This is our very first tutorial, in this Raspberry Pi series. This is article will help you get your raspberry pi up and running. The Raspberry Pi we will be using for this tutorial and other tutorials is Model 3B+ which uses a BCM2837B0 quad-core Broadcom chip with a clock frequency of 1.4Ghz. It has all the required wired connectivity, I2C, SPI, UART along with the provision of a separate display and camera port. The 3B+ also provides wireless connectivity through onboard wifi and Bluetooth.
Setting up a Pi is fairly easy, and there are several ways to do it. I’ll be setting up a raspberry pi model 3b+, but the same steps and procedures can be applied to other models of Pi.
Installing OS on Raspberry Pi
The first thing you need to do is to load an Operating system in your Raspberry Pi. The Raspberry PI supports a wide variety of OS with Raspbian being the official and the recommended Operating Systems. The other reason you would want to start with Raspbian is the large community and guide available over the internet which makes troubleshooting easier. We will go ahead and download Rasbian from RPi’s official website https://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads/. Apart from Raspbian, you do have an option to install Noobs which is more like an OS installer. It gives you an option to download from a number of operating systems on your first boot.
In the download section, click on Raspbian and then download the raspbian stretch with recommended software. An image file of considerable size will be downloaded.
Formatting and Flashing the SD card
Your Raspberry Pi comes with an SD card slot at its back. The OS image that you just downloaded needs to be flashed on the SD card without which your raspberry pi won’t boot. It is recommended to have an SD card of size at least 8Gb or greater. Before flashing the SD card with the raspbian image, you will need to format the SD card with a FAT32 file partition format since your RPi only has support for reading from a FAT file system and not exFAT.
To format your SD card, you can use SD card formatter. It is an easy to use tool and gets the work done within seconds. You can download the software from https://www.sdcard.org/downloads/formatter/. Now insert your SD card into your Laptop or PC using an SD card reader. You can also use a USB to SD card reader which I used in my case.
Open the SD card formatter application and select the SD card drive and then click on format. This should not take more than a few seconds. The next thing you need to do is to flash the OS image on the SD card.
There is plenty of software available for flashing an image file on the SD card. The popular one though is Balena etcher. It is fairly easy to use and gets the work done in a couple of steps. You can download it from https://www.sdcard.org/downloads/formatter/.
Once the installation is done, open Etcher, and select the raspbian image file. Select the drive that you want to flash, i.e. SD card in our case and then click on flash. This process might take a while. Once the flashing is done, eject the SD card and insert it into your RPi.
Setting up your Raspberry Pi.
Now that you’ve installed Raspbain on your Pi, its time to boot and get it running. As for the power supply, it is always advisable to use the official Raspberry Pi adapter. You can use other adapters as well but with a rated capacity of 5v, 2.5A for model 3b+.
Now connect your RPi to your Monitor or T.V using an HDMI cable. If your monitor doesn’t have an HDMI port, you can use a VGA to HMDI cable. Connect a USB keyboard and Mouse in the USB port. Insert the SD Card and power up your Raspberry Pi. Since you are booting your Pi for the first time, it might take a couple of minutes to boot. Once your Raspberry Pi is booted, you will end up having something like this on your screen.
Connect your Pi to a Wifi network. You can see that on the Right top corner on your screen. You can then change different settings like Hostname, password, resolution, keyboard type, etc using preferences in the application menu. It contains some of the basic settings which aren’t very difficult to understand.
Accessing your Raspberry Pi using VNC
Well congratulations, you’re done setting up your Raspberry Pi but wait. Connecting your Raspberry PI to your T.V or monitor through HDMI is not the only way to access your RPi’s GUI. You can get the same thing done by using an Ethernet cable and a graphical desktop sharing system called VNC(Virtual network computing). VNC will essentially eliminate the hassle of connecting an HDMI cable, wireless mouse and keyboard, and makes the overall development process easier.
To access your RPi’s GUI through VNC, you will first need to enable VNC in your RPi. You can do that by opening the Applications menu –> Preferences –> Raspberry Pi configuration –> Interfaces –> Enable VNC.
The same can be done by using the Raspberry Pi’s terminal. Open the terminal window on the menu bar, and type ‘sudo raspi-config’. Go to interface options, and enable VNC.
Once you’re done enabling VNC in the RPI, Go ahead and download the VNC software from https://www.realvnc.com/en/connect/download/viewer/. If you are using a 64-bit windows machine, download EXE x84/64. If you’re having a different OS running, download likewise. Now Connect your Raspberry Pi to your laptop using an ethernet cable. The next thing you need to do is to find your raspberry pi’s IP address.
Raspberry Pi’s IP address
A quick and simple way to find the IP address that your Raspberry Pi is using, open command prompt and type ‘arp -a’. It will give you a list of all internet address. Your Raspberry Pi’s IP address will be the one with the type ‘dynamic’. You then need to open VNC viewer and paste the IP address in the server address(search bar). Enter your username and password which is ‘pi’ and ‘raspberry’ by default, unless you’ve changed it.
Alternately, you can also find the RPi’s IP address using Advanced IP scanner. You can download the software from https://www.advanced-ip-scanner.com/. Once you’re done, install the application, and click on scan. It will give you the hostname and the IP address of all the connected devices.
This was all about HDMI and VNC. Apart from these two methods, you can also access your Raspberry PI using SSH which will allow you to use your PI from its shell. You won’t be able to access your RPi’s Gui using this method.
Accessing Raspberry Pi’s Terminal using SSH
To use your Raspberry Pi using SSH you will need to enable SSH on your Raspberry Pi. You can enable SSH the same way you enabled VNC i.e. open Applications menu –> Preferences –> Raspberry Pi configuration –> Interfaces –> Enable SSH. Next, you need to download an SSH client. The most commonly used client is called PuTTY and can be downloaded from greenend.org.uk. Once you’re done downloading, open putty and enter your RPi’s IP address in the ‘hostname(IP address)’ block and click open. A warning might pop up which you can ignore safely. Now log in with the username and password which is ‘pi’ and ‘raspberry’ by default and hit enter.
You will now gain access to raspberry pi’s shell and can use your Pi headlessly. If you are comfortable with the command line, you can do almost everything that you would typically do by accessing the GUI.
So, this was all about setting up a Raspberry Pi and the ways you can use it. If you have any query or difficulty in following any of the above steps let us know.