I had not played around with a Raspberry Pi SBC (single board computer) before now, and I’m not really sure why not. Maybe because I have enough computers around the house, but I suspect the real reason is that I just didn’t have a viable use for it. I came up with one, and decided to jump in.
I picked up a Raspberry Pi 4B with 4gb ram from Canakit. It came with a power supply, a 32gb micro-sd card containing NOOBS (New Out Of Box Software), and the raspberry pi itself. Connecting an HDMI monitor and keyboard/mouse was trivial. Inserted the micro-sd card, and powered it up. A few minutes later I had a running computer. I updated the software, which was easy using the available tools from the OS. Not blazingly fast by any measure, but usable. Now toy day is always a good day.
I decided that I wanted a case for it, so I did some digging around and chose the Argon One case. The plus for this case is that the connections are routed out the back of the case, and it has a programmable power switch. There is a very nice program that uses an overlay to manage the fan and the power switch. A long press of the power switch shuts the pi down; a double-press reboots the pi, and a single press will start it if the power is off. You can set the temperature thresholds and desired fan speeds, and the settings survive a reboot.
I decided to use an SSD instead of the micro-sd card to hold the OS and also wanted to boot the pi with this configuration. The micro-sd card would not be needed once this is configured. I picked up this SSD and this adapter to connect it to one of the USB3 ports. Worked great. Except for the small hiccup – you can copy the running OS to the SSD, but you can’t boot an SSD from the NOOBS version of Raspbian. So I downloaded an ISO of the Raspbian OS, loaded it onto the micro-sd card, and powered up the pi. I had to reconfigure everything that I had just finished configuring, but since that was recently done it went fairly quickly.
Copying the OS to the SSD was simple using the “SD Card Copier” utility from the “Accessories” menu, and we were at the precipice. Powered down the pi, removed the micro-sd, and powered up the pi. It booted just fine, and I was now running the pi with a 500gb SSD. Not really a major accomplishment, but a big step forward in performance and reliability.
Now we have a Raspberry Pi in a well-designed case, using a 500gb SSD for storage, and a daemon that manages temperature, fan speed, and the multiple functions of the power button. A very good start.