raspberry pi

25K Open Source Pay-it-Forward Pi 4 8GB Giveaway!

This morning, my YouTube channel passed 25,000 subscribers, and that's only a couple weeks after I was amazed to see it pass ten thousand! I'm working on my next video on the Turing Pi cluster, and it will be out very soon, but I thought I'd try to do something special for 25,000 subscribers.

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The videos I make for my YouTube channel wouldn't be possible without me relying on the work of thousands of people, working on thousands of open source projects. I want to see how much I can pay it forward for them in this video.

Raspberry Pi 4 goes 8GB, and Raspberry Pi OS goes 64-bit!

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This morning the Raspberry Pi Foundation announced a new 8 GB version of the Raspberry Pi 4. They've been selling a 1, 2, and 4 GB version for the past year, and I've been using all three models in my projects.

8GB Raspberry Pi 4 - photo from Raspberry Pi Foundation website

More RAM is always better, because you can fit more applications on the same Pi, especially if you're using them in a Kubernetes cluster, like I am in my Turing Pi Cluster series!

Raspberry Pi Cluster Episode 2 - Setting up the Cluster

This post is based on one of the videos in my series on Raspberry Pi Clustering, and I'm posting the video + transcript to my blog so you can follow along even if you don't enjoy sitting through a video :)

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In the first episode, I talked about how and why I build Raspberry Pi clusters.

I mentioned my Raspberry Pi Dramble cluster, and how it's evolved over the past five years.

Raspberry Pi Cluster Episode 1 - Introduction to Clusters

I will be posting a few videos discussing cluster computing with the Raspberry Pi in the next few weeks, and I'm going to post the video + transcript to my blog so you can follow along even if you don't enjoy sitting through a video :)

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This is a Raspberry Pi Compute Module.

7 Raspberry Pi Compute Modules in a stack

And this is a stack of 7 Raspberry Pi Compute Modules.

Flashing a Raspberry Pi Compute Module on macOS with usbboot

I recently got to play around with a Turing Pi, which uses Raspberry Pi Compute Modules to build a cluster of up to 7 Raspberry Pi nodes.

Turing Pi Raspberry Pi 7 nodes of Compute Modules

Interested in learning more about building a Turing Pi cluster? Subscribe to my YouTube channel—I'm going to be posting a series on the Turing Pi and Rasbperry Pi clustering in the next few weeks!

You can buy Compute Modules with or without onboard eMMC memory. If you don't have memory, you can attach a microSD card and boot from it, just like you would on any Raspberry Pi model B or model A. But if you have the eMMC memory, it's nice to be able to 'flash' that memory with an OS, so the compute module uses the onboard storage and doesn't require a separate boot device (either microSD card or USB disk).

Everything I know about Kubernetes I learned from a cluster of Raspberry Pis

I realized I haven't posted about my DrupalCon Seattle 2019 session titled Everything I know about Kubernetes I learned from a cluster of Raspberry Pis, so I thought I'd remedy that. First, here's a video of the recorded session:

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The original Raspberry Pi Dramble Cluster
The original Pi Dramble 6-node cluster, running the LAMP stack.

The best way to keep your cool running a Raspberry Pi 4

From home temperature monitoring to a Kubernetes cluster hosting a live Drupal website, I have a lot of experience running Raspberry Pis. I've used every model through the years, and am currently using a mix of A+, 2 model B, and 4 model B Pis.

Stack of Raspberry Pi model B and B+ 2 3 4

The 3 model B+ was the first generation that had me concerned more about cooling (the CPU gets hot!), and the Pi 4's slightly increased performance made that problem even more apparent, as most of my heavier projects resulted in CPU throttling. I've written about how the Raspberry Pi 4 needs a fan, and more recently how it might not.

Upgrade the Raspberry Pi 4's firmware / bootloader for better thermals

In October, the Raspberry Pi Foundation released an updated bootloader/firmware for the Raspberry Pi 4 which dramatically reduces power consumption and overall temperatures on the Pi 4 by setting the USB controller and CPU into a more power-friendly mode.

I wanted to post here the instructions for checking the current version, and upgrading, because I have a large number of Pis to upgrade over time, and I needed a quick reference. For more details, check out the Raspberry Pi Documentation page Raspberry Pi 4 boot EEPROM.

Checking if the current bootloader is up to date

Upgrade system packages and install the rpi-eeprom utility:

$ sudo apt update
$ sudo apt -y full-upgrade
$ sudo apt install -y rpi-eeprom

Check if an update is required:

$ sudo rpi-eeprom-update

If you see a difference in the output, you can restart to update to the newer version. If everything's the same, you're already on the latest version.

The Raspberry Pi 4 might not need a fan anymore

tl;dr: After the fall 2019 firmware/bootloader update, the Raspberry Pi 4 can run without throttling inside a case—but only just barely. On the other extreme, the ICE Tower by S2Pi lives up to its name.

Raspberry Pi 4 cooling options including ICE tower cooling fan and a case mod fan
Three options for keeping the Pi 4 cozy: unmodified Pi 4 case, modded case with fan, and the ICE Tower.

A few months ago, I was excited to work on upgrading some of my Raspberry Pi projects to the Raspberry Pi 4; but I found that for the first time, it was necessary to use a fan to actively cool the Pi if used in a case.

Two recent developments prompted me to re-test the Raspberry Pi 4's thermal properties: