pi Noobs SD card adapter with a number of Samsung and other microSD cards

As a part-time tinkerer and full-time developer, I have been fascinated by single board computers (SBCs) since the first Raspberry Pi was introduced almost a decade ago. I have owned and used every generation of Raspberry Pi, in addition to most of the popular competitors. You can search my site for tons of articles on these experiences.

One thing that is almost universally true (at least as of 2019) is that the most common system boot device is a microSD card. SD cards in general have performance characteristics that pale in comparison to faster devices, like NVMe SSDs, eMMC, and XQD or CFexpress.

Basement electrical work - electric dryer and clothes washer wiring

The Geerling household is preparing for the largest home project to date; and while my wife and I have decided to spend a bit extra to have a contractor do the work for the actual kitchen reno, we are still doing what we can to maintain a functional household during the extensive refurbishment of our original kitchen, dining, and laundry area to make it a lot more amenable to our family lifestyle (our current layout is difficult with three kids and two kitchen peninsulas!).

'Phase 1', as I'm calling it, was the electrical work to support moving our electric dryer, clothes washer, and maybe even dishwasher to the basement during the course of the project. I installed a 75A sub-panel in the basement last year (it was my last major home improvement project before the surgery), and it's time to start putting the extra slots in it to good use!

As with most of my projects nowadays, I recorded the entire event as a time-lapse with a Raspberry Pi Zero, using my Raspberry Pi Time-Lapse App. And here it is, for you to enjoy!

Kubernetes' Complexity

Over the past month, I started rebuilding the Raspberry Pi Dramble project using Kubernetes instead of installing and configuring the LEMP stack directly on nodes via Ansible (track GitHub issues here). Along the way, I've hit tons of minor issues with the installation, and I wanted to document some of the things I think turn people away from Kubernetes early in the learning process. Kubernetes is definitely not the answer to all application hosting problems, but it is a great fit for some, and it would be a shame for someone who could really benefit from Kubernetes to be stumped and turn to some other solution that costs more in time, money, or maintenance!

Raspberry Pi Dramble cluster running Kubernetes with Green LEDs

Raspberry Pi microSD card performance comparison - 2018

Raspberry Pi microSD cards Noobs Samsung Kingston Toshiba Sony SanDisk SD SBC

Back in 2015, I wrote a popular post comparing the performance of a number of microSD cards when used with the Raspberry Pi. In the intervening three years, the marketplace hasn't changed a ton, but there have been two new revisions to the Raspberry Pi (the model 3 B and just-released model 3 B+). In that article, I stated:

One of the highest-impact upgrades you can perform to increase Raspberry Pi performance is to buy the fastest possible microSD card—especially for applications where you need to do a lot of random reads and writes.

Raspberry Pi 3 B+ Review and Performance Comparison

Three generations of Raspberry Pi - model 2 B, model 3 B, model 3 B+
Three generations of multi-core Pi: model 2 B, model 3 B, model 3 B+

Whether it's been a 6-node Raspberry Pi cluster running Drupal 8, or a distributed home temperature monitoring application, I use Raspberry Pis for a wide variety of fun projects. The Raspberry Pi model 3 B+ is the latest iteration of the 'top of the line' Pi, with all the bells and whistles, and it still comes in at just $35. This year's iteration improves the CPU frequency, wired LAN performance, and WiFi performance, among other smaller changes, and I ordered one and have taken it for a spin.

What follows are my benchmarks and impressions after a couple weeks poking and prodding the new model 3 B+.

Fixing the blurry focus on some Raspberry Pi Camera v2 models

The original Raspberry Pi Camera model v1.3 came from the factory set to ∞ (infinity) focus, so when you used it out of the box for something like a landscape timelapse rig, or for security or monitoring purposes (where the Pi is at least 5 meters away from the subjects it's recording), everything would look crisp and sharp.

For many fixed-focus cameras and lower-end camera sensors, it makes sense to set them to infinity focus; closer objects are still recognizable, but slightly blurry. Most of these cameras don't need to focus on a person a meter away for a portrait, and they're also rarely used for FaceTime-like video chat.

Mount a Raspberry Pi SD card on a Mac (read-only) with osxfuse and ext4fuse

So you're telling me I can read files from a Raspberry Pi microSD card?

For my Raspberry Pi Time-Lapse App, I find myself having to either copy hundreds (or thousands!) of 3+ MB image files, or a 1-2 GB video file from a Raspberry Pi Zero W to my Mac.

Copying over the WiFi network works, but it's extremely slow (usually topping out around 5 Mbps... which means it could take a couple hours to copy). So I decided to finally try to mount the Raspberry Pi's drive directly on my MacBook Pro (running macOS Sierra 10.12). This is normally a bit tricky, because the Raspberry Pi uses the Linux ext4 filesystem—which is not compatible with either macOS or Windows!

Setting up a Pi Hole for whole-home ad/tracker blocking

Pi Hole - Admin DNS query request dashboard page in Safari

Pi Hole is a nifty open source project that allows you to offload the task of blocking advertisements and annoying (and often malicious) trackers to a Raspberry Pi. The installation is deceptively simple (a curl | bash affair), but I wanted to document how I set up mine headless (just plugging the Pi into power and the network).

Set up Raspbian Lite

I bought a Raspberry Pi model 2 B along with the official Raspberry Pi foundation Case. Then I bought a Samsung Evo+ 32GB microSD card (which comes with a full-size SD card adapter), and did the following steps on my MacBook Pro to set up the Pi's OS:

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