Making a Pi

It just arrived. I ordered this one from Amazon. It came in one, very small box:

Apparently, the cell phone camera doesn’t automatically go into Macro mode.

My USB headphones wouldn’t fit in that box. Opening it up:

Still not as much stuff as the Amazon picture

How do you know you’re old? You RTFM before scattering the pieces parts hither and thither.

“Fitting a Heat Sink” seems straightforward enough. Four heat sinks and four chips. A good lesson in the utility of Chinese child labor; my fingers are a bit large for that task. But complete.

And we learn the limits of slavishly following instructions: There is no “insert into case” step, which seems logically after the heat sinks and before plugging in cables. The case is cute – I got the clear one (but it didn’t come with RGB RAM, so I’m not sure why). “Align ports, snap into bottom” was simple enough. “Connect the black cable to pin number 14 and the red cable to pin number 2 (full power mode) or pin number 1 (quiet mode)” is a bit of a head-scratcher, though. The pins are not numbered… The Amazon picture is not to be trusted since the black wire there is on pin 1, 2, 39, or 40 – it’s one in a corner. The case instructions appear to indicate pin 1 is the lower left with USB ports “up” (south-east with USB north?). If I can put $300 of RAM in upside down and backwards, I can gamble on fan connections! The case does leave the pins exposed, so if I did it wrong, I can change them.

“Connecting Power” is easy. The power cable has a USB end that only fits in one place, which is labeled USB-C on the case, which it is supposed to be.

“Connecting a Display” There are two HDMI-looking ports. The one labeled “HDMI” on the case is NOT this one “If you are using just 1 HDMI port and not both be sure to connect the cable to the port named HDMI0 (the port that is closer to the USB-C Power Port)” I’m going with the long text. I wonder if Windows will be angry when I unplug one of my monitors…

“Connecting USB Devices” Hmmm. I missed the boat on this one. All my extra computer stuff is still in boxes so I only have the one wireless keyboard/mouse set (with the USB wireless receiver). That’s dandy, I suppose, but does mean I lose the ability to use the Windows computer in parallel until the OS is capable of receiving ssh connections.

There was something about flashing SD cards, which I think my Windows box will do; there is a very dusty port on the front labeled “SD-MS-xD” that I’ve never used. I installed balenaEtcher in anticipation. Time to read ahead, again…

“Connecting to a Network” the point of this thing is to become a firewall between my wireless Starlink router and my actual internal network, so the “outside” connection will be WiFi, so nothing to plug in there.

“Inserting and Removing SD Cards” seems obvious. This was supposed to come with one. Let’s see… It has a warning that the preformatted partitions make it look small on a PC and a URL for more details. It also comes with “a SD to USB adapter to Re-flash SD card if necessary This is NOT a Flash Drive”. Since this is the only persistent storage the thing has, I see no harm in giving “N00BS 3.5.0 With RASP” a whirl. I can always try the OS formerly known as Raspbian, later. Ah. More reading ahead – N00BS only exists in order to get Raspbian. OK then.

Disconnecting a monitor and the keyboard and mouse to try to boot the Pi. Before I go, the “about to go in the oven” picture:

With all that packaging, this must be an American distributor.

Well. Isn’t that interesting. I didn’t get very far. My monitors do not have HDMI inputs. They have something that looks vaguely VGA-ish, but with more pins. I left my TV in Denver.

So, what the heck is coming out of my computer and into my monitors? Silent PC, whoever they are, has a nice chart. It looks most like DVI. Windows settings has a maximum resolution of 1920×1080 and the Advanced settings let me choose between 60.000 Hz and 59.940 Hz (although there is also an interlaced option). This is saying DVI-I to me. The advanced settings also say it is a Dell E2414H connected to an AMD Radeon HD 6530D.

eBay has one for $50. I think my monitors might be a bit dated. Dell has the manual on-line, which is nice. It is a DVI connector and it has a VGA connector, too. I don’t even want to know.

So, is there such a thing as an HDMI to DVI (or the other way) cable? There sure is. Walmart even has one. Talk about being old! How does one say “the male end is too large or should be female” and remain politically correct? They have the needed device. Two of them actually. The Store Availability thing is a bit insane, thinking I’m in the 90009 ZIP code. I really don’t want to setup a Walmart account. It may be faster to just drive over and check than to figure out how to set my ZIP code… Great. I created the stupid account and it still thinks I’m in Torrance, wherever that might be. This web site is sucks – one sets one’s ZIP code during CHECKOUT (despite my having entered my preferred shipping address). And they have it. I suppose that doesn’t suck too much, but calling Radio Shack to see if they had the micro to standard headphone adaptor was faster.

Now to go get it.

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